As of this writing, there is a romance reader about to undertake the best and worst journey a romance reader can. Well, one of them. Romance reading has a lot of journeys. Right now, we’re going to focus on the best and worst of times. With apologies to Charles Dickens, this is not A Tale of Two Cities, but it is a tale of endings, and beginnings. It is the tale of –you may want to be sitting down for this one — the last book in a series. :weeps softly:
Most of us should be used to this kind of thing by now, but it always seems to come as a surprise, when we come to that last book. Series are the norm these days, and, no matter how beloved they might be, no matter how we wish we could spend forever with our fictional friends, there does come a time when Happily Ever After is exactly that, and we have to wave the whole lot of them off into the sunset. On the one hand, we’re at the grand finale of a story we’ve spent huge chunks of time living, along with the characters, possibly discussing with our friends, either in person, or in the great wide world of the interwebs. It can’t all be done now, can it?
Blah blah, death and taxes, blah blah, all good things, yada yada yada. I’m not going to go into any of that. Okay, maybe some of it. Really hard to get around that when we’re talking about the end of a series. It’s not the whole point, though. A big point, to be sure, and sometimes a sore one, because there are all kinds of reasons a beloved series comes to an end.
In the best of all possible worlds, that end comes because the tale has been told. All members of our core group have found their Happily Ever After, foes are vanquished, we’ve saved the farm, the Crown Jewels, and possibly the entire universe. We may have a big family gathering, hopefully for a happy reason, like a wedding, or birth of a baby. Maybe a coronation. You know, everyday stuff like that. We get to see all of our couples, at various stages of their Happily Ever Aftering, still together, still happy about it, often surrounded by a gaggle of mini-thems Not that such is a requirement, mind, because there are plenty of HEAs where the couple remains exactly that – a couple, no additions needed= and life is pretty darned good.
Having that big ball o’happiness should make it easier to say goodbye, but it doesn’t always. Sure, our heroes and heroines are still going to be blissfully in love, and they’ll weather whatever life throws their way, better for being together. The only difference is that we won’t be there to see it. Barring re-reads, of course. Those never get old. There comes a time when we finally have to leave them to it, and that’s usually when our sights wander to the remainder of our towering TBRs. Time to start on a new adventure, but how does one pick?
Yeah, I still haven’t figured that one out. Sometimes, the only thing to do is sit there, staring vacantly, imbibing a beverage of choice, and taking in all of the ramifications of what has happened. Not only the end of the story. We’ve been training for that with the ends of all the previous books. This is only the culmination of all of those, the point we’ve been striving for theis whole series long. It’s time now, to switch gears.
The question is, which gear to shift. This is where things get tricky. One way to go is with the same author, particularly if they have a new series. If this series spins off the old series (Sabrina Jeffries, I’m looking at you) then the transition may be a little bit easier, as we may run into a familiar face or two as we get used to the new kids. There’s also the option of reading books by a different author but in the same vein. If we3’re not ready to hop off the Regency train, for example, wel, there are plenty of other Regency series to read. The same can be applied to werewolf packs, secret brotherhoods (or sisterhoods) or pretty much anything else.
Other times, it’s time for a complete change of pace. Too emotionally spent after that intense romantic suspense? How about revisiting the blush of first love in a sweet romance or YA? Can’t connect to another contemporary this soon after that last bunch of found family that feels as close as one’s own? Blast off into paranormal or futuristic romance, or hop back in time with a historical.
Yet other times, and here is where yours truly finds herself as she writes this post, it’s a feeling that is what calls from the next read, even if yours truly can’t yet articulate exactly what that might be. That’s how it goes sometimes, and these are the times when a towering TBR comes in handy, because, sometimes, grazing on a little bit of everything is exactly what satisfies, when one isn’t sure what could measure up to the wild ride one has just finished. Standalones make for great palate cleansers after finishing a particularly memorable series, so that might also be a way to go for this sort of thing.
Then again, that’s part of the fun, the not knowing…until we hit on the start of a new series, and get that wondrous sense that we’re going to need to strap ourselves in, because we are in for a delightfully bumpy ride.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you do anything special to mark the end of a favorite romance series? Does it get a special mention in a journal, or is it a check off on a list, and on to the next adventure? Most importantly, how do you choose what to read next? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.