Killing Off Beloved Characters and giveaway with Cheryl Bolen

I promise I haven’t killed off any more characters in my popular Brides of Bath series of Regency-set historicals. While the fourth book in the series was a big hit with readers, they were also saddened that the hero’s story was possible because his first wife died. Readers had loved her since she had a secondary role in the series’ inaugural book.

That’s the thing about series, the readers feel an attachment to these characters and enjoy keeping up with them in subsequent books.

My newest Brides of Bath book, Love in the Library, allows readers to revisit many of the characters whose stories were told in the first four books of the series. But none of those characters will star in this new book. In fact the heroine, who is a good friend of the heroines in the first two books, has never before appeared.

Catherine Bexley is desperate to find an almost priceless Chaucer manuscript which happened to be the only thing of value left to her by her scoundrel late husband. She persuades a scholar, the “smart” Steffington twin, to assist her in the quest.

The Steffington twins were minor characters in the second and fourth Brides of Bath books, and since I’ve always yearned to create a hot nerd hero, Melvin Steffington seemed the perfect choice.

Like all the Brides of Bath books, this is very much a stand-alone novel.

Let me give you a little history of the series. Zebra (Kensington Books) published the first three books in 2002. They proved so popular my publisher asked me to pen one more, and it came out in 2004. That’s when I killed off the beloved character.

All of those books were only available in mass-market paperback. Two of them immediately sold out their initial print runs.

            Years passed, and I got my publishing rights back on these, and in 2011 they became available as ebooks (with new covers) and have proven to be even more popular. Now they are also available in trade paperback.

Please don’t be confused about a couple of title changes. My title for Book 4 was To Take This Lord, but my publisher changed it to An Improper Proposal. While I think Improper Proposal sounds pretty intriguing, it had absolutely nothing to do with my story. Therefore, when I got my rights back, I insisted on changing it back to its original title.

My publishers gave the third book the title A Fallen Woman. I thought—and still think—it’s a great title (and far superior to my original title, Beleaguered Bride). Apparently, though, readers are not keen to read a book about a fallen woman. Despite that many readers adored that story, sales lagged the other titles. I know I personally like to have extremely sympathetic heroines, and I believe readers are prejudiced against ladies they feel are amoral. While the A Fallen Woman heroine’s reputation was a bit blemished, she was not really a loose woman. I renamed that book The Bride’s Secret. Not a great title, but more sympathetic.

Now, a full decade later, the series will continue because of popular demand. Love in the Library will also be available in print. Unlike the first four in the series, though, Love in the Library will not feature a fully-consummated love scene. My nerd hero is much too noble to try to bed the woman he’s falling in love with. Though it’s not a “hot” book, it is deeply romantic.

And no one gets killed off.

Cheryl is generously offering a print ( U.S. only, sorry) of MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE or an ebook, winners choice.  How do you feel about killing off characters?  Giveaway ends @12am est 2-3-14.  Good luck!

Cheryl Bolen is the acclaimed author of more than 20 romance books, both historical and mystery. Many of her books have placed in writing contests, including the Daphne du Maurier for romantic suspense. They have been translated into 11 languages and have become Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestsellers. She was named Notable New Author in 1999. In 2006 she won the Holt Medallion (Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent) for Best Historical, and in 2012 she won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards for ebooks published the prior year. Her 2011 novella was named Best Novella in the Romance Through the Ages competition.  

A former journalist, she holds a dual degree in English and journalism from the Universityof Texas, and she earned a master’s degree from the Universityof Houston. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons, one who is an attorney, and the other a journalist. Her favorite things to do are watching the Longhorns, reading letters and diaries of Georgian Englishmen, and traveling to England. She invites readers to her website or her blog.    

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Morining! Killing off characters depends on their role. I am happy you are not killing off Melvin, I adore a hot, nerdy type!
    Thanks for the contest.

  2. Logically, I understand the need for characters to die sometimes — especially when writing generational novels and family sagas. However, emotionally I’m not a fan –particularly when I adore the character who is killed off.

    I love your books, Cheryl!

  3. I don’t really like it when characters are killed off unless they’re the bad guys/gals.

  4. it very much depends on the character – I don’t like it especially if good young people die – tho sometimes it frames the story.

  5. I like romance without sex. There’s a real talent to write romance without sex. Probley how romance started years ago if you read the older romances. Now, killing a character in a book, if written well is fine. I’ve read books with this senerio and I’m fine with it.

  6. I prefer that the characters just fade away rather than be killed off.

  7. depends on the type of character

  8. Wow! Thanks to all of you for coming out today. Waving hi to Glenda. Thanks for the sweet comments about my books.

    Debbie, you’ll be happy with about half of my 20 plus books — because my goal was to be deeply romantic without showing the bedroom stuff. Hey, I’m old! That’s how it was when I was dating — and devouring those Doris Day movies!

  9. If I love the character, I really don’t like seeing him or her killed off. However, I can usually get over it pretty quickly once the new characters come along. Unlike in real life.

  10. Don’t usually like to read about a beloved character being killed off, but I have read a few “series” books that spanned many years where characters from first book went from young adults to “seniors” and died in later books where their grandchildren or great-grandchildren were the central characters.

  11. I’m not fond of it, but understand that sometimes the plot demands it… like how would it be Romeo & Juliet if they don’t die. But on the whole, not crazy about it happening.

  12. Bad guys getting killed, good, we avoided the hazzardous, time consuming and often tedious channels of the law. Who would want Lord X to testify about the crazy weird bad guy who abducted the woman he loves and threatened to mame, kill or worse rape her. Ok I get that. Killing off a beloved character? Hmmmm, that depends on a lot of things. Sometimes live just happens. Sometimes beloved side characters have to go in order to make the story more melodramatic or give the hero the rightiousness to follow and threaten the “bad” guy. Killing a main character doesn’t seem to work in my mind when writing love novels. In dramas I can see it happen. But then I don’t read too many dramas as they may not have a feeling happy ending.

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