Jumped the Shark? And Other Ramblings…

So, my last post was about authors on my auto-buy list – and you know what?  There’s a good few of them, which is great.  There seems to be a tendency nowadays to lament the lack of good quality reads out there , but having listed down all the authors I read religiously, it doesn’t quite seem that way – or not for me anyway!

Also, interestingly (or not, depending on what you think), all of my auto-buys are female authors.  Part of these could be related to the fact that the romance genre is female-dominated, but I actually think I relate more to female voices.  Male authors I do read include Lee Child, Harlen Coben (thrillers), Jim Butcher, David Weber, and Simon Green (SF/fantasy), but certainly the female writers outnumber the males significantly.

I also realised I missed out on certain categories when listing my auto-buys: romantic suspense/action, e.g. any book in Suzanne Brockmann’s SEAL series is an auto-buy, the more hard core sci-fi books (e.g. Catherine Asaro), the epic historicals (Diana Gabaldon) – hmm… I could go on for quite a bit!

Anyway, continuing the theme of “auto-buys”, here I list authors who have slipped from my auto-buy list, and authors who never quite get there in the first place.

Firstly, authors who are good and who I really enjoy, yet don’t quite make it into my shopping basket every time, for various reasons. 

Nora Roberts a.k.a. JD Robb – I like Ms Robert’s voice very very much – her books just flow.  I loved her Cheapasake Bay series, I like some of her older series romances, I like her stand-alone novels.  What I don’t like are what I term her “woo-woo” books – those with a mystical or magical element to them (e.g. her latest vampire trilogy, where I only read the first book before stopping). Now that’s slightly weird, because if you look at the books I read, the fantasy/paranormal genre dominates.  Maybe it’s just that for me, her voice doesn’t work quite as well in this area.  As for her JD Robb Eve/Roarke series, I can take or leave it – I like Eve, but I don’t love her. 

Jayne Ann Krentz a.k.a Amanda Quick a.ka. Jayne Castle – Ms Krentz’s books were probably among the first romance novels I read.  And I loved them so much I tracked down practically her entire backlist (ah, except her Silhouette/Harlequin ones).  I will almost always buy her futuristic Jayne Castle books.  For me, there was a bit of a blip in her JAK books (I’m not sure I buy into her paranormal world), but I enjoyed her latest (All Night Long, which was not part of her Arcane Society series).  Similarly, with her Amanda Quick books, I liked the early ones, but not her more recent ones, which again have a paranormal element to them. 

Moving on to authors whose books I will pick up and flip through in the bookstore before deciding…

Sherilyn Kenyon – Ms Kenyon’s books are more like sweets:  enjoyable while you read them, but not long-lasting, if that makes sense.  You don’t have to think while reading them – in fact, it probably helps if you don’t over-analyse them!  I have a good number of her Dark-Hunter books, yet don’t feel the urge to run out and get the latest one as soon as it comes out.  I would probably include Mary Janice Davidson in this category as well – I like her Betsy books especially, but they’re just too expensive for what you get! 

Christina Dodd, Teresa Medeiros, Lisa Kleypas – Funnily enough, these three authors share a blog (as do Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, who I linked together on my Auto-Buys post).  Ms Dodd and Ms Kleypas write both historical and contemporary romances, while Ms Medeiros writes only historical (but has ventured into vampire territory with her latest books). 

I find their books a bit hit-and-miss, e.g, for Ms Kleypas, I found “Dreaming of You” just so-so (though there are a lot of raves online), but really really liked her Wallflowers series.  I’ve liked all of Ms Medeiros’ books.. until she came out with her two related vampire books.  Please, something different next time.  As for Ms Dodd, I haven’t liked her contemporaries (couldn’t finish “Trouble in High Heels”), but have a number of her Governess Brides historicals.

To this group, I’m probably going to add Eloisa James (their fellow blogger), as I’ve recently picked up her Essex Sisters series and liked it.

Finally, to me, authors who have jumped the shark for one reason or the other…

Julie Garwood – I hesitated before including Ms Garwood in this category, as I was slightly torn between this or the second.  I haven’t liked her recent contemporaries – they were good, but not as fantastic as a Garwood book can be.  I’ve reread many of her Scottish Highlands books, and her characters still keep me entranced.  Her upcoming historical may change things – I think her voice just doesn’t translate well to contemporaries.

Judith McNaught – I have all of Ms McNaught’s books – she, together with Julie Garwood and Jayne Ann Krentz, is probably responsible for my romance habit.  But I couldn’t finish the last McNaught paperback I bought (Every Breath You Take).  It had everything a McNaught book should have (beautiful heroine, check, rich hero, check, big MIS, check) but… I think it’s less that she’s changed, it’s more that what I want in a book is now different (it’s not you, it’s me *grin*).  Unlike Ms Garwood’s books, I haven’t re-read any of Ms. McNaught’s books in a long long time – and if I did, I probably wouldn’t be able to finish them.

Stephanie Laurens – I just headed over to her website to check the link – and the fact she’s on her 13th Cynster novel (with eight more to go) and her fifth Bastion Club (with three more upcoming) probably explains why she’s in this category for me.  Her first six Cynster novels were auto-buys for me, then they started becoming a bit formulaic, and then… I just stopped buying them.  Which is a shame because she does write good stories – maybe, now having had an extended break, I’ll start reading them again!  Hmmm…

Ah, this was an interesting analysis (for me, at least) – notice how most of the authors named in this post are traditional romance authors (Ms Kenyon and Ms Davidson being the exceptions – but they are writing in a new-ish subgenre).  So have I just outgrown my old favourites?

Heh, also, I like it when my fantasy authors cross over into romance, but not vice versa (with the exception of Mary Jo Putney perhaps)…

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