Flash Poll: First or Last

I never thought I’d have to ask this, but then again, I never thought they’d be a poll about my husband’s fictitious name, either. So…

In the last two weeks, I’ve had a few emails about this, but I’m only able to give my perspective as the author, not from a reader, so if you don’t mind, I’d love an opinion.

My first seven books were all written in chronological order, so it’s fairly simple with those to know which order to read them in. Then came His Contract Bride… And in his usual tendency, Edward is stirring up some harmless trouble. Unfortunately, he’s not around to deal with it. I am. I’ve gotten a few emails asking which order to read the books in. This brought me up short. Technically, Edward and Regina’s story is the first book.  It’s where everything starts. However, since I wrote it after writing all the others, I was able to tie into several past books and give reasons behind why the characters do things or why things are a certain way. For example, why Edward told Regina to order gruel for Caroline in Her Sudden Groom when Caroline told Edward that Alex was a good pall mall player. Or when Lady Sinclair announces she’s having a baby and that if it’s a boy, they’ll name him Marcus and if it’s a girl, they’ll name her Olivia. There are several others, but these seemed the most innocent to post. The fact is that to me as the author, I think you get more out of it or can appreciate it more reading it last. Especially the final scene. But, I’m the author, not a reader. So I’d like your opinion.

Would you say to read it first to have the backstory so when you read the other books you already know these things or last where you “got” the subtle and not-so-subtle explanations for things or understand the “wink and nod” jokes such as the gruel and Marcus and Olivia.

Please feel free to vote and leave comments. It’s only been about two weeks since I started getting this question and I’m sure it’ll keep coming up so I’d like to put something on here and my website about it, but I’d really value some outside opinions on it.

12 thoughts on “Flash Poll: First or Last”

  1. I voted “other”. As nice as it would be to write books in order in theory, it might not be feasible. If you are the kind of author who can force a story, then by all means, do them in order because you will keep getting those emails. I get them all the time. But I can’t write a series in order that the events actually happen because my stories get written when the characters want them written. It’s why every book can read as a stand alone.

    So it really depends on what you can do as an author. As a reader, I want your best work, regardless of the order the books are written.

    Something you might want to do at the beginning of every book yuo write is to add a disclaimer up front giving a chronological list of your books with a statement of whatever you decide to do. You might want to also do that in your book description, this blog, your website, etc. And no matter what you decide, there will still be people who will gloss over it and ask the questions anyway because some people don’t read everything.

    Just my two cents.

    1. I should add a quick note as a reader: The only time I think it’s important to write books in order is when there is a cliffhanger at the end of one book that leads into the second. Usually, this happens in a fantasy series, though it can happen in a series in romance. So if you have a question hanging at the end of a book, I think you’re trapped into writing the second book next. Hope that makes sense.

    2. You know, it’s funny because when I first started writing about any of the Banks family, it was only John and Carolina’s daughters, Edward didn’t even have much of a speaking role in the first series (I can only think of four times when he spoke in the entire first series). So, at that time, I’d have been more inclined to write about John and Carolina. Then came HER SUDDEN GROOM and I just loved Edward. He was great. If not for my enjoyment of him then I would have never written the “prequels”. So I agree, it’s okay if things are out of order if that’s how they “come to you”.

      I’ve put a chronological order and a “written in” order in my paperback. I should update my blog and website to reflect this. Oh, and I love the idea of a disclaimer on the product page! I’ll be adding that tomorrow.

  2. I wrote last. Maybe it should be first though. I’m such a decisive person. The hardest thing about reading it after the others is because of a situation with Edward in another book. Because of that situation is the only reason I have for it maybe being read first.

  3. Rose I’m with you, I think they should be read in the order that you wrote them. This debate reminds me of the huge debates there are in fan circles of the Chronicles of Narnia. That is another series where i absolutly think the should be read in publication order not chronialogical order. While I was reading her contract bride I had appraciation for the behind the scenes moments like you pointed out. Not to mention that the opening scene in Intention of an Earl will not be as funny and shocking with the discrption of the drawing room if you have read His Contract Bride first.

    1. I agree about the drawing room! If you already know… It wouldn’t be so funny when you first read about that. I also find it a fun twist at who the responsible person behind it is! LOL

  4. I too voted “other.” I would have to agree with Ruth Ann’s suggestion of putting a chronological order in the books and website. Maybe stating that Contract and Yankee are prequels, especially since the other two Banks Brother books come after the groom series.

    I enjoyed reading Contract last and catching all the little and big things from the other books but if given the choice I probably would have read it first because that’s the kind of reader I am.

  5. I too voted “other.” and I would have to agree with Ruth Ann’s suggestion of putting a chronological order in the books and your website for those who want to read it in order. You may even want to put that Contract and Yankee are prequels to the other series since the other two books come after the Groom series.

    I enjoyed reading Contract last and catching all the big and little things from the other books but I don’t think reading it first would matter to some people. If I had the choice I probably would have read Contract first because that is just the way I am. In the future I will probably reread them in chronological order.

    By the way, I don’t think the the epilogue gives too much away. If I remember correctly it never mentions the brides name, right?

    1. I didn’t even think about giving anything away in the epilogue in regards to who Alex marries. In the book description for HER SUDDEN GROOM it says Caroline is the heroine, so there never was a doubt that he’d marry Lady O. (I’m so unromantic sometimes, aren’t I. Just blurt that right out. *grins*)

      I wonder if people would be more upset if they did read it first and didn’t know just how sick Edward was in the epilogue of his book and they thought he’d live forever only to have him die when they get to SUDDEN…

  6. i voted last, as in read the books in the order they spilled forth from your brain. For some reason Contract didn’t read as a prequel to me… I think it’s because it wasn’t “setting the stage” for the ‘later’ stories.
    The overlapping details were fun but you do not “need” Contract to enjoy/understand Sudden. I enjoyed reading them in their order of publication.

    1. I agree. You do not need CONTRACT to understand SUDDEN. That’s why it can work in either direction. But I think it’s possible to understand some of the jokes and whatnot if you read it last. Oh, and I bet it has a lot to do with my writing it last that it didn’t read like a prequel. Really because it takes place 30 years before the others, there really wasn’t a lot of “set up” I could do other than setting up John’s story.

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