Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Note: Blogger is iffy today. If you're having problems posting comments, email Delle Jacobs and I'll post your comment for you.

Our guest today is the incomparable COLLEEN GLEASON, who is going to explain to us just how she managed to break the "One Hero" rules and keep us guessing, debating and fretting through five books. Who would be Victoria's hero? Would she even have just one? Today's the day we find out. And here's Colleen to tell us all about her fabulous and fabled Gardella Chronicles.

And while we're at it---

WIN YOUR CHOICE! ANY ONE OF THE GARDELLA CHRONICLES SERIES BOOKS PICTURED HERE. Comment, ask a question, and maybe you'll be the one chosen by Delle's totally un-biased drawing machine (random pieces of paper scattered indiscriminately amongst the un-biased cat's favorite treats).



Today, the fifth and final book in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles (As Shadows Fade) is officially released. It’s the last in the ongoing series about Victoria Gardella Grantworth, a female vampire hunter in Regency England. This series has been called “romance” even though, until this fifth and final book, Victoria hasn’t had her happy ever after.

But in this book, she does. It all wraps up.

But, when the third book in the series (The Bleeding Dusk) was released a year ago, readers had begun to start taking sides.

They were taking sides as to which of the two main heroes Victoria should end up with. And, like the discussions around Angel vs. Spike, or Morelli vs. Ranger, sometimes the opinions have been very strong and quite erudite! Even after the third and fourth books, and now into the fifth book, the discussion continues.

It’s a huge compliment to me that the readers of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles have been fairly split between whether Victoria should end up with Max Pesaro or Sebastian Vioget. I hear over and over that it’s because the two men are well-developed, well-drawn characters—and yet, very different.

I share this because I thought it would be an interesting topic for blogging here at Delle’s place: about those “multi-heroes”—and whether it’s a trend that romance readers (and writers) like.
Sometimes, when the heroine has more than one man to choose from, it’s sort of obvious that one choice isn’t Mr. Right—either he’s too much of a “best friend” or “brother” or “doofus” or “comic relief” sort of character. Or, as in some of my favorite gothics, he turns out to be The Villain.

But how do you write two men that are equally possibly Mr. Right?

First, though, let me speak about the whole multi-hero phenomenon, and how that affects romance.

We all know that romances have one hero, one heroine, and they ride off into the sunset together at the end of the book.

Well, in my books, that hasn’t happened—until today, with the release of As Shadows Fade. (And although I don’t have the space to talk about why my books are labeled romance even though there’s no HEA, you can visit this post on my blog at http://www.colleengleason.com/wordpress/2008/01/26/romance-or-fantasy/ to read the answer.)

But I always guaranteed that Victoria’s HEA would happen—because I have always only planned for five books about her, and I’ve always known that she’d get her HEA in the fifth book. And, in fact, by the end of the fourth book (When Twilight Burns, which was released in August), her choice was pretty clear.

So, I’ve always had an end in mind. And, since the beginning of the series, I’ve known who Victoria’s hero will be. I’ve never wavered from that choice, and knowing where I’m going and what has to happen to get her there have helped me to develop her story, as well as each of their stories—and how they relate to her and each other.

I think part of the reason my two main heroes (there are other ones that come in and out of the series as well) have been successful is because I’ve had five books instead of one in which I can develop their stories. I haven’t felt like I’ve had to fit everything into one book, nor have I felt like I’ve had to end each book with a Happy For Now ending, even if it isn’t the HEA. I think that makes a huge difference.

Now, the way I see it, there are two ways to attack a multi-hero storyline: either set up a love triangle (as Janet Evanovich does with Stephanie Plum, and Stephanie Bond is doing brilliantly with her Body-Movers series [she has three men for her heroine to choose from!])
—or make the story be an evolution (as happens in Sugar Daddy (Lisa Kleypas), Hot Shot (Susan E Phillips), and one of my favorite series ever, The Roselynde Chronicles [Roberta Gellis]).

In a love triangle, you’ve got two men vying for the same woman, or the woman wanting one man, and a second man wanting her. In order for it to work, in my opinion, the two men have to both want her (ergo Janet E’s never-ending Morelli vs. Ranger conundrum) so we feel the pull of attraction for both of them—and the heroine’s own indecision.

In an evolution story, the heroine starts off with one hero, and then evolves through that relationship into another one. She grows, matures, he dies, leaves her, whatever—but that first relationship ends, and the second one begins. And of course, that first one could come back and be the HEA…or the second one could be it.

An evolution happens in Roberta Gellis’s Roselynde Chronicles—in the first book, Alinor marries Simon, who is much older than she is. She also gets to know his squire, Ian diVipont, who becomes the hero (and one of my all-time favorites. Really. I read his book at least once a year.) in the second book, Alinor, after Simon dies. Bertrice Small also did this with her Sky O’Malley series.

What makes those examples of evolution stories different from what I’ve done with the Gardella Vampire Chronicles is that in each of those other cases, we get at least an HFN at the end of the book…which at the time, we think is an HEA.

While you don’t really get that with any of my books except the last one, you do see Victoria’s relationship evolving with the two men and you can see how different they are, how they want different things from her, how they act differently toward her.

The hardest scenes I have to write are scenes where she interacts with one of the men. I have to make sure they talk differently, react differently, and want different things. I love writing them, but at the same time, it’s hard, hard, hard.

So…what do you think about the multi-hero romances? Can you deal with them, knowing that there will be an HEA…at some defined point? Do you like the opportunity to have more than one hero to lust after? How will you feel if, when the series ends, the heroine ends up with the guy you didn’t choose?

What do you think about this trend?


  1. Colleen,
    I've always thought the premise of these books was brilliant and I think the choice to have multiple heroes was equally as inspired. In addition to looking forward to the next story, the reader has the added incentive of trying to decide which hero to "support" and which hero will ultimately win.
    I'm a bit behind on my Gardella books, but now I have a good reason to catch up!

  2. I agree, Diane. I just learned yesterday my copy of the last one, As Shadows Fade, is in the mail, and I can't wait!

  3. What is it with blogs today? My posts keep vanishing into the ether.

    I'm fine with a will-the-real-hero-please-rise sort of scenario, but I prefer it if the alternate gets a HEA, too. I hate to see a lovable man left out in the cold. Colleen, do you have any plans for the leftover hero in your series?

  4. Blogger has been having problems for several weeks. At least this week is better than last week, but unfortunately there's nothing we can do besides report it.

  5. Major fan girl moment here as I LOVE your books, Colleen! And I have been firmly in Max's camp from the beginning. However, I don't think you could have come up with a better second choice for her than Sebastian. The most fascinating thing about the two heroes scenario in the Gardella Chronicles is that each one appeals to Victoria (and to the heroine in each of us) on a different level and for different reasons. When a two-hero book/series is written like that I LOVE it because it also enables me to learn twice as much about the heroine.

    That said, I'm not sure I could do it. At this point I just don't have the chops to write two such three-dimensional fully developed heroes. Guess I'll have to do what they do to get to Carnegie Hall - PRACTICE !!

    Now, I have read series in which there were two heroes and the hero I wanted her to end up with DIED!! I was furious! But not to the point I quit reading because I was already invested in the heroine and I thought "This author better come up with a really good HEA to make up for the heroine losing this great guy!"

    And I have to agree with Barbara. Any chance Sebastian might get a HEA of his own. He's a rogue and a cad, but a lovable sexy rogue and cad!

    Thanks for such a great series, Colleen. I have thoroughly enjoyed them and I can't wait to read As Shadows Fade.

  6. Well - I can see I have to add another series to my TBR!!! I can handle this - esp in five books to a HEA. I've been reading the Sookie Stackhouse series and as of book 5 there are multiple choices for heroes/ beaus...(evolution) I'm not sure which I would pick as it has changed from book to book. I see you knew from the beginning who the HEA hero would be. Does the left over guy get a HEA for himself?

  7. Hi all! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you and your questions. :-)

    Thanks for the compliments, Louisa! I hope you enjoy AS SHADOWS FADE. :-)

    As for the "left-over" hero...heh, I like that term...I may someday write his story, but I'm not sure when. At this time, the idea is perking and we'll see what happens.

    In some ways, by the end of AS SHADOWS FADE, the reader can infer what will happen with the left-over hero. Although I would like to write that story too.

  8. There are so many things I like about the concept of the "leftover hero", Colleen. I think there's something that keeps us pining to somehow help him find his happiness. And it's true to life, at least if we believe in the concept of the monogamous relationship.

    But it's also hard to build that story for the other man. I used a similar concept in SINS OF THE HEART, and ended up with a very complex second guy who everyone knew from the beginning couldn't in the long run win the heroine's heart. Yet the story is almost as much about Davy's unfulfilled dream as it is about Merritt and Juliette finally finding theirs. I think a lot about resolving Davy's story, but the barricades I erected in SINS would make it a difficult story to both write and sell.

  9. Posting for Jessa Slade:

    I've seen the covers for your books and they're all gorgeous. But I admit I was hesitant to jump in because somebody mentioned the love triangle and as a reader I'm pretty heavily invested in getting my traditional HEA fix. But now that I know there IS an HEA (and I'm covering my ears lest I hear which it'll be) I feel better about reading more. So, thank you, Delle and Colleen, for adding another author to my TBR!


  10. Yes, but if anyone can do it, you can, Delle! I would love to read Davy's story!


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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.