What makes a keeper?
First of all, there are basically two types of books on my keeper shelf:
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
Books by Deborah Smith, especially Sweet Hush, A Place to Call Home, and Charming Grace
A Fine Madness by Kathleen Korbel
Many Nora Roberts books, especially Midnight Bayou and Alan MacGregor's story
Outlaw Viking by Sandra Hill
Most of Susan Elizabeth Phillips' books, the 'Stars' books and Ain't She Sweet
Amazon Lily et al by Theresa Weir now writing as Anne Frazier
The Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
Sam and Rick series by Suzanne Enoch
Shadow Dance by Susan Andersen
Richard North Patterson
At first glance, I wondered what these two groups had in common. But my keepers from the two genres are similar in that they include some level of romance and a HEA. It's fascinating to see how the authors of thrillers approach romance in their novels. Gives insight into the male perspective on relationships.
Here are five factors, four of which are always present.
Whether its Baldacci and Patterson's political machinations in Washington, Hamilton's murders on the Wisconsin Canada border, Greg Iles' thrillers , Gabaldon's time travel or Korbel's emotional romances, the suspense factor keeps me wondering and reading to the very end. For me, that's a must.
Memorable Romantic Heroes:
They are delightfully flawed with an idealistic approach to life. They will change the system, save their country or the world, and protect their woman while dealing with real life challenges to their quintessence and threats from the bad guys.
If the author can't convey deep emotion, set the stakes high enough that failure is a real possibility, then I'm probably not going to remember the book and it won't make it onto my keeper shelf. Deborah Smith's books are top notch emotional reads illustrating these high stakes.
The series factor is gaining popularity throughout fiction genres, perhaps in response to our world having less and less community. As we escape to these make believe worlds those fictional families fill a gap that's missing in our lives.
I love it when novels have a 'family' of characters with whom I can bond and follow in future books. When they are irresistible, the entire series can be 'a keeper'.
I love witty prose, but it's especially profound when an author you don't associate with humor uses it to bring depth to her characters like Jamie in Gabaldon's Outlander. Don't you love a hero with a sense of humor?