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Lauren Dane is making her own rules!

I’ve got two books out this month, first there’s WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…AFTER DARK from Harlequin Spice and then RELENTLESS from Berkley Heat. As it happens, both of these are stories that required worldbuilding.whiv-after-dark-0503091

My first book was a paranormal set in New Orleans featuring a matrilineal line of witches. As I continued on through the last five years, I’ve kept to some of the themes I loved back in 2004 when I wrote Triad. 

Making up my own rules! I love paranormal or futuristic worlds where I can build my own universe and give it rules. Things run how I want them to. Of course, that means it has to make sense, even if it’s made up. Nothing is more annoying than a paranormal universe with all sorts of rules that contradict each other, or worse, leaves you totally confused.  Still, to me that’s the fun part. 

In RELENTLESS, I was able to expand the world I introduce in UNDERCOVER. I get to go into more depth about the system of rule, who is Ranked and why. I can dig into the meat of that because it’s very important to both my characters so it’s relevant to relate to the reader. That was fun too, creating a system of governance for this world, giving it heart, giving it flaws.

Family/friendship groups! This is something I use across genres from my contemporary Chase Brothers books to my Cascadia Wolves. I’m of the belief that you get to know a person or a character via his or her relationships with the people they’re closest to. It gives the characters a place to hang up their coat. Are they protective? Do they have a hard outer shell but they go out of their way for their mother or sister? It’s a glimpse into someone’s character.


In RELENTLESS you meet Abbie, who is very close with her siblings and who has a very complicated relationship with her father. And Roman, to whom Family is everything because he’s a single father and the most highly Ranked leader in the Known Universes. He seems remote and aloof, but when you see him with his sons or with his friends, you know he’s much more complicated than it appears at first glance.

And in SENSUAL MAGIC, Nell’s family are the witches in her Clan, she relates to the world via her position in her Clan and her relationship to them as the Hunter. Poor William, he’s rather alone in the world except for his brother, Nell is more than he ever expected.

For me, the joy of each book is when I feel like I’ve truly given readers a glimpse into a character they can root for. Doesn’t mean you won’t want to pop them in the nose sometimes, but in the end, characters and a story who make readers feel something, even for just a few hours.

That’s the joy of it, the joy of it for me as a reader, when I open up and book and get swept away (be it to a werewolf pack or a small town in Georgia). I hope I can do that too, I hope that when readers finish my books they feel their time was well invested and that my characters stay with them.

How about you all? Are characters important to you? Is the story important? Do you have settings or themes you avoid or go right for?

For more information on Lauren Dane and her books please visit her website at: http://www.laurendane.com/

***Leave a comment answering Lauren’s questions. She has graciously offered up a chance for two commenters to win their choice of either What Happens In Vegas…After Dark or Relentless. Good Luck***


49 Responses

  1. Characters are really, really important. If I get a few chapters into a book and realize I don’t care at all what happens to these people, I put the book down and move on.

    I tend to avoid books about cowboys or bikers – they just don’t appeal to me. Set a book in Minneapolis, and I won’t be able to resist getting it!

  2. Hi Lauren! Loved your post. Characters are the core of the book for me. If they are well written then they can be set in 15th century, modern times or future, they can be Americans, Chinese or aliens, it doesn’t matter. That’s why I don’t care what genre the book is, if characters make sense and their actions and motivations are clear and they appeal to me, I’ll love the book. Although I must confess that I prefer romantic with a little paranormal added to the mix 🙂

  3. Characters are important to me because I like to be able to relate to them while reading the story. I also have to be interested in the plot of the story to pick it up and read it. I really don’t pay much attention to the themes or the settings of the story.

  4. Hi Lauren,
    I agree with the others, if I don’t connect with the characters in the story I will either put the book down and try again another time (sometimes I will read the ending hoping it will catch my interest) or I just won’t finish it all together. As far as settings/theme’s I like to read just about anything. Have a great day and Congrats on the book. 🙂

  5. Characters are the most important. If I don’t like them I’m not going to finish a book. It has to be a good story nobody wants to read a bad story. I avoid babies and kids.

  6. Congrats on the releases!!

  7. I enjoy reading about places or characters that I wouldn’t normally be able to go to or meet.

  8. I have to like the characters and where the story is set or the book doesn’t work for me. B/c if I wind up hating one of the main characters or the character is annoying it doesn’ t work for me and I won’t finish the book

  9. Thanks for having this great contest!!!!
    Characters are very important to me when reading a story. It does not matter what kind of story I am reading… witches, druids, demons, werewolves, vampires… they are all (or at one point in time) human! So, I have to believe in their problems, trials, heartbreak, past life, in them! Then after believing in them… they storyline just has to flow with what is being presented to me in the story. The story is just as important as the characters. What they go through to get to the point where they are, what they believe in, and their determination is vital to the story!
    I am not really a western kinda of girl… but if I read the back of the book and fall in love and the cover is smokin hot… I will read it! You never know what you will get until you open the pages and start reading!!!
    Thanks ladies!

  10. Settings matter to me, in that I like a variety. I grew up on crime fiction, and a lot was set in New York, so I’m over NY 😉

    I immediately gave Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson series a try once I heard that both the author and the series are based in the same state in which I live 🙂

  11. *waving* Hi, Lauren!!!

    Good characterization can make an otherwise so-so book for me–and poor characterization will definitely turn me into a nit-picking fiend who’ll dissect any and all plot and world building inconsistencies.

    But when an author manages to balance both characterization and plot, it’s just gold.

    As for what themes I avoid, I have to say that inspirational romance. I have tried it a few times, but I can’t finish the novels so… *shrug* Other than that, I think I’m game to try pretty much everything.

    Best of luck with both releases, Lauren!

  12. Characters are so much more important to me than story…sorry, but it’s true! Nothign at all could happen in the book…they go on a movie date, but if their fun characters who are deep, make me laugh or just seem to fit well, I could love it!

    Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me” doesn’t have much going on, lots of eating..but I still love it b/c the characters are so fantastic!

    Both of these new books look fantastic!! You’ve been awfully busy Ms. Dane 🙂

  13. I like character driven stories much more than a complicated storyline…sometimes, if hte story is too complicated or there is simply too much going on, the characters can get lost and I lose interest. :/

    Loved the first Vegas anthology, can’t wait for the second!

  14. Characters and relationships are the most important factor of a book for me. I read lots of genres, but that remains constant no matter what the book is about. I think that is why I like series books so much. Maybe it is because the author has a chance to address the world they are writing in several different stories, so it does not take over.
    When I find characters that I love, I hate for the book to end, so when they are updated in a later series book you get a brief glimpse of what is going on with them now.


  15. Characters and the story are extremely important. If I don’t feel like I know the character, I can’t get into the book.

  16. I love how you set up your own rules. Sometimes, now a days, that’s the way you have to do to come up with something original and fresh.

  17. I think both story and characters are important. They are what will make or break a book. If I can’t believe in either than I don’t really enjoy the book. There aren’t many types of books that I avoid. I will at least try different genre so I see if it is something I might enjoy.

  18. One of the things I love most about your books, Lauren, is the connections between the charachters.
    I love how you build their world, and keep us updated on the charachters we’ve read about before, and let us get to know the charachters we’ll meet in later books.

    It’s like I’m walking into a place I’m comfortable with, familiar with, but about to get a new and exciting story.
    I love that the interaction is not just between the hero/heroine, but with the whole friends/family dynamics.
    Connected books have quickly become some of my very favorite reads, and I love when I get a new story in a world or setting I know well.

  19. Hi Lauren,
    Both of your new books sound like stories I’d like to read. I find that the characters and the storyline are important. Either can hook me or turn me off. Time travel and suspense are the books I’m likely to pick up.

  20. Like many have said before me, I feel that the characters are the most important thing. Sometimes good characters can save an otherwise bad story. But I think I cannot enjoy a good story with awful characters. Of course good characters with a good story is the best thing in the whole world 😉
    I do favor some themes (e.g. scarred, tortured heroes is my favorite) and avoid others (e.g. babies, with some exceptions). In historical romances the setting can be any; I love regency, medieval etc.

  21. Since I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, worldbuilding is one of my favorite things to do. These days, I stick with Ruritanian alternate universes or historicals with fantasy elements.

  22. What makes the story important for me are the characters, although other factors do, indeed, play into it. The characters have to be believable. I don’t have to necessarily like them, but I do need to understand their personalities and what makes them tick. I also have to see a reason why they are in the story to begin with!

  23. I need good characters, or at least someone I could connect too. if I can’t like anyone then i can’t get into the story cos i just get to upset with the characters.

    Of course there also needs to be a story, even if the characters are amazing it needs to be built on something

  24. ooh congrats I didn’t realize you had two books in the same month. Both of them sound great.

  25. My favorite genres are contemporaries, though I love “fated mates” books. I’m not a big fan of BDSM or m/m books, but menages are good!

    Most of all, it’s about the characters and the story. That’s most important to make a book successful for me.

  26. I love getting swept away into a world that captures me from the very first page. When you are sorry to get to the end, and can’t wait to return to that world again.

    Characters are definitely important, and will be what will first get my attention. I am a big paranormal fan, so that genre tends to be what I grab first, but for a great story I will try any genre. My favorite theme is probably friends to lovers and assassin bad boys ( or girls).

  27. I am definitely a character gal. I think that the characters are so important and they are what draws me to the story. I love characters that I can become invested in and I want to learn as much about them as possible. I do always like to have a romance element to my stories and I do like paranormals alot.

    Congrats on the releases and I am really looking forward to reading them.

  28. The characters and story are equally important to me. I have to be able to connect with the characters and the story has to keep my attention. I always go for menage stories. Doesn’t mean I’ll always like them, but I will always try them.

  29. Characters are very important to me. If I do care for the characters, I’ll put down the book.

  30. Ohh Sensual Magic can be added to the Lauren Dane haven’t read yet list.

    Other than the last few Cascadia and I think ONE more WItches Knot….was running out and having panic attacks!!!

    Ack! Must have more Lauren Dane books!!

  31. I have been a long time Lauren Dane fan for years. I am so happy to be here for her trip to the Print world at large. I have all of her books and will continue to support and follow her (not in a stalker way – well maybe – lol) as long as she gifts us with her words and worlds.

  32. Characters are important, even minor characters. I like when marginal characters are fleshed out but do not take over the story. That, to me, is a sign of a talented author. It reminds me of one of the reasons I loved the movie “titanic” so much. The story was told so skillfully that even the peripheral charcters could bring a tear to my eye. i will never forget the sad sight of the small string ensemble playing their instruments or the captain unable to choose who lives or dies by deciding who gets to leave on the rafts and instead commits suicide….just a poignant, memorable movie

  33. Hi Lauren and Greta!

    Yes, characters are very important. So is plot. I have to really be into the characters and be able to follow along with the plot, or I’ll just stop reading. I’ve, unfortunately, had to put some books away because either the plot or the leads were just not relatable. Not a Lauren Dane book , of course. LOL

    I love all of Lauren’s books. The Cascadia Wolves are still my favorites! 🙂 Perfect combination of wonderful characters and great plot…


  34. All wonderful replies! Thanks to everyone who’s stopped in to comment and thank you to Greta for having me here today.

  35. The characters and plots are both important to me because I have to connect with the them and I have to know what the storyline is about or else I will lose interest and stop reading.

  36. Hi Lauren!!

    I have to agree with everyone…….characters are really important, I do need to connect with them to stay interested in a story.

    Congrats on the releases! 🙂

  37. I will also say that if I cannot connect with the characters in a story or believe in them or their actions, I have a hard time continuing to the end.

    If an author does not care about their characters, why should I? I really appreciate the time and effort that you put into your characters and their motivations and relationships, Lauren.

  38. Loving the cover of Relentless! Very naughty! I already have the other book thanks to Anya Bast! 🙂

  39. Characters are important as well as plots and settings. I have to be able to connect with the character somehow and being able to picture the setting helps with that. Without the connection of some sort its just a blah book.

  40. Plot and setting is important but I think the characters are more important.

  41. Hi Lauren! I wanted to ask if you liked your newer titles for these books? Did you get to pick these?

    There’s nothing that I avoid reading i romance. I love trying new genres and themes! Its exciting. When it comes to the characters, just about anything goes. I see alot of variety depending on what the genre is, like with a historical romance you might have a heroine who is more innocent and in a SF romance you’ll have one that is independent. And then others I’m totally surprised in what I’ll get. There really isn’t anything I avoid except for most inspirational romance. Outside of romance I don’t read alot of except for like historical mysteries and urban fantasy. I just won’t go near horror, only because I don’t like the gory stuff.

  42. i do like contemp settings usally but will try diffent things once
    loved undercover

    congrat s on the new releaes and great reviews

  43. IMHO, characters & story line go hand in hand and as long as those items mesh with and stay true to the setting and/or theme, then all is well with me. I enjoy reading historicals most but occasionally venture out into other genres.

  44. Hi, Lauren! Characters are definitely important for me–if I like them/can relate, I’m much more forgiving of anything else and am more willing to suspend disbelief, etc. The story is important, too, but as long as it is basically interesting and well-written, it doesn’t have to be the most original thing ever. I can’t think of settings I’ll avoid, but I do enjoy variety–since I mainly read for escapism, I like being able to “be” different places/times. As for themes, I love friends-to-lovers, plain-Jane gets the hunk (especially if it’s without the help of a “magic” Cinderella transformation–I prefer those where the hero’s perspective changes because of their growing relationship), second chances, redemption, and a good revenge plot is always fun. I tend to avoid secret-baby like the plague, unless it’s in the hands of an author I LOVE. Then I’ll approach with caution.

  45. I want interesting characters to connect with and remember long time after I finished the book, and I like unusual settings and fairytale themes, but I do read about everything. I can’t think of anything I would avoid…

  46. Hi Lauren. Characters are very important. If I can’t make a connection with the characters, the book isn’t good for me.

  47. Characters are very important to me! I have to feel warmth from them and feel like I can somewhat identify with them in some way. Plot is also important. There has to be a good story that leaves me not wanting to put the book down.

  48. Well drawn characters and strong emotions are a must for me. Sometimes world building and complex plotting takes away from the characterization needed to connect the reader to the story.

  49. Hi Lauren. Yes characters are key. I want them to act maturely to each other if that makes sense! Doesn’t matter when or when it happens, as long as the two have obvious chemistry!

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