Elle Kennedy on Appreciating Secondary Characters

Hello my lovelies! I have to let you know, my internet is still in and out. Mostly out. And with no rhyme or reason. It might work, then all of a sudden… stop. For a long period of time. With maybe a 40 second window where it does work. I’m about to start stabbing things at random, because stress eating hasn’t helped. (No joke I’m getting too big for my fat clothes.) But anyway, let’s not focus on that.

What we’re here for, is the lovely Elle Kennedy! She contacted me about being a guest here and I was very happy to have her. I’m also very happy that she is kind and gracious and isn’t demanding about the time her post goes live and understand internet problems are evil.

Without further ado…

Appreciating Secondary Characters

This month I read a romance that featured a hero and heroine that I disliked immensely.  I didn’t enjoy their dialogue, wasn’t invested in their relationship, and didn’t care one way or the other if they ended up together.  Normally when this happens I don’t bother finishing the book.  This time, I kept reading—for the sub-plot characters.  In fact, I skimmed through all the scenes with the main characters, only bothering to do it just in case the sub-characters’ names came up!  I loved this secondary couple so much that they saved the book for me, and as a result, I ended up reading more of that author’s books and liking them a lot.

As a writer, I get a lot of emails from readers, and some of them address the same issue I just mentioned—ie “I didn’t really like A and B, but I loved C and D—when is their book coming out?”  Of course, when anyone voices a dislike for a main character, I feel a little wounded—because I love all my characters and it’s sad that everyone doesn’t see how awesome they are.  But as a reader, I know that I’m not going to like every single character in a book, and sometimes it happens to be the one I’m supposed to be the most invested in.

A good example of this, for me, is with JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  I didn’t care much for the h/H in the first book, but I adored all the side characters and they were the sole reason I kept going with the series.  If it weren’t for those characters, I would have missed out on an amazing series.  As a result of that, I’ve learned to be a lot more patient when it comes to reading and discovering new authors.  If the first book in a series was so-so, I will almost always pick up the second one, and sometimes even the third.

Next month, the second book in my Killer Instincts series releases—Midnight Alias features many of the characters first introduced in Midnight Rescue, along with a few new faces that were so much fun to write about.  I’ll be honest—I have fallen in love with one of my secondary characters.  His name is Sullivan, he’s Australian, and I adore him.  Yep, adore.  With that said, I’ll leave you with a short excerpt that features my new favourite character.

I’ll also be giving away a copy of Midnight Rescue (Killer Instincts Book 1), so leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.  Just tell me how you feel about sub-plots, side characters, hating a hero/heroine, or anything else that strikes your fancy!


Midnight Alias Excerpt

An undercover DEA agent has gone off the radar. Suspecting an internal mole, the government needs Luke Dubois and his elite team of operatives to recover their man, and the New Orleans native thinks he’s found his way inside the dark underbelly of Manhattan: Olivia Taylor, the girlfriend of a mob boss and the sexiest woman he’s ever laid eyes on. His new mission objective? Get past Olivia’s defenses and convince her to take a chance—on him.

All Olivia wanted was to finish law school and live a normal life, but that dream was shattered when one dangerous night put her deeply in a mobster’s debt. Now Luke and his team will help her escape—in exchange for intel on the missing agent. But Olivia doesn’t anticipate her intense attraction to the reckless Louisiana charmer or that she’ll be forced to risk everything—including her heart.

“This isn’t even a mission,” Luke announced.  “All we do is watch.”

A third voice joined the mix, this one boasting an Australian accent and a whole lot of scorn.

“Don’t you even think of complaining, mate,” Sullivan Port said as he strode into the living room in nothing but a towel.  The white terrycloth hung low on the guy’s hips, way too small for that huge body of his.  Sullivan was six-three, with broad shoulders and a heavy chest, and he constantly seemed to be strolling around half-naked.  Maybe it was an Australian thing.

“You get to watch naked girls every night,” Sullivan added.  “We watch the building. Naked girls is my job.  Tell me, how is that fair?”

Luke couldn’t argue.  Out of all the men on Jim Morgan’s mercenary team, Sullivan probably did have the greatest appreciation for the female form, and no matter where the guy was, he always managed to find a hot eager girl ready for a lay.  Not that Luke was hurting for female company himself, but Sullivan was a whole different league of player.  Luke once watched a prostitute in Amsterdam offer to pay Sullivan to go upstairs with her.  If Sully weren’t such a cocky rub-it-in-your-face type, Luke might even call him his hero.

“Morgan is punishing me,” Sullivan went on, crossing the parquet floor toward the kitchen. He disappeared behind the enormous refrigerator door then reappeared with a beer bottle, towel flapping against his thighs as he returned to the living area.  When he plopped down on the armchair across from the sofa, both Luke and Trevor shielded their eyes.

“Whoa, fix that towel, man,” Luke ordered.

“Fix it?” Trevor echoed.  “No, go put clothes on instead.  For the love of God, this isn’t a frat house.”

Sullivan shrugged.  “I like having a cold beer after a shower.”  He grinned.  “If my cock makes you feel inferior, that’s not my fault.”

There, it was official.  This was not a mission.  When grown men started talking about each other’s cocks, it meant things were bad.

Whee! So what’d you think? Remember to answer Elle’s question, or ask her some of your own. And there’s a copy of Midnight Rescue up for grabs!

17 thoughts on “Elle Kennedy on Appreciating Secondary Characters

  1. Cathy P

    I think that a lot of times sub-plots and side characters keep the stories going. I don’t think I have ever read a book where I didn’t like the hero and heroine though.

  2. Cris

    I already have MIDNIGHT RESCUE, so don’t count me in for the giveaway!
    I generally love secondary characters, whether they are a single person, a secondary couple, or a whole town (hello Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbour). My only pet peeve is when they are clearly there as series fodder: you know he/she/they are going to get their own book as soon as he/she/they’re introduced, but there’s zero development in the H/h’s book.

    I can’t recall having read a book where I actively disliked the H/h and much preferred a secondary couple, but Nora Roberts’s BIRTHRIGHT is definitely an example where I enjoyed the secondary romance more than the primary couple. Oh, that Douglas Cullen :D.

    Stoked for MIDNIGHT ALIAS! I’ve had it preordered since forever!

  3. JoAnne

    Sub-plots and side characters almost always add to my interest in a storyline unless it goes off on such a tangent that I can’t relate it to the main story – then it would detract from it. Most times I like the hero, heroine but sometimes there’s one in a story that I hate and I wonder where the author ever came up with the hero/heroine and that can detract from the storyline as well.
    Thanks for sharing. Good interview and excerpt.

  4. bn100

    I don’t mind sub-plots as long as they don’t take over the whole story. If I’m not interested in reading more about the hero/heroine, I usually still finish the book.


  5. pc

    I often really like subplots as it can add to a story (in real life there are so many things going on at the same moment and each person/character has things going on that we only ‘see’ when a subplot is added). As with other commenters I agree that it has to be done carefully so as not to overwhelm the primary story or main characters of the book else I lose interest in the entire book because the cohesiveness feels lost. I’m not thrilled when I end up loving the secondary characters so much more than the main characters or hate the main characters because then I end up wondering why the secondary characters weren’t the main attraction or had their own book and why were the main characters even in the book.

  6. Mary Preston

    I don’t like it when a sub-plot is an obvious ploy to introduce characters that are destined to have their day in the sun in a subsequent book. It’s distracting to say the least.

  7. Liz

    I agree with others as they’ve posted – I do understand the point of introducing secondary characters for further books in the series as well as sub-plots and good times, but if the primary H/h aren’t doing it for me, I’m not sure I would stick around to finish the book, although I have been known to skip to the next book with the character(s) I do like.

  8. Willa

    Please don’t enter me – I have Midnight Rescue 😀

    I remember a PNR story in a very popular ongoing series (it was book 4) and I slogged through the awful, truly awful heroine so that I could keep up with the ongoing shenanigans of the rest of the pack 😀 And sometimes you are forced to do this to keep up with the overall story arc that weaves through the books. Have happily re-read all the books but not this one . . never again.

    And whilst not objecting to *subtle* sequel bait, it is a balancing act to not take the story away from the main H/H – especially towards the end of a book, where the crescendo is heavily foreshadowing the next book and the H/H story gets a quick HEA shoehorned in at the end almost as an afterthought – that puts my back teeth on auto grind! 🙂


    Hi Elle 😀 Good luck with the new release!

  9. donnas1

    Subplots can be just as interesting as the main story. I like though when they start as a little subplot in the book and morph to their own story in a future book. I also like when the secondary characters get their own stories.

  10. Fedora

    Ooh… I tend to really like stories that include strong secondary characters and side plots. They help give a fuller picture of the hero/heroine and their world, and yes, sometimes they might be spotlight stealers, but generally I’m OK with that 🙂 And if the author’s able to give them their own books in the future, so much the better! There have been times when I’ve liked the secondary characters even more than the main ones 🙂 Just how sometimes we click better with certain people than others, I guess!

  11. Maureen

    It’s rare that I like all the heroes and heroines in a series. I don’t know if I have ever read a book just for the secondary characters but they definitely can make a good story into an amazing story.

  12. lorelei59

    I like series books where the secondary characters and subplots build up to their own story. Like Sam and Alyssa from Suzanne Brockman’s Trouble Shooter series. They don’t get their own story until book 4 or 5. I have sticky notes on their scenes in the books building up to theirs.

    I enjoyed the excerpt. Another thing I like in books is the “brotherly” camaraderie and the smack talking. Jill Shalvis and Cindy Gerard do that very well. Looks like this series will have that as well. Looking forward to reading Midnight Alias.

  13. Diane Sallans

    I love a series and that generally means that secondary characters get promoted to primary in their own book. It’s fun to try to guess who may get that promotion. But a lot of secondary or supporting characters provides a lot of texture to a story even if they aren’t the kind to be promoted – but their visits are much appreciated.

    I’m reading Janet Chapman’s ‘Courting Carolina’ (3rd in her Spellbound Falls series). That series is really a continuation of her Highlander series and her Midnight trilogy. Her characters may not get their promotion for several books, and there are many candidates.

  14. Pingback: Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: Midnight Games by Elle Kennedy | A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet

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