Series or Stand-Alone by Tara Randel

Last month I posed a very unscientific poll on Facebook, asking followers if they liked to read series or stand-alone books. The results were mixed. Most people responded they read both, but preferred a series. I must admit, I enjoy either. 

Since I have a new book out this month, which is part of a series, I was curious about reader habits. My first six Heartwarming books were all part of The Business of Weddings series, and His Honor, Her Family, is book two in my current series, Meet Me At the Altar. I  love writing series books. I enjoy coming up with the connection between the characters from book to book and plotting how the stories will overlap.  When I start with a story idea, I imagine all the people who can be involved and before I know it, I have an entire group of friends whose stories must be told. 

Since my poll was off the cuff, I came up with reasons why I like to read both.


Character continuity. We get to meet people in one book and then in continuing stories, they might drop in and visit so we get caught up on their lives since their HEA. As a reader, I love to know what’s going on in the previous characters lives. Whether I write the series or read it, I have an investment in those characters, and well, I’m a bit nosy. When the series comes to an end, I love a recap of everyone. Weddings. Babies. Engagements. I just have to know!

Location. Who doesn’t love a small town where everyone knows each other? Talk about built-in drama! I think part of the draw is the setting. As the author, I get to create a town and every business in it. Every home and special getaway our characters like to frequent. That is one of the most enjoyable parts of coming up with my own town. Sure, I take bits and pieces of locations I’ve been to and love, but my imagination gets to fashion this perfect little place where I’d love to live. Also, we get to meet and fall in love with secondary characters who round out a book. 

Order. First of all, if I know I’m reading a book in a series, I have to go in numerical order. If I get a book that’s say, number three, I may go ahead and read the book to see if I like the characters. If I’m hooked, I’ll hunt down the previous stories. Then I look forward to the upcoming books. The bad part? Waiting for the next release.  

What about stand-alone?

Stand-alone books offer just as compelling characters and locations. Once that story ends, we can move on to another book without many of the lingering questions. For me, if it’s a romance, I love a series. If it is a mystery, I usually read stand-alone. I have no idea why. I guess I get really invested in the romance couples, their friends and family.

Here is an excerpt from His Honor, Her Family.

As the guys left, deep in conversation, Grace turned, ready to finish up so she could head back to the cabin and change for the excursion on the lake. She stopped short when Faith’s knowing eyes met hers, sparkling with humor.
“I see how it is.”
Grace shook her head. “How what is?” Please, please, please don’t say it.
“You and Deke?”
She said it.
“It’s not what you think.”
“Really? You didn’t just get all gooey when he promised to take John on the lake?”
“It was nice of him.”
“Nice.” Faith snorted. “I saw you melt.”
Grace rolled her shoulders. “I’m not having this conversation with you.”
“Fine, but sis?”
“It’s about time you stop being all about work and let yourself get involved with a nice guy.”
Was that what she was doing? Getting involved with Deke? From the look on Faith’s face, her sister thought so.
She couldn’t argue either.
Yikes. I’m in trouble here.

Honestly, if you love to read, you’ll get immersed in a good story either way! Let me know what your preference is.

Check out the Prism Book Tour for His Honor, Her Family, February 11-16. While there you can enter to win a giveaway! 


Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, TRUSTING HER HEART, available August 2019.  Visit Tara at Like her on Facebook at Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter and receive a link to download a free digital book.


  1. I love both, too, and I think readers definitely do--it was a big question I got a talk last night. But I'd rather write stand-alone, I think, with vague references back to previous books. Love the excerpt!

  2. I read both, but sometimes it's hard to find/get continuing books and then I get frustrated. I have never been good at writing even sequels. I want to move on to new locations and new characters. But I like other people's series and follow the ones that have been in Heartwarming.

    1. Everyone has their own preference in writing a story. Thank goodness we're all different. It makes finding good books a treat. Thanks Roz!

  3. I love both! Your cover is beautiful and I'm looking forward to reading the book.

  4. I enjoy reading both. And if I find a book in a series, I'll start reading any number if I like it. I don't feel compelled to go in order. (Here's to the rule breakers! lol) I'm fascinated with how much plotting and planning goes into writing a series. Heartwarming is great for series since it's centered heavily on family and community - so many connected characters to explore. Thanks for sharing the excerpt!

    1. Oh, if only I was a rule breaker! LOL. It was my pleasure to share an excerpt. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I like both kinds--I especially enjoy writing series and updating readers about characters from previous books. That's what makes Heartwarming stories so much fun. As a vagabond myself it's fun to create characters who want to put down roots. Congratulations on the release. It sounds wonderful.

    1. It is satisfying giving our characters permanent roots. Thanks Virginia!

  6. I like series, as you say it's fun to check in on previous characters and see what they're up to, as long as each story in the series is complete in itself. I like standalones too. Once or twice I've been surprised with a cliffhanger--where the story stops in the middle and continues in the next book--and I wasn't happy, but mostly I just love good books.

    1. I agree. It's all about good books! Thanks, Beth.

  7. I like both series and stand alones plus a sort of hybrid as in mystery where there’s a continuing main character each time who has an arc yet the story can take him/her anywhere with a new mystery to solve. Community is there in friends but not as strong as in a romance series. Congratulations on your new book! Love the excerpt.

    1. I love a strong community and Heartwarming books certainly deliver. Thanks, Leigh!

  8. I love the excerpt! Congratulations on your new book. I love series where I get to say a quick hello to characters I've met in the past. But I'm always happy to read a stand alone book too. I think what gets me hooked is really interesting, compelling characters, and you can have them in either type of book.


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