Do Those Romance Companion Series Get too Ridiculous?

You know those companion novels that feature different girls in the same world/clique/friend group? The ones where the girl finds some insanely hot, brooding guy and either he changes her or she changes him and they fall in love.

Then you read book two and it’s the EXACT SAME THING but with the girl’s best friend.
Then you read book three and it’s the EXACT SAME THING but with the best friend’s lab partner.
Then you read book four and it’s the EXACT SAME THING but with the girl that the first guy’s best friend has his eye on.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
Take Me On by Katie McGarry

You see where I’m going with this?

I have a love/hate relationship with those series. Usually I read book one and I love it to death. And in the end, I find myself craving more. I want another book about the best friend. So then I read that book and I love it too. Once again, I find myself wanting more. But I think book three or four is often where things get iffy. By that point, I notice the repetition. I start to notice how absurd it all is.

  • Every single girl finds a RIDICULOUSLY HOT guy with the best six pack ever and that V thing that’s going on below them.
  • The girl usually sits there all lame and like, “Ahmaygawd how does this super duper hot guy love me???? Derp.”
  • Either the guy or the girl (sometimes both) has some SUPER MAJOR ISSUES that need to be worked out.
  • They have intense sex all night long, every day.

And you know when it feels most ridiculous? When they all get together for some party or hangout and everywhere you look there’s HOT GUY, PERFECT GIRL; HOT GUY, PERFECT GIRL; HOT GUY, PERFECT GIRL.

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Down London Road by Samantha Young
Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young
Fall from India Place by Samantha Young
Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young
Moonlight on Nightingale Way by Samantha Young

And every time the narrator describes them, it’s literally like:

“Guy #1 is such a hot guy. He has the most incredible abs. He could have any girl he wants.”

“Guy #2 has the most intense eyes. He can make any girl wet just by looking at them.”

“Guy #3 has these rock-solid biceps. Every girl fawns over him, but he only wants Girl #3.”

I’ve read through paragraphs like that in more than one book. They just go down a line describing how insanely hot each guy is and how they could have anyone, but they only want one girl. And I’m like, “Dude, I just read the same thing three times.”

How do they all end up in the same situation?

I guess it just starts to get laughable to me how every girl in a group of friends goes through the same thing and lands a variation of the same guy.

Wait for You by J. Lynn
Be With Me by J. Lynn
Stay With Me by J. Lynn
Fall With Me by J. Lynn

If you read one or two books on their own, they can be fantastic reads. But when you read all of them in a row, you can start to see how absurd it is. They all seem to go through the same “life changing experience”, meet the same kind of guy who changes his ways and rocks their world, and they’re introduced to mountains of hot sex.

These books start to become such cookie cutters. They rehash the exact same plot and love interest, but with different characters.

As I said before, I often love these series up until a certain point. I think it’s important that the author (and publisher) know when to stop. I guess the problem is, I bet they make a lot of money even if they do get significantly worse, so both parties don’t necessarily want to stop.

Have you read a companion series like this? Did you start to notice ridiculous patterns and trends?

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62 comments

  1. These are actually my favorite kind of series because it’s new main characters but the same overall group. I like that you actually get to know supporting characters. I feel like in most romance books, you don’t get to know the friends much.

    That being said, I normally read them around the time they come out, so it’s not all at once.

    But the unrealistic ness doesn’t bother me. After all, don’t a lot of us read to escape reality? 🙂

    1. Yeah I actually do love these books a lot at first. I just don’t like how it feels so ridiculous after 3 or 4 books how every single one of them went through the exact same thing. Part of it just seems absurd, and the other part is that I get sick of the exact same plot happening to a different character. 🙁

  2. Not read any of those books you mention but that is because they are contemporary romances and I don’t really read those. I like historical romances and in those I love series where you get to know all the friends and who they love to hate and fall in love with..lol. I am sure there is a similar pattern with them as well. In most romance series I tend to think there is a bit of a pattern. 🙂

    1. I do love getting to know friends, I guess it just bugs me if they experience the EXACT SAME THING as the first person, you know? They have a dark past, then meet a RIDICULOUSLY hot guy, work through the issues, and fall in love.

      It feels like the same story but a (slightly) different character!

      1. It kind of makes you think the author can’t write anything else but what they already wrote. It can be about friends but let them meet in totally different ways and circumstances! 🙂 I totally get what your saying. 🙂

  3. Yeah, I don’t read a lot of those series anymore either. In fact, I couldn’t tell the last time I read a series book. So much so that in the Winter reading challenge, I was supposed to read the first book in a series and I was googling series just to see what I should choose.
    But I love your review. You make it all seem so funny.
    Please check out my blog too, esp the READ tab. Occasionally, I review books and more often than not, I’m not in love with them either but I keep choosing them. I wonder what that says about me. Stay tuned for my novel coming soon.

  4. To be honest, I don’t really read books I like this so I don’t really know what to say about them specifically but I do get what you mean. I find it boring when the same thing happens every book for a whole series!

    1. Yeah it seems like every New Adult book these days is turning into a series with companion novels and following this trend.

  5. I still am quite a newb to the new adult category; I think I’ve maybe read one or two of them, but I suppose this applies to YA contemporaries as well. I’ve been noticing that Take Me On hasn’t been getting a lot of love from the reviews I’ve read. I read Pushing the Limits longggg ago, but I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t like it nearly as much now, with all the cheesiness and stuff(I’m a fantasy girl, myself) and I can tell I would start hating the rest of the books. Also, Armentrout seems to be getting mixed reviews on a lot of her new adult books, so I’m not surprised. But like you said, I bet they still cash it tons of money, since she has hordes of hardcore fans.

    1. Ohh yeah, the Pushing the Limits series is definitely one of those. I LOVED Pushing the Limits but as I read the rest of the series, I realized how similar they all were.

      Same with Armentrout. I loved Wait for You, but then I read Be With Me and Stay With Me and they all just feel like the exact same book. :/

  6. They all definitely follow a pattern. But I usually make it a point to read books in a series like that in spurts. I’ll read one and then the next one a few months later. That I’m not completely burned out on it.

  7. Yes, these types of books aggravate me so much! I read Breaking the Rules the other day and noticed that I was just so done with the series just like you had said. It was the same couple every time! Same drama! Same fights! And it just wasn’t interesting to read anymore. I haven’t read any of Samantha Young’s books, but I did read the first J. Lynn in that series and it was meh. I just didn’t feel any desire to read that same cookie cutter story again.

    This is why I love fantasy so much more than contemporary. Maybe the plots and archetypes are similar, but when it’s also got swords and dragons and castles and raiding armies, the romance feels bigger and the fights aren’t center stage. There are so many more possibilities. Even when the world is familiar, it doesn’t feel THE SAME.

    1. Totally! Same drama, same fights.. It just feels like the exact same book with a slightly different MC.

      I actually really loved the first book in that series by J. Lynn, but then I read two more and it just felt completely identical. *sigh*

    1. Well all of these are really heavy with the sex, so make sure you’re on board with that. But of the ones I mentioned, On Dublin Street by Samantha Young is probably my favourite! That’s the only one that I actually reread at one point because I loved it so much.

      Another FABULOUS one that I actually didn’t mention in this post because it never got “old” to me is Ten Tiny Breaths. Every single one of those books feels unique. I gave them all 5 or 4.5 stars.

  8. You’re so right! Read by themselves, the story would be fine, but after awhile you do notice the ridiculous similarities. Why can’t someone be just regular pretty, not gorgeous? I read a trilogy once where there were three girls and three guys, each with their own book. The book 3 couple didn’t like each other and even cracked jokes about “no way were they next” when their friends hooked up. I had high hopes for book 3, but of course they eventually fell in love. Very disappointing.

    1. Exactly! I think my big problem is that in all the books the guy is a drop-dead gorgeous playboy and the girl is a gorgeous girl who doesn’t know/think she’s gorgeous, but she is. I just want some variety!

  9. Urgs, you said it. x) Like you, I suspect they keep doing it for the money, no matter how ridiculous it might get along the way. However, I think you have to really read those kinds of series one at a time, not one after another. If you get the same characters for a series, you have to keep at it because you so want to know what happens to them next, where it will leave them… But when you get a different pairing with each book, I look at them more as stand-alones. I think otherwise I’d really come to hate them for exactly that ridiculous reason.
    And yes, it doesn’t help that the author is writing every book in the same style — which is kinda expected, don’t you agree? — and there’s only so many phrases you can come up with. What would help is if you actually get another character’s opinion along the way that says, “NOT”. Something like, “I don’t see how you can find him hot, he’s way too pretty boy”. To get away from this, “He could have any girls he wan’ts”-crap — it IS the worst kind of contemporary romance crap there is. *huff*
    But be that as it may, I keep reading them, anyway, but only one at a time. x) Even if the adult ones follow the same pattern as well, so there’s no escaping that…

    1. I think it’s ridiculous how some of these have (or are planning) like 7, 8, or 9 books in the series. ALL WITH THE SAME THING!

      It would just be nice to have some variety. Have a guy who isn’t a drop dead gorgeous body builder. Have a girl who’s a total nerd. And not the kind of gorgeous girl who THINKS she’s a nerd, but kind of a quirky, awkward, nerd. GIVE ME THAT!

  10. Like you I enjoy these up until a certain point. Then I’m like: “Would it kill you to make the two main characters more relatable when it comes to looks?” I always end up very insecure over how I look. T_T

    1. Yeah they’re all insanely fit and gorgeous (whether they realize it or not). It would be nice to have an awkward girl or a “dork” now and then (in both the guy and/or girl roles). Or even a hot girl falling for a dorky guy. That could be cool.

  11. This is how I feel about Abbi Glines. I used to love every book that she wrote until 4 books in and I was like…this is the same stuff I was just reading. Some of the books you featured I have on my to read list but haven’t yet.

    1. Oh yeah, Abbi Glines is another one. I actually have only read one of her books, I think, which is why I didn’t include them. But she definitely has this companion book thing going on.

  12. I read Wait for You last year – I’d actually picked it up for about £1 in a bargain bookshop, and just wanted something to tide me over while I was back at uni for a few days. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, and I’d love to read the second book in the series. But I won’t, because just from reading the synopsis, I know it will be THE EXACT SAME BOOK.
    Also, one of the issues with companion novels is that we’re soooo used to sequels now, we expect that the characters from the first book are going to be expanded on and developed in the second. Companion novels feel to me like the author has one storyline in them – they can’t take their characters any further. And that doesn’t really bode well.
    Oh, and I agree with the other commenters – I’m so done with the whole ‘I’m not a beautiful girl but he’s so handsome how can he ever love me?’ storyline. Make your characters relatable please. I want to read a novel full of smouldering kisses from average people. Or chubby people. Or intelligent people. You know?
    (Okay, rant over now. It’s safe to come out.)
    Beth x

    1. That’s exactly right, Beth. I ADORED Wait for You, but then I just recently read the second and third books and they were completely identical.

      And yeah, every single character is drop dead gorgeous. Usually, the guy knows he is and the girl DOESN’T know she is, but she is. *sigh*

  13. Well,I have to admit that they do get annoying.Like for example,when I read Pushing the Limits,I was totally in love with the book and the characters,and it became one of my all time favourite contemporary romances.But as the series continued,I find myself reading the same things over and over again that even my reviews started repeat themselves:)
    I personally think that these books should be left as standalones.I just don’t understand why authors try to write sequels and companion novels to books which are perfect as standalones.

    1. I totally agree. I LOVED Pushing the Limits. It’s one of the books that made me fall in love with contemporary as a genre. But then I read the rest and I think they just kept going downhill. 🙁

  14. You described most of popular contemporary romance series I have read. As you said, after some time, you just get bored with the same pattern. So I started quitting them after reading the one book I really liked. Eventually I give them one more chance but when the next books is just average, I know it usually only goes downhill from there…

    BTW I just though about this trend and there is a similar one in historical romance genre. Only there they focus on families. You usually have one big family and then each member gets his book.

    1. Interesting how this also exists in historical romances! I don’t read those, but I can totally see how it would also be a thing with the families. Thanks for bringing that up!

  15. I never thought of it this way. I can see what you are saying. But it begs the questions, how different do you need each book in this type of series to be to enjoy all of them? Or are you saying they just need to stop at, like, 3 books? Romance, as a genre, is kind of toe-hold into a generic plot set-up. For traditionally published authors, their publisher will make them follow a certain set-up so that it stays in the romance genre. It kinda sucks but I guess it’s worth the money for the authors. lol

    1. I don’t think they need to necessarily stop as long as they make them different. I think the problem is that they DON’T stop and they DON’T make them different.

      Every single book features a gorgeous girl who doesn’t know or accept that she’s gorgeous (but she is). And a super hot, fit, athletic guy that every single girl in a 10 mile radius wants to fuck. Then the guy and the girl have the same drama, fights, and sex in every book.

      I think I’d be more okay with having 4, 5, or even 6+ books if they felt different. But often times the events, plot, writing, voice, and appearance of the characters seems identical. Give me a nerdy girl or a dorky guy. Give me a super intelligent girl. Don’t make it so EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER has some deep, dark, SUPER INTENSE secret in their past. I mean, does that really happen in real life? You get a group of friends together and every single one of them is hiding something huge? Don’t some people just lead kind of ‘normal’, semi-uneventful lives?

  16. You had me literally laughing out loud at this post! It is entirely TRUE! It’s pretty much the same thing with all the series I read too and yet I can’t help but fall in love with them all. It’s a sickness, I know. They make me happy though. Some of the ones that aren’t as good as others, I do get bored, but if they’re really good, I can’t seem to get enough. Great post!

    1. Yeah I definitely do love these books up until a certain point. But I think if I read them too quickly, or just after reading too many of them I start to see them for what they are: clones.

  17. Preach it Ashley preach it! These authors need to hear that we want new stuff! JLA’s books are starting to become very stagnant especially in the new adult area…. I like Stephanie Perkins’ books tho they are kinda cute haha

    1. Oh yeah, JLA’s are what actually prompted this post. I loved Wait for You, but I just read Be With Me and Stay With Me this/last week and I realized how every book in the series was completely identical. And when the group of friends met up together, it was just insanely ridiculous.

  18. Haha, this really tickled me. It’s so true but I am a bit of a sucker for books like that. I loved Anna, Lola and Isla by Stephanie Perkins. They were essentially all the same book with different characters and different issues, but what can I say? I loved it.

    1. Yeah sometimes I love them too—especially the first ones. And every now and then I do love the entire series, like I thought every book in Ten Tiny Breaths was phenomenal.

      But I think some authors are better at creating different characters and events than others. Some authors make the books far too identical in terms of plot/characters/etc.

  19. I love to read series where each friend or member of a family has her own story but I want those stories to be diferent so I get what you are saying.
    Sydney Landon has a series where all the characters work for the same company and in almost everyone of them she is a secretary or assistant falling for the boss. I’m okay with this because knowing the setting of the series, I knew it would be like this before I started reading. What I don’t like it’s that in 4 or 5 of the books, the H has an ex who wants to come back and causes trouble for the H and h, and I am like seriously???? This happening to one of the couples it’s believable, two it’s unlikely but not impossible but happening to almost every one of the friends it’s too much.
    Have a happy weekend

  20. I hate how this is a trend recently. Too many authors are hopped on it. I get it, it makes money, but it also makes them look greedy or lesser. Does that make sense? It almost makes them look like they are lacking talent because they have to rehash the same story. Honestly, I blame Cora Carmack. I haven’t read all of her books, but it seems like the trend began with her debut novel since it did so well. There is only one series like this I have interest in reading. Haven’t quite gotten through it yet even though I have them all, but it’s a trilogy by Chelsea Fine. She is my favorite author, so I will read anything she writes anyway, but I actually am looking forward to the companion novels. And on the brightside, it’s a trilogy, so it won’t carry on forever and ever.

    Is commentluv broken right now, or is it just me? I haven’t commented on another blog that has it, but it won’t work for me on your blog this week.

  21. YEP! This is why I can’t read too many romances in a row or at the same time. The formulaic plots just get old quick.
    Hey, not related to this post comment but for some reason when I view your blog on mobile there aren’t any sharing buttons 🙁

  22. I totally agree w. you. I quit reading the Pushing the Limits series after I LOVED PTL, and then didn’t like Dare You To or Crash Into You. I mean Pushing the Limits had a girl AND a guy who had a really interesting story going on. The other ones were like cheap imitations. And holy hell CHEESY! I thought I was going to be physically sick while reading Dare You To a few times. The whole rain in a jar crap and just insta-love out the ass. I can’t read anymore of those books… or the other ones you mentioned… the entire genre of super sweet romance is not on my radar right now.

  23. Heh, this is so cool. I think you’re describing a “problem” that goes well beyond college-based NA, though. Most of the romance genre works this way – but in historicals, you usually have a large family where all the siblings pair off one after the other, or a group of wallflower bffs. Historicals have their own stock descriptions, of course (like “the pale column of her neck” or stormy eyes or whatever), but the principle is the same.
    And yeah, I have the same problem – if you read the books one at a time, with some other genres (or at least other authors/series) thrown in, you’re fine. But binge-reading such series is like eating too much chocolate cake – you get sick of it eventually.
    It’s true that some romantic genres feature less “naive”, innocent heroines. In historicals (again, I’m sorry, it’s just that I read a lot of them), the girl is usually a virgin because of the moral standards of the era, but if the writer is good, she’s not silly at all. It does bother me that heroines in NA are often victims – either of rape or some other form of abuse – and those issues never get dealt with adequately (mostly it’s just: “Sex with a hot guy cures all ills.” Which, you know, it might, but probably not.).
    Thanks for this post, it made my evening 🙂

  24. I think it depends on the mood I’m in at the time – the Pushing the Limits books were great, but sometimes I need a bit of extra patience for the angst! Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks books are another set of companions that I like, and I already know when I open them that they’ll be light and maybe a bit cheesy. But when I read them, it’s what I want, so I can’t complain too much 😉

    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted: Review: Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
  25. I liked them at first, but can see your point. I like that you can read about the other characters, but they need to have different stories (they can fall in love, but it needs to be a different love story).

    I’ve read the first two in the J Lynn Wait For You series. Haven’t decided if I’m going to continue it or not.

  26. I usually read the first book and skip the companion unless I know the storylines will be really different. I read Pushing the Limits, but the companion novels just aren’t screaming “READ ME” to me. The one companion novel I’m really looking forward to is The Boy Most Likely To, the companion to Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door.

    Dana @ The Nerdy Journalist recently posted: Author Interview | Lily Paradis talks about Volition
  27. I totally agree with you. I read the whole series of the Jennifer L Armentrout. After the first 3 I couldn’t get enought but I read through them so quickly I was left with a need for more love and hot guys but by the time I got to the 4th book (not in chronicle order) I was like “bleh” but finished it forcefully because I pod for the book. Didn’t want my money to go to waste. But I sit here now with my future reads of the same stories with plain ok Janes meets hot guy who only wants her! Haha

  28. I haven’t read the whole Katie McGarry lineup at all; I just read up to Dare You To, and it’s like everything goes worse in Crash Into You (which is a shame, because I love that cover). And I would hate it if I started hating it, especially if it’s just a repetitive plot. I love romantic companion novels, but I need them to be good.

    Shannelle C. recently posted: Why Haven’t You Watched The Librarians Yet?
  29. Sorry for the late late late reply but… I love these series.
    Yes, everything you said is right. BUT, the alternative is reading a few romance stories from different authors/same author but in a different world and let me share a secret… THEY’RE ALL THE SAME.
    Very few romance novels go beyond the well loved formula of broken (hot) boy and broken (beautiful) girl finding each other, falling in love, getting separated for a while because of their issues, finding their way back together and *happily ever after*. I read dozens of romance books and yes, this repeats itself in 99% of them. It can get annoying, especially if the couples aren’t interesting or are hateful, but I still love this story line ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    So for me, I prefer reading a companion novel series where I get to see snippets from my loved couples future without any drama because they’re not the main characters, just their friends. I love the feeling of familiarity this brings me, I love seeing them grow and having children while their friends/siblings find their own HEA. I much prefer this on disconnected stories where I know no one.
    I honestly don’t mind this. A way to prevent this feeling of “everything is the same” is not reading them one after the other, as well. I usually read two stories together, then move to something else, then come back to more stories later (mostly because I’ve gotten my fix and now want something more substantial with a plot arc haha) and it works really well 🙂
    (Also; I much prefer companion novel series than a series following the same couple because the drama in the latter is always offffff the charts and I don’t like it :/)

    1. You’re right that all books are fairly similar in their overarching plot. I think my problem with the series is that it looks more outrageous when you put it all in the same universe.

      So instead of 5 books with 5 different settings by 5 different authors that are all about a girl who meets a scorching hot bad boy with ripped abs, we have 5 girls who are all friends in the same world who all meet scorching hot bad boys with ripped abs.

      I think it’s the grouping them together in the same town that makes me unable to handle it. Like, of course there’s a group of friends who all meet in credibly hot, fit bad boys. Of course.

      1. Haha, I don’t mind it. I really don’t. I hope me and my friends could all meet hot guys who would adore us 😉
        For me, I just love re-visiting couples I love without the anxiety of additional drama that would follow if they had another story focused on them instead of being side characters in someone else’s story, and I love being familiar with the world I’m in instead of having to learn the world from scratch.
        I don’t mind the “unlikeliness” of such a situation as you describe 😛

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