Do Secondary Stories Distract You From the Main Plot?

Posted January 16, 2017 by Zeee in Discussions10 Comments

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Let’s talk about anything bookish!

I recently binge read the Killer Instincts series by Elle Kennedy during the holidays and I realized one thing. If done right, secondary stories are actually not distracting at all!

Hold up, what?!

A little bit of background here. I absolutely LOATHE secondary stories especially if they are secondary romances when I am reading a romance title. One of my pet peeves is when the secondary characters’ romance overtakes the main romance! In fact, I have read a couple of books that turned into DNFs because of this.


One example is A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn Macnamara. When I read this, I believe this was her debut novel so this also means that I haven’t read her before. Three chapters in, I still didn’t get any romance or even a little bit of banter from the main characters. I felt that the story focused on the sister and her romance, which was very, very annoying and disappointing. I picked up the book BECAUSE I wanted to read about the romance between the main characters. Yeah, I was not a happy camper. I was totally confused as to where the story was headed that I just couldn’t continue reading any longer.

Another example is The Bride Says No by Cathy Maxwell. In this title, the secondary characters’ romance took over the romance that I decided to DNF it about a quarter through. The tone may have changed a few chapters later, but I was already done! The secondary characters didn’t need a dedicated chapter for them, right? Plus, the little sister, was super spoiled and annoying and so unlikeable, that I just had to DNF.

What about multiple POV characters?

Books with multiple POVs, like Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, is another story. It is understood that multiple POVs usually have multiple storylines, so you actually expect this.

Another good example for multiple POV characters is the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. Each character has their own backstory and their own romance and their own chapter, but it works. I think it is the genre, though.

I think romances should focus on the main couple. WHY? Because secondary characters, especially those that OVERTAKE the main characters’ romance is freaking annoying! I mean, if it is DONE RIGHT, I really don’t have any problems with it.

I know some authors, foreshadow and include future couples in a series in the current book, but I just can’t stand it when they overpower the main romance.

Do you think secondary stories affect your overall enjoyment or the book?

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10 responses to “Do Secondary Stories Distract You From the Main Plot?

    • I do like those secondary plots… but the ones that I absolutely hate are those that take over the main plot… or in romance, those that take over the main romance 🙁

  1. It really depends on secondary plot lines and how the author handles it. But unless they handle it really really well I can’t stand it. I like to just focus on one story and not have other plot lines that are confusing and don’t make sense and it can be distracting if a secondary romance takes dominance over the first one. I don’t mind a secondary love plot, but it needs to be “SECONDARY” NOT PRIMARY. So as long as the author focusing mainly on the main romance I am okay with a second one as long as its minor. Like for example The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries (I am not sure if you have heard or read it, but its one of my favorites) we have the main romance of course, but there are two other minor romances that come up but they don’t overtake the main romance at all, they just add more flavor to the story. And Jeffries handled it very well. So in certain ways I don’t mind, its really how the author handles it. But I have noticed lately that Cathy Maxwell has been overshadowing the main romance with either a secondary romance or secondary characters. While I still read her since I fell in love with her writing ages ago, it can still drive me up the wall sometimes hehe

    Great discussion you have here hun!!!
    Lover Of Romance recently posted…Double The Romance Review-Mr. President & Commander In ChiefMy Profile

    • I know what you mean! Cathy Maxwell is notorious (well, I’ve only read a couple of her books lately and they were all like this and it drove me nuts!!) Yes, I’ve heard of Pirate Lord..but I can’t remember if I read it or NOT!

      If done RIGHT, a secondary romance is nice, actually. but it SHOULD NOT overtake the main romance!

    • I know what you mean! Ack! This happens when a series is pretty long. I’m not really a fan of Outlander, though and that book was a DNF for me.

  2. I can’t think of any examples of books where a secondary romance overshadowed the main character’s, but I could definitely see that being annoying, especially if you weren’t very invested in that secondary character. Sub-plots involving secondary characters are fine when they’re done right—I agree—but it’s a delicate balance.
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…Top Ten Hidden Gems of 2016My Profile

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the secondary romance overtook the main one. Or maybe I just don’t mind secondary stories as much? But I definitely agree that a secondary romance or story shouldn’t overtake the main one. It can definitely add to the fullness of the story for me if it’s done right, but that’s just it, it has to be done right!

    • Yes, I certainly don’t have any problems with secondary stories….only that for the longest time, the secondary stories totally overpowered the main story.