I thought it might be time to put together a more-or-less official set of answers to freuqently asked questions about the Alpennia series, now that there's been enough time that I've heard plenty of questions. (Though sometimes the questions are implicit in comments rather than being asked directly.) I thought I'd post the individual questions+answers here in the blog first--which gives a chance to get more feedback--and then migrate them to their own page once the series is finished. If you have a general-interest question about the series that you think might not occur to me, let me know in the comments! Or if you want more details or further explanation on a topic.
The rough organization is: questions about genre, questions about format, questions about content, questions about overall series structure, and then miscellaneous questions. But I may initially post them more randomly as I get inspired. So here's the first.
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Are the Alpennia books romances?
This is far from a simple question. From a very strict definition of a book where a romantic arc forms the dominant element of the plot, none of the Alpennia books is a romance. For a reader who requires on-page sex to consider a book a romance (and, yes, there are readers with that definition), none of the Alpennia books is a romance.
But if your definition of “romance novel” can include a story where the initiation, development, and fulfillment of a romantic relationship forms one central part of the plot, and where the characters involved in that relationship are an accepted couple for the foreseeable future by the end of the book, then both Daughter of Mystery and The Mystic Marriage are romances. If you require that there be only one central romantic couple in the story, then remove The Mystic Marriage from the category. On the other hand, if the romantic couple is allowed to settle into a happy but non-romantic relationship at the end of the book, you can add Mother of Souls to the mix. Under pretty much no definition of “romance novel” could Floodtide be considered a romance, although the protagonist’s romantic feelings are a central motif. And although the short stories "Three Nights at the Opera" and "Gifts Tell Truth" are both very much about romantic/sexual relationships, neither ends in a HEA ending.
Rather than trying to fit the Alpennia series into a romance box, it's probably better to think of it as a developing ensemble “found family” cast in which romantic ties are only one of several types of connections that bind the characters together. But if any of the books works for you as a romance, then by all means continue to consider it as such!
So, to summarize:
Daughter of Mystery – One central romantic relationship with classic HEA. No on-page sex. The romance is only one of several plot elements.
The Mystic Marriage – One existing/continuing romantic couple, one new relationship, both with classic HEA. No on-page sex. The romances are only one of several plot elements.
Mother of Souls – Two existing/continuing romantic couples. One new romantic relationship that resolves into platonic friendship. No on-page sex. The romances are only one of several plot elements.
Floodtide – Protagonist works through romantic/erotic feelings for several other characters, but is not in a romantic couple at the end of the story. No on-page sex. The romantic conflicts are only one of several plot elements.
"Three Nights at the Opera" - One central erotic relationship (but no on-page sex). The characters are not together at the end. But the relationship is the primary plot element.
"Gifts Tell Truth" - Once central erotic relationship (but no on-page sex). The characters are not together at the end. The relationship is one of two main plot elements.