I recently purchased the Sookie Stackhouse boxed set (books one thru seven of the series). I immediately read the first book, and I don't think I could have been more let down. I seriously considered setting the entire set ablaze and using it to roast marshmallows.
Now, however, I am glad that I restrained myself and read on. Because the series did get progressively better after the first book. The world and characters that initially seemed unbelievable and trite actually started to grow on me.
When book three ended, it was with something of a cliffhanger. Vampire Bill had proven to be a cheating snake, and Sookie had washed her hands of vamp society. (Of course, we knew that she would come around eventually, because the series continues on :)
Book four, Dead to the World, picked up a few weeks later. Sookie returns home to find a note from Bill asking to speak to her. While they do speak, it is only for him to try (unsuccessfully) explain his infidelity and to let Sookie know he is going to Peru. No reconciliation.
This leaves Sookie open to the advances of the much more exciting vamp, Eric. Who she finds half-naked and wandering along the road near her home. Apparently suffering from witch-induced amnesia.
There is also a kidnapping and various mysteries involving hoards of supernatural beings to be solved. And the potential of some hot vampire loving.
Frankly, this was the first book I really cared about (maybe because Bill is out of the pic; he's always been weak and boring). I can't believe I am saying this, but it left me thoroughly entertained and chomping at the bit to start book 5, Dead as a Doornail.