Keepng Us in Suspense

by Nancy

Has anyone besides me noticed how few novels are appearing under the Romantic Suspense (RS) heading? The field seems to have become particularly tough for new authors. The last new RS series I saw launch was from an author already established in paranormal romance.

Yet Covert Affairs and Burn Notice, action/adventure suspense series with strong romantic elements, are thriving on USA Network. I’ve also noticed more suspense-y elements turning up in romances that say “contemporary” on the spine. Suspense has long been a staple in historical romance.

Those of you who’ve been here before know we banditas love our “boom” (Lair shorthand for action elements that may or may not involve explosives, for those of you who’re new to us). We have authors here who write it well, Loucinda McGary, Jeanne Adams, Trish Milburn and Susan Sey (whose books say “contemporary” on the spine) have all published present-day, romantic, suspenseful books.

And I need to note here that Jeanne particularly loves her explosives.

Each of our historical authors also has suspense threads in at least some of her books, and many of us AYUs incorporate romantic suspense in our work to varying degrees. I know lots of us read it at least some of the time.

I’ve been on a bit of an RS binge lately. So I tossed out a question in the Lair–Is anyone besides me reading romantic suspense, and if so, can you tell us about an author you like? Even with the rush of preparing for National, several banditas took the time to send me author names and cover jpegs. Here are their responses:

From Anna Campbell:

I love a great romantic suspense. Classic authors like Mary Stewart gave me an enduring taste for the genre and among my keepers are a stack of Linda Howard’s romantic suspense novels. Recent discoveries include Pamela Clare and our own wonderful Jeanne Adams.

Just recently, I’ve become addicted to Cindy Gerard who was a guest at the Australian Romance Readers Convention this year. My fave so far is FEEL THE HEAT which is majorly sexy and features a couple of really strong, snarky, passionate lead characters in Rafe and BJ. Basically you can FEEL THE HEAT! LOL!

I think this genre is one of the hardest to write because you have to balance the suspense and the romance and Cindy does a wonderful job of that – not only that, but you get a wonderful secondary romance in this story too. If you haven’t read FTH, it’s well worth checking out!

From Trish Milburn:

I really think Annie Solomon does a fantastic job with romantic suspense. She has a real knack for writing gritty suspense and edgy characters. She’s not afraid to take the reader to dark places but always has a satisfying love story amidst all the action and suspense. Other readers must agree because she’s already won one RITA and is up for another this year with Two Lethal Lies.


From Christine Wells:

Not being a hard-core suspense reader, I’ve only just discovered Lisa Gardner’s The Perfect Husband and I’m now planning to glom her entire backlist.

I love the way she wrote the hero so authentically. The heroine is an ordinary woman who has been through hell and come out stronger. Plus, the writing is so sharp and vivid and I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn’t reading it. A sure sign of a keeper!

From Anna Sugden:

My ultimate fave is Karen Rose. The reason I love Karen Rose – her books are intricate and thought-provoking with complex characters and incredible twists. She takes you on a white-knuckled ride as you read her books, she tweaks all the emotional strings while challenging your brain and making your adrenaline pump too! The first book of hers I ever read was ‘Die For Me’ which someone had recommended because they knew I loved Tess Gerritsen and Lisa Gardner.

Luckily, I was on a trans-Atlantic flight when I started reading because I could truly sit and read it cover to cover without stopping! I arrived at Nationals and at the Literacy signing went straight to meet Karen and get a signed book from her (yes, I did the whole fan-girl thing. Then I bought her entire back-list! I’m saving her latest “You Belong to Me” for an occasion when I can read it all in one go.

From Jo Robertson:

One of my favorite mystery series is Anne Perry’s William Monk stories. I’m not sure they’re romantic suspense, but they do follow William Monk and Hester Latterly’s initial meeting (snarky, smart, and softly smouldering) through to their married life together. All the while, of course, they solve mysteries set in this incredibly realistic Victorian time period.

I discovered this series during my recovery after open heart surgery and I fully give Perry the credit for serious pain reduction! The series definitely should be read in order beginning with The Face of a Stranger, in which Monk suffers amnesia after an accident and discovers he doesn’t much like the person he’s coming to learn he was. (Note that there’s a change in cover art between editions).

Me (Nancy) again:

I’ve finally caught up with Dee Davis’s terrific A-TAC series, which features CIA operatives under cover as college professors. How could I not love that? The action is terrific, the emotion intense, and the plot gripping. The first book, Dark Deceptions, is a secret baby story–frequently not a favorite of mine, but I loved this one. There’s a complete external plot in each book. However, the three have a shared arc of uncovering a traitor in A-TAC’s ranks. There’s an e-only novella due out next month.

Despite the demands of prepping for RWA National, Anna Sugden compiled a quick list of RS authors for this post. Here’s the list:

Single Title
(not all of these authors always write RS)

Allison Brennan
Suz Brockmann
Debra Webb
Catherine Mann
Roxanne St Claire
Brenda Novak
Mariah Stewart
Cindy Gerard
Beverley Barton
Maggie Shayne
Anne Stuart

Intrigue/Series RS

Jess Andersen
Julie Miller
Debra Webb again
Rebecca York
Ann Voss Peterson,
Patricia Rosemoor
Kylie Brant
Cassie Miles
Justine Davis
Joanna Wayne
Cindy Dees
Merline Lovelace
BJ Daniels
Evelyn Vaughn

I’m traveling to RWA today and won’t have the computer. I’ll try to pop back in and answer comments. To get the ball rolling, tell us–Do you have a favorite romantic suspense author? How much suspense do you like with your romance–and vice-versa?

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