Can you spot a killer a mile away? I can. Well, in romantic suspense books, that is. Much to my surprise (and delight!), I am becoming quite the romantic suspense connoisseur. I honestly never thought the white-knuckle tension and hot sex combo would appeal to me quite as much as it does, but somehow it just turned out that way.
In my head I like to call myself the Romantic Suspense Go-To Girl of the Carina Press acquisitions team. I knew my new role had become official (even if just subconsciously) when we had a meeting recently and a bunch of heads swiveled in my direction when Angela asked who wanted to read the romantic suspense manuscript on offer that week. Guess it’s me!
Even though my exposure to what Susan Andersen affectionately calls the “awkward, bastard step-child genre” has been limited at best, I guess what it boils down to is that I crave the action, thrill and intrigue that unfolds in romantic suspense alongside the relationship. I also enjoy the deeper character development. Since the plot doesn’t completely hinge on when/where/how the protagonists will get it on, there’s more room to explore character motivations and inner thoughts.
The page-turning aspect of romantic suspense is another definite plus. There’s nothing worse than being excited to start a new book and then feeling like you’d rather clean the floor than flip the page. (Yes, this has happened to me, although usually when I’m PMS-ing.) The nature of romantic suspense books means that I devour these stories much quicker than I expect to. Is this because I’m impatient to find out whether I’ve pegged the right perp or not? Yes, partly. Gloating is good, even if only in my own mind.
Romantic suspense is becoming more and more popular because it has a rather distinct and obvious advantage: it appeals to both romance and mystery fans. For me, the trick for any author attempting this genre is to find the right balance between the two – so that the love story doesn’t distract from the suspense, and the suspense doesn’t overpower the budding relationship.
The recipe is easy, actually: a strong, meaty plot with a bit of mystery I can sink my teeth into, topped off with some smokin’ sex and a heroine who’s feisty and independent as all get-out. Love doesn’t have to completely save the day, either, but there should be a sense of good winning out over evil (or something less fire-and-brimstone sounding).
Several of our fabulous Carina Press books fit this bill, including some I read early on, like Overnight and On Her Trail. It should come as no surprise that my to-be-read pile includes several more: Criminal Instinct, Sea of Suspicion and Desperate Choices. What do you enjoy most about romantic suspense? The marvelous meshing of mystery and love, or something else entirely?