Romantic Suspense

Romantic Suspense (December 15, 2015)

The benchmark book is Gone Too Far by Suzanne Brockmann, plus another  romantic suspense title of your choosing. Romantic suspense, as defined in Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre by Kristin Ramsdell:

“Romantic Suspense–Romantic Mysteries, often with contemporary settings, are chilling, fast-paced, suspensful stories that tend to be crime-oriented, sometimes gritty and gruesomely explicit, and can be set anywhere in the world.”

Please comment on this post with your second title choice to avoid duplication.

Some resources for finding a second title:

Keeping You in…: Top 10 Romantic Suspense Novels You Should Read

Excerpted from the NPR list:
I-Team (series), by Pamela Clare
In Death (series), by J.D. Robb
Nine Coaches Waiting, by Mary Stewart

Just Romantic Suspense

Top 10 Romantic Suspense Books Worth Reading

BookPage Reviews Romantic Suspense

RITA Awards: Best Romantic Suspense

Notes from our meeting (Thanks, Dylan!):

Genre Study                                                                                    Tuesday December 15, 2015

Romantic Suspense

Benchmark : Suzanne Brockmann – Gone Too Far

Attendees: Molly, Ben, Paula, Frank, Jill, Julie, Alene, Kat, Janet, Lisa, Steven, Susan, Faith, Dylan

Romantic suspense, a different kind of romance. People’s definition vary.

Alene – authors sometimes have pseudonyms under which they write different novels (Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick). Some authors moved from historical to romantic suspense, so recommending a particular author is not necessarily consistent, as some do different series with entirely different genres. Judging books by their cover – sometimes the font or author photo alone can tell you enough to make a recommendation.

Molly- a number of authors have switched from historical to romantic suspense as its popularity. Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb

Different than other romance genres, happily ever after happens but in a different way. Not always with the traditional marriage ending. Other endings, bad guys die, the violence against lovers stopped. If lovers die, it is apparently by strict definition not a romance. Tropes – either main character doesn’t know if love interest is a good guy or bad guy, obstacles get in the way, she hates him, (Suzanne Brown trope – husband killed, she is a suspect, can’t hook up with cop until she is no longer a suspect).

Gone Too Far – linked series, backstory from other books that readers may or may not know coming in. This is mid-series and a transitional stage in the series.

Gruesome crime scene, possibly off putting to certain readers, romantic suspense genre often has content that may drive off some readers. There is a spectrum of language, description, violence, sex in genre..not necessarily a cozy version within the genre, there are romantic mysteries for that interest group, but readers of romantic suspense often come for the adrenaline, thrill, which is central to the genre. Brockmann in some series actually tells the romance plot from the male’s perspective. Audiobook versions can make the more graphic passages a very different experience, perhaps too jarring to hear them in someone else’s voice.

Plots which carry over from book to book, progression in feelings by character trying to identify or separate love, want, desire.


Lisa- issue with character who does not know if his child is dead but is in the mood for love

Paula- too many plots/relationships in flux at once. Readers who have followed the entire series may be able to keep them straight. A question to ask readers: if they can enjoy a series they are jumping into in the middle, if they are a reader who insists on starting series in the middle.

Steven – had no problem believing in characters, didn’t want to know them but believed they all exist, in Florida.

Ben – does not like stories with many many characters, mysteries with every person in town a suspect

Janet – it seems like people actually don’t care about the plot. If the child died I wouldn’t like it, if the child went back to the horrible parents, I wouldn’t want that. You shouldn’t have children in the story at all, if is this type of subject matter.

Pacing: Steven – didn’t find romance aspect suspenseful.

Is it necessary for the readers of this genre to actually doubt whether lovers will actually get together?

Molly chose Brockmann due to popularity, lives part of the year in MA, military romantic suspense, which is an important subgenre (no one chose this subgenre for their second book). Romance readers are generally more conservative, military romance readers even more so. She slowly introduced a gay character, built trust and knowledge of character, made the character reliable and likable and ultimately gave him a love story. Some readers actually remarked that this character was the only gay person they knew.

Language was appropriate for series. There are many subgenres even in military romance suspense, fbi, homeland security. Overlap with thriller genre.

Discussion of Second Titles:

Molly – second Suzanne Brockmann – Do or Die, another Navy SEAL, many characters

Lisa – Black Ice by Ann Stuart.  French countryside settings, murder and arms trading, deadly and perilous situations, dangerous male protagonist.  Three words: sexy, edgy, well-plotted. People recommend it for the plot as well as characters.

Ben – Brenda Novak – Dead Silence – Florida, read like traditional romance novel – 2 people destined, very little violence, tension, suspense but not worried about characters safety. Survivor of abuse, mother killed abuser, but all this darkness takes place “off page”.  Cold case, murder of abuser never solved, tension is possible discovery and her concerns that if it is uncovered it will ruin her prospective lovers political career. He ultimately is willing to sacrifice his career for his love for her. Three words:

Alene – there is a Website to help romance readers determine explicit content, (frequency, intensity?) Rated by chili peppers or some such method

Paula – Laura Griffin – far gone. Main character (F) has to kill teen robbing store, suspended from police dept., has to spend time with brother caught up with terrorist. FBI agent after suspect, she wants to protect brother. Wooden characters.

Faith – Linda Howard – Ice. Rural Maine setting. No suspense about motives, differential from good guy/bad guy. Ice storm looming, character going up to close up store, police chief concerned about safety, sends out son to find her. Former high school opposites, jock, rich girl. Turns out she is followed by stereotypically meth addict bad guys. Son stumbles upon her in peril. Woods, ice, guns, limbs, sex, thought dead attacker resurfaces and attacks.

Frank – Dan Brown – Inferno, recommended for seniors who do not want sex/violence. Window on the Square – Phyllis Whitney recommended generally, did not think he would like, but surprised how much he enjoyed it.

Steven – Her bodyguard. Shoe designer. Mob wants her because of missing fortune? Sexual tension of man protecting her from mob, seeking the information on why they are pursuing her. Cops briefly think she may have been kidnapped by him, as she had earlier attempt. they marry at the end.

Jill – Sandra Brown Lethal Main characters with story and peripheral stories. New Orleans, woman finds bloodied man in yard, who takes her. He is suspect in search for killer of 7 in warehouse. He is actually FBI agent. Widow and FBi agent end up together

Alene – Sandra Brown. Readers can look up plot points or triggers they don’t want to read about. Child peril, fire, etc. Tough customer– Hollywood setting, characters knew each other when they were young. Smash Cut – lawyer defending other main character.

Janet – no second novel

Julie – Seduction by design, Sandra Brown. 1980s Pre-cross over to romance thriller, more traditional romance. Tension more so than suspense, woman works in amusement park. Accident at park, parent and child, parent is owner of park whom she has never met. No language.

Susan –Naked in Death, JD Robb. Surprised how much she liked it. Protagonist police detective Eve put on gruesome serial killer case where victims are prostitutes. Written in 1995 book which is set in future, where technology has advanced. Romantic interest mysterious fabulously wealthy industrialist suspect Rork, mutual attraction between them. Unusual for him, as he generally “loves and leaves them”. Big sex scene very hot, he is sensitive to her sexual awakening, she is a survivor of abuse. First in long, long series.

Kat – Hard evidence – Pamela Clare. Marked laugh out points, not necessarily intentional. Female investigative reporter, Male undercover FBI agent. She is a witness at a killing at convenience store. She sees him, outs him. Suspense element intense, violent. Well paced. Stereotypical as a fault (she is described repeatedly as tiny and big eyed and she can only be saved by him) she hates men because of what happened to her mother.

Molly- Mr. Perfect (Linda Howard) group of female friends, make a list of Mr. Perfect traits, that incites someone to want to kill them. New house, peril.  Snarky, funny. 


Next Time: Alternative Reality Romance: paranormal, science fiction, time travel. Benchmark Sherrilyn Kenyon


8 Responses to Romantic Suspense

  1. Pingback: Romance Genre Study 2015-2016 | forbesgenrestudy

  2. Ben says:

    I will be reading Dead Silence by Brenda Novak.

  3. Lisa says:

    I am going to try Black Ice by Anne Stuart.

  4. Kat says:

    I think I’m going to go with Hard Evidence by Pamela Clare

  5. Jill says:

    I will try Lethal by Sandra Brown.

  6. Paula says:

    I’m going to read Far gone by Laura Griffin.

  7. Susan says:

    I have chosen Naked in Death by J.D. Robb.

  8. Julie says:

    I am listening to Seduction by Design by Sandra Brown

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