K is for kissing or killing, the attraction of romantic suspense

Author: Anne

Date Published: May 12th 2018, 6:00pm


I don’t really believe that any books are “guilty pleasures” and I really don’t believe that you should have to apologise for anything that you read. But it is true that I don’t always bring into the open my attraction for romantic suspense novels.

A romantic suspense novel is a romance associated with a suspense story or conversely a suspense story with a romance attached. A lot of romance readers don’t like them because the suspense element gets in the way of the love story and a lot of suspense readers feel that the love story gets in the way of the suspense building up. The genre is a hybrid and different books prioritise the different elements. As I enjoy both suspense and romance it is the ideal mixture for me.

A typical romantic suspense novel has a woman in peril because she is being targeted by unknown forces, she has been accused of a crime she hasn’t committed or she believes that there is a crime when others dismiss it – or all three. Alternatively, she is a crime scene investigator or an FBI agent who becomes too involved in a case, finds the case is linked to something in her past (often a missing sister) or is personally targeted by the killer – or all three again. The male figure is rarely in peril but he may be a suspect, act strangely or be the investigating officer – again, all three might apply. All the romantic suspense novels I have read have been male/female although I assume there are some gay or lesbian versions on the market.

Almost certainly the two main characters will mistrust each other at the beginning of the story but be brought together by events and eventually be unable to resist their passion which will usually be consummated about two thirds of the way through the book after which they will fall out and be reconciled in the last few pages to have a happy ever after ending.

I enjoy this type of novel quite a lot even though they are quite formulaic. I regard it as light and escapist reading. I do become a bit annoyed because often the attraction between the main characters is rushed to match the unfolding of the suspense story and seems unrealistic – they met each other a week ago and now they are declaring undying love ! I prefer the examples where the characters had a pre-existing relationship before the start of the book as they seem a little more realistic.

I have found that most romantic suspense novels I have read have been American. I am not sure if this is because British writers don’t publish this sort of book or because I have never seen one. If you want to have a go at this genre I shall give below the names of some of the writers I have enjoyed in this genre but be aware that these writers often write other types of novels as well :

• Nora Roberts

• Dee Davis

• Marliss Melton

• Mariah Stewart

• Beverley Barton

• Allison Brenan

• Karen Rose

• Pamela Clare

• Kylie Brandt


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