Sunday, June 26, 2011

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?


jo robertson said...

Great topic, Nancy. Fly safely to National. We'll keep the home fires burning LOL.

I admit that I read mostly suspense-thriller and historical romancee. I find that male authors usually don't have enough of the relationship factor in their suspense books, so I'm always looking for those novels that balance out the suspense with the romance. I think romance in a suspense ups the ante.

jo robertson said...

Whooo hoooo, I got the rooster. Let me tell you, I have a very dirty house and have plenty of work for the chook tomorrow. No flying to National for him!

Nancy said...

Jo, congrats on the bird, and thanks for the good wishes!

I also think romance in a suspense ups the ante. As you note, male authors tend to downplay the relationship. I've noticed that in a lot of thrillers.

Next month, though, I'm hosting thriller writer Jon Land, whose series about 5th-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong I've enjoyed a lot. There is a romantic relationship, though it isn't developed the way it would be in a romance. While I wouldn't mind more of that, there's enough boom to keep me happy.

Jane said...

Hi Nancy,
Romantic suspense is my favorite. You listed a few of my favorite authors like Pamela Clare, Dee Davis and Cindy Gerard. I also like Tara Janzen and Laura Griffin a lot. I like the books to split the focus between the mystery/suspense and the romance. I've read many books where the suspense is heavier than the romance, but as long as the plot is moving along it doesn't bother me.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

WOO HOO! WTG on the Chook, Jo! When he is finished at your place, send him on over to mine. It could definitely use some sprucing up. ;-)

Ah yes, I do love me some BOOM! Thanks for your fun post Nancy. I too have noticed a lack of books actually labeled "romantic suspense" lately. :-(

Brenda Novak is a favorite of mine and I'm happy to say she has a new book coming out next week. I've always been a huge fan of the "woman in danger" books and Brenda does those so well. Of course my absolute all time favorites are the good old Gothics of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis Whitney. I grew up reading those and love them to this day!

who is already missing all the Banditas and BBs heading off to NYC

Landra said...

Woot! Jo got the chook! Have fun all you wonderful Banditas heading to National. I'll be stuck at home this year, but it's a goal to be there in 2012.

Now as for suspense. It's an area of Romance I am not familiar with, but I do agree with Nancy that not many romance books are listed as suspense.

Anne Stuart is definitely a fav of mine and all of her stories seem to have a suspense element, even with Historicals. A couple others I'm familiar with include Nina Bruhns, and Lori Foster.

I love all the recommendations that the Banditas supplied and now I can expand my palette. Looking forward to it!

marybelle said...

I like a balance when I read romantic suspense. Though I find that sometimes the romance overshadows, weakening the story as a whole. Great writers like many mentioned here know how to get that balance right.

Helen said...

Well done Jo make him work I am sure he needs to loose the extra weight from the Tim Tams LOL


Great post I do love some suspense with my romance and vis versa.
I love Pamela Clare's books and Cindy Gerard there is also the Diana Love and Sherrilyn Kennyon series and I really enjoy a couple of Aussie authors Bronwyn Parry and Helene Young as well. Of course I do love Jeanne's and Aunty Cindy's books as well I have Trish's on the e reader to read and look forward to it.
As a teenager I loved Agatha Christie so for me mixing suspense and romance is the way to go, and of course the list Anna had there is great I really need to read some of them.

Have Fun

Nancy said...

Hi, Jane--

I'm also okay with the suspense being heavier than the romance as long as the plot moves.

Thanks for adding Tara and Laura top the list.

Nancy said...

Hi, Cindy--

I remember those Gothics! I loved them, too. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Nancy said...

Landa, thanks for the good luck wishes on my trip. I'm packed and will leave in a couple of minutes.

Glad we're helping add to your TBR pile. Ours are all teetering, and we love to have company!

Thanks for adding Lori and Nina to the list.

Nancy said...

Hi, Marybelle--

I like a balance, too, but I'm happy with more of one or the other as long as everything rolls along.

Nancy said...

Helen, glad you enjoyed the post. thanks for the additions. I'm not familiar with Bronwyn or Helene, but I also like Dianna and Sherri's books.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Jane! I like Tara Janzen too. She has a great writing voice and I like the sass of her characters.

jo robertson said...

Sorry, AC, not sharing the chook today. Mean JoMama! My house is truly in need of deep cleaning. I'm putting my two strong boys and the chook to work mopping and vacuuming. I may let Boyd off, especially if he has a golf game LOL.

jo robertson said...

Landra, hope you make the 2012 conference b/c that's my goal too. Being in Anaheim, it's closer to me than NYC. I'm missing our Bandita and the Buddies who are New Yorking already!

jo robertson said...

Had to LOL at your comment, Marybelle. My daughter reads my RS manuscripts and she says she just skims over the romance to get to the suspense.

What I don't like about some RS books is when the romance seems stuck in with the suspense for no apparent reason. Like, okay, time for another romantic encounter. It seems forced and unbelievable.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Helen! Yes, I noticed the rooster was carrying a few extra pounds. Don't worry, I'll work him down to a slender bird!

Jenn3128 said...

Lisa Jackson is one of my favorite RS authors. Lots of suspense, I can never figure out what's going to happen!

Pat Cochran said...

My favorites include Cindy Gerard,
Suzanne Brockmann, Roxanne St. Claire,
and Brenda Novak. I'm adding Dee Davis
to my TBR list. Like Jo, I read mostly
historical, suspense - thriller, plus I add in contemporary.

Congratulations on the GR, Jo!

Beth Andrews said...

So many great authors already listed and a few I haven't read yet! Will have to add their books to my Wish List *g*

I love Nora Roberts' romantic suspense books. Also would recommend Virginia Kantra - love her books :-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Okay, fine Jo. I believe you when you say you need the help since I know you've had GRANDkiddos over this week. ;-) I'll just have to lie in wait to get the GR for myself!

Just wanted to mention that for historical suspense, I LOVE Deanna Raybourn!

As for contemporary, my good buddy Marie Force has a new installment of her Fatal series due out next month from Carina. Of COURSE she will be celebrating with us here in the Lair!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OOO, thanks for mentioning Virginia Kantra, Beth! I adore her books too.


Safe travels, Nancy and our other Banditas and BBs on the road today.

catslady said...

Oh, I have read almost every one of those authors and enjoyed them very much. You gave me a few more names that I will check out. I like suspense (horror, fantasy, syfi)and think the added romance is a bonus!

Louisa Cornell said...

Hey, Jo got the BOID !! Good luck getting him to clean anything except his plate!

I LOVE Karen Rose's books and so does my Mom. She is very popular in England as well and my Mom's friends in England read Karen Rose as well.

Though they are set in Regency England C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series definitely qualifies as romantic suspense and her stories are spun like webs. Love it.

I LOVE lots of suspense and twists in my romantic suspense.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Aunty Cindy, nice try anyway! I love Deanna Raybourne too. Thanks for mentioning her.

jo robertson said...

Ooooh, Louisa, thanks to you, too, for mentioning C.S. Harris' books. I think I like them in some ways better than Raybourne's. There'a lightness to them that makes them easy reading.

And I got turned on to Harris at this site! Thanks, ya'll!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Beth! I didn't mention Nora Roberts in my part of the topic because I think I've already raved about her J.D. Robb series enough LOL.

I think the In Death series is the best of all her works.