Is Romance Suspense?
There are many out there who would simply say that romance is suspense by simple nature. We all know or can remember the anxiety involved with falling in love—or even falling into attraction and like. We know the fear.
But that’s not really what we’re talking about in mixing romance and suspense in novels—not for me, at any rate, in books such as my Krewe of Hunters series or Flawless or an upcoming title, Perfect Obsession. But, in a way, it does all mix—because being in love with someone does heighten the tension, the feelings of dread—even those of pure terror!—when someone loved is in danger.
In romantic suspense, there are also questions about whom we fall in love with—and what we do and don’t know about that person. Sometimes, the very man or woman who appears to be light, goodness, and sexuality (perhaps!) is the very person who is—or appears to be—evil to the core. The questions of what to believe and what not to believe arise. Trust is at issue, trust that may have to do with someone’s very life.
Sometimes romance is something that has flourished. Flawless—a romantic suspense that came out last April—introduces criminal psychologist and part owner of her family pub Kieran Finnegan and the man who often becomes her partner in solving crimes, Craig of the FBI. Their first meeting is fraught with tension and distrust—they meet in the middle of a diamond heist. Kieran is not in a very good position. She’s not stealing anything; she’s trying to return a diamond. And yet she’s feeling terribly guilty because her beloved brothers—inadvertently and innocently—are capable of getting into quite a bit of trouble. When you’re falling in love with an FBI agent, it’s tough to keep some of the family business out of the mix. In this case, her romance is definitely part of the suspense: criminal activity and romance both create levels of tension!
Think about some of the classics we have known and loved—Rebecca, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, and then many novels of gothic romance and suspense by novelists such as Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, and more. There’s that edge of danger racing across a moor . . . walking the hallways of a stately manor with a history . . . ghostly . . . decaying . . .
Romantic suspense keeps us at that edge of danger and provides another layer in what harm may befall one.
Death, of course, is often a threat—in any suspense!
But, in a romance, there’s death, yes! And the loss of one’s heart and soul is at risk as well.
Romantic suspense may touch upon so many other genres. Horror may sneak in, or the paranormal, history . . . sci-fi! Time travel such as in Diana Gabaldon’s amazing Outlander novels.
We are in an incredible time period as far as books go. The possibilities have no boundaries as to what may be combined in creating genres and sub-genres in books.
And, still . . . romance. And suspense. Hm. They go together like the proverbial horse and carriage!
Up this summer for me are three Krewe of Hunter books: Haunted Destiny, Deadly Fate, and Darkest Journey. In these, yes, death is at stake. In two, the protagonists are meeting for the first time; in the third, my heroine is forced to call upon an old friend, someone who saved her once before—someone she knows shares her special gift. But while forces from the past are what bring them together, those same forces can drag them right apart. Sometimes we have to learn to trust. And sometimes we have to remember that trust was one of the finest aspects of a previous relationship, and then again, sometimes it has to be discovered all over again!
Our relationships in life are truly one of the finest aspects in any of us. We are human. We care about our families and our friends—and we care about those around the world in a continual quest for the common good. Romantic suspense takes something that has a really shimmering quality about us: our capacity to love, long, yearn, and even give selflessly of ourselves to another. I see this as a good thing.
We heighten the stakes each time we take that need to love and be loved into a thriller, a mystery, or a horror novel. Sometimes it involves our desperation not to be betrayed. Sometimes it bows to our need to protect those we love. And sometimes we have to realize our own vulnerability and need to protect our own hearts and souls.
Now, seriously, none of this is easy in a field of corpses or basement laden with bones. It’s extremely terrifying when a killer is on the loose . . .
And that killer may or may not be the one you love!
Hey. In our era, what’s a little bit of family dysfunction?