L J Ross: Broader Relationships Within The Crime Genre

To continue with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 60th anniversary celebrations and with the romantic suspense theme on my blog, today I have the amazing L J Ross talking about the broader aspects of ‘romance’ in her best selling DCI Ryan books.

Romance and romantic suspense comes in many forms, not just the hearts and flowers relationships but the toxic and damaging ones too, how would you describe the romance included within your novels?

I’d say the romance included within my novels is both aspirational and real. It ranges from quiet chats beside the television in old flannel bath robes, to excitinglife-or-death rescues in some of the most atmospheric parts of the North-East. Often, though, my readers tell me the most heart-warming moments are the everyday ones, where there’s real thought and emotion behind the many small acts of kindness one person can show to another.

Is it as straightforward as calling it romance?

I think there’s definitely ‘romance’, including the ‘meet-cute’ moments when one character first meets another, but I’d say my books are really about broader relationships: friendships, romantic partnerships, toxic partnerships of all kinds and, of course, the ultimate antithesis to romance in the form of antagonists we all love to hate.

What is it about romantic suspense that draws you to write it or include it in your books?

I think there’s something uplifting about taking the reader on a journey of discovery – and there’s no greater discovery than when one person falls in love with another, or learns to be kind to one another.

What sort of balance between the romance element and the suspense element do you have?

I’d say my books are evenly split. On the face of it, my DCI Ryan books are crime fiction, but the more readers delve into the series they often find that the thing that most draws them into the stories are the developing relationships between the six main characters.

Do you come up against any regular misconceptions about the genre and how do you dispel these?

I think there will always be readers who have strong polarised preferences for either suspense or romance, and they will never enjoy books which balance the two as much as ones that reflect their own preference. However, I’ve found that many readers who came to my series by reading ‘Holy Island’ have found themselves surprised that they rather like romantic suspense fiction after all!


Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.

When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway.