Linda Huber : Psychological Suspense Meets Romance

As part of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 60th anniversary celebrations, I thought I’d use the romantic month of February to chat to some fellow writers, all of whom write suspense but with differing takes on the romantic or relationship element of their novel.

Today, I have Linda Huber joining me …

Romantic suspense comes in many forms, how would you describe the sort you write?

Most of my psychological suspense novels contain some romance. The romance part is always connected to the main, suspense plot; in The Paradise Trees, for instance, Alicia is alone, dealing with an elderly parent issue when she meets nice Dr Frank. The reader knows, however, that Frank could be the anonymous stalker who has targeted Alicia’s young daughter Jenny. On the other hand, it could be Derek, or Doug, or the pet shop owner. The suspense comes in two parts: will the unknown stalker get Jenny, and is Alicia going to end the book happily?

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

Romance plays a big part in most people’s lives, at least at some point! Who doesn’t like a happy ending, and who doesn’t like the suspense of wondering how it’s going to work out – ifit’s going to work out, and if the hero is what he seems to be. And even if the main plot is to do with an unknown someone stealing from elderly patients in hospital and then murdering to cover his tracks (Ward Zero), readers can still enjoy wondering if Sarah has fallen for the right guy along the way…

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

In my books, suspense gets the lion’s share, always. Relationships always figure in the plot, but they’re sometimes established marriages (not that these can’t contain romance too!!), and more often it’s family dynamics that my plots circle around. I reckon it’s like life – sometimes romance is the most important thing, and sometimes it’s not.

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

One misconception can be – suspense novels don’t have romance in them. But I think we’re all looking for love in our lives, though of course happiness doesn’t have to mean finding romantic love. In her book The Tree of Hands, Ruth Rendell juggled crime, romance and suspense brilliantly. Benet ends up having to choose between a relationship with a great guy, and her child. I cried at the end of that one.

Blurb

He had found exactly the right spot in the woods. A little clearing, green and dim, encircled by tall trees. He would bring his lovely Helen here… This time, it was going to be perfect.

When Alicia Bryson returns to her childhood home in a tiny Yorkshire village, she finds her estranged father frail and unable to care for himself. Her daughter Jenny is delighted at the prospect of a whole summer playing in the woods at the bottom of the garden, but as soon as Alicia sets foot in Lower Banford, strange and disturbing memories begin to plague her. What happened in her father’s house, all those years ago?

But coping with the uncertainty and arranging Bob’s care plan aren’t Alicia’s only problems. Unknown to her, she has a stalker. Someone is watching, waiting, making plans of his own. To him, Alicia and Jenny are his beautiful Helens… and they should be in Paradise.

Morton S. Gray : The Mysteries Tied Up in Romantic Suspense

The second week of the Romantic Novelists’ Association‘s 60th celebrations is upon us and today I have romantic suspense writer, Morton S. Gray with me.

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?

The heroes and heroines in my books tend to take their time falling in love. I think this is because I usually have them in situations at the beginning of my novels where they would be unlikely to see each other as life partners, or even in some cases friends …

Is it as straightforward as calling it romance?

My stories tend to focus on the solving of a mystery and the hero and heroine both have a part to play in this, so, no, my books are not solely focussed on the romantic element.

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

Generally, it is the mystery or suspense element of the book which starts me along the path of writing the manuscript – I often only have a vague scenario and context to place my characters in when I begin to write. I don’t plan my novels in advance, so I enjoy discovering what is happening in the situation and world I have created as I go along, hopefully as much as my readers do when they read the books.

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

I would say that my books are mainly focussed on the mystery or suspense by as much as seventy percent. In fact, the couple have to be able to solve the conundrum they have been set and weather the storms along the way to give them any chance of a successful relationship.

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

Readers, unless they are regular romance readers of course, tend to be turned off by the romance description I find. Unfortunately, it tends to be associated with fluffy images and lack of substance – so untrue.

All I do if I come across this reluctance to try a romantic suspense novel, is to describe the puzzle my characters are trying to solve and hope that this tempts readers in. To give you examples of what I might say – for The Girl on the Beach, the story is about a woman trying to work out if the new headmaster of her son’s school is a man she knew before in very different circumstances, for The Truth Lies Buried, it is a couple drawn together to try to discover why their fathers both disappeared around the same time when they were children and Christmas at Borteen Bay is centred around the finding of a body on the beach at the beginning of December and the identity of the deceased. I hope that these descriptions enable potential readers to realise my books have more substance than they first imagined.


Blurb

Two children in a police waiting room, two distressed mothers, a memory only half remembered…

When Jenny Simpson returns to the seaside town of Borteen, her childhood home, it’s for a less than happy reason. But it’s also a chance for her to start again.
A new job leads to her working for Carver Rodgers, a man who lives alone in a house that looks like it comes from the pages of a fairy tale – until you see the disaster zone inside …
As Jenny gets to know Carver she begins to unravel the sadness that has led to his chaotic existence. Gradually they realise they have something in common that is impossible to ignore – and it all links back to a meeting at a police station many years before.
Could the truth lie just beneath their feet?


Amanda James : Psychological suspense and romance on the same page

As part of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 60th anniversary celebrations, I thought I’d invite some suspense and romantic suspense writers onto the blog over the next few weeks to talk about how they incorporate the two genres.

Today, Amanda James is joining me …

Romantic suspense comes in many forms, how would you describe the sort you write?

Psychological suspense with a romantic element.

Is it as straightforward as calling it romance?

No. Because there’s always a dark twist or two and a a background of mystery/intrigue.

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

I like writing exciting stories where the baddie gets their comeuppance… usually.

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

The suspense is the majority of the story. The relationship is always in there, but it’s not the main focus.

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

Sometimes it’s not taken as seriously as a straight police procedural, or crime story. I just say – read it, you might be surprised!

Blurb

Who can you trust when the past won’t let you go?

Kerensa and Leo are a happily married young couple who live in Cornwall. Leo works part-time in London as an investment advisor to wealthy businessman, Paul Donaldson. The couple hope to start a family soon and life couldn’t be better.

But Leo has been stealing from Paul and Paul isn’t the sort of man you steal from.

When Leo realises that Paul knows what he’s done, he has no choice but to resort to drastic measures.

Meanwhile, after discovering she is pregnant, Kerensa can’t wait for her husband to return home so she can share her news. But she soon discovers he’s gone missing.

After receiving a threatening phone call from Paul, Kerensa realises how much trouble her family are in.

Just how far is Paul prepared to go to get revenge? And will Kerensa ever be happy or safe again?

Lynda Stacey : A Happy Union for Suspense and Romance

As part of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 60th anniversary celebrations, I thought I’d invite some suspense and romantic suspense writers onto the blog over the next few weeks to talk about how they incorporate the two genres.

First up is Lynda Stacey

 

Romantic suspense comes in many forms, how would you describe the sort you write?

I’d say that all of my novels are very character driven. I write in deep third person, which gives the reader all the happiness, but also all the fear of the heroine. I always try to get empathy for my heroine, before escalating the suspense.

Is it as straightforward as calling it romance?

Not at all. Romance is exactly that, it’s the meeting of two people, the chemistry between them and the joining of their lives. Suspense comes in many different forms, the only two things you can be sure of in a suspense book is that the heroine isn’t going to get a smooth ride during the story and that once she does get love, she really deserves it.

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

Because I honestly don’t believe that everyone’s life is full of roses, mine certainly wasn’t. Yes, of course people meet and fall in love, but in this day and age, there are always family members, ex-partners and other ‘nasty’ people who want to spoil things. I am however quite sure that most people’s lives don’t include serial killers or murder. But in my novels, my poor heroines are given quite a battle, they normally get quite a lot thrown at them, but being kick-ass type women they do grow within the book, gain confidence and ultimately, … they always win the battle in both life and love.!!

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

I try to ensure that both parts of the book would stand alone, that without the romance the crime would be there, and it would work. But equally, that there is always enough chemistry between my two main characters that the romance part of the story could still have happened, even if the suspense/crime hadn’t.

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

A lot of people seem to think that if you write any genre that has the word romance in it, then you must write books similar to Fifty Shades of Grey. That they obviously must be graphic or that they’re only for women to read.

None of the above is true. My books are nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey, they’re not graphic although they do contain one or two sexual scenes within each book (which I’d like to think are tastefully done) Also, I know quite a few men who’ve read my books. I openly encourage men to give them a go. !!

Blurb

Should some secrets stay buried?
For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist.
But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes.
It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

What’s To Love About Romantic Suspense?

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Romantic Novelists’ Association which is being celebrated throughout 2020 with a number of fab events, details of which you can find on their website. As next month is supposed to be one of the most romantic months with Valentine’s Day and this year it’s also a Leap Year, I thought I’d mark the occasion with a series of blog posts featuring romantic suspense writers.

As many of you know, I enjoy writing both romance and suspense, with my favourite genre romantic suspense where I get to bring the two together. Some of my books are in this latter category, although not necessarily marketed as such. My last book, The Dead Wife, definitely features both traits. Romance can very often be translated to ‘relationships’ and even in some of the most hardened crime stories, there is some sort of relationship going on, either as part of the main plot or subplot. Some of the most popular tv shows centre around and at least use love, romance and relationships in their storylines – off the top of my head there’s Doctor Foster, Big Little Lies, Line of Duty, Keeping Faith, You.

It’s the same for books too …

Karen Rose, Nora Roberts, Evonne Wareham have all written suspense books, with varying degrees of grittiness, which also feature romance. If you haven’t tried romantic suspense before, then I’d very much recommend any of the following.

Any of the Karen Rose series

I’m currently reading the  Baltimore series. Not for the faint-hearted.

 

Nora Roberts, Shelter In Place

Evonne Wareham, Never Coming Home

Louise Rose Innes writes military romantic suspense, with both the male and female leading in the alpha stakes.

Barbara Freethy writes a lot of romantic suspense, with probably more or equal emphasis on the romance.

Hope you enjoy the up-coming guest posts who all write in this genre and that you discover a new author as well.