Saving the World, One Romance at a Time

Often I will receive submissions of novels tying in an element of mystery and suspense with romance. Writers targeting the romantic-suspense market will find difficulty in placing this type of story. Why? Because romantic-suspense readers have certain expectations that won’t be met with a mere element of mystery and intrigue.

In my experience trying to sell and market romantic suspense, I have found that the readers of this genre want all-out adventure and crime solving along with compelling romance. The suspense is foremost, with the romance being tied in so deeply that the story won’t survive without it.

The romantic leads must be the hero and heroine. Neither can be on the sidelines, witnessing the problem or contributing almost nothing to its solution. They must be intricately involved in solving the crime. This is why readers will often see a detective assigned to protect someone in danger. The detective can be either the male or female protagonist.

I think it is helpful for romantic-suspense authors to have ready access to a police officer or detective friend who can help with procedural accuracy. I also recommend that you become a fan of romantic-suspense novels by reading fine authors like Lynette Eason. (Our agency represents more than 20 fabulous authors in this genre. Go fill your to-be-read pile today!)

As for suspense, the genre is serious that the plot must offer true suspense in which the characters are put in life-threatening situations. Sometimes secondary characters may even be wounded or perish. However, the first level of secondary characters, such as the protagonist’s children, may be put in danger but must always survive.

Intrigued enough to try your hand at romantic suspense? If so, the current market is friendly to this genre. If you are talented in writing this type of story and willing to work hard, success may be yours.

[An earlier version of this post ran in September 2011.]

12 Responses to Saving the World, One Romance at a Time

  1. Avatar
    Natalia Gortova September 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Yes, it helps.
    Thank you.

  2. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser February 27, 2020 at 7:31 am #

    I’d rather write straight romance
    than romance with suspense,
    for the reality of happenstance
    is that relationships get tense
    after danger shared is through,
    for the common thread is broken;
    folks don’t know quite what to do
    when peril’s final words are spoken.
    There are exceptions here, for sure,
    but exceptions prove the rule
    that love needs serene times to endure,
    for flames too early make it cool;
    what in extreme is seen as tender
    becomes, alas, a dying ember.

  3. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson February 27, 2020 at 7:33 am #

    I’m glad to hear romantic suspense is still alive and active. Work hard and don’t quit are key words for every writer.

  4. Avatar
    Sharon K Connell February 27, 2020 at 7:43 am #

    Thank you for validating my suspicions on this genre. This is the genre I chose, and I love writing in it. So far, all my readers have been well-pleased with my efforts. Still, I had wondered if I was putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, by making the stories strongly suspenseful with the action and danger to my hero/heroine and having the romance tag along. I feel much better now, Tamara.

    Also, I’ve always thought it was important for any author to contact experts in the field in which they write when they are not the expert themselves. I’ve found most agencies and professional groups willing to help in this area. For example, I’ve contacted NAS Pensacola for information on Navy and Marines for one of my stories set in Pensacola, personal friends who are active Marines for other stories, people who work in law enforcement and the courts, and even the Chamber of Commerce in the town where my current WIP is set. The CEO with the COC put me in contact with their Fire Chief to answer questions I had for the story. And the COC is looking forward to having the book placed in the town library when it’s published.

    You can meet a lot of great contacts in your research.

    Thanks again for giving me this spark to my day.

  5. Avatar
    Carolyn Hill February 27, 2020 at 9:49 am #

    Very interesting! I’m grateful to have your expertise to guide us in avoiding serious mistakes.

  6. Avatar
    tamela@stevelaube.com February 27, 2020 at 10:49 am #

    Natalia, I would say no, not to my knowledge, at least not with genre romance. Each book focuses on the romance of one specific couple. Now, there ARE series such as you describe, but I would not pitch them as romantic suspense.

  7. Avatar
    tamela@stevelaube.com February 27, 2020 at 10:49 am #

    Without seeing the book, yes.

  8. Avatar
    Penny Zeller February 27, 2020 at 3:57 pm #

    Excellent blog post, Tamela, with some great insights. Love this genre!

  9. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. February 27, 2020 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks for letting us know the current market, Tamela.

  10. Avatar
    Cindi Noble February 27, 2020 at 8:27 pm #

    Nothing bonds a couple like trying to stay alive.

  11. Avatar
    Christine L Henderson March 1, 2020 at 7:01 pm #

    That’s what I love about reading cozy mysteries. There is romance and crime-solving with the amateur and professional sleuths! One day I will write in that genre since I love them so much.

  12. Avatar
    sara March 12, 2020 at 2:41 pm #

    Tell me about it, I’ve tried exploring the world of romantic suspense for a while now, and I just have to say: I like historical romance novels better.
    Although, romantic suspense isn’t too far behind.

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