Saving the World, One Romance at a Time

romantic suspense

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 such as Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon, or Dee Henderson.

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.






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

  1. Avatar
    Meredith LeBlanc September 8, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    This post is so helpful. I’m struggling w/ my 1st attempt to write a novel. I thought it would be a suspense/romance. I see what my problems are so clearly now.

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    Natalia Gortova September 8, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Thank you so much for this. It’s hard to know what the market is favorable towards if you’re not right in the middle of things. We appreciate the point in the right direction.

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    Natalia Gortova September 8, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    As an aside… Do you think there’s a market for a suspense trilogy where the romance runs slowly throughout? So there’s not too much in the first book that’s technically ‘romance’, until the very end really. Probably similar to the romance between Blair and Cade in Terri Blackstock’s Cape Refuge books.
    Just wanted to get your thoughts…

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    Audra Krell September 8, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    My novel has some suspense as well as romance, but the overall theme is a woman learning to trust God again after being abandoned. Since it isn’t all out adventure, I’ve been pitching it as women’s fiction. Does that sound like the correct genre?

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    Tamela Hancock Murray September 8, 2011 at 9:24 am #


    Traditionally, romantic suspense involves one couple per book rather than journeying with one couple over a series. In each book, a crime is solved and the romance is established so that the reader knows the couple looks forward to a happy future. However, that’s not say there is never a market for the type of series you describe, as you demonstrated by your example. If you are marketing a series that doesn’t fit into an established category, work with your agent to show editors how your series will be positioned in the market. And of course, any author needs to be sure the writing is so compelling that readers *must* read page one, then page two…through to the end.

    Hope that helps!

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    Tamela Hancock Murray September 8, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Audra, based on your description, I would say you have correctly identified your market.

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

    Where do you sit on the third vs. first person debate?

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    Crystal Laine Miller September 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    This has always been my favorite genre to read in contemporary romances. I’m glad there is still a demand for it! I loved Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series, and of course, love Lynette and Irene. And I worked at acquiring these at one time with a publisher, so I used to be so keyed in on that market. Thanks so much for giving your current take because I was just wondering about it.

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    Marji Laine September 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    What a breath of fresh air! So excited to learn that my genre is wanted at this point. Now to finish the spit and polish!

  10. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray September 9, 2011 at 3:51 am #


    In my view, third person offers the author more freedom but first person stories written well can be very powerful.

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