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Topic: What is romantic suspense?

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Subject: What is romantic suspense?
Date Posted: 8/14/2008 8:25 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,315
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I have seen a lot of what I would consider mystery/thriller authors classified this way, and after reading some books and browsing the category I don't understand it. 

 

A book such as this:

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451224774,00.html?Trial_By_Fire_Jo_Davis

featuring a shirtless fireman obviously would feature some romantic elements.  I would consider this and any Harlequin-type novels to be romance, and okay, maybe they have some elements of suspense, but bodice rippers are not really my cup of tea.

 

What I am confused about is thriller authors such as Mariah Stewart and Lisa Jackson.  Their books seem like thrillers to me.  What makes them "romantic suspense?"  It can't be just that the hero/heroine has a love interest, because then John Sanford, Vince Flynn and Daniel Silva would all be considered romantic suspense authors.  :-)  Interested in hearing your thoughts.

 

Oh, and while I am posting.... why do so many female thriller authors have the first name Lisa?  (Jackson, Gardner, Scottiline...)



Last Edited on: 8/14/08 8:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/14/2008 8:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
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That book did sound like a bodice ripper. I am sure those who enjoy that type of book will like it. I don't. I have enough romance in my life, hee hee. Sometimes the classification confuses me. I think the Harelequin Intrique series sort of needs its own classification, because it makes sense- romance first, mystery subplot.

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 11/29/2005
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I think a great example of Romantic Suspense would be J.D. Robb's In Death series or Cherry Adair's T-Flac series. There is still romance and some sex but also some mystery and suspense.

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2005
Posts: 5,238
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Collette is right.  Both of those series wold be considered romantic suspense.  A romantic suspense novel is a mix of romance and suspense/mystery. Yes, many suspense/romance authors throw in a fair amount of sex and romance in their novels these days, but that doesn't necessarily make them romantic suspense.  There has to be a pretty good amount of romance in the novel for it to be considered romantic suspense.

Oh - and please stop using the term "bodice rippers" to refer to romance novels in general.  Bodice rippers are a very specific type of romance novel that was popular in the 70's to early 90's.    They were called bodice rippers because back then, then only way it was acceptable for a woman to have sex before marraige (in a novel) was if she was forced or seduced into it.   Therefore, a lot of bodice's were ripped and you had those cheesy romance novel covers. Romance novels have come a LONG way since that time.

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,315
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Oh - and please stop using the term "bodice rippers" to refer to romance novels in general.

 

I was not doing that.  If you look at the link for the example I posted, it is a book classified as romantic suspense.  Although I have not read that book so cannot testify as to whether any bodices were torn, the cheesy cover does put it in the bodice ripper category, IMHO.  Thanks for the info; didn't mean to offend.

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 3:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2006
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Here's a definition of romantic suspense from Wikipedia:

Romantic suspense

Romantic suspense involves an intrigue or mystery for the protagonists to solve. Typically, however, the heroine is the victim of a crime or attempted crime, and works with a hero, who tends to be in a field where he would serve as a protector, such as a police officer, FBI agent, bodyguard, or Navy SEAL. By the end of the novel, the mystery is resolved and the interaction between the hero and heroine has evolved into a solid relationship. These novels primarily take place in contemporary times, but authors such as Amanda Quick have broadened the genre to also include historical timeframes.

Like all romances, romantic suspense novels must places the development of a relationship between the protagonists at the heart of the story. The relationship "must impact each decision they make and increase the tension of the suspense as it propel the story. In turn, the events of suspense must also directly affect the relationship and move the story forward.  Romantic suspense novels tend to have more "clean" language, without the "emotional, intimate" descriptions often used in more traditional romances. Because the mystery is a crucial aspect of the plot, these novels are more plot-driven instead of character-driven.

This blend of the romance and mystery was perfected by Mary Stewart, who wrote ten romantic suspense novels between 1955 and 1967. Stewart was one of the first to seamlessly combine the two genres, maintaining a full mystery while focusing on the courtship between two people. In her novels, the process of solving the mystery "helps to illuminate" the hero's personality, helping the heroine to fall in love with him.

Here is a list of romantic suspense books and authors--broken down further into four categories:

http://www.st-charles.lib.il.us/arl/booklists/romantic_suspense.shtml

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 3:17 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2005
Posts: 5,238
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Elizabeth,  I didn't mean to sound snarky.   I know you didn't mean to offend.  Frankly, it just gets my goat when people use the term "bodice ripper" and don't really know what the term means.   And there are a LOT of people who put down the romance genre and romance readers using that term.   So your comment, while I'm sure you didn't mean to offend, was just the straw that broke this camel's back. 

Just because a book has a cheesy cover doesn't make it a bodice ripper.  Although you are right and that is one of the reasons that they came to be called bodice rippers in the first place!  Here's a little clip from Wikipedia that addresses the issue:

The modern romance genre was born in 1972 with Avon's publication of Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower, the first romance novel ".The novel went on to sell 2.35 million copies. Avon followed its release with the 1974 publication of Woodiwiss's second novel, The Wolf and the Dove and two novels by newcomer Rosemary Rogers. One of Rogers's novels, Dark Fires sold two million copies in its first three months of release, and, by 1975, Publishers Weekly had reported that the "Avon originals" had sold a combined 8 million copies.The following year over 150 historical romance novels, many of them paperback originals, were published, selling over 40 million copies.

The success of these novels prompted a new style of writing romance, concentrating primarily on historical fiction tracking the monogamous relationship between a helpless heroines and the hero who rescued her, even if he had been the one to place her in danger. The covers of these novels tended to feature scantily clad women being grabbed by the hero, and caused the novels to be referred to as "bodice-rippers."A Wall St. Journal article in 1980 referred to these bodice rippers as "publishing's answer to the Big Mac: They are juicy, cheap, predictable, and devoured in stupefying quantities by legions of loyal fans."The term bodice-ripper is now considered offensive to many in the romance industry.



Last Edited on: 8/14/08 3:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2008 3:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
Posts: 2,161
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I was the one who used the term "bodice ripper" and did so based on the cover art work. 

I didn't mean to offend, but at the same time, this *is* a mystery forum, so I am probably not going to spend much time tip toeing around expressions used to describe other genres. ETA- I would never slam anyone elses book interests on purpose. Everyone is entitled to their particular genres!



Last Edited on: 8/14/08 3:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2008 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
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The description of the one linked to in the first post sounds like it'd be romantic suspense because of the arson issue...I like some romantic suspense so long as there's more romance than suspense! also I don't depend on the covers for anything..I've read some with 'hot' covers that were more funny than sexy and vice versa...most of hte time the pic on the over doesnt' even have the right color hair!

I think of Shannon Butcher, Cherry Adair, Suzanne Brockmann (some of hers), some of nora Roberts(like Montana Sky for instance)..some are much more into the suspense than others.

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 3:19 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
Posts: 2,161
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BTW, I only glanced at the cover and initially thought it was a WOMANS exposed breast. That mans pecks are a bit too perky. LOL

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 5:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,315
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Anna, that is a good link, thank you.  Hmmmm, I guess when I read Iris Johansen and Mariah Stewart, two "romantic suspense" authors, I expected more romance... where are the steamy sex scenes?!  ;-)

Date Posted: 8/15/2008 12:58 AM ET
Member Since: 11/29/2005
Posts: 953
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Elizabeth,

Give Cherry Adair a shot if you haven't already. She gets pretty steamy.

Date Posted: 8/15/2008 7:59 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,315
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No, I hadn't heard of her.  I'll give her a try, thank you!

Sharon C. (Mamu) - ,
Date Posted: 8/15/2008 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
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Hey Anna.  That's a great link.  Looks like that library has an excellent web site. 

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 10:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,678
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There are some romantic suspense authors that I like really well....Brenda Novak stands out as one.  Erica Spindler does some romantic suspense, as well as Lisa Jackson and Karin Slaughter.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 8:19 AM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 4,979
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Sandra Brown has some romantic suspense books as well.  The majority of her books are regular (i.e., non-suspense) romance, but she has a few romantic suspense novels, which I enjoyed.  I am currently reading Smoke Screen, her new romantic suspense novel.  Ricochet was another.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 4:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,315
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Amanda,

I like Karin Slaughter a lot but I am surprised that she is considered romantic suspense.  Perhaps romantic suspense is in the eye of the beholder (or reader.)  :-)