Some crime novels include a romance and some romances also include a crime but there is a whole genre for those who like their books to be a mixture of the two. Romantic suspense novels feature a romance which occurs in the midst of, or because of, a crime or similar happening. There are quite a few authors who write this sort of book but all that I have found and enjoyed have been American. Authors whose romantic suspense I enjoy include Allison Brennan, Beverley Barton, Mariah Stewart, Shannon McKenna, Pamela Clare, Laura Griffin, Karen Rose and Nora Roberts. Most of these authors also write other books in other genres, especially romance, so if you are trying their novels for the first time have a good look at the blurb before you buy. This is a genre that I enjoy as quick and easy reading.
Romantic suspense novels I have read usually involve a man and a woman, each of whom has a complicated or traumatic background. One or both of them will be connected with law enforcement in some way or have some similar position of authority (leading investigative journalist, district attorney, police artist, politician, FBI agent, crime scene investigator or similar). Plots often include someone being wrongly accused, a criminal who is stalking one of the couple, someone who has been discredited or isn’t believed, someone who has been wrongly convicted, a corrupt politician, a missing relative, a skeleton uncovered, a shadowy figure from the past, domestic abuse or something which outs them in immediate jeopardy. The two characters end up facing the problem together, supporting and believing one another often when no one else will, rescuing each other from peril, finding the criminal and, of course, falling in love. The books are usually fast paced so the romance is quick and intense – there will be sexual action but not too much as it is the attraction which is part of the plot. The murderer frequently turns out to be someone known to the couple or involved in the investigation. Romantic suspense books are often part of a series where all the stories are connected in some way, maybe by the characters all being part of a large family or friendship grouping.
Murder List by Julie Garwood, which was my second book finished this year, is a typical romantic suspense and because of that I knew what to expect and enjoyed it when it was skilfully delivered to me. It is the fourth of an ongoing series. All the books so far feature one of the same large family, most of whose members work for some form of law enforcement. In this book Alec is a local police detective who has taken a role with the FBI. As he finishes his time with the police he ends up on bodyguard duty for Regan who is a member of a rich, local, hotel owning family. Regan had attended a pseudo-psychological conference with her friends to try and uncover the fraud they suspect is being perpetuated by a famous guru type figure. For one exercise they have to write a list of all the people they would like to murder and then symbolically burn the list. Through a series of events Regan’s list ends up in the hands of a murderer who begins to carry out the murders on her behalf. Alec has to keep Regan safe, convince his superiors that she is in danger, find out who the murderer is and do it all quickly before other innocent people are killed. Of course, the two of them are in close proximity and even their various personal issues will not prevent them developing an attraction.
This is a good example of the romantic suspense genre. It is filled with suspense and proceeds at a fast pace. There are lots of interesting minor characters and red herrings and everything gets neatly tied up by the end. It doesn’t do to think too hard about the plot as some holes can be found and the motivation of the murderer is farfetched in my view. This is not a book where you can easily work out who the criminal is so just go with the flow and enjoy the banter, the fallings out, the making up and the action. You can definitely read this book without having read others in the series but if, like me, you prefer to read series in the correct order then start with Heartbreaker which I enjoyed a lot too.