Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Crime against Genres: Humorous Historical Romantic Suspense…

Humorous Historical Romantic Suspense… Really? Is there such a thing? I can just hear Sister Mary Margaret clucking her tongue saying, “These days genres are crossbreeding faster than guppies.”

But Sister Mary, it isn’t my fault.


It was Georgette Heyer, that naughty wench, she made me do it.

It’s true. The incomparable Georgette Heyer wrote several fabulous plots that feature humor and suspense all rolled into a tidy little Regency historical romance cake ball. For instance, no one can forget THE MASQUERADERS, a brother and sister who end up on the wrong side of a Jacobite rebellion. The heroine makes a daring escape disguised as a gentleman. Naturally, she runs into the love of her life while masquerading as the wrong sex. Then there is the BLACK MOTH, featuring a gentleman turned highwayman, and THE TALISMAN RING, brimming over with smugglers.

Georgette Heyer is not alone. Quick! Run away screaming. Hide under the bed. There are many more perpetrators of this foul deed. Loretta Chase, Marion Chesney, April Kihlstrom and several other brilliant writers must share the blame for this wicked twisting of genres. How dare they make us laugh while we are dealing with the likes of pirates, and smugglers, and spies? Oh my.

Seriously, do you think it is possible to laugh while a serial killer is on the loose? One of the funniest scenes I have ever read was in Mr. Perfect, a romantic suspense by the amazing Linda Howard. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. Yet her book is about a serial killer. Handled with a deft hand it can be a wonderful addition. I will grant that most of Ms. Howard’s book is not humorous. Whereas, the tone in Heyer’s work is definitely light throughout. As is mine.

I do not claim I’ll frighten readers in my books. Although in LADY FIASCO, I do have a psychotic cousin trying to murder my heroine. But I suspect you’ll probably laugh rather than shiver. Why do I write it funny? Perhaps it is because with all the pain in the world, with all the madness, all the evil, and crime, I cope best by laughing.

Humorous Historical Romantic Suspense… can we really eat our funny cake and have our murderer, too? Maybe a better question is; can we play spin the bottle, eat our cake, AND have our murderer, too?

Kathleen Baldwin is the award-winning author of YA and Regency Romance. She is currently working on a very suspenseful series for Tor Teen STRANJE HOUSE, A School For Unusual Girls, available March 2013. You can learn more about Kathleen’s books at:

LADY FIASCO was voted best Traditional Regency in 2004 and was recently released as an eBook. Lady Fiasco is on sale this week for 99¢ in a countdown deal at Amazon!


  1. Well said. Laughing our way through suspense, in my opinion, is the best way to handle a scary situation in a book. And twisting, genres, why not? How about the historical/contemporary romance, better known as a time-travel book? Twisting up the genres only make reading that more enjoyable. Good luck, Kathleen, with your Humorous Historical Romantic Suspense!

    1. Thanks for dropping by Patience. Clever connection: time travel.

  2. Nothing more fun than a light-hearted romance. I love your books, Kat. Can't wait for the next one.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you stopped by.
      The next book in this series will be out next month.