Sunday, May 4, 2014

Is it the romance, or is it the suspense?


Giveaway Alert!

As authors of romantic suspense, we’re often asked to break down our novels according to how much is romance and how much is suspense. Category romance lines that feature romantic suspense vary. Some emphasize crime solving and/or mystery, with the romance playing a secondary role. Others emphasize the romance, with the suspense elements playing a secondary role. Even single title romantic suspense novels can emphasize one over the other. In either case, the romance and the suspense should be seamlessly woven together.

I read all types of romances, from historicals, to vampire novels, to contemporary romances, to humorous, to heart wrenching, twenty hanky reads (which I’d rather avoid!), whether category or single title. What can I say, I’m a “happily ever after” junkie. :-)

But I want more. That zing, if you will, of danger. Maybe it’s a mystery to be solved, perhaps the characters embark on an adventure, or, there’s a real physical threat. I want that something that makes the romance even more high stakes than it would be without it. With a suspense/adventure/mystery plot, the romantic relationship is threatened by dangerous outside forces that add complications to what could have been a simple “boy meets girl” story line. This more is what gives me that satisfying ending. I can sigh with relief when both the romance and the suspense are tied in the perfect bow called The End.

Back to the emphasis of the story: the romance, or the suspense/adventure/mystery. My books tend to be 60% romance, 40% suspense. My latest, Just One Look, is closer to 70% romance, 30% suspense.

Where do you prefer the emphasis in your perfect romantic suspense novel? On the romance or on the suspense? Both equally? Can you break it down into percentages?

Giveaway: 
Comment and enter the Rafflectopter below for a chance to win. Winners will be notified by May 10, 2014.
1st place: $5.00 gift card (Amazon OR Barnes and Noble)
2nd place: Against the Wind (ebook by Virginia Kelly) (Kindle only)
3rd place: Dancing the Dark (e-novella by Virginia Kelly) (Any format)

Sometimes that's all it takes…

FBI Special Agent Drew Davenport, still recovering from a life-threatening wound after a disastrous shootout, doesn’t have time to be serious about any woman. But Mia Alvarez, with her down-to-earth warmth, leaves him blind-sided.

A painful experience crushed Mia’s belief in love. The last thing she needs is an entanglement with Drew, whose sister is marrying her brother. And certainly not when she’s keeping a major secret. Despite her misgivings, forced proximity and overwhelming attraction lead to passion.

When Mia's secret shows up in the form of a stalker, Drew’s determined to protect her. Can he overcome his fear of failing again when emotions get in the way? And while Mia trusts Drew with her safety, can she trust in love when it happens with just one look?

Just One Look is a stand-alone companion novel to Against the Wind

Excerpt:
That’s when Drew saw her.
The knock-out, fiddling with the younger sister’s hair. Who could that be? He’d met everyone, hadn’t he? Both sisters, the endless cousins and assorted relatives. Who the hell was she?
She turned, and he knew instantly who she was.
The older sister. The prickly one with thick glasses. Mia, she’d said as she’d shaken his hand with ice-cold fingers and a businessman’s grip. Only she wasn’t wearing the thick glasses she’d worn at the rehearsal dinner, nor the prim business suit. She stood next to the younger sister... Izzy, that was it. Dizzy Izzy, he’d thought last night. She stood next to Izzy as calm and serene as a queen in a knee-length cream-colored dress that enhanced everything the business suit had hidden.
She wasn’t tall or blond, what he’d always considered his type. Prepared to dismiss her since he’d been fooled too many times by good looks, he nearly turned away. Then she smiled at something the flower girl, daughter of one of the cousins, said, and squatted to be eye level with the little girl.
And all the prim, all the regal, disappeared.
She was simply breathtaking.
He remembered watching one of the old Godfather movies and ridiculing how, based on a single look, the youngest Corleone son had gone bat-shit crazy over a girl.
His rational self argued that this sort of thing didn’t happen.
Still, he watched as she totally disregarded formality, hair, clothes, and hugged the flower girl. No cold fingers or businessman’s grip about her.
Warm and vital and gorgeous and classy…and so damn sexy.
Jesus. He’d counted on a few days of sun, sand and water. He hadn’t counted on her.
It felt like getting shot in the gut again.

Buy Links:

About the Author:
Virginia's first story involved a mouse that hitched a ride with Paul Revere. She was eleven. A bit later and bit more organized, dreams of romance (with a happily ever after), adventure, and danger came together to produce To the Limit, her RWA Golden Heart nominated novel. In the Arms of a Stranger is a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards. She writes about dangerous heroes (sexy, gorgeous ones, of course!) and the adventurous women willing to take a chance on them. An academic librarian, Virginia is a native of Peru and lives in Florida with her family.






26 comments:

  1. I prefer a larger percentage of suspense.
    Janet Kerr

    janet_kerr@msn.com

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  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Janet.

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  3. I feel exactly the same way about the genre as you do – everything you said I agree with! I read every genre, but add that *more* that comes with suspense and I’m in heaven.
    I expect a good balance in my RS books. There seems to be a trend towards ‘watered down’ romantic suspense at the moment, and I don’t like it. I really enjoy contemporary romance, but if I’m buying something labelled as suspense, then I expect a strong suspense plot in the book.

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    1. Excellent point about something labelled suspense. Absolutely.

      Thanks for stopping by and posting.

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  4. I discovered romance only recently so I'm always going to want the scales tipped to the suspense or mystery. However, when it's done well, stories with a bigger nod to the romance are equally satisfying. The suspense just needs to be adeptly woven where the tension is always in the background.

    Thanks for the post and posing the question!

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    1. I agree, Jonetta. The suspense must always be *adeptly* woven in, no matter which side the RS leans toward.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I'd say I like them to be equal. Or at the very least, I want the romance to override the suspense. I just love a happy ending! lol

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  6. Karen, you're after my own heart. :-) I have to have that happy ending.

    Thanks for posting!

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  7. Oooh, tough question! I like them blended together, and you're right about that extra bit of danger increasing the stakes for the romance. I loved this excerpt. Especially Drew's comments about making fun of The Godfather. LOL Can't wait to read this!

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    1. Thanks, Donna, for stopping by. The blend has to be just right, no matter our tastes, I think.

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  8. As long as the book has some percentage of romance in it, I am happy. I focus on the flow of the book... the journey the characters take.

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  9. All books, IMO, just have that character journey or character arc. With RS, it's just harder to do because the author has to weave the two together and both the romance and the suspense have their own arc.

    Great comment. Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Great post! IMO it isn't the rate that really is important. Is the quality of the suspense that count. The thrill, the wondering... That's what's matter for me :)

    Silvia A.

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    1. Ah, yes, the wondering what happens next. That's the thrill. I agree.

      Thanks for posting

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    1. When I was writing this post, I tried to think of a popular 50/50 author. I was thinking Sandra Brown. Maybe?

      Thanks for posting

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  12. Congrats Virginia on the new release! Oh... I have to have 50/50 of romance and suspense :) Thanks for sharing!

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  13. I like 50/50, too. Thanks for the congrats and for dropping by.

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  14. I like the 50/50 ratio but sometime the story just doesn't work this way. I have read some with more suspense than romance and some with more romance then suspense. The story just have to make sense. My threshold would be 30/70 and 70/30.

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    1. Hi Kai, I suspect my threshold is that 30/70, 70/30. I can't seem to write a story without the suspense. And while I read romances broadly, the best ones generally have that extra plot line of suspense, while the suspense/mystery novels have that extra plot line of romance.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  15. Nice post! I think my threshold is 60/40 in an actual romantic suspense, but I love to see some form of suspense in all romance novels. I notice that's the case with most of the stories I write.

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    1. If you're like me, Sharon, it's hard not to write suspense into your romance novels. I've tried it with mixed results. I can do really short, like the novella I wrote last year, but even then, the hero's profession added that little dash of danger.

      Thanks for posting and good luck with your novels.

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  16. Hi, Virginia! You are new to me, but I don't intend that we will remain strangers 'cause I love romantic suspense! I think it should be blended well, about half and half or a bit more on the suspense side. I like to be "riveted" to the page from the adventure and excitement. I guess I'm also an adrenaline junkie. :-) Thanks for posting on Just Romantic Suspense, which I subscribe to. jdh2690@gmail.com

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  17. Hi Janice, nice to "meet" you :-) The adventure and excitement is what's so great about RS. The adrenaline junkie part? I'll live vicariously through my heroes :-)

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  18. I like 50/50 romance and suspense. Thanks for the chance!

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  19. Thanks for your comment, and you're welcome :-)

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