According to the Romance Writers of America, romantic suspense is the most popular sub-genre for readers who love a love story. They want their hearts to melt a little, but they also want their spines to tingle or their skin to prickle. These readers want it all–a roller coaster ride of emotion big enough to take them away from their own, ordinary lives.
After reading (and listening) to hundreds, maybe thousands of romantic suspense books, I of course have a few favorites. Is this a list of the seven best “in my opinion” romantic suspense authors?
Maybe. I don’t know. Why don’t you read a few you’re not familiar with and test me out?
1. Nora Roberts
Nora is one of the most prolific romance authors of our time, and although she writes in numerous sub-genres, I’m particularly taken with her romantic suspense. A personal favorite is The Witness, a compelling story about a young girl’s one mistake that changes her entire life–and the man determined to break through her protective armor.
2. Heather Graham
Another author whose books can be found in several sections of the bookstore, I am particularly fond of Heather’s Krewe of Hunters Series. These stories follow the adventures of a group of paranormal investigators who are so good at what they do that they are employed by the government as a secret investigative unit. In this series (29 and counting!) Heather combines espionage and murder/mystery with the supernatural to create addictive reads. Start with Phantom Evil (Book1) and see if you don’t agree!
3. Linda Howard
My first book by this author was Dream Man, the premise of which fascinated me for obvious reasons: the heroine has the psychic gift of clairvoyance. The detective who at first thinks her a fake soon discovers not only is he wrong, but also that he can’t resist her–body or soul.
4. Wendy Webb
Called “The Queen of Northern Gothic” by her fans, Ms. Webb again combines mystery/suspense with the supernatural to weave irresistibly spine-tingling tales. The End of Temperance Dare is a particular favorite of mine, since it takes place in what used to be a sanatorium – a waiting place for death by tuberculosis patients, i.e., haunted to the nines. Ms. Webb’s stories lean more toward the supernatural and mystery/suspense elements with romance as a sub-plot. Page-turners. Leave the lights on, please.
5. Simone St. James
For fans of historical fiction, you won’t find much better romantic suspense than in Ms. St. James’ books. Her debut novel, The Haunting of Maddy Clare, won the 2012 RITA Award, and immediately placed this author on my must-read list. My favorite title of hers is An Inquiry into Love and Death, set in 1920s England. A young woman is called away from University to investigate the death of her uncle in a town haunted by a restless spirit. Again, this author’s books concentrate more on the mystery aspect and less on the love story element, but are riveting nonetheless.
6. Juliet Blackwell
Her Haunted Home Renovation Series is a winner. There’s always a mysterious murder and ghostly happenings abound. The thread connecting the books is Mel Turner, whose construction business always seems to lead her to a reno project in a haunted location. In A Ghostly Light, Book 7 in the series, Mel’s challenge is to turn a crumbling site on a remote island into a first-class resort. There’s something, though, living in the lighthouse that no one can see…
7. Susanna Kearsley
I will end this list with an author who wrote a book that I read (in print) twice, then listened to in audio format no less than three times. The Winter Sea is, in my humble opinion, the most delightful combination of mystery/suspense, supernatural, historical–with a heart-melting love story to top it all off. As described on its Amazon page, “a hauntingly beautiful tale of love that transcends time.”
Hmm. It’s been a while. Might be time to dig this one out and read or listen to it again . . .