Lisa Gardner in the “Seven Secrets of Romantic Suspense” lists the following elements that all romantic suspense novels need to be successful:
- A tense, dangerous setting
- Complex heroes, heroines, and most importantly, villains, who have goals they must accomplish and something personal at stake, often their only chance at love.
- Heroes and heroines with a vulnerability or flaw that hinders them from reaching their goal and finding that love.
- A situation that forces the characters to change in some major way and opens them to a loving relationship. By the end of the book, the lovers cannot go their separate ways and be complete.
- High levels of sexual tension: Love has the power to make people vulnerable and in suspenseful, dangerous situations, vulnerability can only lead to disaster.
- Lastly, there must be fear, there must be doubt, but there must also a ray of hope. Because a romantic suspense can only end with a happily-ever after.
Lena Diaz in her book Exit Strategy is a good example of a romantic suspense that does all these things.
Her protagonists are complex. Her heroine, Sabrina Hightower, is feisty and headstrong, determined to prove her grandfather has been kidnapped. The hero, Tall-Dark-and-Deadly Mason Hunt, is a professional assassin with doubts. Has he been killing the wrong people?
They have flaws. Sabrina is afraid to trust and jumps to conclusions. Mason is suffering from PTSD as a result of torture while a captive as a soldier.
A dark setting and a compelling situation: Set in the shadowy woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sabrina must join forces with Mason, even though she doesn’t trust him, and he doesn’t trust her, in order to survive attacks by the men sent to kill them both.
Sexual tension: Thrown into close contact, sexual tension rises, loves blooms. But this only leaves them more vulnerable.
Fear, doubt, and hope: Will they be able to survive the attacks and prove the truth? Only reading the book will reveal the answer.
Lena Diaz is a Golden Heart finalist and has won the National Booksellers Award. Learn more about her at her website http://www.lenadiaz.com/
One lucky subscriber to Zara West Suspense’s Newsletter will receive a paperback copy of Lena Diaz’s Exit Strategy. All subscribers’ names will be entered in the Textfixer Random Choice Maker. The winner will be announced on January 31st.