Jul 3 2012 12:00pm

Author Elisabeth Barrett on Romance, Suspense—or Both?

Deep Autumn Heat by Elisabeth BarrettElisabeth Barrett’s debut novel, Deep Autumn Heat, set on Cape Cod and featuring two hot-as-heck chefs, a bit of intrigue, and one fabulous coconut cake, releases on July 9thToday, Elisabeth joins us to talk about books that straddle the line between romance and suspense. Thanks, Elisabeth!

 (See the end of the post to find out how to enter for a chance for behind-the-scenes limited access of a Net Galley review copy of Deep Autumn Heat!)

Who likes their romance to include a little mystery and intrigue?

*raises hand*

While I adore straight-up romance, as well as straight-up mystery/intrigue/suspense, most of the books on my keeper shelf straddle both genres (either romantic suspense, or contemporary with a suspense sub-plot). There’s something about two people who need to trust each other in order to navigate something dangerous that speaks to me. It brings the characters closer, faster, even though they might not be ready for it. Of course, when the stakes are higher, there’s also more to lose.

Yet romantic suspense novels run the gamut when it comes to the emphasis placed on suspense and romance. Some books are gritty and realistic, focusing mostly on the suspense. Others are lighter, with more emphasis on the romantic relationship between the main characters. In contemporary romance novels that include a mystery or intrigue, there’s also a range of suspense versus romance (albeit a much narrower one, I think). Happily, whether you tip more towards the suspense side or the romance side, there are a huge number of books from which to choose.

Personally, I love books that focus on the relationships. It doesn’t matter if they’re categorized as romantic suspense or contemporary — if the novel has a strong, central love story, and has a bit of intrigue, I’m hooked. Here are a few that I’ve read (or re-read) recently that do a good job of focusing on the relationships, but have a healthy side of intrigue:

Absolutely, Positively by Jayne Ann Krentz. The primary relationship is fueled by danger and mystery. The set-up is rife with conflict: the heroine is a trustee for a foundation, and the foundation’s grants need to be approved by the hero. Of course the two butt heads—he’s all brains and she’s all heart—but their relationship is spectacularly written. Throw in threats to the heroine and a family feud, and you’ve got classic Krentz. The best part is that the mystery doesn’t overshadow the relationships.

The Villa by Nora Roberts. The matriarch of an Italian winemaking family decides to merge three vineyards, and interpersonal dramas ensue. There’s a primary romance, a secondary romance, and a sub-plot involving a corporate saboteur. Rich with family life and snappy dialogue, NR keeps the focus where it belongs: on the relationships.

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl. An erotic romance author moves back to a small Colorado town and takes up with old-but-unrequited-crush, who’s now the town sheriff. There’s a strong suspense subplot, but the primary romance is never glossed over. Dahl’s witty dialogue drives the character development and helps to emphasize the love story.

Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The heroine helps her best friend break off her wedding to a small Texas town’s golden boy. Her friend leaves, and she’s now the most hated person in town, stranded without any money or a working car. There’s a small intrigue/suspense plotline, but the focus stays on the heroine and the hero (the jilted bridegroom) as they come to terms with their growing desire for each other.

Obviously, there are many more novels out there that have satisfied my craving. I’d love to hear what other books you’ve read that have a strong love story with a secondary intrigue/suspense plot. Drop some titles in the comments section!

Limited-Time Sneak Peek Opportunity! To enter for a chance for behind-the-scenes limited access of a Net Galley review copy of Elisabeth Barrett’s Deep Autumn Heat, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment below.*

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. To enter, fill out entry at https://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/blogs/2012/07/author-elisabeth-barrett-on-romance-suspense-or-both beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) July 3, 2012. Event ends at 11:59 a.m. ET on July 10, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at https://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/page/official-rules-deep-autumn-heat-review-access. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010


About Deep Autumn Heat:

In this sexy new Star Harbor romance series, featuring the too-tempting Grayson brothers, a celebrity chef turns up the heat for a local café owner—and things start to sizzle.

Lexie Meyers decides there’s nothing sweeter than watching Sebastian Grayson’s perfect, wicked mouth devour her coconut cake. He’s hot, he’s hungry, and he’s sizing her up like she’s the best thing on the menu. But she’s been burned in the past and flings just aren’t her thing. Too bad Sebastian can’t resist a challenge.

Worldly, famous, and notorious with the ladies, Seb had planned a weekend of fishing and relaxation with his brothers. Until Lexie, with her kissable lips and frosty “get lost” attitude, makes him want to forget his culinary empire and create some magic with her. After he fires up his charm—including challenging her to a televised cook-off to break through her resistance—it’s now hotter in the bedroom than it is in the kitchen and Lexie isn’t sure whether she’s lost her mind . . . or just her heart.



Raised in a sleepy little Connecticut town, Elisabeth Barrett draws on her upbringing to write small-town romances. Her summers spent living and working on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard were the inspiration for the Star Harbor series, which kicks off with Deep Autumn Heat and continues with Blaze of Winter (coming September 2012).

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Kaye Temanson
1. KayeT
Sounds like an interesting premise. Also, what's not to love about coconut cake? and a hunky man in an apron?
Kim Matlock
2. kvmatlock
I've added the book to my reading list... I look forward to reading it.
Suzanne  Gonneville
3. Hold654
This is my comment: I do like to read new authors.
4. ACarroll
I actually just recently read Talk Me Down and loved it. The suspense subplot didn't overwhelm the love story, but added a realistic element of danger. If your hero's in law enforcement, you've got to have a worthy villain for him to face off against!

Can't wait to see what kind of trouble Lexie and Sebastian get into in Deep Autumn Heat.
Susan Scherzlein
5. Susan Scherzlein
I enjoyed Call Me Irresistable and I'm looking forward to reading Deep Autumn Heat.
6. MaryC
Have Deep Autumn Heat preordered - looking forward to reading it.
Jessica O'Brien
7. JLOBrien
I love that it takes place in Cape Cod! (Being an East Coaster).

Looks like a great read!
8. ElisabethBarrett
Thanks for all your great comments! I'm glad I'm not alone in loving the romance-with-a-side-of-intrigue books!
9. Goldenmane
This sounds marvelous. Hunky men who cook are great, except when they expect me to clean up. ;-)
10. Chantel P.
Looking forward to another good read. Romance and food lol!
Tawnya Peltonen
14. MisfitPrincess
I LOVE romantic suspense. A little danger is always sexy, as is a protective male rescuing his woman. Your book sounds SO good and I would love the chance to read it!
15. smfsprout
While I enjoy a straight up romance book, I really enjoy the romantic suspense. Sometimes, I just want to know that there is more to a story than boy meets girl ....they fall in love ....and live happily after.
Jennifer Meriwether
16. JenM
I'm okay with a suspense subplot in romance, but I'm not a fan of romantic suspense when the balance is more suspense than romance.
leslie Burgess
17. mrswisbech
I love Victoria Dahl! I have read both the Talk Me Down series and the Donovan Brothers series. She writes a good romance that always make me laugh out loud at some point.

I have always seen Jayne Ann Krentz books on the shelves at the library-will put Absolutely, Positively on reserve soon. Thanks for the kick in the pants that I needed! LOL
18. bdmccollum
I am also a fan of Victoria Dahl, and SEP is always a winner. Thanks!
19. shar43
I love anything Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes.
20. shar43
I love anything Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes.
21. tadyena
I look forward to reading this book. If you like romanatic suspense you should try Iris Johansen and Kay Hooper, both do romantic suspense very well. Kay's books also add a paramoral twist, but in a physic way (no parnormal beings).
22. mamaignite
Deep Autumn Heat... Nice Cover! Definitely into suspense along with the romance. Looking forward to this read.
23. ElisabethBarrett
Iris Johansen is also another fave! And I'll try Kay Hooper, so thanks. And of course, SEP is amazing. Keep 'em coming!
26. Amanda Frank
Thank you so much for this list! I’m currently reading “Turkoise” by Joan M. Sargent. If you go to her website, http://jmsargent.com/, you can find out more about her and the book. It’s truly captivating, and I highly recommend it! I’ve been looking for another book for when I’m finished with this one, and I now I’ve got a list of some that sound awesome to chose from! Thanks again!
Post a comment