Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Balance Between Suspense and Romance by Marji Laine

We're in a period where romantic suspense novels are hot. So what do they require? Balance, for one thing. Author Marji Laine shares her thoughts. -- Sandy

Marji: Most publishers will spell out that a romantic suspense novel must be equal parts romance and suspense. That’s an easy thing to say, but not always easy to put into action. Either genre can make a complete story without the other, but they are so much better together. However, when the intensity of either the romance or the suspense begins to amp up, it’s hard to weave in the other element.

At the beginning of a romantic suspense, the romance usually takes a back seat. Before there is a “they,” there is a “she,” and she’s most often in trouble. Desperate. Frightened. Sometimes in survival mode from the first chapter. Or the first page. Or the first few words. As the action begins to roll, there’s no time for romance

My own book, COUNTER POINT is a little different. The action begins on HIS side of the story, a desperate chase through a jungle in southern Mexico. My heroine doesn’t realize her danger until her hero returns to their small town from his failed mission. But even in this case, the romance isn’t evident before the danger becomes critical.

The romance begins, even in the midst of the action: the chemistry, the attraction. I love it when characters, in deadly situations, think romantic thoughts and then fuss at themselves for getting distracted

But then romance is a great distraction! Between each jarring attack or last minute escape, the romance peeks in again. Thoughts, looks, laughs will ignite the sparks into a palpable connection. At that point in the story, the romance is as gripping as the suspense. Well done, the readers are as much awaiting the ultimate vulnerability of the romance as they are the revelation of the culprit and the unraveling of the mystery.

And if the story is done really well, the readers will have at least half of the book to anticipate the delicious ending.

Is romantic suspense your genre of choice? Do you have a formula for making sure you balance the romance and the danger?


Marji writes what she loves to read: mystery, suspense, and romance all with a deep thread of faith and hope. A home-schooling mom of four, she's nearing retirement with her youngests, twins, in their senior year. In addition to her writing and editing, she is also the high school coordinator and web designer of a large co-op, and works at her church as the children's music director, a teacher in the Sunday youth classes, an assistant in the youth choir and an alto in the adult choir. AND, she has just begun her newest career as Executive Director at Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens.

COUNTER POINT (e-book) is available at 40% off this month as a pre-order special. AND anyone who orders it and contacts Marji ( with the receipt by October 30, 2016 will receive another book, an e-collection of short romances, for free.