Suspense… Any Way You Like It
About a year ago, a few writer friends and I were chatting about the types of stories we write and realized that, although our stories are all very different, they have one common denominator.
Tracey Devlyn writes historical suspense, Nancy Naigle writes small town suspense, and I write contemporary romantic suspense.
Recently, I started thinking about why I love writing romantic suspense. I’d love to say my answer is one that will warm everyone’s heart, but I’m afraid it’s rather simplistic. I love a good thriller. Give me any of Harlan Coben’s books and I’ll happily settle in with it. I also love romance. There’s something wonderful about sharing the journey of two people learning to trust each other and falling in love. For me, romantic suspense is the delicious combination of my favorite genres. Like I said, pretty simple.
I realized I never asked my pals why they loved writing romance combined with suspense, so I took the opportunity to quiz them. Here’s what Tracey Devlyn and Nancy Naigle love about writing suspense:
Tracey: Big thanks to my buddy Adrienne for inviting me to talk about my love of suspense. There’s nothing like mingling volatile new feelings of love with heart-pounding action. Watching a story’s hero and heroine claw their way to the surface of a life and death situation while battling the mind-drugging effects of their desire. Plus, I love shocking readers with the unexpected. I love going there.
Nancy: Hey y’all. It’s always a fun day when I get to spend it with Adrienne and Tracey. We are as different as our stories. Tracey’s a Midwestern gal, and Adrienne might live in Chicago, but honey she’s a Jersey girl to the core. Me? I live in southern Virginia on a goat farm and my stories are as southern as I am. It’s kind of a standing joke that folks in small towns know everybody’s business, but that’s a great starting point to add suspense to a story. I like putting my folks in trouble because the emotional ties between the reader and the characters become so powerful when fighting to solve a problem. I write every book hoping that I’ll make you giggle, worry, fall in love a little and come out feeling happy about the way it all worked out. Give me Carla Neggers, Jayne Ann Krentz, Mary Kay Andrews or Mary Alice Monroe for a blissful day of reading, but I’m just as thrilled to be reading Carl Hiaasen or Michael Palmer. They’ve all colored the stories I write in some way.
Adrienne: Thank you, ladies!
Readers, what are some of your favorite genres?
For added fun, I asked Tracey and Nancy to pick one (I know that’s cruel!) favorite excerpt from their books to share. I hope you enjoy!
Tracey: For my excerpt, I picked a scene from A Lady’s Revenge, my debut novel. Here, Guy Trevelyan wants nothing more than to show his childhood friend, Cora deBeau, that, despite the horrors of her imprisonment, she need not fear a man’s touch. Especially his.
“Do go away, Guy.” She waved him off. “I’m trying to enjoy my book, and I can’t do that with you standing there ogling me.”
Instead of leaving, he moved forward, hovering over her like a bird of prey sighting a plump hare.
Her teeth clenched, knowing he wouldn’t stop pestering her until she answered. “I came across these a few years ago in an Indian bazaar and have begun wearing them to bed, as I find them to be more comfortable and warmer than a nightdress.” He made her feel nine years old again, answering to her father for some minor misdeed.
“Move your feet out of the way.”
“Because I’m going to sit down.”
“You’ll do no such thing—”
Grasping her ankles, he shifted her legs enough for him to slip beneath, and then placed her feet on his solid thigh. Cora swallowed, the intimacy of the contact making her heart lodge in her throat.
She tried to pull her feet out of his grasp, not wanting him to see or touch her burns. “If you need a place to sit, I’ll be happy to read in my bedchamber.” Even though her insides clenched with embarrassment, nervous excitement thundered in her chest.
“As you can see, that’s not necessary.” he said in an unperturbed tone. “You may continue to read while I help you relax.”
“And how exactly are you going to do that?”
He answered by kneading between her toes.
Bliss shot up her leg, and tension locked her muscles. The juxtaposition of the two sensations sent her mind reeling. His strong fingers manipulated the soreness from the pads of her feet, careful not to touch her wounds. Her body wanted to melt into thought-numbing ecstasy, but her mind wouldn’t release her.
She waited. Waited in silent horror for him to come to his senses, to pull away in disgust.
“I can’t,” she whispered.
“You can. Now, breathe.”
She tried and failed.
“Again,” he demanded.
His fingers skimmed carefully over the half-dozen circular burns dotting the soles of her feet. She closed her eyes, her body tensing even further.
“That’s not helping,” she ground out.
He ignored her. “Do these still cause you pain?”
, her mind raged. She pulled at her foot.
“Do be still.” He tugged her foot back in place. “Answer my question, if you please.”
Jaw clenched, Cora glanced down at where his hands continued their masterful manipulation. “No. Just tender.”
When he lifted one savaged sole toward his lips, her eyes rounded in horror, and her body turned into a block of cold, unmovable marble.
“Oh, God,” she choked out, her toes curling. “No, Guy, please don’t—” His lips pressed against first one burn mark and then the other. Tears threatened. “P-please stop.”
With the greatest care, he rested her foot across his thigh and cupped the bottom of her foot with his warm palm. His other hand smoothed over the tops of both her feet. “I will do everything within my power to give you ease, Cora.”
Nancy: My novel, Sweet Tea and Secrets, is being re-released by Montlake Romance on September 25th. It’ll have a new cover, new twists and for the first time will be out in print, digital and audio formats. Here’s a little snippet of when Jill Clemmons returns to Adams Grove to bury Grandma Pearl. The last person Jill wants to see is her ex-fiance, Garrett Malloy, but her first morning back in town, well...
A loud rumble jarred Jill awake. She squinted against the morning sun that streaked across her face like a laser.
“What the…?” Jill kicked out from the pile of housecoats and stumbled to the window. One tug sent the old shade whirling to the top of the window frame. With her hands pressed to the warm glass, she looked for the source of the interruption.
The roar assaulted her ears, but the sight of the man pushing a lawn mower hit like a sucker punch. Low-slung denim hugged a pair of trim hips. He moved away from her at a steady gait, sending grass spitting to the right in a trail of fresh clippings. The softball-sized biceps and muscles in the broad tan shoulders had found a new maturity she didn’t remember, but there was no mistaking—it was Garrett.
Jill yanked the shade down to the sill. She turned her back on the window, stuffed her feet into Pearl’s raggedy pink slippers, and stomped out to the living room to check the time on her cell phone.
“Seven thirty?” She activated the sound from where she’d muted it last night, then considered her options. Plan A, ignore him, or Plan B, go out and give Garrett Malloy a piece of her mind.
He knows I’m here. Who else would park a car with a Georgia plate in front of this house?
She rubbed the sleep out of the corners of her eyes, scrubbed her fingers through her hair, and stormed out onto the front porch.
The screen door slammed behind her, but Garrett didn’t flinch.
She crossed her arms and rocked her weight to one hip, waiting and getting angrier by the second.
When he finally spun the mower around, he spotted her and waved.
“Mornin’,” he shouted, lifting his chin in her direction.
“What is wrong with you?” She marched toward him.
He let go of the lever and the motor choked to a stop. “Couldn’t hear you over the mower. Good morning,” he said with an easy smile. “How are you holding up?”
She gritted her teeth. Where did he get off being so chipper at the crack of dawn? And what possessed him to do it in her front yard? OK, technically, it was Pearl’s yard, but it would be hers. Heck, she was the only family left in the family.
“I’m not, and you being here isn’t helping. What do you think you’re doing?”
“Mowing the lawn,” he answered in a sarcastic tone.
“I can see you’re mowing the lawn. I’m not an idiot. I just don’t know why you are mowing this lawn this morning?”
“I mow this lawn every Friday.”
Her temper flared in response to his mocking tone. “No one asked you to do that.”
“Pearl didn’t have to ask. I offered. I’d do a few chores for her, and she’d cook supper for me in return. I called it even. Pearl called it Friday date night.”
“Bet that cramped your style.”
“Not at all. I liked helping Pearl, and she enjoyed my company.” His voice softened. “I’ll miss that.” Garrett shook his head. “You know, she was really lonely after you left.”
The words stung like a hundred angry bees. He knew exactly how to get under her skin. That’s why she’d made all her visits to see Pearl quick one-nighters—so she could avoid him.
She strode toward the porch, but he was right on her heels. “There are no free meals here anymore, and I’m not your Friday-night date.”
Adrienne: And since I didn’t want to let myself off the hook, I picked a favorite scene from Relentless Pursuit, my romantic suspense where Billy Tripp, a security consultant, is sent by his boss to do a job at the Dante hotel in South Beach. There he meets Kristen Dante, the hotel’s general manager. Billy is instantly smitten with Kristen, but she is reluctant to embrace Billy’s wild side. J
Kristen stared out the windows into the blackness of the Atlantic trying to squash the thought that sexy Billy Tripp and that irreverent mouth were the male version of Jess. Only, he couldn’t help it. Most of the time. On top of Jess’s antics, did she really need more of it from a guy she barely knew? She turned back to him. “What do you mean?”
“I screwed up getting my passport renewed. I forgot. I usually put everything in my calendar so I don’t get distracted, but I lost track of this one thing. Instead of letting me rush the passport through and sending me overseas, Vic sent me down here.”
That was why he was guarding jewelry. “I was your punishment?”
“Punishment might be overkill. But, yes, Vic knows I like to play with guns and blow things up and none of that would be happening guarding a necklace.”
Oddly enough, Kristen wasn’t offended by thinking of her event as someone’s punishment. From a management standpoint, she understood it.
“And then,” Billy said. “This juicy car theft thing came up and got me jazzed. I called Vic, by the way, told him you wanted us to take a look at your security. He’s good with that. Whatever you need.”
“That’s the problem—I don’t know what I need. Hopefully you can tell me.” The Billy-being-bad smile spread across his face and Kristen rolled her eyes. “Don’t say it.”
“I won’t. I’m restraining myself. Barely. Regarding the security, here’s my plan. Tomorrow morning I’ll check out your parking lot cameras and take a look at the security footage from the theft.”
“Fine. I’ll clear it with the security team. What else?”
“That’s it for now.”
“Billy, if you figure out what happened to those cars, I’ll love you forever.”
“Yes, but will you love me enough to get rid of the SWAT guy that stops to see you once a week?”
She stilled. Not one inch of movement. After a solid thirty seconds of staring at him, and at a complete loss as to whether she should be flattered that he cared, or offended that he’d asked around about her social life, she managed an answer. “Are you nosing around in my personal life?”
“Your entire personal life? No. I did pursue info on your dating status.” He grinned and before she could start yelling, forged ahead. “Give this schmo a break. According to my source, he’s been humping it across that causeway every week for five weeks. Either go out with him or cut bait.”
“I cannot believe you. And, for the record, it’s not SWAT down here. It’s SRT—Special Response Team.”
Also for the record, I cannot allow myself to get naked with a man who has a single digit body fat percentage. “He’s a nice guy. I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
“Ach!” Billy waved his arms. “First of all, no guy I know—and I’m guessing your SRT guy, purely based on what he does for a living will fall into this category—wants to be thought of as nice by a woman he’d like to get busy with. We want you to think of us as your go-to guy. You need something, we want to be the one to give it to you. Whatever it is. So, Mr. Nice would probably rather you drop-kick him than be thought of that way. Personally, I’d like you to cut bait and make room for me.”
Kristen eyed him, let her gaze roam over his long, broad form and wondered just how low his body fat percentage was.
He smacked his hands together. “But hey, I’m backing off. So, you give it some thought and we’ll see what’s what.” He headed for the door. “Sound good?”
A little too good.
Bios: Adrienne Giordano is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane's Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. For more information on Adrienne's Private Protectors series please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com. Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor and Twitter at http://twitter.com/AdriennGiordano.
Adrienne’s books available at:
Nancy Naigle writes love stories from the crossroad... of small town and suspense.
Nancy Naigle is a Virginia native who writes love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense. She and her husband live on a working goat farm with their dogs, Hunter and Dakota, and more kids (the four-legged kind) than they keep count of.
Her first two novels are set in the small Virginia town of Adams Grove. She also co-wrote a techno-thriller titled inkBLOT. Watch for the next book in the Adams Grove series, Wedding Cake and Big Mistakes, in Spring 2013.
Tracey Devlyn writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine's happy ending). She's a co-founder of Romance University, a group blog dedicated to readers and writers of romance, and Lady Jane's Salon-Naperville, Chicagoland's exciting new reading salon devoted to romantic fiction.
An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. Her debut novel, A LADY'S REVENGE, released April 2012 (Sourcebooks Casablanca). For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website at http://www.TraceyDevlyn.com. Tracey can also be found at http://Twitter.com/TraceyDevlyn or http://www.Facebook.com/AuthorTraceyDevlyn.