dimanche 9 novembre 2014

Romantic Suspense Authors Like Nora Roberts

By Christa Jarvis

Fiction readers love mystery and romance. Putting the two together, as romantic suspense authors like Nora Roberts do, is a way to the top of the bestseller lists. With two themes to weave into the story, it's not hard for a skilled writer to keep the reader in thrall. It's fun to wonder if the romantic lead is the hero or the villain. The best stories keep the tension going until the end, which is hard to do without sacrificing the integrity of plot and characters.

The mystery is a fairly new twist in what many think of as romance novels. Contract authors retain the central theme of a beautiful, naive woman meeting a strong, enigmatic male. The mystery angle brings in private eyes, law enforcement officers, or government agents rather than the usual cowboys, boys next door, or exotic millionaires.

However, novelists like Nora Roberts offer a lot more to their readers. Roberts has set a high standard with believable characters in real-life dilemmas. Her dialogue is intriguing and the struggles of her characters absorbing. There are no throw-away scenes that advance the plot or fulfill a formula.

Roberts wrote strictly romances for years, but now she has a best-selling series written under the pseudonym of J. D. Robb. Her heroine here is not a librarian or a schoolteacher but a New York policewoman. The romantic interest is the detective's husband, and this skilled writer has made their on-going relationship the central theme of the series.

Mystery writers have long included romantic themes in their books (opinions differ on whether mysteries are suspense novels or whether the two genres are different.) When Dorothy L. Sayers had her aristocratic hero, Lord Peter Whimsey, finally fall in love, the object of his desire was charged with murder and refusing to help her own defense. The theme of frustrated love was developed to the point that some critics suggested Sayers was in love with her own character - but her readers loved it.

Police are favorite characters, but this doesn't eliminate the romantic angle. Martha Grimes writes the saga of Richard Jury, a melancholy detective whose desire for love is frustrated over and over. Devoted readers enjoy Jury's cleverness and his relationships with co-workers, friends, acquaintances, lovers, and a mysterious Londoner who may or may not have committed the crime Jury suspects him of.

Dick Francis wrote thrillers based on steeplechase racing in England. One character is a private investigator, but others are architects, pilots, stud farm owners, and the like. These heroes encounter terrifying bad guys, but many fall in love in the midst of murder and mayhem. Sometimes the ins and out of love follow a character through more than one novel.

Roberts was the first author inducted in to the Romance Writers Hall of Fame, not only because of the popularity of her books but also because of the excellence of her writing. Martha Grimes brings astonishing originality to her novels. Dorothy L. Sayers created an immortal character who is more of a household name than many prime ministers. For more great writers, check the Best Seller lists for the past few decades. There is no reason to put up with substandard writing in order to get suspense and romance.

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