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Author Topic: Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense  (Read 16172 times)

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Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense
« on: May 08, 2011, 08:09:27 AM »

There seems to be some confusion as to whether romantic mystery and romantic suspense are the same genre of fiction.  In fact, they are not. My new mystery novel THE TRUTH SLEUTH which will be published by Five Star/Gale in hardcover May 18, 2011, for example, is a romantic mystery not romantic suspense.

In romantic suspense the mystery is secondary to the romance. Plot focus is always on the romance while the mystery simply offers a plot device. In a romantic mystery,
the love interest is always secondary. The mystery is the key plot factor. The romantic aspect usually serves to provide depth to the main character(s).

In romantic suspense there is always a happy ending with the couple united at the end. In romantic mystery novels which are often part of a series like mine, that is not necessarily the case--although it can be.

Any thoughts or opinions on this subject?

Jacqueline Seewald


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Re: Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 01:57:07 AM »

When I write a story, I never consider the genre.

I begin with a narrative hook. From information in the narrative hook, all else develops and unfolds.

Little Eddie liked Sara until her brother, Carl, said she would not invite him to her birthday party because he played chess at Emma's house on Valentine Day.

Ed believed Vera the perfect wife until he discovered she and Hank had put arsenic in his

The narrative hook provides characters in conflict.

Adventure. Comedy. Crime. Fantasy. Horror. Mystery. Romance. Terror.

Mix the above genre in any combination and what will have for a genre?

So much for my blah, blah.


Lance Charnes

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Re: Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 01:40:54 PM »

Jacqueline: Welcome to MWF.

Your definition for "romantic mystery" seems to include much of the mystery genre; it's a rare crime/mystery novel that doesn't have a romance of some sort for its MC, depending on how you define "romance."

Determining "plot focus" can also be tricky and up to the eye of the beholder. The J.D. Robb " Death" series is an apt example. More pages are spent on whatever crime Eve Dallas is investigating, but Eve's brainspace seems mostly taken up with Roarke (especially in the first book). "Romantic suspense" or "romantic mystery"?

"Suspense" and "mystery" aren't synonymous. Agatha Christie wrote mysteries, but most weren't very suspenseful. There often isn't much mystery in a Dean Koontz book, but they're packed with suspense. There can be plenty of suspense of the will-they-or-won't-they variety in a romance without there being a murder lurking in the background. Are there perhaps other terms we could use here?
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Re: Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 11:26:50 PM »

Sometimes I think the classification is up for grabs. In my latest book, CALENDAR CLAN, I called it a mystery, but my publisher placed it in the Romantic Suspense catagory. Just goes to show there's a lot of overlap in publishing these days.

B L McAllister

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Re: Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2011, 05:25:42 PM »

Whichever of the two it is that follows the following formula, I prefer not to read:
1. Girl and Boy meet (more or less)
2. One (or more) of them despises the other for no very good reason.
3. Something or other (often something interesting or sexual or violent or more than one of these) happens that sheds new light on the possibility of relationship.
3. Possibly repeat from step 2 a few times, depending on how thick a book is needed, then:
4. Again for very shallow reasons, boy and girl suddenly are intensely fond of each other, and go off together (though given their touchiness up to now, I wouldn't expect the relationship to last).

Is that romantic mystery or romantic suspense?

In my (and spouse's) Runaway Nudist the above formula is not followed, but our editor/publisher thinks of the story as at least overlapping "romantic."  So whichever it is, romantic mystery or romantic suspense that follows that rule, I guess we (I and spouse) must have accidentally written the other.

Byron Leon McAllister.
Books by Byron and Kay McAllister can most easily be obtained as e-books or in print from the publisher at For "Undercover Nudist," the print version is an improved version of the ebook version. The others are the same in both formats.


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Re: Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2011, 08:26:30 PM »

Hi, I'm new and have been reading this thread with interest since I am writing a first novel which has elements of three genres.  I realized when talking to people that I need to categorize it quickly, so I am currently calling it paranormal romantic suspense.  All three elements are strong, but I suppose if I had to choose the strongest focus is on the romance. However, I am building a very detailed fantasy in which the main characters are members of a secret community of shape-shifters which exists in the contemporary world. So I am confused about how to fit my novel into a niche. It's not my biggest problem at the moment as I am discovering that I need to know more about how police and the FBI work in order to have a plausible plot.  I found this forum when trying to research issues of jurisdiction and I think I need to rework a lot of what I have written.  I'm glad to have found you guys.

Old Bill

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Re: Romantic Mystery versus Romantic Suspense
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2011, 09:32:22 PM »


The advice I give all writers who need help with police procedure, or in your case, jurisdiction issues is stop into visit your local PD, Sheriff, DA or even a FeeBee (FBI) office if you have one close by.  (BTW: the groaning you here is from all the other forum members who are tired of hearing this advice.)  But you'd be surprised how receptive law enforcement people can be to writers.  Be patient with them and maybe off some samples of your work so they know your serious.

Specific questions are usually answered by one or more of the members, so fire at will.

Good luck,

Old Bill
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