Humphry Bogart

Every so often, the publishing industry seems to have a hissy-fit over a particular genre, declaring it dead or, at the very least, on life support.  Lately, the talk has been about the death of historical romance–which is balderdash, IMHO–but a few years back to was all about the tragic demise of romantic suspense.  Despite the popularity of a genre that has great crossover appeal with its ability to pull in mystery and thriller readers, there was no-way, no-how you could sell a romantic suspense novel to a traditional publishing house unless you were already a successful author in that genre.  And, unfortunately, sometimes not even then–or at least that was the accepted wisdom.

But that carved-in-granite proclamation–that readers were bored with romantic suspense–never rang true for me.  On TV, for instance, cop and detective shows always rank right at the top, with programs like Castle and Bones (both containing strong romantic elements) pulling in huge audiences.  In books, Harlequin’s suspense lines keep steaming along, and historical mysteries written by authors like Deanna Raybourn and Elizabeth Peters (again, strong romantic elements) are very popular.


Personally, I think readers never stopped reading romantic suspense, as a perusal of bestseller lists seems to bear out.  Readers simply found their way around industry roadblocks to find the publishers or indie authors who could give them their suspense fix.

And thank goodness for that because I just published my first romantic suspense novel this week.  It’s called Lethal Confessions, and I co-wrote it with my hubby under our V.K. Sykes pen name.  This book was a real labor of love for us and we had a great time writing it–although I will admit that the serial killer-villain scared the heck out of me.  It’s an action-packed thriller with a strong detective-heroine and a really sexy hero, a former pro baseball player who’s key to hunting the killer down.  Good, creepy fun!

So, what about you?  Do you agree with the pundits who insist that romantic suspense is deader than a doornail?  If not, who are some of your favorite romantic suspense or mystery authors?  One person who comments will win a copy of Lethal Confessions!


Lethal Confessions is available now!


30 thoughts on “Deader Than A Doornail?

  1. Mary Preston says:

    Romantic Suspense is alive and well. I just read a great Julie Miller book this past week. Dead??? Who are these people?

    1. Mary, many publishers were claiming a few years back that romantic suspense was a very tough sell. Fortunately, I think that opinion is starting to change.

  2. Aly P says:

    I never belive that a sub-genre is dead or taking his last breath… They say about romantic suspense what they say about vampire books and I really can’t see people stopping to read either 😀
    My favorite author is Cindy Gerard.

  3. Thank you, Vanessa. Just my opinion, but the best sign that a type of book is dead or dying is when publishers have to publish their last batch, but refrain from promoting and advertising it. I never noticed that with romantic suspense during recent years, and that’s certainly not the case now with historical romance.

    True, some themes have been done to death. But in both genres, there’s plenty of room for fresh ones. The possibilities are limited only by the writers’ imagination and the readers’ acceptance.

    And nowadays writers can take their works directly to the readers without the middleman of Big Publishing. What it thinks about these genres or any other is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    Good luck with the release of “Lethal Confessions”!

    1. The self-publishing movement has truly been revolutionary, Mary Anne, and is a great way to by-pass roadblocks between the author and her readers. More and more it’s the reader who decides what’s hot and what isn’t, which is great.

  4. Laurie G says:

    Romance Suspense authors that I’ve read: Lisa Jackson, Nancy Bush, Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, Elizabeth Lowell, Catherine Coulter, Ann Voss Peterson, Loreth Ann White, Sandra Brown, Kat Martin, Debra Webb and Maya Banks.

    1. That’s a fabulous list, Laurie! Seems to suggest that romantic suspense is, in fact, not dead!

  5. I’d hope not, since half of what I write is RS! 🙂 I pretty much agree with the other comments above and think it’s going to be alive and kicking for a long time!

    1. I love your books, Stacey – thanks for stopping by!

  6. Connie Fischer says:

    I don’t read a lot of romance suspense, but I have recently discovered Rhys Bowen and found that the way she combines the two makes for a nice read.

    1. I’ve never read Rhys Bowen, Connie, but I intend to check her out!

  7. Marian the Librarian says:

    Hi Vanessa Kelly! My co-worker is also named Vanessa Kelly. Just thought I’d share that tidbit of information. Anyway, I am currently devouring the romantic suspense books written by Pamela Clare. The two I have read so far, are titled, Extreme exposure, and Hard evidence. Check them out. They are very scary, very suspenseful, and very good! Long live romantic suspense!

    1. Hi, Marian! There aren’t many Vanessa Kellys in the world – the only other one I know of is an Australian “swimsuit” model who invariably seems to pose without her suit. And I love Pamela Clare. She’s a lovely lady and a wonderful writer!

  8. catslady says:

    I think publishing houses start those rumors when they want to highlight a different genre lol. I never believe them. I head that about historicals so many times. There are enough books out there for everyone. I read lots of romantic suspense authors. Just a few are Allison Brennan, Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner and Karen Rose.

    1. That’s a great list, catslady!

  9. eap says:

    I never listen to those things, I know it’s alive and well. Look at Karen Rose.

    1. I LOVE Karen Rose, eap. Such an awesome writer – she’s a pretty swell person, too!

  10. erinf1 says:

    I also never listen to the naysayers. Publishing goes in trends and it cycles through all the genres. I love romantic suspense. I cut my teeth on Elizabeth Lowell and Lisa Gardner. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Erin!

  11. Sue Peace says:

    Nope, it’s definitely not dead!!! Romantic suspense is my absolute favorite!!! 🙂 Love Nora Roberts/JD Robb, Karen Robards, Karen Rose, Nancy Bush, Maya Banks, Catherine Mann, etc… 🙂

    1. Sue, I think Karen Robards was the first romantic suspense author I ever read – I love her books!

  12. Shana Shana says:

    I swear I just heard that publishers wanted more RS. It’s still popular. I like to read it. Congrats on the release!

    1. I’m hoping it’s on the upswing, Shana!

  13. Jane says:

    Congrats on the new release, Vanessa. I don’t believe it. They’ve been saying that about other genres, too. My favorite romantic suspense authors include Lisa Marie Rice, Pamela Clare and Jami Alden.

    1. Jane, Lisa Marie Rice is someone who’s career has really taken off – it’s great to see!

  14. Great blog, Vanessa. I think with all the publishing opportunities available to writers these days anything is possible and all subgenres are alive and kicking, especially if the writers have an established reader base.

    1. Thanks, Nancy! It’s very true – it takes time to build a reader base, but authors now have even more ways to reach out directly to their potential audiences. It’s so cool!

  15. bn100 says:

    don’t agree; like Elizabeth Lowell

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