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book toursToday I’m participating in the Never Trust a Pretty Wolf book tour by Elaine Cantrell. Elaine will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour so the more stops you visit and comment on the more chances you have to win. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/06/virtual-book-tour-never-trust-pretty.html.

I’m Writing Romantic Suspense?

guest post by Elaine Cantrell

First of all I’d like to thank Dafeenah for hosting me today. Once I found out she was from the American South I immediately felt we had a connection because I’m from the South as well. Dafeenah, you should write a book about how a Southern girl ended up in the Middle East. (Thanks Elaine, that’s one story where the truth is stranger than fiction lol)

Okay, I know this is hard to believe, but the first time I wrote a romantic suspense novel I didn’t realize exactly what I’d done. I touted that novel as a contemporary romance, totally clueless as to what genre it really was. The light didn’t dawn on me until I read another book that was billed as romantic suspense.  Duh. Like I said, I was clueless. So, what exactly is romantic suspense? How do you write it? 

First, of all, romantic suspense is more than just mystery or suspense. You have to have romance as well. In romantic suspense we know that the villains who are diabolically evil and three dimensional will be defeated and that the hero and heroine will fall in love at some point. Keep in mind that romantic suspense typically takes place over a short period of time, so take care that the interaction between the hero and heroine is believable given the time frame you’re working in.

 Sometimes we know who the villain is, and sometimes we have to solve a mystery to find out his identity. In Never Trust a Pretty Wolf, my hero and heroine know who the villain is: her ex-husband. The ex wants her back, but since he’s a murdering crime boss, she’s trying to run away from him. Remember, make the villain three dimensional. Even bad guys have motivation and reasons for the things they do.

The attraction between the hero and heroine doesn’t have to be immediate, but there should be an intense emotional reaction to each other from the very first time they meet. In Pretty Wolf my heroine automatically detests my hero because he’s a US Marshal. Why? Nope, that’s telling. My hero, on the other hand, is attracted to my heroine because of her looks (Oh, why are men so superficial?) and because he senses she has secrets.

Your plot should address your characters’ greatest fears and make your hero and heroine walk through the fire. Typically, it’s the heroine who’s in trouble, and the hero helps her. I really don’t like wimpy heroines, so Liesel Wolf, my heroine in Pretty Wolf, became a proficient marksman to ensure her own safety. She also behaves with great courage and strength when her deepest fears do come true and she faces her ex-husband.

Pacing in romantic suspense is critical. Readers expect to be engaged almost immediately, and the action should be non-stop with many roadblocks for the hero and heroine to navigate. The climax of the book should be something that has readers on the edge of their seats, desperate to see how this ends. In Never Trust a Pretty Wolf and my other romantic suspense novel The Welcome Inn, don’t ever think the bad guys are really defeated just because a sheriff shows up. If we make it too easy on the hero and heroine, readers will feel cheated.

If you’re writing romantic suspense and you’re talking about guns, police procedure, etc, do the research. You wouldn’t want your heroine to be carrying a gun in her pocket that’s really a rifle.

I also need to mention foreshadowing, a literary technique frequently used in romantic suspense. It’s a useful tool, but it has to be done right. Don’t be so subtle that nobody gets the little hints you’re throwing around, but on the other hand, don’t club people over the head with the hints either. In Pretty Wolf I used the technique on the first page where I allude to the reason why my hero is on an extended vacation. The readers get the impression that something’s wrong, but they don’t know what.

In summary:

  1. Romantic suspense is a mixture of suspense or mystery and romance.
  2. It occurs over a relatively short time.
  3. The hero and heroine will fall in love at some point.
  4. Villains are three dimensional.
  5. Plots should address the characters’ deepest fears.
  6. Pacing is critical. Engage readers from the first page.
  7. Do the research.
  8. Include foreshadowing, but do it right.

You’ll be writing romantic suspense in no time.

 romantic suspense

Liesel Wolf has a secret, a dangerous secret she’ll go to any lengths to conceal. When she’s paired in a charity game with sexy marshal Andy Bryce, a man with secrets of his own, her carefully constructed world comes crashing down, and Liesel’s on a collision course with her past.

Available for purchase at:

Astrea Press



The minute the blue Mustang came to a halt, the valet hurried to open the car door for the newcomer. A pair of long, shapely legs unfolded from the car. Andy’s mouth went dry as his eyes traveled from her legs to her face. He had discovered a goddess. An overworked cliché perhaps, but he knew of no other words to describe her.

The goddess had Titian hair which begged him to run his fingers through it, freeing those glorious curls. Even from where he stood, her eyes glowed with an emerald fire. Her skin looked as if it would put satin to shame. As he stared at her mouth, a bolt of fire stabbed him right below his belt. He could only imagine how it might feel to kiss and taste those lush, red lips.

She sashayed up to the porch and held out her hand to Melton. “Good evening, Thomas.”

Melton was having a hard time getting his voice under control, but he finally stuttered, “Welcome, L… Li… Liesel. It’s great to finally meet you in person. This is your partner, Andy Bryce. Andy’s a United States Marshal.”

The light left her face. She shot Andy a look of what he swore was dislike, even though they’d never met. “Oh, but I thought you said the mayor was my partner.”

Melton nodded. “He was. But something came up, and his brother’s filling in for him.”

She didn’t want to be his partner. Andy knew it as surely as he knew his own name. He wondered if she had heard about… Yeah, she could have. The story made most of the big papers. The Marshals had trained him to read people, so he knew Ms. Wolf didn’t like him



Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators.  She is also a member of Romance Writer’s of America and EPIC authors.  Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Books.  At present she teaches high school social studies.



website:  http://www.elainecantrell.com

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11 Responses so far.

  1. Mary Preston says:

    Thank you for explaining Romantic Suspense. It’s wonderful to know the whys & wherefores.


  2. Thank you for hosting Elaine today.

  3. Mary, thanks for stopping by. I love romantic suspense. I looked at my backlist and found that a great many of my novels have a touch of it.

  4. Rita Wray says:

    I agree with you about the attraction between the hero and heroine.

  5. Joanne B says:

    Thanks for the wonderful explanation of romantic suspense. I love that genre. This book sounds fantastic. Can’t wait to read it.


  6. Chelsea B. says:

    Thank you for the awesome tips, Elaine! 🙂


  7. Trix says:

    A lot of stories do club you over the head with foreshadowing these days. The book sounds great!


  8. Rita, Joanne, Chelsea, and Trix, thank you all for stopping by and forgive this one generic comment. I’ve been traveling all day and am tired out. Trix, I’ll be sure not to club you over the head.

  9. Susan Shapley says:

    I agree with your list of requirements for good romantic suspense. However, if I’m not shocking anyone too much, I also believe that the sexual encounters in a good romantic suspense novel must be believable and sensual enough to keep the reader awake. There’s nothing worse than a bland sex scene, especially tucked in to a series of events that are full of great action and “edge of the seat” suspense. I’m quite anxious to read your new book.
    Susan Shapley

  10. momjane says:

    This may be a romantic suspense story, but it seems to have a lot of fun in it too. Loved the excerpt.

  11. Karen H in NC says:

    Just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Hope you all had a good time!

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

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