This week we have a guest post from Peggy Jaeger, a fellow author at the Wild Rose Press. She’s got a new romance series going, “A Pride of Brothers.” Since the name of the first book’s hero is Rick, she’s obviously setting off on the right foot.
In today’s post, she talks about moving into writing for a new subgenre. Over to you, Peggy!
A Pride of Brothers: Rick
For most of my fiction writing career (all 5 years if it!) I’ve written contemporary romance novels and RomComs, or romantic comedies. Since these are my favorite romance books to read, it stands to reason they’d be my favorite to write.
The publication of my newest book, though, A Pride of Brothers: Rick, is a bit of a departure for me, writing-structure-wise. With this book and the two others planned for the series, I’m delving into the romantic suspense lite genre. I’ll explain the “lite” portion in a bit, but first . . .
Writing romance isn’t easy, but there are some tried and true rules you must follow to have a book classified as a romance in any of the subgenres.
- You must have a central love interest in the story. It can be between a man and a woman, two men, a woman and a shape-shifting dragon . . . you get the idea. As long as there is a central love story within the book, you have a qualified romance.
- You must have a happily ever after (HEA) ending, or at least a final happy for now (HFN) one. The obvious definition of the first is the classic, And they lived happily ever after, where a marriage and an emotional commitment is solidified at the end of the book. This used to mean marriage and only marriage. Nowadays, a romance can have a happy for now ending and still be qualified as a romantic read as long as the people involved in the central love story are committed to one another. The hope of a lifetime commitment is there, written as a promise, but not explicitly divulged on the page. Get the difference?
- Taboo subjects you must never include as the central theme in a romance are rape, incest, child abuse, sexual abuse—really, abuse of any kind—cruelty, and bestiality.
If you follow these rules you can write a romance.
The structure of writing a romantic suspense is a bit different.
Yes, you must still have a love interest within the plot, and yes, it still needs to have an HEA or a HFN ending. Rule number 3 applies to every book, so I don’t need to reiterate it here.
The difference in this subgenre that is apparent, though, is in the name: romantic suspense.
The definition of this subgenre varies a bit, but basically it is any romance novel in which suspense, mystery or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot, or one that features a prominent mystery, suspense or thriller story line.
When I was a teenager in the ‘80s this type of book was called a WOMAN IN JEOPARDY story because the plot centered around a woman who had some kind of danger in her life like an abusive ex-beau, or a stalker. The implication of the tag line was that a woman needed a man to help her out of the bad situation (the “jeopardy”), and in so doing, they’d fall in love.
Nowadays, that sexist and archaic description is gone, replaced with “Romantic Suspense,” and it’s not only the gals who need help with a problem any longer. There are plenty of bad-ass female bounty hunters, cops, etc., out there who help the hero with an issue.
Welcome to the 21st century, folks.
So, I promised an explanation of the term romantic suspense lite with regards to my writing.
I didn’t set out to write a romantic suspense when I came up with the story line for the first Pride of Brothers book. I wanted to tell a frenemies-to-lovers story about two strong and opposite personalities who wound up falling in love. That’s the romance aspect of the tale. I had to make them foils, and the plot needed to revolve around something where one of them would need to help the other out of a situation.
What I came up with was a story about a lawyer who fights for disenfranchised women and their children, and a man who was the definition of disenfranchised as a child. When the husband of a client threatens the lawyer and then subsequently tries to murder his wife and kidnap his son, the hero vows to protect the heroine from danger. She isn’t convinced she is in danger, but a series of events unfolds that proves she is. That’s the suspense part. It’s the hero’s job to keep her safe, even though she can do that on her own.
The reason I dub it a lite romantic suspense is that more than 60% of the tale is the evolving romance between the two protagonists, with about 40% steeped in the actual thriller/suspense part of it. There is a forced proximity aspect to the storyline, which is a classic romsusp factor, along with knife fights, guns, and kidnapping—all elements you don’t find in your everyday regular small town romance novel.
I am hopeful I’ve done the subgenre proud with the release of this book. It was an absolute blast to write and I can only hope it is enjoyable to readers as well.
Look for book two, A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: DYLAN early in 2021.
Until next time ~ Peg