Romantic Suspense?

*originally published on 02/11/2016

What makes a novel a romantic suspense?  Is it the balance of romance to suspense? In a way it is a balance act, though not an equal balance in my opinion. For me, a great romantic suspense (RS) novel is a suspense thriller with a romantic interest subplot.  Karen Rose is one of my favourite RS writers as she writes great characters in chilling situations but they also find love.  So far her RS books have stayed true to being more thrilling.

Then are some books posing as romantic suspense but in reality are more romance with a touch of mystery.  (The story focuses on the romance between hero and heroine, and the mystery aspect is just a plot point to move the story along).  And, by posing, I don’t mean the publishers are lying about the material, but rather they are marketing books almost incorrectly.  I think this only hurts the publishers/writers/books as readers like me are expecting electrifying novels, but instead get only a bit of action and then feel let down.  (At this time I am not going to call out these books).  I find that some authors like Nora Roberts get shafted in the marketing of their novels.  I am going to focus on Nora Roberts as I review her RS novel, The Liar.

23281906THE LIAR Written by Nora Roberts

2015; 411 Pages (Berkley)
Genre: contemporary, romance, contemporary

Ratings: ★★★★

The Liar opens with Shelby Foxworth discovering that her late husband, Richard has left her in severe debt. As she starts to sort through Richard’s belongings she discovers that her husband has been lying to her since they met. His name might not even be his real identity. As she begins to pay off most of the debt she finds there are more sinister motives behind her marriage.  Shelby cannot help but be happy her husband was lost at sea. When she pays off a big chunk of his debt she packs up her young daughter, Callie, and heads back home to her family.

Her family quickly accepts her and her daughter into the family fold but they cannot believe all the things that had been going on.  Shelby does have to gain back her best friend’s trust as she missed so many important things .  As she looks for a job and tries to make a new life she meets a new man, Griff (best friend and partner of Shelby;s best friend).  He is already loved by her whole family and now her own daughter is in love with him.  She now has to learn to trust again.  As things are going well, Shelby discovers she also has an enemy in a old schoolmate.  After all the things she has been through, can Shelby make a new happy life despite her past and new present?

I am lucky that I have a dear friend, a readaholic and a fan of Nora Roberts, so I was given a heads up on the book’s real “genre”.  After reading her very on-point review I knew going in I should read it as a contemporary romance with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Nora Roberts is an impressive writer.  She write a great suspense-mystery series (In Death) under the name of JD Robb (Lots more on JD Robb in the future!) that has over 40 books and is still going strong.  She has written romance books that define the romance genre. Roberts has written contemporary, historical and paranormal romances.  I find that I either love her books or am disappointed.  Many times that disappointment comes from how the book has been labeled.  She is strong at suspense and romance so I love when she writes RS novels.  Yet, this book lacks suspense so if you are reading it as that you will be disappointed and will miss the thing that it is strong at – romance and family drama.

I really enjoyed this book though the mystery was simple to figure out.  I enjoyed the romance between Griff and Shelby because it was sweet and stable.  The way the two interacted with other characters kept me absorbed in the story.  The secondary characters were all fabulous and at times quite humourous.  In short The Liar is a perfect contemporary romance to lose yourself in and I hope those who enjoy romance give it a shot.

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