I’m a hopeless romantic, an ID-T.V. junkie, and bookaholic. While I love and read all romance genres, I’m always drawn back to romantic suspense. It fulfills something in me—a yearning for that alpha-male protector, maybe. A sense of pride in a strong woman who’s making it through, one day at a time. A need to feel my heart beat just a little bit faster.
So I’ve put together a list of my ten favorite romantic suspense novels. Some are older, but still available on Amazon and other places.
In no particular order—
1. Black Ice, by Anne Stuart.
The entire Ice series is exceptional. Romance with restraint, but intensity. Intrigue. Danger.
Her new job was a Killer.
Chloe Underwood had come to Paris looking for adventure and landed up living hand-to-mouth as a children’s book translator. So when she’s offered a lucrative weekend translating at an international business conference in a remote château, she leaps at the opportunity. Then Chloe discovers her employers aren’t the boring businessmen they seem.
Suddenly, she’s running for her life from a group of international and highly illegal arms dealers – and now Chloe knows too much to be allowed to live…
‘‘A master at creating chilling atmosphere with a modern touch’’ – Library Journal
2. The Witness, Nora Roberts
With the possible exception of Daphne du Maurier, Nora Roberts is likely my first ‘suspense’ love. All of her suspense novels are tightly crafted and retain the lovely rhythm—like breathing—of her romances.
Abigail Lowery has a dark and terrifying secret. Aged just sixteen, she witnessed a shocking mafia murder. Narrowly escaping with her life, she was forced to leave her old identity – even her real name – behind for good.
Fifteen years later Abigail is still hiding from the world – a semi-recluse in the quiet, rural town of Bickford, Arkansas. She has convinced herself that this is all she needs: peace, safety… and her faithful guard dog Bert. Perhaps now, at last, she can stop running.
But Brooks Gleason, the local chief of police, has other ideas. Abigail intrigues him – and he’d like nothing better than to break through the walls she has built around herself. His persistence and determination to uncover the truth is unsettling, exciting – and dangerous. One way or another, it will change both their lives forever.
3. Say You’re Sorry, Karen Rose
Gripping tale, amazing author.
There is a serial killer on the loose, preying on vulnerable women. The only identifiable mark the killer leaves are letters—sometimes one, sometimes two—all carved into the torsos of his victims. Together they spell “Sydney.”
When he grabs Daisy Dawson, he believes he has found his next victim. But despite her small stature, she fights back with an expertise that quickly frees her. Before fleeing the scene, Daisy also manages to grab what proves to be crucial evidence: a necklace from around the killer’s neck.
The necklace is more than a trivial item—it is a link to a cold case that Special Agent Gideon Reynolds has been tracking for seventeen years. With Daisy’s help, Gideon finally has the opportunity to get closer to the truth than ever before.
But they might not get the chance, as the serial killer has a new target: Gideon and Daisy.
4. The Ugly Duckling, Iris Johansen
Johansen is a true queen of crafting complex suspense stories with just a touch of romance. I always wanted a bit more romance, but what was there was honest and intense.
If fate suddenly made you more beautiful that you ever dreamed possible, would it be the beginning of a fairy tale, or your worst nightmare?
The brutal attack should have killed anybody, but Nell Calder did more than survive. She emerged a woman transformed, with an exquisite beauty found only in fairy tales. Nell Calder deserved a happy ending. Instead, her descent into terror has just begun.
Her attacker is still on the hunt, determined to finish what he’s started. And Nell, protected by a new face, is just as determined to fight back and take her revenge. But to catch her prey, she will have to expose herself—even if it makes her a killer’s prime target.
5. The Unsung Hero, Suzanne Brockman
This is the first book in Brockman’s huge Troubleshooters series. I came back for every.single.one. of these books.
After a near-fatal head injury, Navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the Navy dismisses the sighting as injury-induced imaginings. In a last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counterterrorism team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly war veterans, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton. As the town’s infamous bad boy, Tom was always in love with Kelly, a sweet “girl next door” who has grown into a remarkable woman. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day.
6. Where the Blame Lies, Mia Sheridan
Emotionally powerful story; well-done suspense element.
Abducted. Terrorized. Imprisoned.
At nineteen-years-old, college student Josie Stratton was kidnapped by a madman and held shackled for ten months in an abandoned warehouse before she finally escaped her hellish prison.
Eight years later, when the body of a young woman is found chained in the basement of a vacant house, Cincinnati Police Detective Zach Copeland is instantly reminded of the crime committed against Josie Stratton. Zach was just a rookie on the perimeter of that case, but he’s never forgotten the traumatized woman with the haunted eyes.
As more information emerges, the crimes take on an even more sinister similarity. But Josie’s attacker died by suicide. Does the city have a copycat on its hands? A killer who picked up where the original perpetrator left off? Or are they facing something far more insidious?
7. Dangerous Beauty, J.T.Geissinger
Ah. Be still, my heart. I finished the first two books in Geissenger’s Dangerous series and then had to wait for the third. This is a story you will not want to put down.
A beautiful fugitive. A hot bodyguard. A high-stakes game of temptation.
For Nasir, former Special Ops military man and bodyguard, his new job seems like an easy-money gig: trail a Russian mobster’s runaway wife in Mexico, enjoy the sun, observe, and report. Just one rule: don’t get too close. But it’s all Naz can do not to watch the alluring dancer’s every move. A closer look is irresistible—especially when she’s in trouble.
Evalina escaped to the island getaway to live an untraceable life—as far away from the past as she can get. But Eva can’t ignore the dark, muscled stud who rescues her from a drug gang. He says he’s an ex-cop on vacation. When providence throws them together time and again, Eva thinks it’s all a beautiful coincidence. Now she’s giving in to a strange new sensation: trust.
But Naz has a mission to accomplish and a secret to keep. Eva has her share of secrets, too. And as the heat flares between them, Naz knows that trust could become the most dangerous impulse of all.
8. Untraceable, Laura Griffin
Laura Griffin hooks you in and does not let you escape easily. Her romantic suspense is smart and sexy.
Private investigator Alexandra Lovell uses computer skills and cunning to help clients drop off the radar and begin new lives in safety. Melanie Bess, desperate to escape her abusive cop husband, was one of those clients. But when Melanie vanishes for real, Alex fears the worst, and sets out to discover what happened. Using every resource she can get her hands on—including an elite team of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, and a jaded, sexy Austin PD detective—Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth.
As far as homicide cop Nathan Deveraux is concerned, no body means no case. But as much as he wants to believe that Alex’s hunch about Melanie’s murder is wrong, his instincts—and their visceral attraction—won’t let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, Nathan realizes this investigation runs deeper than they could ever have guessed. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear.
9. The Last Victim, Karen Robards
10. Mean Streak and Low Pressure, Sandra Brown
The first in a series of four, this book kept me reading into the night. The paranormal element was a unique twist for this genre, and years after reading, I still remember the story and the characters with fondness.
A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Dr. Charlotte Stone regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. At the age of sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath. Because of the information she gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground, but Charlie kept her postmortem visions of the victims to herself. Years later, to protect her credibility as a psychological expert, she tells no one about these apparitions. Now a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. The Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. This is the one case Charlie knows she shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer, especially when she receives help from an unexpected source: The fiery spirit of a seductive bad boy who refuses to be ignored.
Okay, so I said ten. But you’re getting two for the price of one here—I had to include both of these Sandra Brown books. They were both SO GOOD. I love the way Brown’s characters are realistically flawed and real.
Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina minutes after an argument with her husband Jeff. But by the time he reports her missing, the trail has (literally) gone cold. Fog and ice encapsulate the wilderness and freeze the search.
While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory regains consciousness only to find herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark he won’t even tell her his name. She’s willing to take any risks necessary to survive.
But before she can escape, the two encounter dangerous people who adhere to their own code of justice. A desperate young woman is caught at the center of a dispute, and Emory can’t bring herself to look the other way, even if it means breaking the law. Rising tension and barely restrained passion blurs the lines between right and wrong, and Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is the one who has rescued her from death . . . and from heartbreak.
Combining the nail-biting suspense and potent storytelling that has made Sandra Brown one of the world’s best-loved authors, Mean Streak is a wildly compelling novel about love, deceit, and the choices we must make when our lives are on the line.
Bellamy Lyston was only twelve years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy’s fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene along with her memory of what really happened during the day’s most devastating moments.
Now, eighteen years later, Bellamy has written a sensational bestselling novel based on Susan’s murder, published under a pseudonym to protect her family from unwanted publicity. But when an opportunistic tabloid reporter discovers that the book is based on fact, Bellamy’s identity is exposed along with the family scandal . . . and she becomes the target of a vengeful assailant.
In order to identify her stalker, Bellamy must confront the ghosts of her past, including Susan’s wayward and reckless boyfriend, Dent Carter. Dent is intent on clearing his name, and he needs Bellamy’s help to do it. But her dangerous memories — once unlocked — could put both of their lives in peril.
Determined to learn the truth, Bellamy won’t stop until she finds Susan’s killer. That is, unless the killer strikes first . . .
And that’s that. There are so many more I could have included, so I feel like I’ll be doing this post again. Let me know in the comments your thoughts on my selection and which are your faves.