'Til (Potentially Imminent) Death Do Us Part: Suspenseful Reads for Romantics

Posted by Hayley on April 2, 2018
Goodreads Mystery & Thriller Week 2018

Mystery & Thriller Week is sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio. Enjoy the suspense on audio.

Book characters are complex creatures—they can care about dodging danger, saving the world, and falling in love. Linda Howard, author of Mr. Perfect and the recipient of the Romance Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award, has made a career out of this intoxicating blend. Her new book, The Woman Left Behind, introduces readers to two elite paramilitary soldiers struggling to survive an ambush and resist each other. For Mystery & Thriller Week, Howard shares the romantic suspense books that hooked her on the genre as a writer and a reader.


Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating



Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

I am drawn to love stories set against a background of something big, something dangerous. A friendship formed in a foxhole can last a lifetime; a relationship forged while facing a common enemy can ignite sudden passion. It all comes down to human nature: We have a better chance of survival if we aren't alone—and our lizard brains know this even if our modern-day sensibilities are screaming at us to be more cautious.

How can I not love romantic suspense? I love the excitement, the adrenaline rush, the passion in the face of death and destruction. I love how people rise above their own self-interest to do what needs to be done. Crisis brings out both the best and the worst in people, and romantic suspense is the perfect box of crayons to show this.

I have favorite romantic suspense writers, of course I do. It's impossible to list them all, but four influential ones spring to mind. In their books, there's romance, and there's suspense. The added elements of fantasy or whatever else only add to those two key building blocks.

First up is Karen Robards. I love me some Robards. I particularly enjoyed her Dr. Charlotte Stone series, beginning with The Last Victim. The love interest in the series is a criminal-turned-ghost. Think there can't be a happily ever after with a ghost? Oh yes there can, and Robards nails it. I'm also enjoying her new series about Bianca St. Ives, a female Jason Bourne-type, who made her debut in The Ultimatum. I can't wait for the second book!

Then there's the legendary Nora Roberts. While I enjoy everything she writes, I particularly love the In Death series (published under her J.D. Robb pseudonym), which is essentially a futuristic police-procedure series, but for me it's all about the relationship between the main characters, Eve and Rourke.

And Thea Harrison! Her Elder series hooked me right from the beginning. Not only is her writing beautiful, but the relationships are stellar. So what if there are fairies and dragons and vampires? The books are about love, set against a fantasy background of suspense. Dragon Bound, the first book in the series, is one I often reread. Who wouldn't want to have a dragon fall in love with you? Especially when there's a battle going on!

Finally, Ilona Andrews and her Kate Daniels series, which begins with Magic Bites. The series is gritty and sometimes heartbreaking, but hero Kate keeps fighting, even against overwhelming odds. And when she finds love with Curran, the connections formed give her more strength, more to fight for, and a mighty ally.


Want to feel your pulse pound and your heart race? Add all of Howard's recommendations to your Want to Read shelf.

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Who's your favorite fictional couple who beat the odds to find their happily ever after? Let's talk in the comments!


Comments Showing 1-50 of 61 (61 new)


message 1: by Marisa (new)

Marisa Eve and Roarke, no doubt about it! They drove me to read in English 15 years ago, to be able to read the series, and I've enjoyed their last book the same.


message 2: by Mel (new)

Mel Kate Daniels and Curran are easily a fav. If you’re into fantasy with a kick-ass heroine and just enough lovin’, this series is the way to go. I’ve been considering reading it again myself.


message 3: by Jonetta (new)

Jonetta Hands down Eve and Roarke from the In Death series by J. D. Robb.


message 4: by Jonetta (new)

Jonetta Mel wrote: "Kate Daniels and Curran are easily a fav. If you’re into fantasy with a kick-ass heroine and just enough lovin’, this series is the way to go. I’ve been considering reading it again myself."

Do love this couple, too.


message 5: by HeatherJay (new)

HeatherJay Never got the Linda Howard hype. I tried 3 of her books and they were all mediocre at best, unreadable at worst. Kate Daniels and Curran will always be one of the best.


message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary Don't dismiss Ilona Andrews' Innkeeper series. Dina and company rock!


message 7: by Mary (new)

Mary Try "Veil of Night" by Linda Howard. That one will make you laugh out loud and has all the suspense with the fun of bridezilladom thrown in.


message 8: by Rachel..♦ (new)

Rachel..♦ "Oracle's Moon" is one of my all time favs. The audio book is a treat. Even so, never really considered it a mystery.


message 9: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Brown Eve and Roarke are great. Have read all of them and can hardly wait for the next one.


message 10: by ANN E. MITCHELL (new)

ANN E. MITCHELL Veil of Night had me smiling whenever I saw a cup of coffee. If you like Linda Howard, you should try Sandra Brown’s “Envy”.


message 11: by ANN E. MITCHELL (new)

ANN E. MITCHELL I couldn’t get into Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, but I just love their Innkeeper series.


message 12: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Definitely Eve and Roarke, they have been through a lot in a short time, which at times seems unbelievable, I feel like at least 6-8 years should have past.


message 13: by Vickie (new)

Vickie Eve and Roarke are #1 for me. I have listened to every JD Robb book in audio format. I've gone back to the beginning and started the series over more than once.


message 14: by Su (new)

Su I have loved Linda Howard since my Mills & Boon days. I believe I have read every single LH book out there. LH writes some serious hot, some funny, some slowburn indeed.

My only grouse was wishing her last book got more sexy times between the Hero & heroine 😁😁


message 15: by Deirdre (new)

Deirdre Su wrote: "I have loved Linda Howard since my Mills & Boon days. I believe I have read every single LH book out there. LH writes some serious hot, some funny, some slowburn indeed.

My only grouse was wishing..."


Love, love Linda Howard's writing. I reread all her books every year and have done so for years and years. While I love her, I have never cared for Nora Roberts at all ... go figure.


message 16: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Oxier I liked Linda Howard's earlier work. Now, not so much. I like Kendra Elliot's Callahan and McLane.


message 17: by Gwen (new)

Gwen Eve & Roarke are my favorites. I will have to check out Kate & Curran.


message 18: by Joan (new)

Joan Johnson Julie Garwood in her historical books! I can think of many mnay more authors that I read everything they wrote!


message 19: by Tami (new)

Tami Brower I just ordered the first 9 Thea Harrison Elder series based on the fact that Linda Howard named Nora Roberts (My very favorite), Ilona Andrews (loved the innkeepers and am 7 into the magic ones) Karen Robards, I like all her later stuff and none of the early stuff.

I figured if she named 3 that I love I am bound to like Thea Harrison! :)


message 20: by Kate (new)

Kate I loved Cry No More by Linda Howard. It was my first book of hers. And when I saw Killing Time when I was browsing the bookstore, I immediately picked it up. Not as good as the former though, but they really beat the odds.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Undoubtedly Blair Mallory and Wyatt, by far.. Author? Well, who could it be ...


message 22: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Wyatt Can never go wrong with Eve and Roarke. Love Linda Howard's To Die for series, wish there were more. Love a good romance that is smart and makes me laugh out loud.


message 23: by Beth (new)

Beth Open Season by Linda Howard is by far one of her best. The suspense isn't intense, but the interaction between the librarian and chief of police is hysterical. One of the best scenes takes place in the drugstore and after all these years make me guffaw!


message 24: by Himani (new)

Himani Mel wrote: "Kate Daniels and Curran are easily a fav. If you’re into fantasy with a kick-ass heroine and just enough lovin’, this series is the way to go. I’ve been considering reading it again myself."

PLEASE DO!!


message 25: by Lynn (new)

Lynn HeatherJay wrote: "Never got the Linda Howard hype. I tried 3 of her books and they were all mediocre at best, unreadable at worst. Kate Daniels and Curran will always be one of the best."

You may have read the wrong ones. She has had some turkeys, but some are amazing. If you haven't read Dream Man by Linda Howard , I would suggest you give it a try. You might find that you missed the best of her.


message 26: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Debbie wrote: "I liked Linda Howard's earlier work. Now, not so much. I like Kendra Elliot's Callahan and McLane."

If you haven't tried her new series, especially The Woman Left Behind (GO-Team, #2) by Linda Howard , you should try it. I found it to be more like the Linda Howard of old.


message 27: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Tan Eve and Roarke for me. Though I must admit I haven't read the others, now I have something to put on my want to read list.


message 28: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Eve and Roarke from the JD Robb series are my favorite couple without doubt. I look forward to each new release in the series.
Also a fan of Linda Howard and Karen Robards.


message 29: by Sue (new)

Sue Does anyone else find Howard books too "rapey"? I really can't get past the overly foreceful, nasty tone of some of her sex scenes.....


message 30: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Love Eve & Roarke.
Linda Howard & Karen Robards are hit and miss for me.
Let’s not exclude J.R. Ward, Black Dagger Brotherhood series
Will definitely be giving a few new authors (for me) mentioned here a try.


message 31: by Beth (new)

Beth No, I've never felt Howard's book are too "rapey".


message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Mary wrote: "Don't dismiss Ilona Andrews' Innkeeper series. Dina and company rock!"

Yes! Are you reading her Innkeeper installments on the blog? OMG, Arland and Maud. Swoon.


message 33: by Holly (last edited Apr 17, 2018 10:22AM) (new)

Holly I used to read Linda Howard. I enjoyed her police romance books and also her psychic plot lines. Those morphed me into loving Jayne Castle psychological futuristic romances.
Nora Roberts is great at suspense. Her trilogies really enthrall me. I loved the Blood Brothers, Key series, Dream series, and her recent Island of Glass series the best. If you enjoyed The Obsession (which I did) then by all means read The Search as it is very similar.


message 34: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I love Eve and Roark, but Pia & Dragos seem much more real to me. And while we're at it - what about Nalini Singh's Elena & Raphael!


message 35: by Sarah (last edited Apr 17, 2018 10:29AM) (new)

Sarah Tami wrote: "I just ordered the first 9 Thea Harrison Elder series based on the fact that Linda Howard named Nora Roberts (My very favorite), Ilona Andrews (loved the innkeepers and am 7 into the magic ones) Ka..."

You will NOT be disappointed. That series started good, got better, and by the time you get to Night's Honor & Midnight's Kiss, you'll be blown away. And then she does a spin-off series starting with Moonshadow and does the impossible - leaps better even than the previous books.
Thea Harrison is right there with Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs and Elizabeth Hunter as best of the best.


message 36: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Mel wrote: "Kate Daniels and Curran are easily a fav. If you’re into fantasy with a kick-ass heroine and just enough lovin’, this series is the way to go. I’ve been considering reading it again myself."

I love them too. I agree w/what you’ve said. Kate is kick ass and Curran is sexy patient. How can that combo not rock???


message 37: by Sue (new)

Sue Beth wrote: "No, I've never felt Howard's book are too "rapey"."

I read both After the Night and Dream Man and in both the H was WAY too forceful with the sex. There's just no coming back from that for me; especially when the heroine is in a vulnerable position. That's just never romantic....


message 38: by Mashalla (new)

Mashalla Austin Sherrilyn Kenyon & her Dark-Hunter world novels are amazing! She is my second favorite author. Romance & suspense in our world with supernaturals in the mix! I've never read any of the authors in this blog except J.D. Robb but now I have 3 new authors to try and I am extremely excited about that!


message 39: by Helen (new)

Helen Starbuck I'd have to vote for Eve Dallas and Roarke. Jeez talk about hot reading. She's funny and brusque and he's just delicious.


message 40: by Lisa Schell (new)

Lisa Schell I love Eve and Roarke, Kate and Curran and Elena and Rafeal (Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series. I just bought my first Thea Harrison book but it wasn't Dragon Bound so I may have to get that too. I like Sandra Brown. I have tried any Karen Robards.


message 41: by Helen (new)

Helen Starbuck Lisa Schell wrote: "I love Eve and Roarke, Kate and Curran and Elena and Rafeal (Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series. I just bought my first Thea Harrison book but it wasn't Dragon Bound so I may have to get that too. ..."

I am going to have to check some of these books out, they sound interesting.


message 42: by Francoise (new)

Francoise Thank you


message 43: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Rosen Sue wrote: "Beth wrote: "No, I've never felt Howard's book are too "rapey"."

I read both After the Night and Dream Man and in both the H was WAY too forceful with the sex. There's just no coming back from tha..."


Those bks in particular are going to strike the reader (IMO) into one of two camps, black or white. There’s simply no grey there. That is to say, while every person’s opinion is subjective, the so-called “heros” in both bks are SO alpha, so extreme, so forceful, that the reader either blends that into their enjoyment or some form of suspension of disbelief OR the reader may wonder why, even w’ the screwed up childhoods in After the Night or the gruff, dogged police disdain for the unusual & the strange, combined w’ intense sexual desire, allows the hero to push for sex long before it appears the woman is comfortable w the situation. Somewhat similar to Gone With the Wind. Except that in both the Bk & the movie, GWTW convinces me that Scarlett truly DOES desire Rhett, whereas in DM, I just feel like Dane is pushing Marlie long before she is ready and in ATN, I honestly get the feeling that as much as Gray might desire Faith, he is equally mad/angry at her and for truly no reason at all! It is a very fine line, and while Ms. Howard may work it out in Dream Man, I always felt that After the Night was slightly off based on the interactions between the two protagonists. That happens frequently in, for ex., old Harlequins I used to read wherein the hero has a ridiculous, generally moronic misunderstanding that would come out about p. 174-75 bc the bks were almost always 178 pp. and that would allow the hero just enough time to explain that he spent the entire Bk acting or treating the woman like garbage bc he thought “x” or was confused about “y” and then the woman, having, in fact been treated like garbage for 175 pages would melt into the mans arms, explaining that nothing could come between their incredible, wondrous love.

The thing is, I read all those bks as a teenager and basically ate up what was written without (truly) a second thought. Indeed, while I had a problem w ATN, it’s not as if I never re-read the novel and Dream Man was a favorite for a while, before many of the newer bks came along. Basically I wish I had more of a problem with these bks, bc their message isn’t that great, and I wouldn’t want a daughter of mine to end up in a similar situation and feel pressured into having sex bc the guy basically overwhelmed and overpowered her. But that’s placing everything into RL and these bks were written to entertain.

People started to make a huge fuss recently over the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and yes, absolutely, if you listen to the lyrics and take them literally, it IS a song that talks of date rape and is problematic, etc. etc. But instead of taking every line of the song and deciding it has a terrible message, I watched it on Glee w two young boys who were slowly (but surely) falling in love and the music, the choreography, and the voices as they sang gave the words a different message (in my opinion). Many people may disagree. But to this day, I still find it romantic, and I am perfectly well aware of what the lyrics say.

Which brings me full circle. The bks will strike people however they do. It’s subjective and basically requires what the reader brings in as he/she reads as well as just the words and actions themselves. What I might find problematic, others may find overwhelmingly enthralling and something they can’t put down until the very last page. Who can say?


message 44: by Deirdre (new)

Deirdre Sue wrote: "Does anyone else find Howard books too "rapey"? I really can't get past the overly foreceful, nasty tone of some of her sex scenes....."
Totally not "rapey"!!


message 45: by Sue (new)

Sue Pamela wrote: "Sue wrote: "Beth wrote: "No, I've never felt Howard's book are too "rapey"."

I read both After the Night and Dream Man and in both the H was WAY too forceful with the sex. There's just no coming b..."


Do you think that ATN and DM are unique in tone among Linda Howard's books? Those are the only two I've read and I've avoided her other books because I found those two so off putting.


message 46: by Sarah (new)

Sarah ANN E. MITCHELL wrote: "I couldn’t get into Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, but I just love their Innkeeper series."

Are you reading the newest as a serial on her blog? I'm living for Fridays these days. ;)


message 47: by Pamela (last edited Apr 18, 2018 05:56AM) (new)

Pamela Rosen Keeping in mind that while I’ve not only read her books (basically all her bks) several times and own all of them in one form or another, what I haven’t done is read (reread) one recently. And I can’t speak to the new series “The Guardians” which I recently picked up but are the 2 bks among many which I HAVEN’T read.

So. With that disclaimer, while many of her heros are alpha men, they don’t have the same dynamic w the the female as the ones you mentioned. Some of my favs include The Senator’s Wife, To Trust A Stranger, One Summer, Walking After Midnight, Heartbreaker, Whispers At Midnight, Superstition, The Midnight Hour... and I haven’t added the favs from her historical period to that list.

I (clearly) don’t have an issue w alpha men or I wouldn’t have been able to 1- answer that Q yesterday eve (off the top of my head), 2- note that I read hundreds upon hundreds of those Harlequins I mentioned which occasionally went against that style I recalled but those were the far and few exceptions to the rule & 3- own literally thousands of bks w similar male archetypes. However, I’m pretty certain that my personal fav Ms Robard bks also contain strong woman as well. While it’s been quite a while since I reread One Summer in particular, the dynamic includes a teacher-student relationship from when the two first met (the woman being the teacher), clearly she’s a number of years older than the boy (man now), and she really has to have a strong sense of self to hold out against public opinion when her “favorite” student is released from jail for a crime she never believed he committed. (This info can be found in the flap of the paperback or the blurb explaining the Bk on Amazon - I’m not giving away spoilers. I hate that .)

I’m talking about that one Bk in particular bc out of all of the ones I mentioned, I feel as if that woman could be seen as the “least strong” female of the group, depending on how you view the characters.

Perhaps you could try one of the bks I mentioned and see if you perceive a different tone, less of a skewed dynamic bet. the man and woman, before you give up completely. I (obviously) got a lot of enjoyment from her books, and, as always, I am forever jealous when somebody else discovers that author and has all those bks at their fingertips.

If you still don’t like the dynamics or don’t trust my comments, I can also give you names of other authors to try that I believe you may enjoy. But that will also be true if you first try at least one of the bks, and you may be surprised by how dif. you feel about the writing.

(Oh yes. And if you eventually read all of Karen Robards bks, keep in mind that Elizabeth George, while not “romantic suspense” per se — more like suspense that may seem romantic — has an entire series of bks that are some of the most brilliant, articulate British murder mysteries STILL being written today, and put most other authors in the dust, in the sense that her bks are well-written, extremely convoluted to make it much more difficult to figure out who truly has the motive in this case, and has a running commentary on the status of her protagonists (and their closest friends) and will probably stop your outside life cold.

Next comment will contain a homage to Karin Slaughter, again not a romantic suspense in the regular sense, but...

However, I DO have the names of all writers one may truly be looking for (I.e., Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, Joanna Lindsay, Stephanie Laurens) just to whet your appetite and prove that I know of what I speak.


message 48: by Dukey (new)

Dukey My all time favourite couple...got to be Linda Howard's Wyatt Bloodsworth & Blair Mallory...I keep hoping she writes a sequel to that, perhaps spin a story on one of Blair's sisters maybe...and thus give us a chance to peek into Blair & Wyatt's lives once more!


message 49: by Dukey (new)

Dukey Dukey wrote: "My all time favourite couple...got to be Linda Howard's Wyatt Bloodsworth & Blair Mallory...I keep hoping she writes a sequel to that, perhaps spin a story on one of Blair's sisters maybe...and thu..."
(sorry, this is related to the thread "'who is your favorite fictional couple who beat the odds to find their happily ever after"


message 50: by Pamela (last edited Apr 18, 2018 06:05AM) (new)

Pamela Rosen Dukey wrote: "Dukey wrote: "My all time favourite couple...got to be Linda Howard's Wyatt Bloodsworth & Blair Mallory...I keep hoping she writes a sequel to that, perhaps spin a story on one of Blair's sisters m..."

She did. To Die For was followed by Drop Dead Gorgeous. Unless, of course, you meant a sequel to that in which case forget I responded to your comment. 😉

I absolutely LOVED the style in which those particular books were written.

Just saying.


« previous 1
back to top