I’m thrilled to have my friend author Anne Cleeland here today as a guest, talking about the challenges of writing a Romantic Suspense Series and her latest release in her Doyle and Acton series, Murder in Containment.
An Unconventional Romance
Almost by definition, every romantic suspense story features an unconventional romance—the couple has to fall in love quickly, and under hazardous conditions. For me, it’s not so hard to create the original story, with its intertwined romance and suspense storyline; the tricky part is writing a sequel to that story, or even (yikes!) a series.
What does the author do? The couple can’t fall in love again, and the original suspense plot has (hopefully) been resolved in the first book. So where do you go? If you want to continue the storyline with the same two characters, something else is needed; the romance has to be made suspenseful in some way other than the will-they-or-won’t-they tension that drew the reader in to begin with. (Although often an author will string out the will-they-or-won’t-they tension over several books, and I’m sure we can all think of a series where this technique was done well, or done horribly, depending on how much patience we had.)
One tried-and-true technique is to shift the focus to other, related characters, and let them fall in love and fight the villains, while the original hero and heroine take a well-deserved rest. But that doesn’t solve the problem of what to do with two characters that won’t cede center stage—how do you keep the spark alive, so that the reader is engaged?
Doyle and Acton
In my Doyle and Acton series, the suspense in the subsequent books comes from secrets. Neither of the characters is who they seem, and the reader is aware that there are secrets—and not just any secrets, but secrets that could be cataclysmic to the relationship. In Murder in Containment, Detective Sergeant Doyle realizes that several apparently unrelated murders are actually “containment” murders—murders to contain a scandal that could reach into the highest levels of Scotland Yard. In the process of tracking down the killers, however, she comes to the unsettling conclusion that Chief Inspector Acton has committed a containment murder or two of his own.
Find it on Amazon.com.
About the Author
Anne Cleeland is a lifelong Southern California resident, and currently makes her home in Newport Beach. An attorney by trade, she’s been reading mystery stories since her Nancy Drew days, and especially loves Agatha Christie and the other Golden Age British mystery writers. Her Acton & Doyle mystery series features two Scotland Yard detectives, and if you are a fan of Masterpiece Mystery, you may enjoy this series.
Anne also writes a historical series set in 1814 because she loves historicals, too. Being a romantic at heart, all her stories have a strong romantic element.
All images: Anne Cleeland