Romantic Suspense

Romantic Suspense

Kathy Lockheart is an author of romantic suspense books, including the best mystery thriller romance books. At present she does not write romantic suspense series, however, her must-read thriller books have a dark romance element, which fits into Romantic Suspense, Domestic Thriller, and Domestic Suspense genres.

Her latest novel, Deadly Illusion, might be one of the best romance novels of all time. Let’s look at the synopsis of this great love story that has it all—mystery, suspense, and dark romance:


Jenna wasn’t going to let the darkness of her past prevent her from building the life she’s always wanted, so she put herself through college and moved to the magnificent city of Chicago. But just when she thought all her dreams were coming true, a shocking incident shattered her fairytale life, and now, she’s hiding a terrible secret—a secret that could cost her everything.

Damian is as gorgeous as he is mysterious, keeping his own dark secrets from everyone he meets. He never thought he’d care about anything again…until he meets Jenna. He knows letting her get close to him will put her in danger, but when he suspects Jenna’s in trouble, there’s only one thing that matters: protecting her at all costs.

Thrust into a terrifying nightmare where a threat looms in every shadow, Jenna and Damian find themselves in a race for survival. Soon, everyone Jenna loves is in peril, and only the ultimate sacrifice can save them…

“I couldn’t put it down.”

In this article we’ll be going over what makes the:








In this article, we’ll also break down the different genres and subgenres out there, the elements of each, and wrap it up with great suggestions of some of the best suspense thriller novels out there today.

Why romantic suspense?

I adore romance with a happily ever after—they make for some of the best romance books—but to keep me on the edge of my seat, I find the best books to read are the ones where I’m not guaranteed any ending—the ones where anything can happen. Sometimes, they are even tragic stories. When I think of love story ideas, I’m sometimes drawn to love stories in Greek mythology because of the intensity and tragedy. As the author of says, to the Greeks, “Love was extremely important—and hurtful, deadly, and destructive. However, love was vital to the scheme of existence, and the Greeks felt they had to pay homage to it…but not necessarily revere it.”

Most important of all, I find the best romantic suspense authors allow us to fall in love with characters going through something major, where the stakes are as high as the tension, and the pages turn themselves. I’m drawn to darker stories like those of Nora Roberts more so than to lighthearted ones, but all stories are fantastic and entertaining. Romantic suspense books and romantic suspense movies offer us an escape from our everyday stressors, and allow us to transport into another world. Sometimes that world is happy, sometimes it’s sad, but it is always entertaining. Now let’s talk about adding mystery, thriller, and suspense to romantic novels.

What’s the difference between thriller and suspense genres? Let’s start with what you will typically find in the best thriller books of all time (often analyzed in thriller book reviews). According to Writers Digest, “thrillers are typically the most emotional, focusing on the fear, doubt and dread of the hero as she faces some form of what Dean Koontz has deemed “terrible trouble.” This genre is a hybrid of mystery and horror. However, the thriller also shares a literary lineage with the epic and myth. Monsters, terror and peril prevail.”

Best Domestic Suspense Novel Kathy Lockheart

Let’s explore what this means further and how best thriller authors create some of the best mystery books, psychological thriller books, and best page turner books. A thriller book, at its core, contains the following elements:

  • As with many of the best fiction books of all time, a crime is about to be committed.
  • The perpetrator is likely known, yet the hero cannot accept the truth of his/her guilt. Particularly in psychological suspense thriller books (a subgenre of thriller)
  • As the hero tries to stop the next horrific act, s/he is under constant attack.
  • The villain often targets the hero’s particular weakness
  • The best psychological thriller books (a subgenre of thriller), the threat is more intimate, there are many twists, and character is more important than pacing.

Since phycological thrillers were mentioned, let’s go a bit deeper on that, to understand what this subgenre entails. According to an article in Masterclass, the best psychological thriller novels:

  • Explores the psychology of its characters
  • Revolve around minds and behavior
  • It can include themes of mental illness, substance abuse, etc..
  • Often involve plot twists.
Suspenseful Romance

Now let’s explore domestic suspense a little closer, and why they are so close to fitting in with the thriller genre:

According to, thriller mystery books can be categorized as follows:

  • Mystery: In some of the best mystery books, the main plot is to solve a crime, and the main character may not be in that much danger him/herself.
  • Thriller: As some of the best books in 2020 show, in a thriller novel, “The protagonist is in danger from the outset.”
  • Suspense: The danger may build, or at least the main character might become aware of it, gradually. “In a suspense story, the reader is aware of things unknown to the protagonist.”

What is domestic suspense, and how do you fit into it? As showcased in some of the best suspense books of all time, domestic suspense novels have:

  • A female protagonist
  • Are often dark in theme
  • Involves a relationship as a key element in the story. This relationship can be a romantic one or a family/friendship/other type.
  • Some of the best domestic suspense novelists out there now include Colleen Hoover (who also writes in other genres, but see the Verity summary below), Shari Lapena, with her novel, The Couple Next door, and many others. See below for more details.

As you can tell, these genres and subgenres overlap in many areas. It’s no wonder why these novels sit in many of these categories on the virtual bookstore shelves. You’ll even see them overlap with romance (romantic suspense), women’s fiction, and many others. No matter which category you found them in, you are sure to find an incredible author whose books you can enjoy for years to come. And they always make for a great summer read!  

Allow me to highlight some of the best novels of all time:

Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn, the author of Sharp Objects, about a reporter who returns to her hometown after a murder, also wrote Gone Girl. Gone Girl is told from two different points of view:

  • A woman who disappeared
  • Her husband, the suspect.

This novel was later adapted into film, showcasing the incredible character building, pacing, and plot twists. Through this novel and subsequent projects, Flynn quickly solidified herself as a heavyweight in this industry. Her book, Sharp Objects, was also picked up for film rights and had just as dark psychological elements in it as Gone Girl. I loved both of these novels, and if you haven’t picked them up yet, I highly recommend you do!

The Silent Patient. Yes, it’s a thriller, but it also a great love story in the Greek-tragedy sense of the term. At its heart are two people, both the patient and the psychologist, entangled in their own tragic romances. While this is a phycological thriller, it still has the heartbeat of love woven throughout it. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it!

Verity. Talk about Dark Romance, but also Domestic Suspense! What can happen when romance goes horribly wrong, and wonderfully right? Colleen Hoover keeps you on the edge of your seat this ENTIRE novel, from the opening scene to the last page, you are hooked, addicted to finding out what comes next. Colleen Hoover quickly became one of my all-time favorite authors, and I’m so grateful I stumbled across her work. If you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend them!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was absolutely incredible. Told from the point of view of a woman who struggles with addiction, and has a faulty memory because of it, her thoughts can’t always be relied upon. Did she really witness something she shouldn’t have? And if she did, is she in even more danger than she imagined?

I hope you found this article helpful and maybe found some new authors and novels to try!


Kathy Lockheart