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May 18th, 2012
The Lure of Romantic Suspense

AuthorPic_RebeccaSmithMy guest today is Rebecca Lee Smith. Rebecca lives with her husband in the beautiful, misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She’s been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home-mom to a house painter to a professional actress and director. Her two grown sons live nearby, still have the power to make her laugh until she cries, and will always be the best things she’s given back to the world. It took her a lot of years to realize that writing was her true passion. When she’s not churning out sensual romantic mysteries with snappy dialogue and happy endings, she loves to travel the world, go to the Outer Banks for her ocean fix, watch old movies, hang out at the local pub, and make her day complete by correctly answering the Final Jeopardy! Question.

I asked Rebecca to tell us what attracts her to writing Romantic Suspense and what challenges she faces while writing one. Over to Rebecca…

My mother named me after the book, Rebecca—she was looking for a three syllable first name to go with my one syllable last name (Lee)—so maybe that has something to do with my lifelong attraction to mysteries and romantic suspense. If she’d named me Chatterley, my writing might have gone in a decidedly different direction.

I have always loved mysteries, probably because I’m a puzzle person, but I’d never read any adult romantic suspense until high school. I know this will date me, but I was looking at the titles on a friend’s bookshelf when she pulled out a copy of Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt and said, “You would like this.” She was right, and from that moment on, I devoured every romantic suspense I could get my hands on: Gothics by Phyllis Whitney and Daphne du Maurier; contemporaries by Mary Stewart and Emily Loring; classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I also love humorous contemporaries, and thought that’s what I would write someday (my son thinks I’m more funny than mysterious), but when I started writing my first book, my past reading life came back to haunt me, and the plot just naturally evolved into a mystery.

I’ve often wondered why a dead body insists on showing up in the manuscript I’m writing. I can’t seem to get away from it. Maybe I find it easier to propel the plot against a mystery/suspense backdrop and keep the conflict alive between the hero and heroine. At some point, if they work together to solve a murder, they must learn to trust each other. This can create all kinds of issues for them to address before getting their Happily Ever After. And no matter what, the H & H have to get their HEA. In my books, anyway.

In A Dance to Die For, my heroine, Annabel, is an off-Broadway dancer who suffers from a condition known as dancer’s hip. She injures herself and destroys her career, trying to save her friend Quinn from falling off a platform. Determined to find out the truth about Quinn’s death, she follows a clue to a North Carolina inn where she falls in love with Trent, Quinn’s ex-fiancée. Depending on her level of activity, Annabel is in some form of pain throughout the book, and one of the biggest challenges I faced was depicting her as a strong, resourceful person who never thinks of herself as a victim, and handles her own challenges and setbacks with humor and spirit. How could the hero not fall in love with her? I wish I was more like her.


Rebecca is giving away a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during her tour. To increase your chances of winning, check out the rest of Rebecca’s tour here.

And now a question from Rebecca: When you are reading (or writing) about a character who has admirable qualities you wished you possessed, does it inspire you to incorporate those qualities into your own life? Don’t laugh, watching Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote taught me to nod, smile, and keep my mouth shut.



Annabel Maitland believes in destiny and following her heart—Trent Sheffield realizes his destiny is to believe in her.

Annabel destroyed her Broadway dancing career trying to save her friend Quinn’s life. Convinced Quinn’s death was no accident, Annabel follows a clue to a North Carolina mountain inn and discovers that everyone who knew Quinn—the real Quinn—wanted her out of their lives, including the sexy innkeeper whose laid-back charm and megawatt grin take Annabel’s breath away. The physical attraction between them is undeniable, the cerebral attraction irresistible. But trusting her heart means ignoring evidence that plants him firmly on the list of suspects.

Determined to keep his family’s financially strapped inn afloat, the last person Trent needs working for him is a stubborn, impossibly long-legged dancer whose sharp wit and silver eyes keep him scrambling to stay on his toes. He’s falling hard, and he wants to trust her, but Annabel’s connection to his ex-fiancée makes him question her motives at every turn. When a string of mysterious accidents threaten Annabel’s life, they must unearth Quinn’s killer before it’s too late. But what if Annabel was the target all along?

Purchase A Dance to Die For

Visit Rebecca’s website

21 comments to “The Lure of Romantic Suspense”

  1. I doubt I could change who I am because of certain character qualities I admire.

    A great question. You got me thinking.


  2. I doubt if I could change much either, Mary. Not at this stage of my life. But sometimes, I’d sure like to try. LOL

  3. Thank you for hosting Rebecca today.

  4. Absolutely, I try. If the author is good, I fall in love with the characters and often wonder how I would react if put into the same position. I can only hope I’d be as strong as the heroine in whatever I’m reading. I will give up on a book halfway through if the heroine isn’t strong and capable. I’d rather read about someone I admire than to suffer the frustration of one who I don’t. The same goes when I’m writing. I hope my readers find my characters worthy too :)

  5. I agree, LaVerne. I can’t stand a heroine who whines and stands around waiting for someone else (usually the hero) to make everything all right for her. I remember reading the blurb of one of your books on The Wild Rose Press website. I need to buy one. It sounded like something I would love. Your settings are in New Zealand, aren’t they?

  6. I like strong and capable too. Even if we don’t have those qualities ourselves it’s good to read about them.

  7. I just had a “duh” moment. Shelley Munro, my lovely hostess for the day (Thanks for having me, Shelley) is also from New Zealand. I’ve been checking out her books on the website here, and they look great. I love to travel, and love reading books that take place in exotic locales. I also LOVE the picture of you on the camel, Shelley. You are WAY cooler than me. LOL

  8. LOL – I am indeed in New Zealand. It’s Saturday morning, and I’ve just climbed out of bed :)
    I don’t know about cooler, but I do love to travel. It’s like a bad fever in my blood, which luckily, hubby suffers from too. We’re off to Europe in September, and I’m counting the days!

  9. Very pretty book cover and to answer your question no because i wouldnt change who i am :)

  10. I can’t tell you how many times I have been reading a book when the heroine does something so stupid I find myself screaming out loud, “don’t do that, no, no.” It’s nice to have a strong, itelligent heroine.

  11. Not sure I could change at this point, I’m pretty set in my ways.

  12. LOL. I hear ya, Mary. There are a lot of things I’d like to change about myself, but at this point…well, all I can do is keep trying.

  13. Like Mary, I figure I probably won’t change now, although like most characters and people I try to do the right thing. Like most characters and people I’m also human and makes mistakes.

    I like Mrs. Fletcher too. I’m currently watching reruns. She’s a bit nosy at times, although I really admire the way she picks up on clues. Sometimes I miss them.

  14. I’ve never thought of it that way. No, I can’t say I’ve ever changed who I am based on a character’s qualities. Great question!

  15. I wish! I often will think…Gee, I wish I was that strong (or determined, or thoughtful, or compassionate)…or whatever the trait/quality. But it doesn’t inspire me to change for the long term. I may for a day or two after reading something, but then it’s back to little ‘ol me!

  16. Sounds like a great read.
    And your mom naming you Rebecca…it’s destiny:)

    How are you, Shel?

  17. I grinned when you said you don’t know why the dead bodies keep showing up in your manuscripts. :) Your book sounds great. Nice to meet you, Rebecca.

  18. When I read some of my favorite books its with strong women who love and are partners with strong men. I want a man to stand beside me not stand behind him. Eve and Roarke, Kate and Curran, Elena and Raphael.

  19. Hi Shelley, Hello Rebecca,

    A Dance to Die For sounds awesome!

    Lovely to meet you Rebecca.

  20. Sorry I didn’t get to reply to everyone. I had to travel out of town today. It was lovely talking to you all. I loved your comments. Thanks for posting.

  21. Nice post. I’m not really inspired to incorporate qualities I read about.