Last Updated on November 7, 2023
Romantic suspense books have a great readership both from the romance and the suspense/mystery lovers. If you check out Goodreads or Amazon, there are literally thousands upon thousands of romantic suspense novels, with hundreds more getting published every single year.
Making a top 10 list for this particular genre is not easy. The authors need to balance the mystery and suspense aspect with the romance, and often this is not fully achieved in the books. For several year this was my favorite genre to read, and I’ve noticed a trend whereby the books were more or less lacking this precarious balance. In most cases it was leaning towards too much hot, steamy romance, while for the most part ignoring the suspense and thrill of the story.
We all know the composition of a good romantic suspense book: hot, steamy sex, evil/bad guys who commit a horrible crime, and a happy ending with your true love. It is quite formulaic, which works extremely well, and yet not every author can mix these ingredients beautifully to create that masterpiece that will leave readers fully satisfied at the end of the book.
Having said that, there are some great romantic suspense authors who know how to please the readers of this rather finicky – but oh so fun – genre. Authors like Anne Stuart, J.D. Robb, Linda Howard, Karen Rose, Allison Brennan and a few others that I regularly read.
So here is my list of top 10 romantic suspense books that are worth checking out. This is by no means the ultimate list of novels, but rather my personal pickings based on books I’ve read, loved and would read over and over again. You will find here some old favorites along with new books published in the last few years. I hope you will find some books you haven’t read yet and give them a try.
1. Black Ice by Anne Stuart
I love this oldie, but goodie. I think it’s not only Anne Stuart’s one of best novels, but also a prime example of a good romantic suspense with all the major ingredients nicely balanced out. Yes some of the scenes are quite steamy, but the fast paced suspense and intrigue is all there too.
If you read Black ice, I recommend picking up the rest in her Ice series, they’re a great read. They’re a bit darker than most book in the same genre, but for me this combination worked really well.
Now You See Her is a book that stayed with me over the years, ever since I’ve first read it. The key elements here are a tortured heroine, a painfully good looking billionaire, their passion for each other and the danger that this can pose for the heroine, Paris Sweeney, who is not only a very innocent young woman, but also has an interesting paranormal gift: she can see ghosts.
Imagine what kind of book these ingredients can create: a powerful romantic suspense, one that will stay with you for a long time after reading, just as it stayed with me.
Kay Hooper’s Bishop/SCU mystery series is probably one of my most favorites ever. Stealing Shadow is just the first book in the series, and I’ve mentioned it here because if you intend to read Kay Hooper’s books, you’d better start with the first. It will make the most sense this way.
I have to admit, I have a deep seated love for paranormal – not so much for full fledged paranormal romanced (with vampires, and other otherworldly creatures), but with main characters possessing those extra sensory perception abilities (like seeing ghosts, being able to read minds, dreaming about a crime), something that in fact it is known to happen in real life as well. And Kay Hooper’s Bishop series is a perfect example of this. Well worth reading.
Allison Brennan is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors. I’ve read all her books and I love her style a lot. Her first book in the Evil series, Speak No Evil is a mixture of gruesome murders committed by someone evil to the core, and the love that dominates the story. Some of the scenes are really graphic (I’m not talking so much about the sex scenes, but the crime scenes), so beware if you are squeamish.
It is a thriller well worth reading – in fact if you start with Speak No Evil, make sure you read the rest of the Evil trilogy, they just get better with every subsequent book.
Brenda Novak is another queen of romantic suspense. Her books are not as dark as the ones by Anne Stuart of Allison Brennan, and the love and romance are a bit more visible here. Still the well known formula works very well in her books.
Dead Silence is the first book in the Stillwater Trilogy, focusing on the heroine coming back to her old town from which she left back in the day due to past trauma. Now she needs to confront her past and get over it as best she can. This is also a popular theme in romantic suspense novels, and authors implement it quite well in their books to make them fly off the shelves.
I think Naked in Death, the first in the In Death – Eve Dallas series, needs no introduction. If you are a romantic suspense lover you simply must have read all the 38 books currently published, or at least must have heard about it! It’s one of the most popular series, and despite the fact that there are already so many books included, it hasn’t lost steam or enjoyment by the series lovers.
Eve Dallas and the multi-billionaire Roark are one of those famous literary couples that live in our minds and hearts forever. The whole setting is in the future, however don’t get discouraged about this. Apart from the fact that people can travel between interstellar places, there are not many futuristic elements in these books. The series is contemporary romantic suspense at its core.
7. Show No Mercy by Cindy Gerard
Show No Mercy is the first book in the Black Ops Inc military romantic suspense series. The Black Ops team is a covert private security team led by Nate Black, which infiltrates dangerous places to take out bad guys and save the good ones. As you might imagine the guys in this team are hot, sexy and basically a woman’s wet dream.
Show No Mercy is fast paced action, thrill, suspense and of course hot, steamy romance. A well worth read, along with the rest of the series.
8. Far Gone by Laura Griffin
Laura Griffin is yet another favorite romantic suspense author. I loved her Tracers and The Glass Sisters series. Far Gone is the first book in a new series, published this year. Here is my book review for Far Gone.
The author might not be as well known and popular as J. D. Robb, Allison Brennan or Linda Howard, but her books are well worth exploring, they’re great, written with a wonderful style, with characters that will grown on you.
9. Dead Wrong by Mariah Stuart
All Mariah Stuart’s romantic suspense novels are a pleasure to read. I simply picked Dead Wrong because it kind of stayed with me more, and it’s the first in one of her popular series.
The author focuses on serial killers, a traumatized and scared heroine and a more than eye catching bodyguard who, of course, will end up being more to her than that. A winning cocktail? I bet.
Oh boy, where do I start…Karen Rose is an author whose books are on my auto-order at Amazon. I can’t get enough of her novels. The embodiment of romantic suspense, all intrigue, and they all work really well for me.
Die For Me is the first book in the Daniel Vartanian series and again, I only listed this as it’s a series first. If you haven’t read any of Karen Rose’s books, do me the favor and start with her first books. Here is a list I compiled with all the Karen Rose books in order of reading, so you know where to start. You won’t be disappointed.
What are your favorite romantic suspense books and authors?