Please welcome Jill Sorenson back for her second day on the island!
The romance genre is notorious for its clichés. Romantic suspense, my favorite subgenre, is full of them—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a huge fan of fresh, unique storylines, but I also have a soft spot in my heart for those tried-and-true themes that have been done so well, and so often.
My name is Jill Sorenson, and I’m a cliché addict. If loving an overdone trope is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
I asked Katie Reus, fellow sexy suspense author and partner in crime, to discuss this seriously awesome problem with me here at DIK. We’re going to name names, point fingers, and admit to our own guilt. It’s confession time, ladies!
Here are some of our favorite suspense clichés:
1. Serial killer villain
Jill says: This cliché is popular because it works so well. What’s more unsettling than a murderer on the loose? A multiple murderer on the loose! Serial killers can be scary, sociopathic, and sadistic. You just know that they’re going to kill again. They enjoy inflicting pain, and they want to do all sorts of nasty things to our poor heroine. Allison Brennan and Brenda Novak excel in creating realistic villains in this vein, but favorite serial killer book is Nora Roberts’ Carnal Innocence. Sexy Southern slacker Tucker Longstreet and vulnerable violinist Caroline Waverly steam up the pages while thwarting a dangerous sexual predator.
Katie says: I’m in total agreement with Jill. It seems that serial killers are often sociopaths and to me, there’s nothing scarier than a sociopath. Well, except a sociopath who’s also a killer. Yikes! These individuals have the ability to walk through life like ordinary people yet underneath the surface they’re monsters just waiting until they can strike again. I just finished reading Speak No Evil by Allison Brennan and all I have to say is the killer kept me up at night, especially after I found out who he was.
Guilty or Innocent?
Jill: I’m guilty. Both of my first two novels, Dangerous to Touch and Crash Into Me, feature serial killer villains.
Katie: Guilty as charged. Not published yet, but the manuscript I just sent to my agent features a vicious serial killer.
2. Wrongly accused hero
Jill says: The only thing better than a wrongly accused hero is a wrongly convicted hero. Two of my favorite romantic suspense novels, Karen Robards’ One Summer and Pamela Clare’s Unlawful Contact, use this plot device to full effect. It’s an instant source of conflict and a fountain of angst. In both books, the heroes are infatuated with the heroine before incarceration and fantasize about her at night in their jail cells. OMG I LOVE IT.
Katie says: I love this theme! In Kimberly Dean’s Manhunt (Red Sage Secrets Volume 11), the hero is wrongfully accused of a crime he didn’t commit but instead of going to jail, he takes the heroine hostage and
asks orders her to help him clear his name. So hot!
Guilty or innocent?
Jill: Guilty again, hah. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Ben Fortune, murder suspect hero of Crash Into Me, is a stone-cold fox, not a stone-cold killer.
Katie: Not guilty (right now), but I have plans to amend that in the future. Being guilty is so much more fun than being innocent ;)
3. Sheriff Hero
Jill says: A law enforcement hero is often a reformed a bad boy. Now he’s a fine, upright citizen, as smart as he is strong. His jaw is chiseled, his uniform is sharp, and his muscles are rock-hard. “Just the facts, ma’am.” This kind of hero begs for a wild, sexy heroine to shake him up. Two great examples are Cameron Rafferty from Nora Roberts’ Divine Evil, and Ben Lawson from Victoria Dahl’s Talk Me Down.
Katie says: Something about a man in uniform turns me to mush. I like men in military uniforms better (Marines to be specific), but a man in uniform is still a man in uniform. Yum! He’s not a sheriff, but Detective Daniel Cardenas in Tracy Montoya’s I’ll Be Watching You is smoking hot! Oh, and there’s also a serial killer in that book too. I think I might have a problem ;)
Guilty or innocent?
Jill: Guilty and proud! Luke Meza, the hero for my latest release, Set the Dark on Fire, is a straitlaced city-boy sheriff who gets extremely hot under the collar for my small town, bad-girl heroine.
Katie: Guilty again! Remember the manuscript I mentioned above? It’s got a serial killer AND a sheriff hero. I just couldn’t help myself. Two clichés for the price of one!
Thanks for another fun post, Jill! Don’t forget, one lucky commenter will win a copy of Crash Into Me! With a smoking hot surfer hero and a diabolical serial killer on the loose, romantic suspense doesn’t get much better. Trust me, this book is awesome! Don't believe me? Click here to read an excerpt and more!