On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m talking with Laura Thomas, a published Christian author who writes heartwarming encouragement for your soul and is a hope*writers certified writing coach. Her Laura’s Christian romantic suspense books are published by Anaiah Press: The Glass Bottom Boat, The Lighthouse Baby, The Orphan Beach, and The Christmas Cabin. She also has a Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, and middle-grade short novel published by Dancing With Bear Publishing, as well as several anthology books, devotionals, articles, Sunday school lessons, and stories published in magazines and online. She is represented for future romantic suspense novels by her literary agent at Credo Communications. Laura is a book-loving chocoholic mom and nanny, and is married to her high school sweetheart. Originally from the UK, they live in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, as audacious empty-nesters.
“When is it not a good time for romantic suspense?” Laura says, “Titles are really important and it can be a little bit intimidating to come up with them. I’ve come up with all of my titles, … I feel like they find me in the end. I don’t think I’ve ever started a book with a title.”
During this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense” podcast, you’ll hear from five authors about their romantic suspense books available this month. Here’s the list of authors and books for November 2023, with the book’s release date if not available now.
Multi-published author Kelly Irvine, author of more than 30 Amish romance and romantic suspense novels, recently stopped by my blog to share some about her writing life.
Why did you start writing romantic suspense novels? I’ve always loved reading mysteries and suspense novels since my days of reading Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid. Then it was Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels, such as Nine Coaches Awaiting and My Brother Michael. I like mysteries and suspense, but I want an element of romance. I need to care about the characters and know about their relationships or I can’t care about the suspense/mystery plot.
What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense?
I’m a seat of the pants writer, so crafting the suspense part can be hard. I know what the crime is and usually who did it, but I don’t know how my heroine solves the crime until I start writing. Sometimes I write myself into a corner, which means there’s a great deal of rewriting!
When do you find time to write?
I’m blessed to be able to write full time. I retired from my job in public relations in 2016 because of health problems. The silver lining was that those health problems allowed me to fulfill my lifelong dream of writing fulltime. I get started around 8:30 each morning and usually try to wrap up around four o’clock so I can exercise, have supper and spend time with my husband.
What is your favorite spot for reading or reflecting on your current work-in-progress? My husband gave me a recliner that helps me sit down and stand up (I have limited mobility) for Christmas a few years ago. It’s next to a nice big set of windows in the living room. My TBR pile is on a small table next to it. I could read anywhere, but this place is just about perfect.
Where do you get the inspiration for your plots?
I was a newspaper reporter for 10 years before going into public relations. I’m a news-aholic, so many of my ideas come from crime stories I read in the newspaper. Sometimes it’s just a spark of an idea and I run with it. I also proofread trial transcripts for court reporters for a few years. That gave me a ton of ideas for crimes and also a wealth of information on how crimes are solved, crime scene investigations, autopsies, court proceedings, etc.
How do you pick the location/setting of your romantic suspense novels?
All of my romantic suspense novels are set in San Antonio. It’s such a perfect location because it’s colorful, historic and rich in cultural variety. Many readers will have visited the city, either as tourists, or while in the military, so they recognize the many landmarks. San Antonio can become a character in some of the books. I love being able to sprinkle the story with uniquely San Antonio or Texas references, such as Whataburger, the Spurs and San Antonio Missions mascot the Puffy Taco, and locations such as Market Square, the River Walk and HemisFair Tower.
What did you want to be as a child (and did that dream come true)?
I wanted to be a writer. I always wanted to write novel, but I decided to get my degree in journalism so I could get a job that paid. I didn’t get serious about writing fiction until I turned 45 and realized I better get busy or I’d never reach my goal of writing and publishing a novel.
How do you ensure your books are accurate? I do a ton of research, but I also have a friend who is a San Antonio PD retired homicide detective. He reads my manuscripts and helps me with police procedure.
What do readers ask you when they meet you?
The number-one question is where do your ideas come from. And the answer is all over the place, but primarily from the news.
Which of your books is your favorite and why?
Probably Trust Me. Because it’s the last one I wrote and I feel as if I learned something with each book I’ve written, polishing my style, honing my craft, so I’m proud of Trust Me as a culmination of all that hard work. It’s not perfect but it combines romance, suspense and an inspirational theme that provides the story’s foundation in a way that I’ve not been able to do with all of my books.
About Kelly Irvine Kelly has penned eight critically acclaimed romantic suspense novels, including Trust Me, which debuted in 2022. Publisher’s Weekly said of the novel: “(In this) whirlwind romantic thriller . . . Irvin follows the characters through twists and turns, writing through the lens of faith and broken faith, while illuminating a bridge across shattered relationships to second chances.” Her latest novel is No Child of Mine, a follow-up to A Deadly Wilderness, from Ally Press. Irvin and her husband make their home in South Texas.
A Deadly Wilderness
The journey ends where it began—in a deadly wilderness. Not everyone will survive the trip.
A frantic anonymous crisis center hot-line call propels counselor Susana Martinez-Acosta smack into the center of a murder investigation and a homicide detective’s arms. Exactly where she doesn’t want to be. Following the tragic death of her husband, she’s struggled to build a safe haven for herself and her son. That new world doesn’t include hit men and persistent detectives with dangerous jobs.
An idyllic wilderness hike turns deadly when homicide detective Ray Johnson tumbles into a ravine and lands on a corpse later identified as the son of a prominent citizen. Ray works to solve the political hot potato murder before city leaders bumps him from the case. His determination to find the man’s killer leads him from the wealthiest enclaves in San Antonio to the city’s dark underbelly, all the while trying to win the woman he loves.
A Deadly Wilderness is a romantic suspense novel that will take the reader along on a tumultuous journey as the consuming need for material wealth drives a deadly wedge among family members who haven’t learned when enough really is enough.
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m talking with Dave Pratt, who’s a native of most of the West Coast of the United States, and now makes his home in western Washington with his wife, Rafaela. A freelance writer since 1977, Dave has authored more than 60 published articles, poems, short stories and novels. A retired Army officer and business consultant, Dave has worked as a project manager for more than 20 years and taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels in Alaska, Washington and in China. Dave is a graduate of Washington State University, Webster University and Baylor University. He is a 4th degree master in Tae Kwon Do and life-long student of Tai Chi, Staff, Sword and Karate. Dave was a member of the 2015 USA Tae Kwon Do Poomse National Team.
“When I’ve written articles in the past, I had a passion for horses, so I’ve written a lot about performance horses,” Dave says. “I love that active voice [in my articles]. … I think a lot of my experience [in my humor column] … came from trying to pack 900 words with actions and humor and things people can relate to. … It really exercises me as a writer.”
Road Trip Rescue by Becca Wierwille — After spotting a photo of her lost dog, twelve-year-old Kimmy embarks on a wild road trip to bring him home with her pink-haired, adventure-hungry aunt who makes some unexpected detours. (Children’s/Middle Grade/Chapter Books from Beloved Chronicles LLC)
A Christmas Romance by Annette M. Irby — A wannabe novelist with writer’s block. A best-selling children’s book author with a knack for story. And the romance they brainstorm together. Can they deny their attraction, or will they live their own Christmas romance? (Romance Novella from Prism Effect Publishing)
A Country Christmas by Lisa Carter — The rancher and the city girl have nothing in common…except the wedding that brings them together (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin) A Deeper Love by Heidi Gray McGill — There’s no such thing as going “too deep” where spiritual things are concerned. But I’ll stay at the surface and snorkel rather than dive into the depths when it comes to relationships. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing) A Horseman’s Mission by Sandra Ardoin — A guilt-ridden horseman works to establish an equine therapy center for veterans with PTSD while attempting to ease the fears of an overprotective widow whose son suffers panic attacks. (Contemporary Romance from Corner Room Books) Fields of Glass by Alyssa Schwarz — A rancher facing bankruptcy and a corporate sales rep who wants to buy his family land. Sparks fly when they are forced to work together toward a common goal, and discover what they’re willing to sacrifice to save those they care for most. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) Mama Dated Santa by Amy R. Anguish — Trudy McNamara doesn’t do Christmas anymore. But Trudy finds herself tangled up with the toy store Santa and Christmas when she discovers her mom … dated Santa. Nick Russo, manager of Russos’ Toy Emporium, is at a loss as to how to save his family’s store. When Uncle Paul, the Santa and part-owner, hires Trudy to revamp their store, Nick’s life turns upside down. (Contemporary Romance from Scrivening’s Press) Their Holiday Secret by Betsy St Amant — Preston Green will do anything for a fake girlfriend—even bid on one at a charity auction. Sweet and quirky baker Lulu Boyd is the perfect choice to stop his mother’s constant matchmaking. And it’s just for one holiday family dinner—until his father’s failing health makes ending their ruse impossible. Soon it feels all too real…but another secret might make this their last Christmas together. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)
Secret Mercy by Lynn Waite Chapman — Talk to Liberty Cassell and you will hear her extoll all the advantages of living in her hometown of Twin Fawn. Little traffic. Easy parking. However, in this little town, when Harley Ottenweller failed to show up for dinner one day, most residents failed to notice. Those who did take note seemed grateful not to meet up with him on the street. His wife Willow and son Johnnie went on with life. No questions. No search. Does the tiny woman with wispy white hair and wild imagination know more about her husband’s disappearance than she’s telling? (General Contemporary from Winged Publications)
Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee — A young pregnant woman bonds with the midwives who take her into their Appalachian home. Decades later, a famous country singer heads to the Appalachian Mountains to search for the midwife who holds the truth about his past. (General Historical from Tyndale House)
The Kidnapped Groom by Susan Page Davis — Riding through the Flint Hills on his way to Dodge City, cowboy Sam Cayford finds himself the kidnapping victim of two children. When he meets their lovely mother, Maggie Piner—whom the kids insist he should marry—Sam starts to question God’s plans versus his own. (General Historical, Tea Tin Press)
Abounding Hope by Cindy Kay Stewart — Poland’s looming defeat forces an American teacher to escape with children wanted by the Nazis. (Historical Romance, Independently Published) Against the Wind by Amanda Cabot — When a female doctor-in-training saves a handsome stranger’s life, little does she know that he’ll bring both love and danger into her life. (Historical Romance from Revell) Angelina’s Resolve by Cindy Ervin Huff — Architect Angelina DuBois isn’t looking for love as she builds a town run by businesswomen. Carpenter and Civil War veteran Edward Pritchard’s dream of building homes for Chicago’s elite must be put on hold until he gains references. Serving as a contractor under Angelina’s well-known DuBois name provides that opportunity. But can Angelina trust her handsome new carpenter to respect her as his boss? Will the project take Edward one step closer to his goals, or will it make him a laughingstock? Can these two strong-willed people find love amid such an unconventional experiment? (Historical Romance from Iron Stream Media) Chiseled on the Heart by Kelly Goshorn, Elaine Marie Cooper, Cynthia Roemer, and Candace West — Four generations carve out a journey of faith. The Gift of a Lamb by Elaine Cooper; A Lasting Legacy by Cynthia Roemer; Healing within the Pieces by Candace West; The Christmas Carving by Kelly Goshorn (Historical Romance from Revell)
Havoc by Ronie Kendig — Former Special Forces operator Sergeant Crew Gatlin is putting his life back together after a career-ending incident that separated him from the Army, half a leg, and his beloved working dog, Havoc K027. When he takes a job and is unexpectedly reunited with Havoc, it’s too good to be true. Their first assignment is to work as a K-9 team for a TV drama. Being a stunt double allows Vienna Foxcroft to fulfill her acting dream—with a side of MMA—and stay out of the limelight. Then in walks Mr. Mountain-of-Muscle and his tough-as-nails dog, and Vienna has a bad feeling her life is about to turn upside down as they head overseas for a location shoot in Turkey. When an attack sends the cast fleeing into the streets of Turkey, Vienna must face the demons of her past or be devoured by them. And Crew and Havoc are tested like never before. (Military Suspense from Sunrise Publishing)
Crime Scene Conspiracy by Jessica R. Patch — A string of staged deaths forces Texas Ranger Emily O’Connell on a covert mission to investigate a governor’s connection to the deceased women. She doesn’t trust anyone—including crime scene cleaner Stone Spencer. But when Emily’s questioning makes her the serial killer’s next target, she must turn to ex-ranger Stone for help. With threats at every turn, outrunning a merciless villain could be the last thing they do. (Romantic Suspense from Loved Inspired Suspense/Harlequin)
Christmas in the Crosshairs by Kate Angelo, Kelly Underwood, Sami A. Abrams — Christmas is about to get dangerous! Get ready for three brand new Elite Guardians romantic suspense stories from Sunrise Publishing in this exciting anthology. (Romantic Suspense from Sunrise Publishing) Grave Secrets by Elle E. Kay — In the historic city of Philadelphia, a mystery begins to unfold that will lead to the tranquil beauty of Ricketts Glen State Park and the dark secrets hidden just beyond the park’s borders. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
Holiday Menace by Jerusha Agen, Mary Alford, Lori Altebaumer, Danielle Grandinetti, Sarah Hamaker, Kendall Hoxsey, Karen Kirst, Pat O’Brien, Hope Welborn, and Terri Weldon — Will Christmas be merry and bright? Lives are in danger when menacing pressures threaten to derail Christmas in this heart-pounding suspense—plus a little romance—collection of 10 brand-new novellas from some of the genre’s most popular Christian romantic suspense authors! (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published) Running to You by Robin Patchen — She dumped him, ghosted him for five years…and then showed up on his doorstep with bruises and a head injury she can’t explain. She has no memory of the years since she left him–or their breakup. She also has no idea why men are chasing her. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published) Shadows at Dusk by Elizabeth Goddard — A missing person. A murder victim. And two hurting people seeking justice, connected in ways they could never imagine. (Romantic Suspense from Revell) Skye Fall by Paige Edwards — The dirty cop who left her for dead now lies in wait to silence her once and for all. (Romantic Suspense from Covenant Communications) Snowbound Escape by Dana Mentink — After months tracking a colleague falsely accused of a double homicide, officer Tanner Ford and his K-9 partner finally locate crime tech Mara Gilmore—but the real murderer is closing in. Now they must run into a frozen wilderness to survive. Evading the killer is the only way for Mara to clear her name. But will the harsh winter conditions cover their tracks…or bury them forever? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired Suspense/Harlequin)
Another Christmas Story by Susan Page Davis — Beryl’s father is badly injured, and the wagon train leaves her and her little brother behind and at the trading post. They are at the mercy of the trading post manager, his wife, and their adult son, James. Grieving after her father’s death, Beryl sees that James loves her young brother. Soon she comes to care for James too. Come spring, Beryl will have to decide whether she and her brother will continue on to Oregon or go back East. (Western from Tea Tin Press)
Royal & Ancient by Amanda Lauer — When a lightning strike transports a high school senior from modern-day America to 1600s Scotland, she must learn the ways of the Scots before a battle between England and Scotland decimates the land her true love is destined to rule. (Young Adult from Chrism Press/WhiteFire Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
April’s Promise by Terrie Todd — As a world war wages across the globe, the Kimball family faces a different kind of conflict at home. Will their personal battles drag them down and tear their family apart? (General Historical)
Heart Restoration by Regina Rudd Merrick — A renovations expert and a contractor come across a corpse on the job site, along with a series of tunnels beneath the property. (Romantic Suspense)
Malia’s Courage by Pamela Harstad , A Native Hawaiian interior designer and her architect co-worker encounter murder and threats after a company plans to build illegally on Hawaiian sacred land. How will they uphold their relationship and others’ rights, while trying to survive? (Romantic Suspense)