Like James Bond, an undercover agent always gets the girl … well, at least long enough to impress the envious. Danger and excitement create a heady atmosphere—impending disaster with a ticking clock. Nothing is particularly romantic about chasing a felon or investigating a crime, yet high-stakes situations trigger emotions in people contending with dire circumstances.
Perhaps it is a person’s soft side struggling to be heard in the midst of tragic events that demands a steely, dispassionate reserve. An ordinary character often trapped, even coerced, into solving cases complicated enough to intimidate a seasoned detective, the reluctant protagonist in a romantic suspense relies on instinct, reason, and drive. In contrast, the topnotch professionals—police, FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and private investigators—sometimes play a role that requires a less than enthused sidekick, typically a lover.
If the thought of a brief interlude in the midst of a life-threatening scene makes the heart do double time, then this is the sub-genre for all those bored romance devotees who cannot stomach sticky sweetness and drab sentimentality. Plot may override the relationship, rendering the love story an afterthought. Mission is priority, assignment paramount. Delve into the world of the double agent, the victimized, and the armchair detective turned pro. Meet the hacker, the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time gal who walked into the alley at the worst time, and the introvert hiding a dark secret. Save the day or die trying—this is the motto for an adventure seeker who refuses to quit.
The exploits of daring souls in these releases for 2015 feature arrogant rogues, crusty ruffians, and baffled tagalongs in scenarios that will make the average existence seem mundane.
Shadow of a Doubt by Tiffany Snow (Montlake Romance)
In the second book of Snow’s Tangled Ivy series, an underground British spy propels his girlfriend into a treacherous, globetrotting escapade. With a traditional storyline strong enough to rival a James Bond novel, this couple’s interaction will leave anyone “shaken, not stirred,” just like Bond’s martinis.
Too Hard to Handle by Julie Ann Walker (Sourcebooks Casablanca)
A former Secret Service agent must face a lover from her past in this high-altitude trek into the Andes Mountains of Peru. The enemy—a scoundrel from the CIA, selling classified government information. This is Walker’s eighth installment in her Black Knights series.
Passion and Surrender by Cali MacKay (Daeron Press)
Light on gritty action and high on domestic drama, this office romance features a corporate executive in the midst of a bitter divorce, a company mole stealing proprietary concepts, and an infatuated engineer who looks guilty. The perfect white-collar crime scenario with a balanced mix of desire and deceit, MacKay’s sixth book in The Billionaire’s Temptation series will not disappoint.
Job Hunt by Jackie Keswick (Dreamspinner Press)
Hired to repel cyber attacks for the security department of a mining company, a young man reunites with his secret flame—his boss. In Keswick’s touching gay romance, the meaning of heroism takes on special meaning. This socially aware couple fights for the downtrodden in a subplot that steals the show as they save abused kids and search for lowlife pimps.
Black Dawn by Cristin Harber (Mill Creek Press)
Hacker rivals must be allies in this glimpse of high-tech corporate espionage. Book eight of Harber’s Titan series explores a clandestine realm of maneuvering and manipulation. The gutsy heroine of this edgy novel possesses coveted skills on the job, but has lost control of her personal life. Sex, violence, and crude language infuse this riveting story with realism.
Peer into the smelly garbage dumpster, and lift the lid on that old hope chest in the dusty attic. These actions lead to unwelcome discoveries in the classic mystery novel—approaches that are timeless, but blatant setups. For a fresh take on the moist, as well as the dried out repugnant messes, open these self-published titles, fabulous stories with sophisticated, intellectual plots that force new life into suspense fiction.
Midnight Sky by Elizabeth Miller (CreateSpace)
In book two of Miller’s McKenna Chronicles, a presidential candidate with a complicated past renews his relationship with a former lover. Her presence is not in his best interest, and her safety is at risk while on the campaign trail. This cynical look at Washington D.C. and politics in America will appeal to a mainstream crowd that seeks more than the basic who-dun-it plotline embedded in many novels.
Grave Insight by Lily Harper Hart (HarperHart Publications)
Supernatural ability places the heroine of this spooky tale in a unique position. Book two of Hart’s Maddie Graves Mystery series takes this paranormal expert on her second journey of discovery as she attempts to find another killer. With her ambivalent boyfriend at her side, a threatening stalker pursues. Against the backdrop of this potentially lethal investigation, their romance simmers … while a ghost waits for justice.
Julia Ann Charpentier