Bestselling romance author of more than twenty novels, Liliana Hart, shares her list of top ten romantic suspense books. Her highly-rated latest new releases, "To Catch a Cupid," and "Sizzle" continue to have fans singing her praises.
1) All the Queen's Men by Linda Howard
All the Queen's Men is one of my favorite books, and one I’ve read at least a dozen times (I think I was a freshman in college the first time I read it). Linda Howard is brilliant at painting great characters that stick with you long after the last page. John Medina was introduced in Kill and Tell, and even though his role wasn’t major in that book, he completely steals the scenes he’s in, and you immediately want to know more about him. He’s CIA, a true man of mystery, and even better…he’s really, really smart. Heroes that use their brains are really sexy.
2) Pearl Cove by Elizabeth Lowell
Umm…Archer Donovan, anyone? I seriously almost named my youngest son Archer in honor of this character, and I do give a character in my MacKenzie series (including my new release, Sizzle) the name Archer to pay homage to one of my favorite books. Archer is head of Donovan Minerals and Gems, and he also has major skills because of his work with Uncle Sam. Add in a little extra tension and conflict when he falls for his dead brother’s widow, then you have a book that will keep you turning the pages late into the night. This whole series is awesome. Read them all.
3) Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Nora Roberts completely changed the game of romantic suspense as we know it with her In Death series. Set in the future, Eve Dallas is one of the strongest and most complex female characters I’ve ever read. A heroine like that would never settle for a hero who wasn’t her match in every way, and Roarke is definitely her match. As a couple, the dynamic between them is fascinating—the cop and the criminal—and each book gets better. What’s great about this series to me is that there’s no fear in the writing. The crime scenes and cases are grittier and more graphic than you normally see in romance, and it breaks all the “romance rules,” which I’m always a fan of in books.
4) Ice Storm by Anne Stuart
Oh, man! Talk about breaking all the rules. Anne Stuart is a champion at that. She writes antiheroes better than anyone. The Committee is a covert organization that does what it has to do to get the job done. And when I say they do what they have to, I mean the job comes first, no matter how extreme the outcome. This is so rare in romance. Normally, a romance writer is so focused on the HEA they’ll try to manipulate the circumstances so things don’t end up quite so bad. Not Anne Stuart. She runs her characters through the emotional and physical wringer. Isobel Lambert is the head of The Committee, a covert anti-terror organization, and Thomas Killian is just about the most dangerous and deadly man in the world—an assassin who is so deep under cover he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. The two of them on the page together are electric and they show no mercy.
5) The Maze by Catherine Coulter
This is one of the first romantic suspense novels I ever read, so it holds a special place in my heart. The premise is chilling, and though we met Savich in The Cove, it’s not until he’s paired with Sherlock in and out of the bedroom that their potential really starts to shine. This book is literally a race from start to finish.
6) Lightning by Dean Koontz
You’re probably thinking, what? Romantic suspense? Dean Koontz? But really, he writes some of the best books in the genre. And I’m talking books that will make your heart sigh even as you’re clutching the pages in fear. Lightning is one of my top 5 books of all time. It’s a time travel love story that changes the way you’ll think about how far one should go for love just to see that person safe and happy. It’s absolutely brilliant. I might have even cried a little at the end, AND I NEVER CRY.
7) Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood
When Julie Garwood made the jump from historicals to contemporary romantic suspense, I was a little skeptical. I mean, Ransom, The Bride, Gentle Warrior…those are classics in every sense of the word. So I opened Heartbreaker, not sure what I would find inside. I was caught by the end of the first page, and in love by the time Nick Buchanan dropped what he was doing to jump on a plane (even though he’s terrified of flying) just to go help his childhood friend. Add in a small town setting, a serial killer, and sexual tension that will melt the pages, then you’ve got a winner. It just goes to show what a great storyteller Julie is, no matter what time period she’s writing.
8) Wild Card by Lora Leigh
HOT, HOT, HOT! Noah Blake is a bad boy to the extreme, and I wanted to fan myself every time he came on the page. Noah is a dead man walking—recruited by the Elite Ops and given surgery so he doesn’t resemble the man he was before he “died.” He left a wife behind who was the other half of his soul, and his sanity is hanging by a thread. When his wife ends up in the middle of a deadly game, Noah goes undercover to protect her by working in the garage she owns. Only she doesn’t recognize him. She only knows she’s never had chemistry so explosive with anyone except for her dead husband. A must read, but not for the faint of heart, because those love scenes will give you an education.
9) Flirting With Danger by Suzanne Enoch
There’s something about thieves that I adore. I don’t know if it’s the romanticism of it all—the black skin suits, the athleticism of being able to scale walls, or the brilliant mind it takes to get past alarm systems and hack into a computer database… Who am I kidding? It’s all of those things. Samantha Jellicoe is the ultimate thief, but when she saves the life of the man whose house she’s robbing, she gets tangled in a mess that even she can’t get herself out of. I love this whole series. Read them all. You won’t be disappointed.
10) Honest Illusions by Nora Roberts
Of all the Nora Roberts books, and there are a lot, this is the one I still think about fifteen years after I read it the first time. This book is the art of storytelling at its finest. We’re back to thieves again (yes, I told you I was fascinated with them), only this time it’s a family of thieves who are also famous magicians. The story starts with Roxy and Luke as children. They grow up together, learning magic and thievery in equal measures. Roxy has always loved Luke, but it takes him a little longer to not see her as the kid sister he tries to compartmentalize her as. This is a sweeping story of love and loss, and then regaining that love and forgiving after the ultimate betrayal. And there’s a secret baby, smoking hot sex scenes, and did I mention thievery? All of my favorite things wrapped up in one book.
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