Helene Young shares her love of Australia’s own brand of romantic suspense in a guest blog for Booktopia.
Do you love stories with gripping plots and action-packed suspense set in Australia? Do you prefer stories with strong women and optimistic endings, maybe even a love story?
Then you need to read Australian Romantic Suspense – a ‘two-for-the-price-of-one’ genre, with a compelling romance story side-by-side with a crime, suspense or intrigue plot. They are complex books in terms of subject matter, dealing with topical issues such as cyber-crime, people trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism threats. The depth of emotion is strong, the relationships believable and the scenarios all too realistic.
Romantic Suspense is fairly new in Australia, but American audiences have been keen readers for years enjoying writers such as Nora Roberts, Cindy Gerard and Suzanne Brockmann. A growing number of Australian authors now writing Romantic Suspense/Thrillers are also finding an overseas audience. Bronwyn Parry’s Dead Heat and my story, Burning Lies, are both shortlisted for the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Crime and Suspense awards.
Our harsh Australian environment and the challenges of vast distances and few resources are a great fit for a suspense story. Prominent book blogger, Kat Mayo, agrees: ‘Australian romantic suspense tends to focus much more on the setting (usually, but not always, in rural Australia) and the crime or mystery plot.’
Australian writers also have a different approach to heroines. Bronwyn Parry believes ‘we write our Australian heroines with more emphasis on their capabilities and internal strengths than on their femininity, attractiveness and vulnerabilities than perhaps overseas writers do.’
Writers like Shannon Curtis, Lee Christine and Karlene Blakemore-Mowle, who write stories with more traditional ‘women in jeopardy’ scenarios, have heroines capable of holding their own and rescuing their man.
Kat Mayo adds, ‘I think Australian romantic suspense develops the heroine more. They explore the heroine’s relationships outside of the hero and the immediate situation in the suspense plot. These books will often touch more deeply on the heroine’s family life and career.’
Australian Romantic Suspense has a different flavour to our overseas counterparts. Some of that is due to the language and humour we use, some to the landscape, but also because we have different methods of dealing with crime and national security.
My Border Watch series is set around the coastal surveillance operation that guards Australia’s borders and I explore issues such as outlawed motorcycle gangs, sex slave trade, through to the horrific crime of arson. My latest novel, Half Moon Bay delves into ICAC and political corruption.
In Bronwyn Parry’s first three books one of her protagonists is a member of the police force. The dusty backdrop of a small country town adds tension. Sandy Curtis showcases Australian settings that are off the beaten track, with plot lines that range from international crime rings to individuals criminals seeking revenge.
So, if you like believable action that will keep you turning the pages, if you want the feel-good endorphins of a happy ending and crave books set in Australia then try Australian Romantic Suspense stories. Look for them under the Romance, Crime or Australian fiction headings, or click here, and hang on for the ride.
Multi-award winning author Helene Young lives aboard a catamaran moored near the Great Barrier Reef with her husband and their dog, Zeus. She draws inspiration for her stories from the communities she visits all over Australia as a senior airline captain. Helene won the Romance Writers of Australia‘s (RWA) Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2011 and 2012. She was also voted most popular romantic suspense author by the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) in 2010 and 2011, and is shortlisted for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Crime/Suspense in 2013.