A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, April 26, 2013


As a Romantic Suspense author I'm in the enviable position (sometimes) of attracting readers from across both the Romance and Thrillers/Mystery genres. But though I might attract more readers by crossing genre lines, I also get a little more criticism. What gets me in trouble the most is never how graphically I kill someone, but how often and how explicitly my hero and heroine have sex. For some people--a small minority who probably don't realize the books are Romantic Suspense or just have no idea what the Romantic Suspense genre entails--murder and maiming is fine, but god help me if someone has an orgasm :) I am totally okay with people having their own set of values when it comes to reading about 'bedroom acts' (or 'kitchen' or 'wherever'...) but it never fails to amaze me that people can be fine with killing--gleeful even--and yet recoil at the idea of a little physical intimacy between people who are falling in love. 

I remember watching a Desmond Morris TV series in the nineties that took married couples who were very much in love and making them abstain from sex for several months. It didn't take long for cracks to form in the relations. What had been mutually supportive relationships became fractured and tense. The researchers postulated that men and women are different (ha!) in that men need sex to feel love and women need love to have sex.

It's an interesting idea.

Sex is important in a relationship. Even when people aren't having any, sex is very important in a relationship.

Love and romance are all tied up with sex in my mind. Maybe its the biologist in me, trying to make sense of something which is essentially nebulous. I mean, why is one person attracted to another? I really don't know on a general level, but I do know when it comes to the characters I create.

I personally like to read Romances that are both sexy and subtle. I like hot and I like sweet. But for some reason my stories generally veer toward hot. I have no idea why. I hope I don't upset readers with my sex scenes. I'd hate to do that. But I also don't write sex scenes wondering how people might react (else I might have anticipated my sister-in-laws comment about the height of kitchen counters while we were eating Christmas dinner). I'd never write another word if I allowed readers to intrude on my thoughts when I'm supposed to be in someone else's head. (Is this complicated enough for everyone? Multiple personality head hopping during the writing of sex scenes?).

However, my latest book, The Killing Game, only has one sex scene in the whole thing (that's what the story needed). Ironically I'm now worried I'll be criticized for not having enough sex in an action-adventure romance. For the main part, I am blessed by having readers who happen to like the same blend of Romance and Suspense that I do.

So, the climatic question of the day: How much is too much??
Wildlife biologist Axelle Dehn isn’t about to let anyone harm her endangered snow leopards—not the poacher intent on killing them, nor the soldier who wants to use them as bait. But Axelle is unknowingly entangled in a conflict that stretches back three decades, a conflict that could spark a war between two of the world’s great nations.
British SAS soldier, Ty Dempsey, is on a mission to hunt down an infamous Russian terrorist in a remote region of Afghanistan. Dempsey hasn’t failed a mission yet, but when Axelle is kidnapped by the Russian, he is forced to choose between duty and his heart. He risks everything to save the determined, prickly woman he’s fallen for, but in doing so sparks a deadly series of events that threaten to expose the most successful spy in history. A spy who will destroy anyone who gets in his way.

The Killing Game is available from,,, Kobo, nook, Smashwords, and Apple. And in print from Createspace.


jean harrington said...

Toni, What a dilemma to be in! You have my sympathy with the amount of sex that is right for a book. This same topic has been my biggest quandry in the Murders by Design Series. I've been advised to postpone the fulfillment, keep the reader anticipating the romance rather than developing it quickly. But I've cheated here and there, especially in one stand-up-against-the wall act that actually was pubbed. Won't spoil the "surprise" by mentioning which book--but it's there! Best of luck, Toni, with your new release.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Great post! I like how you point out that some readers are okay with death, murder, and mayhem but squeamish about sex. Personally, I like a balance of both. (It doesn't have to be sex - but romantic tension is nice. )

BTW - love, love, LOVE your cover!! The story sounds great.

Wynter Daniels said...

I get those comments too, but most of my books fall into the erotic category so as long as a reader knows this, they're usually okay with it. From closed door sex to wide open, I am fine with my suspense. It's really the author's choice. It is quite ironic to me that readers would accept any level of gore yet be freaked out by graphic sex.

Ana Barrons said...

You did a great job balancing the suspense/violence, the sexual tension and the "deed" in Dangerous Waters, and I'm sure you've done the same in this one. Sometimes one or two "deeds" is all you needs!

Elise Warner said...

Loved your line about your sister-in-law and the counter. Whatever you're doing Toni--it works.

Toni Anderson said...

Jean--it sounds wonderfully tantalizing, and I'm wondering why I haven't read all your books yet! My only excuse is not enough hours in the day.

Toni Anderson said...

Anne Marie--thanks so much. I think you've nailed it actually. Good sexual tension is the key to RS of any ilk.

Toni Anderson said...

Wynter, you sure know how to write a sex scene, that is for sure :) I think it's about expectations. If you shock a reader out of their expectations they can get upset. I know it happens to me as a reader too.

Toni Anderson said...

LOL Ana, Thanks! And I hope so!

Toni Anderson said...

Thanks, Elise. I keep trying. And, yes, I almost choked on my turkey :)

Dee J. said...

Great post! I always wonder if I have too much sex in my romantic suspense. But I (usually) have a lot of plot as well, so I like to think it balances out a little. I've definitely been criticized for too much sex, but not everyone loves a sexy book. I always say I can't please all the people all the time, but I like writing the kind of book that I enjoy reading, so... here I go... bring on the steam. LOL.

Wendy Soliman said...

Interesting post. It's hard to please everyone, isn't it. Can't say more because I'm off to Amazon to buy Tony's new book. Stop distracting me. Oh and Jean, I've read the stand up against the wall book. Love the entire series!

Marcelle Dubé said...

I can't say anyone's ever accused me of having too much sex in my books, Toni. :-) Most of the sex in my books is off scene, as is most of the graphic violence (in my mysteries, anyway).

I think you have to stay true to the story in your head. If it calls for sex, then bring it on!

Toni Anderson said...

Dee J--keep it up :) You are right though, you can't please everyone. It's about finding the right readers.

Toni Anderson said...

Wendy--you make me laugh--and Thank You!

Toni Anderson said...

Marcelle-off scene is all fine too. Like you say, whatever it takes for your book and to tell the story. I'm still waiting for your Gimli book :)

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