Romantic Mystery Vs. Romantic Suspense

Jacqueline SeewaldMultiple award-winning author Jacqueline Seewald has taught creative, expository and technical writing at the university level as well as high school English. She also worked as an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Eleven of her books of fiction have been published. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications. Her Kim Reynolds mystery series includes: The Inferno Collection, The Drowning Pool, and newest release The Truth Sleuth, all of which received excellent reviews from BOOKLIST.

There seems to be some confusion as to whether romantic mystery and romantic suspense are the same genre of fiction.  In fact, they are not. My latest mystery novel The Truth Sleuth published by Five Star/Gale in hardcover, for example, is a romantic mystery not romantic suspense. It is the third Kim Reynolds librarian sleuth mystery novel in a series, the first two being The Infernal Collection and The Drowning Pool.

In romantic suspense, the mystery is secondary to the romance. Plot focus is always on the romance while the mystery merely offers a plot device, usually ways to bring the hero and heroine closer together.

The Truth SleuthIn a romantic mystery, the love interest is secondary. The mystery and finding its solution is the key plot factor. The romantic aspect usually serves to provide added depth to the main character(s) and make them more real to the reader.

In romantic suspense there is always a happy ending with the couple united at the end in the love of their lives. In romantic mystery novels, which are often part of a series like mine, that is not necessarily the case–although it can be. Also in a romantic mystery series the main protagonists are more like real people with their lives changing and their character developing. Ideally, these novels are not static–one reason a romantic mystery series can grow in popularity and recognition.

As a reader, I enjoy both types of genres and consider each very satisfying. As a writer,

I like to experiment with both types of fiction as well.

Any thoughts or opinions on this subject?  Do you prefer one type of genre over another and if so why?