Cracking Romantic Suspense according to Patience Bloom

Today we’re thankful for Senior Editor Patience Bloom, a favorite blogger here! So when she volunteered to tell us exactly what she wants to see in the next new author for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, well, we couldn’t wait to find out! Check out the Writing Guidelines as well…

Harlequin Romantic Suspense: In Search of…

Baby - HRS blog

By Patience Bloom

…some classic themes. For several years, when people have asked me what I was looking for, I would say, “character and romance-focused stories—oh, and serial killers.” HRS delves into the darkness of human nature on a regular basis. Give us some Dexter and Criminal Minds in the background of our juicy romances. We enjoy a creepy story with a powerful love story driving the suspense.

Now, after analyzing some trends and listening to reader preferences, I want to add a few more elements to the HRS wish list:

 Babies. It’s true—why would you put a precious newborn in the middle of a suspenseful story? We’re not sure, but readers seem to adore babies. Admit it, didn’t you kind of go, “awwww” when you saw this picture? We don’t necessarily want you to feel you must insert a child into the premise. Babies aren’t for everyone. But we still love them in an HRS.

Cowboys. I know, they’re everywhere—but not so much in HRS. The bulk of our heroes are in law enforcement—and we are grateful for them. A few authors in the line write fabulous cowboy stories, and we’d love even more. This line is begging for some romances set in a rural area with rugged Stetson-wearing heroes. And if a body is found on the ranch, you’ve got the makings of an HRS!

 Family. In HRS, we put the “fun” in family dysfunction, especially if there are relatives fighting over a will or protecting each other to the death or concocting secret plots to bring down a rival clan. Our goal is to build family franchises within the line and have readers come back to enjoy suspenseful reunions with lovable (or love-to-hate-able) characters.

In addition to this search for classic themes, we accept, appreciate and devour the submissions we receive—whatever the suspenseful premise. The bottom line is to keep the romance original and unforgettable, no matter how the story goes. But just in case you’re agonizing over what to write about, remember: Babies and Cowboys and Family (Oh my?).


Thank you, Patience! So now all would-be HRS authors, think about adding a baby, a cowboy or a family to balance out the thrill-seeking, suspenseful romance!

2 replies on “Cracking Romantic Suspense according to Patience Bloom”

Thank you so much for this! I just finished a book that I think may fit here. I wasn’t sure if a possible series involving a family would work for this line, but this clarified things. I am still a little unsure if the story is a better fit for Romantic Suspense or Intrigue and would like some advice on the differences between the lines. Does it matter the branch of law enforcement (my hero is an FBI agent)? How does the level and portrayal of suspense and romantic elements differ in the two lines?

Hi, Erica!

Congratulations on finishing your book! To answer your questions: It doesn’t matter what branch of law enforcement you’re choosing. In Intrigue, there is more suspense than HRS. In HRS, we focus more on the romance and characters, with suspense as a background driver to the story. Best of luck!

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