Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hey, You Got Romance in My Mystery!

In my inaugural post here at The Stiletto Gang, I want to start out by giving the high-heeled ladies a big high-heeled shout out.

I’m so thrilled to be here! They are such a great bunch of women, fabulous writers, and I’m happy to be in their company.

And now, here’s a little snippet of...

What a die-hard romance reader might say of a hybrid mystery romance: “Hey, you got mystery in my romance!”

What a die-hard mystery fan might say of a hybrid romance mystery: “Hey, you got romance in my mystery!”

Brings to mind a certain Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial of by-gone years, doesn’t it?

Depending upon how you look at it, a mixed genre book starts out as one thing, then something else gets sprinkled into it. I don’t know what convensional wisdom says about mixed genre books; I just know what I like. A little romance makes the world go ‘round.

I love having romantic tension infuse a character’s growth.

I thoroughly enjoy reading (and writing about) characters who don’t exist purely in the vacuum of solving a mystery.

For me, a mystery book is made all the better when love enters into to. And if it’s a series where love grows, all the better. I want to spend time with the characters and grow with them, experience the blossoming of their love, and feel the satisfaction when they’ve committed to one another on the heels of solving whatever mystery is in their lives and potentially keeping them apart.

I also think that this type of hybrid book is a harder sell. Finding a home for Living the Vida Lola was a challenge for just this reason. It isn’t traditional mystery. Nor is it traditional romance. Publishers didn’t quite know what to do with it or how to market it. But it did find a home and since its publication, I’ve read quite a few mixed genre mystery romances. What the big deal is with marketing, I’m not really sure, but readers have made it known that they like a little romance in their mystery, or... a little mystery in their romance.

How about you? Are you a traditionalist? Like your mysteries and romances pure, or does mixing it up give you a thrill?


  1. Personally, I like romance in a mystery. So do my mystery fans, as long as any mushy stuff is behind closed doors. Much of my fan mail relates to Marla's relationship with her detective boyfriend. But at the same time, mystery fans don't want you to get too sensual. What I don't care for is a series in which the heroine goes from mystery to mystery without any character growth. Relationships change, and so should our characters whether it's with a boyfriend or sister or whomever. In my opinion, a romance adds spice and sexual tension to the puzzle.

  2. Welcome Misa,

    I like romance in my mystery. I've notice that if I pick up a mystery, the first thing I look for is whether the main character is in a relationship. And I agree with Nancy, don't get too sensual.

  3. Nancy, that's interesting that much of your fan mail is about the relationships in your books. It's what people respond to. Very telling, I think, regarding the importance of our characters having real connections with the people in their world.

    I'm with you...I love the spice and sizzle a romance offers.

  4. Relationship first, mystery second. Me, too, Dru! I think that's why I don't go for the hardboiled sleuths who can't seem to form relationships.

  5. I'm with all of you on this topic. The Murder 101 series falls into the same genre: 1/2 romance and 1/2 mystery. When I talk to people, they respond to the characters first and then the story, which I find validating as a writer. Misa, we're so happy that you're a Stiletto-wearer/writer now! Can't wait for the next Lola! Maggie

  6. Nice site - congratulations - Lynn Romaine

  7. Love- or at least a chance at it, makes everything better. I enjoy a book more when it's mixed up!

    Awesome post!!

  8. Tracy, is that you being anonymous again?!

    I agree, love makes everything better.

    Thanks, Maggie! I'm so happy to be here.

    Thanks for stopping by, Lynn.

  9. Great post, Misa! I have to agree with the others. I find I enjoy a mystery novel better when there's a little bit of romance in the mix. Many mysteries have that, the ongoing relationship.

    On the other hand, I've read a few mysteries that at the end left me wanting, and when I looked back, wondering what it was that I felt was missing, it was always that I was waiting for the relationship between two characters to develop into *something*. And it didn't happen.

    So keep writing those hybrids. And I'll keep reading them!

  10. I'm always for a little romance tossed in, glad your work found a home!

  11. I hate it when I finish reading a book and have that slightly empty feeling like you describe, Dorothy. But realizing what it is, and how to find books that have that is half the battle. I don't finish books that I can't get engaged with, anymore. I just don't have time to slog through them. And more often than not, the reason one doesn't speak to me is the lack of relationships in them.

  12. Definitely has to have romance, and not just a hint, but a good dollop, or I'm not going to be interested. Lola is the perfect balance, Misa. I can't wait for the 2nd to come out!

  13. LOL- Sometimes I wonder if being old enough to remember the commercial you're talking about is a good or bad thing- : )

    I like reading a little romance in a good mystery- whether it's a light humorous story or a serious nitty gritty story- a little romance goes a long way.

  14. Welcome to the blog! I think every book ought to have some romance in it. After all, romance is part of live.


  15. Yes, welcome to the Stiletto Gang, Misa! It's so great to have you. I completely agree that books without any kind of bonding between characters feels pretty empty. Having a sound story is one thing, but three-dimensional characters who love and hate...that's what hooks readers (like me!).


  16. Hi Misa,
    I love reading all genres. Me, it's all about the quality of story. Love your insert, ". . . when they’ve committed to one another on the heels of solving whatever mystery." On the 'heels' of? Nice insert for The Stiletto Gang blog. ^5
    I'm proud of you for following your dream agains the challenges, and I wish you every success!

    Diana Cosby
    Romance Edged With Danger

  17. Yes to romance mixed with my mysteries. I really enjoyed your first book. Loved reading something set in Sacramento (I used to live in Modesto.) Now, for the important stuff - when can I buy the next book?

  18. When I read I look for romance in EVERYthing... and I did this even before I knew what "romance" novels were all about (eons ago). I like the extra layer it adds to the characters.

    As a writer, I can't imagine not putting it in books--though I do write predominately romance.

  19. Hi Misa,
    I agree. A romantic relationship adds an extra bit of spice to a mystery. I think you've definitely added to an entertaining genre of mystery/romance books. Congratulations and many more books!


  20. Wow, y'all, thanks for all the warm welcomes to the Stilettos, and for the comments. =)

    Never too old to remember classic commercials, that's my motto, Chris! The boy on the stoop with his dog-chocolate and pb. That's a great one!

    Thanks so much, Janet! The new book, Hasta la Vista, Lola! will be out Feb 2nd. More info on my web site (

    Thank you, jeanmarie! To many more books!

    I'm with you, Denise. A book without romance just isn't complete! It's in everything I write (except the middle grade, but the parents are amorous, so guess that counts. =)

    Good to *see* you here, Diana!

  21. I just love a good story - romance, mystery, or suspense.

  22. I love a romance. Mix it into any genre and I'm a happy girl.

  23. Two thumbs up, Misa. It's what I write and prefer to read.

  24. Thanks for stopping by, y'all!