Romantic Suspense, Action Romance and Adventure Romance: What’s the Difference?

The other month, author Shannon Stacey was over at Dear Author asking for recs of good action-adventure romance and talking about her new action romance release, No Place to Hide. It started a bit of a discussion on what is romantic suspense, action romance and action-adventure romance and how are they different.

I thought I’d take a stab at shedding some light on this topic close to my heart.

For me, these are all subsets of each other. Romantic Suspense is romance mixed with…well, suspense – this suspense often comes from dangerous situations and classic RS contains law enforcement/military, bad guys, serial killers etc. Not all RS has a lot of action or a fast pace, sometimes the suspense is derived from mystery, fear, and can be psychological. Or the story might be more focused on the romance and the suspense/action is just a bit-player. I’ve been re-reading some of my old favorite Linda Howard books and they are definitely romantic suspense but most aren’t heavy on the action.

But, some RS falls into the action romance category – they have lots of danger, action scenes, a fast pace. These books play out like action movies. One of my fav action romance series if the I-Team series by Pamela Clare. My Anomaly Trilogy is also action romance.

And then there is a subset of action romance that can be classed as action-adventure romance. Action-adventure romance stories have a quest, a search for some important object/person/thing, that gives the story its adventure feel. These stories are like Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone. So far I’ve found most of the recs for good action-adventure romance are historical, steampunk or sci-fi. I think this is because it is just harder to get that adventure feel in a contemporary story. My current fav action-adventure romance series is the Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook. And action-adventure sci-fi style, is my Phoenix Adventures series (one reviewer called it the lovechild of Indiana Jones and Firefly). And I’m currently working on a contemporary action-adventure romance series…more info to come!

Here’s my nifty diagram to show the relationship between these sub-genres. Now I could probably get super skilled and link circles with science fiction romance and steampunk romance…but I think my artistic skills aren’t up to it!Action Adventure Romance

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