Monday, January 20, 2020

What does “Romantic Suspense” mean to you? by J. Arlene Culiner


I'm so happy to welcome back J. Arlene to Muse Monday. And she's talking about a genre near and dear to my heart, Romantic Suspense. Enjoy!

Hello again, Brenda. Thank you very much for inviting me back to your blog. Today, I’d like to talk a bit about falling in love and my January 15th Romantic Suspense release, The Turkish Affair. 

Let’s start with those two words: Romantic Suspense. Don’t they conjure up stalkers, a serial killer or two, car chases, shoot-outs, terrorists, a gun-packing super heroine, and an impossibly handsome hero? Well…I must admit I prefer reality, even when it comes to romance. If I were in danger, could I really count on the sudden appearance of some gorgeous, sexy, very hot secret agent who instantly puts a villain out of commission? Of course I couldn’t. And, I’m certain that if I were being threatened by a madman, I’d be so wrought up, I wouldn’t have the energy — or the leisure — to get to know someone I’m attracted to, or to succumb to love’s powerful magic.

Which is why I decided to write a different sort of romantic suspense. There’s certainly menace, but it’s psychological. There has been a murder, but it happens off stage, without graphic description, car chases, or screaming sirens. My setting is exotic — the archaeological site of Karakuyu in an
unstable part of Turkey — so we can’t really feel too comfortable. And we can’t count on the police either, for corruption is rampant in this part of the world.

My heroine, Anne Pierson, is running from a scandal in her past, and her attraction to archaeologist Renaud Townsend, threatens not only her peace of mind, but her way of life. Renaud, intelligent, gentle, has no wish to settle, for his passion is archaeology: “discovering the world from the ground down.” However, theft and murder draw them both into the mystery, and into emotions they are unable to control.

The Turkish Affair: another look at romantic suspense.


Love and Danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu

Priceless artifacts are disappearing from the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu in Turkey, and the site director has vanished. Called in to solve the mystery, archaeologist Renaud Townsend is hindered by both his inability to speak the language and the knowledge that the local police are corrupt. His attraction to translator Anne Pierson is immediate, although he is troubled by her refusal to talk about the past and her fear of public scandal. But when murder enters the picture, both Anne and Renaud realize that the risk of falling in love is not the only danger.


A delicious breeze tickled the air, and the little boat rocked gently. A fine line appeared between his brows, and his blue eyes were, once again, serious. “I need your help.”
She stared. “My help? With what? Translating?”
“No. With something else. I have to find out who is behind the thefts at Karakuyu.”
The feeling of dread returned, but she forced herself to sound casual. “How could I possibly help
you with that?”
“I don’t know.” He sighed. “I suppose I just don’t want to feel that I’m alone in this.”
What could she say to that? Tell him she was the last person he should team up with? That long ago, she’d escaped arrest by the skin of her teeth? If she did so, this splendid moment would be over. The silver-foil glimmer of romance would be tarnished forever. He’d row back to shore, drive back to Gülkale, get rid of her as quickly as possible.
“Anne?” He reached out to caress her bare arm. “Come back from wherever you are.”
“You know nothing about me,” she said jaggedly.
“Nothing,” he agreed.
She swallowed. “I could be involved in the thefts for all you know. Why ask for my help? Why choose me?”
He smiled faintly. “A good question. I suppose, quite simply, I need—or want—to trust you.”
She felt utterly miserable. Why was life always like this? Wanting someone and not being able to have them? Wanting trust, but seeing it snatched away before it came close?
“Okay, then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into secrets, do I have
the right to ask one question?”
She nodded with resignation.
“Can I trust you?”
The answer to that was simple enough. “Yes. Of course you can.”
His returning smile was radiant. “Good.”
She stared helplessly at the strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun. “That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.”
He leaned forward, cupped her chin in his hand, and met her gaze evenly. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”

Author Bio

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.


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  1. This book sounds great! It's sitting on my Kindle now, ready for when I have some time for a treat!

  2. Thank you. I do hope you'll enjoy the story and the journey to a rather unknown part of the world.