Is it romance?

I just finished reading a new romantic suspense. Not only was the title just published, but it was written by an author who is new to me.

Now to analyze…

I liked the book. Sort of. :\ Honestly, the plot was a bit more sci-fi than suspense and I’m not a huge, huge fan of the genre. Oh, I like to watch Star Trek in its various forms; I love the Star Wars movies (the original three more-so); I’ve even enjoyed the occasional Ray Bradbury story from time to time.

So what’s my problem? Well, it wasn’t just with this current read — I’ve had this come up in two other romantic suspense titles (two of a series). But in all three books I’m brought up short by one simple thing:

The hero isn’t quite ‘heroic’. In all truth, the stories themselves — particularly this last — weren’t exactly what I’d term ‘romantic’.

There was no real falling in love in this last read–more of an obsessive sexual bonding and manipulation. There wasn’t any deep emotion. Yes, lots of hot sex; the heroine slowly begins to sneak beneath the tough hero’s shell (this revealed only through his inner dialogue); the heroine doesn’t even know the hero’s identity until the very last page! Yep, you probably guessed it — there’s a sequel coming out later this summer. ***NOTE: Add this to my pet-peeve list.***

But falling in love? Romance? I didn’t see it.

Am I just old-fashioned? Maybe. But now I’m wondering is this is simply another take on the bad-boy hero OR if this is the direction our romance novels are headed?

When I say ‘bad-boy’, I don’t mean the classic rebel in leather riding a Harley… or the tom cat who treats all women like sex-objects until he encounters the heroine. I don’t even mean the bad-ass Alpha dudes that prowl the pages of such works as Kenyon’s DARK-HUNTER series. I’m talking BAD, such as those men who kill for a living (albeit usually under the thumb of some ultra-secret government agency). I’m talking about men who use sex as a weapon — literally — even against the heroine herself.

Exciting? Sure, I’ll admit, it can be. After all, if they use sex as a tool, we can safely assume they sure know what they’re doing between the sheets. We all have our little fantasies — even ones we don’t recognize until we’re squirming as we read the book. 😉

But is it healthy? Is it romance?

I’m not so sure. What do you think?

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