The Sweet Spot on Suspense & Alpha Men

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by Rhenna Morgan, author of Hers to Tame

I never know how someone is going to respond when they find out I write romance. Some people roll their eyes and immediately discredit any of my work based on subject content alone. Others are quite curious. They really lean into the topic and dig deep, asking all kinds of questions.

The one thing that never fails to shock them is finding out that writing romance ain’t all unicorns and roses.

Take, for instance, the suspense aspect of my books. Some authors really push this part of their story lines. They’re more focused on the suspense aspect of the story than the romance. And that’s fine. It’s what their readers have come to expect from them.

But I’m more of a low-angst girl. My real life is plenty angsty enough, thank you very much. So, I like my books to focus more on the romance than the underlying suspense that’s disrupting my couples’ worlds.

On the surface, you’d think keeping suspense on the light side would be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, right?

Well, it’s harder than you’d think. First, because I’m a long-winded (AKA wordy) writer. Second, because keeping things “light” means you can’t have too many twists and turns—otherwise your suspense will end up drowning out your romance. Then again, if you go too light, your readers will see the story’s big gotcha coming a mile away. So, when I’m figuring out the suspense portion of my stories, I’ve got to come up with a thread that’s crafty enough to keep the reader’s attention, but not so convoluted that the romance gets swallowed up.

My newest series—NOLA Knights—came with its own special high-wire act: Russian alpha males.

They’re mafiya. Old-school Russians. They’re not known for saying please and thank you. They’re known for making things happen and getting what they want.

So, how do you take men like that and not make them Alphaholes?

Well…it turns out you do it very, very carefully. (And often with your editor talking you off a ledge.)

For starters, the only person I let them get soft for is their heroines. (Okay, maybe they’re soft for family, too. They are heroes, after all.)

Second, I found that the men being über-aggressive was an excellent chance to let the heroines shine. To make them good role models for my readers by setting good boundaries.

Still, finding the balance was definitely a tricky widget. Especially when the men got their women in the bedroom. I mean, as writers we want to do the responsible thing and send a good message to our readers:

Be responsible.

Be safe.

Use condoms.

But when things are heated and one of my Russian heroes has decided This woman is mine, I couldn’t really see them reaching (willingly) for the condoms in the nightstand drawer. I saw them being the alphas they are. Wanting to possess the amazing woman next to them in the most primal way possible.

In the end, I think I mostly pulled it off. (Though, I’ll admit—Sergei pushed the envelope. He’s a bossy fella and fought me hard.)

So, what about you? Do you like your romance with a heavier balance of suspense, or something lighter? What about your alphas? Do you like them over the top? Or do you need a lighter hand with their alpha-ness?

If you’re a fan of sexy contemporary stories that are low on angst and high on alphas, with a soft spot for their spunky heroines, I hope you’ll pick up my newest release in the NOLA Knights series—HERS TO TAME. And if you do, hit me up on social media and let me know what you think!

About Hers to Tame:

Hers to Tame by Rhenna MorganBook two of NOLA Knights, the heart-stoppingly sexy spin-off series by Men of Haven author Rhenna Morgan

As an avtoritet for the most powerful crime syndicate in New Orleans, Kir Vasilek doesn’t act without purpose, doesn’t speak without thought and never, ever loses his cool. The lives of his brothers, his family, depend on it. But then Cassie McClintock strolls back into his life, and staying cool is next to impossible. Cassie was the one who got away—and Kir is willing to break all his own rules to keep it from happening ever again.

It’s one thing to report on the Russian mafia; it’s quite another to sleep with one of them, especially one as dangerous, and as sinfully sexy, as Kir Vasilek. Even though the information he once provided helped make her career—and the memory of his touch still keeps her up at night—Cassie knows too much about his world to go down that path.

But when Kir reaches out for help after a rival family comes for one of his own, Cassie doesn’t want to say no, either to investigating a gruesome murder or to the heat that pulls her right back into his arms…and his heart. Taming Kir—and helping to save the family she’s come to call her own—is not the story she thought she’d write, but it’s the one she’s determined will get a happy ending.

Hers to Tame is the highly anticipated follow-up to His to Defend. And don’t miss Roman’s story in Mine to Keep, coming soon from Rhenna Morgan and Carina Press.

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