Jessie: Today the Wickeds are delighted to welcome Rosie Genova to the blog. One of the wonderful things about the mystery writing community is the population. You meet so many interesting people online and they tend to be great to get to know. That’s just what happened in this case. Rosie and I shared a release date for our “First in a New Series” books that came out in October. With one thing and another we got to chatting online and now, here she is ready to share her take on a controversial subject.
The tagline on my website reads “Cozy mysteries. . .with romantic interruptions,” a phrase I lifted from Dorothy Sayers, who touted Busman’s Honeymoon as “a love story with detective interruptions.” Early in Sayers’ career, she derided mysteries that included any romance at all. But once she introduced Harriet Vane—a character some say is a stand-in for Sayers herself—to the suave Lord Peter Wimsey, all bets were off. And while I am a huge admirer of Sayers’ plotting skills and elegant turns of phrase, it was the love story between Harriet and Peter that first brought me to Sayers’s work and kept me reading and re-reading the novels. Even now, I avidly follow the love story of Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James in Deborah Crombie’s works, as well as poor Thomas Lynley’s tragic romantic life in Elizabeth George’s books. (And still holding out for Havers to get her man someday!)
But the presence of romantic subplots in mysteries can be a polarizing topic. In what is a vicariously wishful move on my part, in my debut novel, Murder and Marinara, I have provided not one, but two romantic interests for my main character, Victoria Rienzi. Since M and M is the first of a series, I am having a grand time setting up a triangle with Victoria, her ex-boyfriend and chef Tim Trouvare, and rough-around-the-edges New Orleans transplant Cal Lockhart. Some readers have commented positively on the presence of two hunky guys. But I have learned the hard way that not all cozy readers want a love story cluttering up their beloved genre.
At my first Malice Domestic conference last year, I chatted eagerly with fans in the goody room, watching with an eagle eye for those who picked up my bookmarks and recipe cards. One lady struck up a conversation with me about the book, and when I mentioned there were two love interests, her expression changed from interest to disgust.
“Oh you mean your girl is like that Stephanie Plum,” she said, returning my bookmark to its place on the table. “I say pick one guy or the other and get on with it, lady!”
On Goodreads and Amazon, where readers make no bones about their likes and dislikes, a few reviewers deducted stars because of the romantic triangle, and some didn’t like the idea of a love story appearing in a mystery at all. And while I respect those readers’ preferences, I will continue to give Victoria an ongoing romantic dilemma, and hell yes, she will be getting some well-deserved kisses in between solving murders. Because in the presence of death, there must always be life. And there’s nothing more life-affirming than love.
Author Bio: A Jersey girl born and bred, Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her new series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her deep appreciation for good food, her pride in her heritage, and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara, was named a Best Cozy of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. An English teacher by day and novelist by night, Rosie also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. She lives in central New Jersey with her husband and two of her three Jersey boys.
Murder and Marinara: An Italian Kitchen Mystery (Book 1)
Hit whodunit writer Victoria Rienzi is getting back to her roots by working at her family’s Italian restaurant. But now in between plating pasta and pouring vino, she’ll have to find the secret ingredient in a murder….
When Victoria takes a break from penning her popular mystery series and moves back to the Jersey shore, she imagines sun, sand, and scents of fresh basil and simmering marinara sauce at the family restaurant, the Casa Lido. But her nonna’s recipes aren’t the only things getting stirred up in this Italian kitchen.
Their small town is up in arms over plans to film a new reality TV show, and when Victoria serves the show’s pushy producer his last meal, the Casa Lido staff finds itself embroiled in a murder investigation. Victoria wants to find the real killer, but there are as many suspects as tomatoes in her nonna’s garden. Now she’ll have to heat up her sleuthing skills quickly…before someone else gets a plateful of murder.