by Julie, enjoying an unusually tepid winter in Somerville
I don’t mind a little romance with my mysteries, at all. One of my favorite series, Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series, starts with a great romance that continues throughout the series, and the lives of the characters. For me, those books are a how-to on keeping the romance, but not letting it get in the way of a good mystery.
When I’m creating my own series, thinking about romance has been an evolution. In my Clock Shop series, Ruth has a handsome next door neighbor who becomes her partner by book three. That evolution was natural, and fit in with the series well.
In my Theater Cop series, Sully is ten or so years older than Ruth, and has an ex-husband she’s still got feelings for. There’s also a handsome actor in the company who is distracting. But it’s interesting–in the second book (With a Kiss I Die) both Gus and Stewart are in the book, but romance isn’t part of the mix. Instead I focused on Sully’s friendship with Emma, and Emma took on the side-kick role.
The Garden Squad series is full of love, but short on romance. Lilly is a still mourning widow. Yes, the new next door neighbor is handsome and charming, but he isn’t a love interest. He may be at some point, but for now they are great friends. The love in the book is between the Garden Squad. They love each other, would do anything for one another, and love their town.
In thinking about this, on Valentine’s Day, I’ve been considering the role of love, and of romance, in a mystery. We all “get” romance. But love usually plays a bigger role. Love between family members, or friends. Love that makes someone believe another person, and investigate a crime. Love that leads to dangerous passion, and is the reason for a crime. Love centers a story.
Love raises the stakes in a mystery. Romance can, but it can also get in the way. I plan on trying to figure that out as I continue to create adventures for my characters.
To quote the great Lin Manuel Miranda, “Love is love is love is love is love”. Hopefully you’ll always find love in my stories. That, and a good mystery.