I read a lot and I read in a variety of genres so I've decided to look at the genres and see what I like and don't like in the books I've read. Romance will be my first and Romantic Suspense is the first subgenre, probably because I don't write in this area. I've done one suspense book, Obsessions, but that's a medical suspense which is a different sort of thing.
Romantic Suspense has two focuses, one is the romance and the other is the suspense. Combining them can be tricky and falling short can happen easily. I'm not going to mention specific books because this isn't a review site. I'm just going to look at what I like in these books and how they fall flat for me.
What I like about Romantic Suspense are villains who are powerful and really evil. I want to see the hero and heroine face someone who is worthy of the fight to the finish. I love to see the sexual tension develop between the hero and heroine as they face adversity. There are a number of kinds of romantic suspense. There can be as the enemy spies both foreign and industrial, criminals of all kinds. There can be bad guys from the past that come to haunt a hero or heroine's present. The ones I enjoy the most are those with tension that carries through the book that keep the pages turning. This is a real talent.
Now on to the things that bother me a lot. The first is figuring who the villain is if this is being kept a secret. I remember reading one romantic suspense and I knew who the bad guy was by page three. Needless to say I didn't finish the book. A second is when the heroine or the hero is "too stupid to live." I've read so many of these where the heroine or hero goes into a situation tha no reasonable person would entertain. A third is when the love scene occurs at a time when no reasonable person would make love. Another is erratic writing. I remember reading one where the suspense elements were riveting and drew me forward, only to come on to a hero/heroine scene with back and forth dialogue that was supposed to be amusing but broke the tone of the book.
Plots are the backbone of good romantic suspense. There are two kind of plots here that drive me to toss the book away. One is the simplistic plot where the suspense is only a vehicle for the romance. The suspense part could be solved too quickly and the romance becomes the major part of the book. The other is a plot so convoluted that the reader has no chance of every decipering it. The convoluted plot often forces the hero, heroine or both to act in ways that make them appear to be fools.