I know I usually use this space to tell y'all about romance novels, or, at least, novels with a strong romantic plot. This time, though, I'm going a little further afield. Not too far, mind you. But, I am going to take a look at some books where, though they feature romantic plotlines, the romance is secondary to the central story. Why? Well, because there's a Stephanie Plum
film coming out and it got me to thinking about early books in that series and what I've been reading to fill the gap that was left when I finally got exasperated with Ms. Plum.
First, there was Toni McGee Causey and her Bobbie Faye Sumrall novels. The first one was Bobbie Faye's Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad Day (which got re-released as Charmed and Dangerous with a totally different cover). Let's just say that Bobbie Faye makes Stephanie Plum look like the very epitome of grace and level-headedness. There's a good, strong romantic relationship that develops naturally over the course of the series, loads of danger (I like books where things blow up), and great supporting characters. Unfortunately, the series is only three books long, with no sign of a fourth book on the horizon.
Next, I discovered Heather Webber's charming Lucy Valentine novels, starting with Truly, Madly. There's a lot more romance here, since Lucy comes from a family of matchmakers. There's also a bit of the paranormal, since their matchmaking success stems from an ability to perfectly match the auras of two individuals. Lucy herself had her aura-seeing abilities shocked out of her when she was struck by lightning. Instead, she has the ability to touch an individual and locate a lost object. If that object is in the possession of a missing person, then Lucy can find that person, so she sets up shop to help reunite long-lost lovers. See? Romance. Lots of it — not just Lucy's clients, but her friends and family and, of course, Lucy herself.
For something with a bit more depth to the mystery element, there's Deborah Coonts's Lucky O'Toole novels. The first of these, Wanna Get Lucky?, was just released in paperback. These are, first and foremost, mystery novels, so that's the plot that takes priority. Lucky's romantic life is well-developed, though, and she has quite possibly the best love interest ever. Also, the best quirky pet and the mother with the best/worst job.
Romance novels are great and so are mystery novels. Combine the two in a single package and you get the benefit of the doubly-happy ending: Not only does the girl get the guy, but she also gets the bad guy.