Nicholas Clee at the London Times helpfully notes that my most recent paperback release in the UK, PRESUMED GUILTY (a RITA nominee for best romantic suspense novel, by the way), is making some readers furious. Or so it appears on the Amazon.co.uk site:
The reviewers at Amazon who suggest that Tess Gerritsen’s Presumed Guilty resembles a Mills &Boon novel have hit the nail on the head. It is a Mills & Boon novel. Before making a lucrative transition to medical thrillers, Gerritsen wrote romantic suspense novels for Harlequin, Mills &Boon’s US counterpart. Mira, a Mills &Boon imprint, has been taking advantage of her current success by reissuing them. Presumed Guilty first appeared in 1993.
I have no control over when my old romance novels come back into print. I apologize that they have been re-packaged to look like my more recent thrillers. And yes, I know that many of you are angry at me, personally, for having this atrocity committed against you. You’re certainly letting me know how angry you are.
But please. The next time you pick up one of my books, check the copyright date. If it was published prior to 1997, it is most definitely a romance novel. (With the exception of HARVEST, which was my first thriller, and published in 1996.) I’m growing a little weary of the readers who read one of my old romance novels, pronounce all my books trash, and tell the world that there’s no way my thrillers could possibly any good. And let loose with a string of insults.
Yes, I’ve heard them all.
This issue comes up every time one of my old romance novels gets re-released. Readers buy the book, discover it’s a romantic suspense novel, and feel the need to tell me how horrible I am for having perpetrated this crime against them, the consumer.
I have worked very hard over the course of the past 12 books to establish myself as a thriller author. That’s twelve books over thirteen years in which my focus has been on crime and mystery, thrills and science. And yet all it takes is a re-release of a single romance novel to unleash the jeers and the ignorant comments that, based on the reading of one romance novel published 16 years ago, my entire body of work is surely “trash”. As an author, it’s heartbreaking to know that these readers will never pick up my science thriller Gravity or my crime novel The Surgeon or my Edgar-nominated thriller, Vanish. And they will loudly proclaim to anyone who cares to listen that all my books are to be avoided like the plague.
If you hear a reader complaining that they read their first Tess Gerritsen novel and it was a romance and utter trash, please please please do me a big favor and set them straight. Send them a link to this blog post. Explain to them that I started off my writing career as a romance author, and then switched to thrillers. And that they shouldn’t write me off because of the romances. I would truly appreciate your help.
And readers everywhere, please check the publication dates. My thrillers are all post- 1996. Anything before then just might be a romance.
Not that reading a romance novel is going to kill you. (Although, judging by some of the comments, some readers seem to think so.)