Yes, it’s a romance novel. Please stop bashing me over it.

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 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.)

14 replies
  1. Oya Canli
    Oya Canli says:

    Does it really matter indeed? I didn’t read your romance books but I bet they are wonderful too.

    Don’t listen people Tess, I can’t understand what is their problem here, as you said, romance novels don’t kill people 🙂

    Kind Regards.

  2. Roberto Nogueira
    Roberto Nogueira says:

    it’s clear that these people are TEENAGERS, and under 15 or 14. Why do you feel so impressed by their comments? Probably they think DRAGON BALL or NARUTO are the best pieces of literature ever published.
    Don’t waste your time on this again.

  3. bookwormedde
    bookwormedde says:

    i agree with Roberto, there are thousands of “haters” out there. You keep doing what you do and shake everything else off. You are my favorite author EVER, and I hope ignorant peoples comments dont discourage you too much. Love your work. I tell everybody I know about your wonderful books.

  4. Ginger
    Ginger says:

    Tess – IGNORE! IGNORE! IGNORE! the comments of ignorant and spiteful people.
    In addition to having read all your medical and Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles thrillers, I have read some of your earlier novels and been held by those also.
    Your gift (especially your gift) plus the words of your many, many fans, will keep the torch well and truly blazing.
    Best wishes and continue to enjoy what you do best – Gordon Brice

  5. Aussie Ben
    Aussie Ben says:

    I noticed the same thing recently for releases in Australia. Luckily, I keep an eye on your blog so I know when a new release is coming. If my wife excitedly spots what appears to be a new Tess Gerritsen release – especially if it’s a double-feature – then I quickly remind her that it’s likely to be some sort of re-issue.

    On the subject of international releases, I was disappointed to note that the number of Tess Gerritsen Kindle books available in Australia is a meagre 3, while in the US there are 11. I realise there are ways around this – using a fake US address on Amazon – but it’d be nice to be able to buy them legitimately. Any ideas as to why there are so few her in Australia? I’m assuming it’s to do with licensing/distribution…

  6. LaVerne Thompson
    LaVerne Thompson says:

    Sorry this has happened. It’s truly ridiculous. The assumption being there is something wrong with being a romance writer in the first place. Don’t apologize for it, you were a wonder romance writer and likewise just as great in any other genre you choose to write. And those who can’t see and appreciate that walk around with blinders and miss the beauty around them. They are not worth your time.

  7. Tess
    Tess says:

    Aussie Ben,
    I didn’t know that kindle releases weren’t available worldwide — I’m surprised it’s limited to any particular country. YOu would think that, by just downloading onto your computer, and then onto your kindle, one could access them everywhere.

    Thanks so much for all the comments. Anyone who’s ever written a romance novel knows what it’s like to continually have to defend the genre –a genre that’s probably the most popular in the world.

  8. april
    april says:

    Conversely, it’s funny the backlash when a romance author changes genres as well. As I’ve mentioned many times, I started reading with Harvest though I am primarily a romance reader. I’ve been very disappointed when an author stops writing romance, but I’ve never thought of things going the other way around. Guess it depends when you jump into a backlist. In general, the people who write comments should be ignored though. I agree with the other fine posters to the blog.

  9. therese
    therese says:

    Nope, reading a romance is not going to kill you. You obviously read a few, then wrote a few, and you’re still alive.

    You need a catchy phrase about romances ain’t gonna kill you, but when the romance career ends, murder and mayhem ensues.

  10. kasia
    kasia says:

    Hi! I’m a Polish student. I really love your books! They are just amazing. I’m just sad because there are no more books of yours in Polish langauge. Is there any chance the new books are coming up?

  11. pebbles2029
    pebbles2029 says:

    To be perfectly honest, I’ve liked the romance novels I’ve read of yours so far. The only thing I wish is that you had written a follow-up to Call After Midnight that had a story for Simon.

  12. kkbrown85
    kkbrown85 says:

    Let me just say that Tess, they are crazy!!! I have to be honest with you, I am in the middle of reading my last thriller form you (Harvest) and then I will be finished all of your crime and suspense novels, ALL of them!!! And I can’t tell you how upset I am going to be when I’m finished this last one! I am dragging it along because I don’t want to be finished your books yet! I told myself the other day that I’m not ready to stop reading your books and even though I never read romance novels, I will start reading yours just because I can’t stop reading your books! They are all FANTASTIC!!!! I need you to NEVER stop writing books, ok? Haha. Thanks for the awesome entertainment!

  13. katb
    katb says:

    Just saw this. Very unfortunate. Only good thing about it I can think of is that it appears people have very strong feelings about your books, Tess. There are many authors who cut their teeth on other genre. They learn their craft, some get a whole lot better. Some do not. You got way better, your fans appreciate how consistently you bring the characters, plot, and pacing. Thank you.

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