I was struck by a recent article prizing, in mysteries, psychologically complex characters over novels that were essentially puzzles… with tricky plots. In suspense reading, I am the reader who enjoys the latter over the former–if I had to pick. I love dense, complex, brilliant plotting in any genre.

Anthony Doerr’s work astounds me–Cloud Cuckoo Land threads three wildly different set storylines, braiding them into a conclusion that seems as marvelous as it is inexorable. Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows has a plot both labyrinthian and beguiling–when I read her novels, I am humbled. I can’t imagine being able to pull off the immaculate finales she spins seemingly effortlessly–her talent bleeds off every page. Tana French, well, what is there to do but read and be grateful she writes?

I was talking about this distinction with Dr. Feelgood and he asked what romances have plots that wow. And, I am ashamed to say, I drew a blank. In romance, stories hew toward characterization rather than plot. I tend to read the genre for the connection the leads share rather than the machinations that surround them. I’m here for the love.

That said, after musing a bit, I named Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series, Carolyn Crane’s The Associates series, and Bec McMasters’ The Blue Blood Conspiracy books. I’m still thinking–and could use your help.

What would you suggest? What romances have plots that amazed you in the best way possible?

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