Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wild Card Weekend - Intrigue-ing Themes!

Julie Miller joins us this weekend with some insider info on the upcoming Intrigue Pitch at eharlequin!

Thanks for having me back at Pink Hearts this month—it’s great to be here!

Do all you aspiring writers out there know that Harlequin Intrigue Senior Editor Denise Zaza is hosting an Intrigue Pitch contest on next month? Entrants need to submit a one-page synopsis of their completed ms by November 4th—and the finalists she selects will get to do a live chat with the editor. There have been many manuscript requests from these eHQ Pitch contests in the past (across several Harlequin/Silhouette lines), and some have even gone on to sell! You can find more details on the contest at .

Because of the contest, on the Intrigue Authors Group blog and other discussions there at, we’ve been chatting a lot about writing for Harlequin Intrigue—some of the qualities that are unique to the line, like fast pacing, larger-than-life heroes, ending scenes with hooks, heroines who are smart/scrappy/strong, villains who demand the best and more from our hero/ine, sexual tension and deep emotions, how much sex can there be in an Intrigue, the differences between Intrigue and Silhouette Romantic Suspense, and so on. And as we were discussing what kinds of stories work well for an Intrigue, I got the idea for my blog post here.

Traditional romance storylines.

Yep. Amidst all the shoot-em ups and explosions and clues and daring escapes, the most popular storylines for Intrigue are ones that feature traditional romance story hooks. Of course, with Intrigue, we take that familiar story and twist it up with danger and heart-stopping passion and villainous show-downs. That traditional story of a woman with amnesia or a hero in uniform or a Cinderella tale or friends becoming lovers or reunited lovers or cowboys and on and on are all storylines that sell really well in Intrigues.

Take my December 09 Intrigue, BEAUTY AND THE BADGE. Hmm… Any clue what that storyline will be about? I’ve taken a romance classic—the Beauty & the Beast fairy tale—and turned it into an Intrigue. I made my hero, Detective Kevin Grove, a “beast”. He’s big, he’s bad, he’s scarred inside and out, and yes, he’s not handsome. But, ooh, does he ooze masculinity. And he’s got a protective streak in him that runs straight down to his bones. Both traits that make him a perfect Intrigue hero. My heroine is the beauty who wakens him in the middle of the night, needing his protection. She’s also the one woman who can break the spell of mistrust that encases his heart. She’s stumbled on to murder and conspiracy at the company she works for, and has nowhere else to turn. There’s even a wise grandmother/fairy godmother who plays matchmaker. He’s gruff—she’s stubborn. He’s sexy—she notices. When he falls, he falls hard, knowing he’ll probably wind up with a broken heart—but she’s the one with the magic, remember? It’s her love that ultimately saves him. After they get the bad guys and he saves her life, of course.

So I thought it’d be fun to turn some traditional romance story themes into something Intrigue-ing. I’ll start you off with a couple of examples, but I challenge you to put your own suspenseful twist on a favorite romance storyline of yours. What’s something you’d like to see in an Intrigue?

Plain Jane—spinsterish secretary sees her boss get murdered. Her boss’s handsome son, a cop, comes to her, demanding answers to the murder. When he see that the killer has his eyes on her, too, the cop steps up as her personal bodyguard—keeping the witness safe. What he doesn’t count on is how close quarters with the surprisingly sexy secretary not only fuels his passion, but soothes his grief and awakens his heart as well.

Cinderella—another secretary takes her lady boss’s place at a charity fundraiser ball, dressing in jewels and a ball gown. She even dances with a mysterious Prince Charming whose strong body and quiet charm make her feel like a real princess. But, terrorists attack at midnight, ending the evening prematurely. Mistaking her for her boss, the terrorists kidnap her and other wealthy patrons, holding them for ransom, intending to kill them off one by one until their demands are met. But Prince Charming turns out to be a government agent. The two of them use all their skills to free the hostages and escape themselves. She loses her shoe in the chase and spends most of the story barefoot. At the end, realizing how well they work together, and how well they love together, the hero presents her with a new pair of shoes… and an engagement ring.

Get the idea? You don’t have to be as detailed as I’ve been. I tend to be long-winded. Have fun - and good luck!

I’ll give away a copy of one of my Harlequin Back List titles to one lucky poster. You can see all my books on my website at

You can catch up with Julie's latest releases at!

Beauty & the Badge--Precinct: Brotherhood of the Badge--Intrigue--December 2009

Takedown--Intrigue--April 2010


  1. Nanny to divorced and rich billionaire's young daughter is mistakenly kidnapped when the villians think she is his wife. Rich guy moves heaven and earth to get her back because obviously he has fallen in love with her.

  2. Corporate honcho gambles tons of money and loses it all. Mob gets involved. When honcho doesn't pay on time, honcho's 20-something daughter is kidnapped, along with a complete stranger at the wrong place at the wrong time, as he unsuccessfully tries to save her. Daughter and stranger escape and run for their lives, all the while learning to trust each other and trust the heat building between them.

  3. Ooh! These are fun!

    So Linda has taken the boss and the nanny storyline and given it a dangerous, Intrigue-ing twist.

    Laney 4 has the boss's daughter and the mysterious stranger. That "unknown" hero is always fun--will he turn out to be a good guy or not? With an Intrigue, she'll have no choice but to trust him--with her life... and her heart.

    Nice job. I can see the back cover blurbs already. ;)

    Good job, ladies!


  4. Great blog Julie.

    My pitch? How about Heroine has been on the run for years - (she thinks she killed her stepfather when he tried to rape her). She's working cash in hand at a mob restaurant when she sees her mob boss murder someone. She goes to the police - but will only speak to the detective she saw the previous week at the restaurant - the one who was taunting the mob owner about getting him one day. Handsome detective recognises her but thinks she is part of the mob family that runs the restaurant. But when he realises she could be his star witness - he offers her protection - in his mountain hideaway - and there is no denying the attraction that flows between them. Plot twists when hero finds out about her past and the fact that she is on the run. Well something like that anyway! I've just made it up! Not sure is this plot is doable but there you go! Take care. Caroline x

  5. Caroline--that plot is very doable!! The heroine's backstory adds in another layer of mystery to solve. Have you ever considered trying to write an Intrigue yourself?

    I especially love the secluded mountain cabin--time to get intimate, yes, but I can just see the bad guys closing in and there's no place to run and no one else to turn to but themselves for survival. Very Intrigue-y!


  6. And the winner is...

    Caroline Storer!

    Caroline, if you send me an email (you can connect to me through my website) with your mailing address and the book you choose, I'll get it out in the mail ASAP.

    You can find a list of all my back list titles (sorry, Harlequins are the only ones I have extra of right now) at, as well.


    And thanks to you guys who stopped by and shared your Intrigue pitches with me!

    See you on the Intrigue Authors blog at

    Julie Miller

  7. Congrats, Caroline! You had a great entry! Enjoy whatever book you choose; I'm sure whatever it is will be GGRREEEAATTT!

  8. WOW! Thanks Julie! I'll send you my addy asap. And thanks Laney4 - much appreciated! Take care. Caroline x

  9. Hey, Caroline--
    Would you please doublecheck that your email to me came through. I haven't received anything on my end yet. I always reply when I receive an email from a contest/blog prize winner.