Laura Griffin’s Desperate Girls is an intensely suspenseful novel of murder and passion about defense attorney Brynn, who discovers that her former colleague has been murdered. The main suspect is a man she helped put in jail, who’s now free and looking for revenge. Brynn’s boss hires a private security guard, Erik, to accompany her. At first Brynn is furious about her activities being dictated, but the more she gets to know Erik, the less she minds. As they embark on the dual thrill rides of the trial and the search for the killer, fire builds between Brynn and Erik. Griffin picks 10 of her favorite steamy thrillers.

I love my spine-tingling thrillers with a dash of romance thrown in. To me, action and attraction are an unbeatable combination. I’m one of those people who watched The Bourne Identity on the very edge of my seat, just as enthralled by that sultry first kiss as I was by the dizzying car chase through Paris.

It’s the same with books. A good suspense novel isn’t complete without an underlying relationship to add an emotional punch to the story. For me, it’s always a treat to dive into a story and find that the author knows how to deftly balance the suspense and the romance, toggling between the two to keep the reader in a constant state of tension.

If you’re looking for a twisty suspense read that will make your heart pound, here are a few from my keeper shelf that you don’t want to miss.

1. The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

YA author Megan Miranda (The Safest Lies) continues her successful foray into adult fiction with this twisty thriller. Amid a scandal, journalist Leah Stevens leaves her job in Boston for a quieter life in rural Pennsylvania, but quickly gets caught up in the disappearance of her close friend. Her attraction to the lead detective on the case only complicates matters, especially when Leah becomes a prime suspect. Miranda’s writing is straightforward, and her tension-laden story will keep you in suspense to the end.

2. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

In this clever kidnapping-gone-wrong story, we meet Mia Dennett, the daughter of a Chicago judge. Mia’s life spins out of control after she goes home from a bar with a man who later kidnaps her. Kubica skillfully uses multiple perspectives—Mia, her distraught mother, the detective, the kidnapper—and gives the reader a view into the strangely sensual relationship between Mia and her abductor. Kubica layers the plot and keeps the surprises coming until the very last page.

3. Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Dark and emotional, Armentrout’s Till Death is the story of a traumatized young woman, Sasha Keaton, returning to the West Virginia hometown where she once escaped a vicious killer. Sasha originally comes home to find peace and to help run the family inn. But when violence strikes again, Sasha joins forces with FBI Agent Cole Landis to finally unravel the mystery from her past. Armentrout steadily builds the love story and the mystery plot to keep the reader hooked.

4. Fatal Affair by Marie Force

Sex. Politics. Scandal. These are just a few elements of Marie Force’s long-running Fatal series, set in Washington, D.C. Starting with Fatal Affair, the series features Samantha Holland, a smart and ambitious homicide detective who takes no bull from the men in her orbit. In book one of the series, Sam investigates a senator’s murder and its ripple effects throughout the most elite circles in Washington. The book’s mystery is compelling, but it is Sam’s hot and tumultuous love affair with politician Nick Cappuano that makes the entire Fatal series wonderfully addictive. If you read one of these books, be prepared to binge.

5. A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Book one in the Lady Sherlock series by award-winning romance author Sherry Thomas takes you back in time to Victorian England, where a clever young woman—working under the pseudonym Sherlock Holmes—sets out to solve a string of murders. The series (now three books) is a fresh twist on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original. Thomas’s lyrical writing and attention to detail make each of her books an experience to be savored.

6. The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon

Haunted by the unsolved disappearance of her cousin years ago, Emery Finn is determined to find out what happened, so she turns to a professional fixer known as Wren for help. As they work on the cold case, Emery struggles to resist the temptation of the sexy and enigmatic fixer. Dimon’s sensual, carefully plotted novel won the 2018 Rita Award for romantic suspense.

7. Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag has mastered romance, suspense, and everything in between. In Deeper Than the Dead, Hoag transports the reader to 1980s California, where FBI agent Vince Leone is pioneering a new technique called criminal profiling to hunt down a savage serial killer. Schoolteacher Anne Navarre gets involved with the case—and later with Vince—after her students discover a body on their way home from school. As Vince pursues leads and sifts through the evidence, Anne catches the attention of the murderer. Hoag’s vivid writing and complex characters make this psychological thriller a truly gripping read.

8. Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

This chilling psychological thriller is set in Alaska, where Dr. Evelyn Talbot runs a maximum-security psychiatric facility called Hanover House. Evelyn’s work studying psychopaths encounters widespread resistance from locals, including the town’s police sergeant, who comes to Evelyn’s aid when she becomes the target of a disturbed killer. The story showcases Novak’s talent for dark suspense with an undercurrent of romance.

9. Night School by Lee Child

This addition to Lee Child’s ever-popular Jack Reacher series shows us a softer side of the hardened war hero as Reacher teams up with Sergeant Frances Neagley. The two have been handpicked by the U.S. government to help unravel a complex web of lies and deceptions spanning the Atlantic. Night School takes the reader on an intense thrill ride as Reacher and Neagley race to thwart the plot of a Jihadist sleeper cell operating in Germany. Child is known for writing high-octane action scenes, but I love the quieter scenes where we get a rare glimpse into Reacher’s emotional world.

10. Say You’re Sorry by Melinda Leigh

Attorney Morgan Dane returns to her hometown to recover from a heart-wrenching loss, but she soon becomes embroiled in a young woman’s murder case. Morgan is asked to represent the man accused of the crime and enlists the help of PI friend Lance Kruger to piece together what happened and track down the true killer. In her multi-book Morgan Dane series, Melinda Leigh seamlessly weaves together threads of romance and mystery.