15 Best Authors Like Fern Michaels for Thrilling Contemporary Romance and Suspense Novels

Are you a fan of Fern Michaels? Explore the world of romantic suspense and discover your next favorite writer with our list of authors like Fern Michaels.

Fern Michaels is a famous author of romance and suspense novels who wrote over 161 books in her 50-year career. More than 150 of her books have been in the front row of the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, with over 150 million copies printed worldwide. 

Michaels is best known for her Kiss and Tell book, a story of a sisterhood who faced a master con artist delivering shady dealings at their local facility. The novel revealed how women could enforce the law against corruption and injustices. If you’re looking for more suspense and thriller books, see our article on authors like David Baldacci.

Best Authors Like Fern Michaels Ranked

1. Lisa Jackson, 1952 –

A photo of Lisa Jackson, 2010

Lisa Jackson started writing novels in the early 1980s to make a living other than babysitting. Her first book, A Twist of Fate, is a complete contemporary romance but later builds on the suspense romance genre. 

Today, Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author, with over 20 million copies of her 85 novels sold in 20 languages. Among her famous works are You Don’t Want to Know, Without Mercy, and Afraid To Die. Her books also appear in USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestsellers. If you’re searching for more romantic suspense novels to add to your reading list, check out our guide on the best authors like Tijan!

“That’s what families are for, don’t ya know? To love each other to death, all the while ripping their hearts out.”

Lisa Jackson, You Don’t Want to Know
You Don't Want To Know
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Jackson, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 578 Pages - 03/01/2012 (Publication Date) - Zebra Books (Publisher)

2. James Patterson, 1947 –

A photo of James Patterson at a lake, 2008

James Patterson has been Forbes’ highest-paid author for three consecutive years and is also the Guinness World Record holder for the New York Times bestseller, with over 300 million copies of his books sold worldwide. These notorious accomplishments prove he’s a celebrated author of romance and suspense novels.

If you want to read his contemporary romance books, try Sam’s Letters to Jennifer and Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. Patterson shared on Goodreads that his favorite written thriller series are Maximum Ride, Women’s Murder Club, and Alex Cross. Whether complete drama, extraordinary love stories, or a terrifying and unexpected turn of events, Patterson got them all in his books. 

“You only have a few times in your life to really cut loose, so you might as well take them when they come.”

James Patterson, 1st To Die (Women’s Murder Club)
1st to Die (Women's Murder Club)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Patterson, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 488 Pages - 03/05/2001 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

3. Linda Lael Miller, 1949 –

Linda Lael Miller wrote over 100 historical and contemporary novels with entries on New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Her first book was Fletcher’s Woman, a passionate and extraordinary love story of a doctor and a lady. Miller works through different genres, including suspense, paranormal, and contemporary novels.

One of her famous romantic suspense books is Deadly Deceptions, the second book of her A Mojo Sheepshanks series. It centers around a woman trapped in solving crimes in strange places. 

“Courage, like so many other things, was not something one did or didn’t have; it was a decision, a choice.”

Linda Lael Miller, The Creed Legacy
The Creed Legacy (The Montana Creeds Book 7)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Miller, Linda Lael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 378 Pages - 06/13/2022 (Publication Date) - HQN Books (Publisher)

4. Jackie Collins, 1937 – 2015

A photo of Jackie Collins holding her book, The Power Trip, 2012

Jack Collins’ style and fashion were reflected in her works. She was known for romantic suspense novels full of worldly issues about crimes, sex, career, and family relationships. When she released her first novel, The World is Full of Married Men, in 1968, it instantly became a bestseller. 

When Hollywood Wives was published in 1983, it became a blockbuster and a New York Times bestseller. This book exposes the glamorous and privileged yet dirty characters of Hollywood women whose agenda is to seduce a famous man. 

“Wake up, old man. He plans more than a cheat. He plans a hit. I know. I can read it in his eyes.”

Jackie Collins, Chances
Chances (Lucky Santangelo Saga)
  • Collins, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 816 Pages - 08/01/1991 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

5. Karen Robards, 1954 –

Karen Robards published her first novel, Island Flame, in 1981. Today Robards is a bestseller author of USA Today, New York Times, and Publishers Weekly, with over 50 books in recognition.  

If you like Fern Michaels’ romance suspense novels like Hidden, you’ll appreciate Robards’ One Summer. It’s a classic story of two sweethearts who worked together to solve a scandal where the truth can’t be twisted, and dark passions for love seem normal. 

“Her breath caught for a moment as the words coiled around her like a seductive snake. Only by forcing herself to keep walking was she able to escape.”

Karen Robards, One Summer
One Summer: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Robards, Karen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 402 Pages - 07/27/2011 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

6. Jayne Ann Krentz, 1948 –

A photo of Jayne Ann Krentz at the Romance Writers of America conference, 2012

Jayne Ann Krentz writes under seven pseudonyms including Jayne Castle Jayne Taylor, Jayne Bentley, Stephanie James, Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Glass, and  Amanda Quick. She’s written over 120 novels, 40 of which are among the New York Times bestselling books, with over 30 million copies in print. She experiments with historical romance to futuristic romantic suspense genres. 

In 1996, she published Amaryllis under her Jayne Castle pseudonym. It was her first futuristic romantic suspense book with a touch of paranormal events. Get stunned by Krentz’s work in this book as she tells a story featuring wild murder investigations and hot love affairs. 

“Funny thing about the past. The older you get, the less it matters.”

Jayne Ann Krentz, Summer in Eclipse Bay
Summer in Eclipse Bay
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Krentz, Jayne Ann (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 354 Pages - 05/07/2002 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

7. Susan Isaacs, 1943 –

A photo of Susan Isaacs at a Book Expo, 2019

Susan Isaacs is a novelist, screenwriter, and famous book critic for fiction and nonfiction entries in The Washington Post and The New York Times. Her first novel, Compromising Positions, features a Long Island housewife who turns out to be a clever detective when a murderer lurks in her territory. This bestseller was auctioned for paperback, translated into 30 languages, and adapted into a movie by Paramount Pictures. 

“An excess of fiction could make reality seem supremely dull with its crappy dialogue and lack of coincidences.”

Susan Isaacs, Takes One to Know One
Takes One to Know One: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Isaacs, Susan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 402 Pages - 10/01/2019 (Publication Date) - Atlantic Monthly Press (Publisher)

8. Robyn Carr, 1951 –

Robyn Carr is known for focusing on women in her writings, pressing on their issues and innermost feelings that make her readers understand and relate to her characters. Her work, A Virgin River Christmas, became her first New York Times listing, followed by the Virgin River series with over 13 million copies in print. 

The 16th book of the series, Bring Me Home for Christmas, topped the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Barnes and Noble bestselling lists. It’s about a woman who travels back to the Virgin River and gets stranded due to an accident. If you enjoyed this round-up of the best authors like Fern Michaels, you might also like our list of romantic suspense authors in our guide to the best authors like Toni Anderson!

“There was so much he really didn’t understand about women, he thought. They were an eternal mystery.”

Robyn Carr, Bring Me Home for Christmas
Bring Me Home For Christmas: Virgin River, Book 16
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Robyn Carr (Author) - Therese Plummer (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 11/03/2011 (Publication Date) - Recorded Books (Publisher)

9. Barbara Freethy

Barbara Freethy was named the Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of All Time in 2014. She first hit the New York Times Bestselling list with her Summer Secrets, and 25 other novels have joined the NYT and USA Today bestsellers since then. Enter Freethy’s world of romantic suspense novels with her All the Pretty People and enjoy her unique writing skill in revealing secrets, escalating twists, and sharing romantic love stories. 

“Everything I need, everything I want, is here. I know it’s not enough for most people, but it is for me.”

Barbara Freethy, Summer Secrets
Summer Secrets
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Freethy, Barbara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 385 Pages - 07/02/2011 (Publication Date) - Fog City Publishing, LLC (Publisher)

10. Kat Martin, 1947 –

Kat Martin is an American writer of romantic thriller novels who debuted with Magnificent Passage in 1988. Today, Martin has over 75 historical and contemporary romantic suspense novels. 

One of her famous works is The Last Mile, the second book of her Blood Ties series. The novel shows how the truth can bind or break a family’s bond, including the twists and turns of passionate romance. 

“She fleetingly wished this handsome stranger could be the object of her desires, instead of his black-hearted companion.”

Kat Martin, Magnificent Passage

11. Diana Gabaldon, 1952 –

A photo of Diana Gabaldon at a Phoenix Comicon, 2017

Diana Gabaldon explores different book genres, such as romance, science fiction, and historical fiction. Her popular time travel and romance series, Outlander, was released in 1991 with nine books and was published in 26 countries with 23 language translations.

The Outlander features the journey of a former nurse who time-traveled for adventure and romance. Gabaldon poured her literary skills into this series delivering outstanding storytelling and showcasing strong characters. The series was also adapted by Starz Cable Network for a television series in 2014. 

“I can bear pain myself, he said softly, but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.”

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

12. Iris Johansen, 1938 –

Iris Johansen is a New York Times bestselling author who started publishing novels in 1983. She first ventured into the romance genre, produced 40 novels, and later worked on suspense and historical romance, achieving 17 consecutive bestsellers. 

Among her popular suspense and romantic crime novels are The Ugly Duckling and The Face of Deception. Both books tell the story of survival, revenge, and the pursuit of justice. Johansen capitalizes on putting women as her main characters to reveal the nature of their fight to be on the right side. 

“We all die. I can’t promise to live forever. But I can promise to love you as long as I live.”

Iris Johansen, The Ugly Duckling

13. Emilie Richards, 1948 –

Emilie Richards authored over 70 novels published in 16 languages in more than 21 countries. She’s a recipient of the RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. Ten of her books were already adapted into movies, including Wedding Ring and Lover’s Knot.

Her latest novel release, The House Guests, relays mixed stories of death, rebellion, family, and hidden truths. As the main character welcomes into her roof some strangers with hidden agendas, the search for justice and truth is at stake. Witness how Richards plays her characters into this novel while giving you a suspenseful and dramatic turn of events. You may also like these authors like Sasha Byrne.

“It’s easy to get stuck in one track. When something tosses you out of it, you begin to realize there’s scenery you haven’t noticed.”

Emilie Richards, Lover’s Knot

14. Carolyn Brown, 1948 –

A photo of Carolyn Brown, 2021

Carolyn Brown is an author of romance and suspense fiction novels. In 1997, she sold her first two books to Kensington Publishing Company and is now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who published over 85 western romance novels. 

One of her popular books is The Shop on Main Street, the second book of The Cadillac series. It’s a classic story of a broken marriage, and a woman’s grieving that pushed her to plot revenge. Other books in the series are The Sisters Cafe, and The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop are other books in the series. 

“Prayer is not penicillin and it won’t cure everything from philanderin’ husbands to ingrown toenails.”

Carolyn Brown, The Shop on Main Street

15. Danielle Steel, 1947 –

Danielle Steel has now reached the billion mark of book copies sold worldwide. She’s written over 200 novels, and 25 of them were adapted into films. Her works focus on real-life issues, such as death, relationships, divorce, family, and war. 

Echoes is one of her most-read books, which features a story of betrayal and war, echoing the roles of three generations of women in pursuit of love and faith. With this book, Steel has proven her storytelling skill and bold interpretation of women’s strength and perseverance. 

“I don’t want to make a mistake and marry the wrong woman. I’d rather be alone.”

Danielle Steel, Echoes

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best 6th century authors!