If you’re looking for stories about lovable monsters or steamy shape-shifters, you might want to check out the subgenre of paranormal romance. Learn more about this eerily romantic subgenre in this lesson and encounter some prominent authors and their works.
Forbidden Love: Paranormal Romance Defined
Do you recall the story of Beauty ; the Beast, in which a beautiful young girl is ensnared by a hideous beast who turns out to be a truly warm-hearted prince? Plots like this one and many others that we often associate with fairy tales could also be considered paranormal romance, a subgenre of romance literature that incorporates elements of fantasy and science fiction.
Even when set in modern America, the worlds of paranormal romance are typically quite different from the one we know. These settings are often populated with vampires, werewolves, ghosts and all manner of other mythical creatures, not to mention humans or deities with magical or otherwise preternatural abilities. Elements like these are certainly borrowed from the genre of fantasy; however, paranormal romance can also include sci-fi features; some works are entirely based in the technologically speculative realms of science fiction.
When this happens, many of the devices that drive the romantic plots are grounded in space or time travel or other technologies that often (ironically) don’t necessarily make life any easier for the romantic heroine and hero.As with other types of romance literature, paranormal romance usually involves some obstacle to the would-be love affair. However, instead of discrepancies in pedigree or deportment (take for example Romeo & Juliet), works in this subgenre often draw their differences along much starker lines. For instance, the heroine and hero may be separated by time, interstellar space, or even by species (i.e. human and merfolk). The excitement of forbidden love, though, along with the triumph over such obstacles, is one of the main selling points of paranormal romance.
Keep reading to find out how some household names in this subgenre incorporate these elements into their own works.
Paranormal Romance Books & Authors
Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair
Published in 2005 as the first book in the Dock Five Universe series, this romantic adventure is steeped in sci-fi elements. The heroine, Chasidah (‘Chaz’), is a former captain of a starship, while her love interest, Gabriel, is a roguish interstellar smuggler. The two become embroiled in the political and technological intrigue surrounding a race of lethal machines and must overcome their checkered pasts to save imperial space, as well as to find love.Sometimes writing under the pseudonym of Megan Sybil Baker, author Linnea Sinclair has won multiple literary awards for her work in paranormal romance. These include the RITA (romance genre award) for Gabriel’s Ghost in 2006, as well as a prize dedicated specifically to this subgenre: the P.E.
A.R.L., or Paranormal Excellence Award for Romantic Literature.
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight
Since its debut in 2005, Twilight, and the series of books it spawned, has been wildly popular with both teens and adults. Throughout this series, readers are engrossed in the love triangle between a human (Bella), a vampire (Edward), and a werewolf (Jacob). Eventually, Bella and Edward overcome familial prejudices and jealousy and cement their love by starting a family with a human-vampire hybrid child.
Set in rural Washington, this paranormal romance could also be part of another subgenre – that of urban fantasy, which is fantasy literature involving real-world settings and situations.Given the series’ success, author Stephanie Meyer has taken on a new career challenge in recent years. Fickle Fish Films, the production company responsible for the Twilight movies and several others, is operated by Meyer who has assumed the role of film producer. She is also responsible for producing another of her books for the screen: The Host (2008), an adult sci-fi thriller.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Also categorized as urban fantasy, Dead Until Dark begins the much-loved Southern Vampire (a.k.a.
Sookie Stackhouse) series. Harris’ collection of chillingly romantic tales involves similar interspecies relations as those in Twilight, with the added circumstances of political unrest following the introduction and integration of vampires into the general populace. Of course, werewolves are also prevalent characters in these books; however, Harris also includes Maenads, shape-shifters, fairies, brujos, and a slew of other supernatural beings in the stories’ action. She also incorporates some sci-fi elements, such as the intoxicating effects of vampire blood (known as the drug, ‘V’) on human anatomy.Charlaine Harris has written numerous works of this type and has even won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
She also works as an editor on her own stories and collaborations with others, including the graphic novel series Cemetery Girl, which debuted in 2014.
Paranormal romance is a subgenre of romance literature incorporating elements of fantasy and science fiction. They often include mythical creatures or those with magical or otherwise supernatural abilities. When fantasy books like these involve real-world settings and situations (i.
e. Twilight, Dead Until Dark), they’re known as urban fantasy. Sci-fi elements can include space and time travel or other speculative pieces of currently nonexistent technology.As with many other examples in romance literature, having protagonists overcome such obstacles in the name of love is what draws so many readers to this subgenre. Paranormal romance even has its own literary award, the ‘P.E.A.R.L.’