Sep 26 2011 9:30am

Here There Be Dragons: Are Dragons the Next Big Thing in Paranormal Romance?

Dragon Bound by Thea HarrisonSo, after vampires, werewolves, demons, and angels, what formerly scary monster will become the next “It” alpha hero of the paranormal romance genre?

I’m going to go with the dragon.

We’ve seen the dragon slowly gaining ground over the last few years. Gena Showalter’s first Atlantis book featured a dragon hero. Deborah Cooke has the Dragonfire series. Now, we have Thea Harrison coming up strong with her Elder Races books.

How did this scaly lizard creature with a bad reputation become a contender for the next big brooding romance hero?

I blame it on Dungeons & Dragons.

Granted, I blame many things on D&D, but this time I really think I have a case. Yes, yes, I know, dragons have been around for a long time, showing up in almost every mythology of the world, but the dragon as we think of it in today’s pop culture is a recent creation.

Pre-19th century, there were two major types of dragons: Western and Eastern.

Western dragons were scary, scaly creatures of doom. They flew around blowing fire and laying waste to whole regions. But as powerful as they were, in the end they were just dumb animals. They may have had an evil bent (witness St. George and the dragon) but they had no intelligence and no magic.

Eastern dragons were a different story. Physically, they were very different from the massive Western dragons, much smaller, with the head similar to a bearded crocodile and a snakelike body that had four short legs ending in clawed feet. They were very magical creatures and amongst other things had the power to shapeshift into human form—and anytime something morphs into human form, you know what that means. In fact, both the Japanese and Chinese Imperial lines claimed dragons amongst their ancestors. They embodied luck, wisdom, and often benevolence.

Both are very nice, but somehow they’re just missing that certain something.

Dungeons & DragonsThen come the geeks and D&D, and the Dragon goes big time. They are the massive fire-breathing ferocious predators of the Western myths, but now have magic. And not just magic—they are the magic creature, the one every other being with a lick of sense knows not to peeve off. They are ancient and wise, ferocious warriors who kick everyone else’s butt. They are also surly creatures who really want to be left alone who only get involved if they have to.

In short, your typical PNR hero. Admit it, it’s a match made in heaven.

Some may say zombies are the next thing. Others may argue an expanded shifter universe. I’ll keep my hopes pinned on dragons and eagerly await the next series featuring the winged beasties.


Danielle Monsch is a Romantic Geek Girl Writing in a Fantasy World. Besides torturing her poor, poor editor about her latest story, Dani likes to read manga and watch anime, debate the merits of DC vs. Marvel, and geek out over the latest and greatest romance novel offerings. Catch up with Dani on Twitter @DaniMonsch

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Darlene Marshall
1. DarleneMarshall
I'd take it back even further to R.A. MacAvoy's Tea With the Black Dragon (1983). A wonderful fantasy with a great romance at the center involving an older-than-average heroine and Mayland Long, a delightful hero who happens to be a dragon.

I don't know if it's still in print, but it's worth hunting down.
2. CdnMrs
Can't forget Tolkien's Smaug. From The Hobbit (1937), Smaug was the favourite dragon of my childhood. When I read about the horde of treasure Dragos, from Thea Harrison's Dragon Bound, had and his attachment to it I immediatetly thought back to Smaug. Can't wait for more dragon books!
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
@darlenemarshall: We did a post on MacAvoy's Tea with the Black Dragon!
@CdnMrs We're excited to see more dragon heroes too--not to mention Smaug himself in The Hobbit.
4. Angela Quarles
And don't forget PNR author Katie MacAllister! Her dragon series are steamy and funny!? The first in the Aisling Grey series, "You Slay Me," was published in 2004 and the latest one (part of the Light Dragon series) is "Unbearable Lightness of Dragons" -- 9 in all!
Melanie Thomas
5. missmelthomas
If you want more dragons in your life I suggest Tessa Adam's PNR series, Dragon's Heat; it is HOT. Allyson James's Stormwalker series is really good UF and features a dragon hero. There is also a seriously hot dragon in Yasmine Galenorn's Otherworld series but the series itself isn't about dragons.
6. jsmom2
My love affair with dragons began with Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern. I will always have a soft spot for F'lar.
7. Barb in Maryland
Also worth tracking down is Elizabeth Kerner's very romantic fantasy trilogy-Song in the Silence(1998), The Lesser Kindred(2001), Redeeming the Lost(2005).
And we all know that Patricia Briggs did a dragon duology(Dragon Bones, Dragon Blood/2002). .
Another great fantasy with dragons is Carol Berg's Song of the Beast(2003)--the dragon's are fantastic in many ways, but are not the object of the romance.
Loved the MacAvoy, of course. And I love that dragons have moved into the romance aisles. Because they have sorta disappeared from the fantasy aisles (LOL), and I do love the dragons.
Heather Waters
8. HeatherWaters
I've really liked what I've read of Shana Abe's Drakon series. Which reminds me--I should read another one... And I've heard some very good things about Thea Harrison's series, so I want to try that too.
9. wsl0612
It's not romance but I really love Naomi Novik's alternate history series with Temeraire the dragon. It's set in the Napoleonic wars timeline and involves the various military forces using dragons. It's an excellent read and she really does a great job illustrating the differences between the western and eastern types too.
Erika Blackburn
10. fadedsouls
I was also going to mention Tessa Adams' series, but I was beaten to it. :)

I would also suggest that dragon lovers check out G.A. Aiken's Dragon Kin series. It has more of a medievel setting and I find the series to be very humorous, as well as steamy.
Danielle Monsch
11. DanielleMonsch
@DarleneMarshall Never heard of that book - thanks for highlighting it!

@CdnMrs Smaug was great! I am so looking forward to the Hobbit movies. Soooo looking forward. So, so looking forward.
12. Nancy Lee Badger
Gosh, I hope Dragons are growing into the next, big, paranormal 'thing'. I love all the dragon shifter books by G. A. Aiken. I, myself, have two books out where Dragons are the main hero or heroine. Here's to dragons!
13. Annabel Joseph
Adrienne Wilder has constructed a really fascinating fantasy world with dragons that serves as the backdrop to a lot of her books. If you can track some of her titles down, the creativity and emotionality is really stellar. She writes mostly m/m, some m/f urban fantasy.
Darlene Marshall
15. DarleneMarshall
@MFrampton--I hadn't seen that post about Tea With the Black Dragon. Thanks for pointing it out!
Louise Partain
16. Louise321
Then there is the Game of Thrones.

I remember a movie from the 1980s, called "The Lair of the White Worm" based on a novel by Bram Stoker, about a dragon which was a huge white snakelike creature that was referred to in the surrounding countryside as a worm. The worm could transform into a woman. Probably the only redeeming feature about the movie was a young Hugh Grant as the dragon slayer.

I am just not sure how sexy dragons are -- leaving aside Rhage of course!
17. helbel
Also Susan Kearney SF romances 'Lucan'/'Jordan' and the third I've forgotten the name of.
Amber McMichael
18. buriedbybooks
I have the first Thea Harrison dragon book on my TBR, but love Katie MacAlister's dragon series. They aren't dragons in the traditional sense, though.
Heather Rizzuti
19. heatherbartley
G.A. Aiken's dragon books rock! Everyone who likes sexy dragons should read Aiken's Dragon Actually and About a Dragon. :)
20. Glittergirl
I am just finishing GA Aiken's Dragon Kin series and I can't put it down!
I have also read both of Harrison's books and am eagerly awaiting the next!
I have to say though that Allyson James (Jennifer Ashley) got me started on dragons with her Dragon Series in 2007. I fell in love with Dragon Heat, The Black Dragon and The Dragon Master. Her imagination allows me to escape into her beautifully crafted worlds. I believe her fairy tale like Nvengaria Series had dragons too :-)
21. Gadsgirl
Another wonderful series in Dragons, Dragonfire by Deborah Cooke!! I get a new book and drown myself in it the first day.
22. Tom Kepler
Consider Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. The gold queen dragon is ready "to be flown." She "bloods" a few cattle--killing them and tasting the blood but not gorging. Then she leaps into the sky, taunting the dragons below. All the bronze male dragons leap into the sky to catch the female. Meanwhile, all the riders, who are the ground together, are telepathically linked to their dragons, sharing the experience . . .

That certainly puts a paranormal romance picture in my mind. McCaffrey, of course, alludes rather than describes.

author of The Stone Dragon
23. Jeannee
I am a 'senior' citizen (not 'senile') . I have been a fan of paranormal romance for quite a while and have 200 paperbacks to prove it. I love that I can escape and my imagination can go wherever. Donna Grant is my very favorite!! The Dark Kings are hot but is Smoke and Fire (#9) the last one? Please say it isn't so!! Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianne Duvall, Lara Adrian, Kendra Leigh Castle are also some of the authors I really enjoy. Not too old to enjoy a good read!!!
Heather Waters
24. HeatherWaters
@Jeannee -- No, Smoke and Fire will not be the last one. :)
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