Oct 16 2011 11:00am

Vampire: The Allure of the Undying Myth in Romance, with Cole’s Sebastian, Neill’s Ethan, and more!

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley ColeVampire stories are rooted all the way back to the early 1700s. Interestingly, one of the first works of art said to touch upon the subject of vampires is the short German poem “Der Vampir ”(1784), where the theme is not only macabre, but has strong erotic overtones: A man whose affections are rejected by a pious maiden threatens to make her a nightly visit, drink her blood by giving her a seductive kiss, and prove to her that his way is better than her mother’s religion. And there you have the beginning of a seductive fictional vampire (fv) phenomenon that has a huge variety of traits.

Some fv can be repulsive, while others are romantic and sexy. In other folklore still, fv can be warded off with garlic and symbols of Christian faith such as holy water or a crucifix. And let’s not forget the abhorrence of sunlight. Sometimes the fv appear as simply an animated corpse, some are able to sustain themselves by drinking blood. Sometimes the fv are able to eat human food, some cannot.

It was actually Bram Stroker’s 1897 novel Dracula that was hugely influential on the common fv traits we are familiar with today. With his novel, we saw the vampire able to shapeshift into a bat or fog, unable to see itself in a mirror, and grow protruding teeth to suck blood. Bram Stoker also gave us the concept that vampire death can only occur by a wooden stake through the heart, decapitation, drowning, or incineration.

From the 1900s, stories were written that show how groups of fv behave, and their interaction with one another in terms of hierarchy and territory.

In the 21st century, vampire fiction is still very much alive (or not—ha!) and kickinge. The vampires are even now living among us and becoming part of our societies and families in our paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels.

With so many possibilities and variables to create a unique vampire world, we have some really awesome modern-day vampire books! And of course, if it doesn’t have at least some romance in it, I am not on-board. Here are 5 of my favorite vampire books with at least some element of romance, if not full out sizzling sexy times. These can be read stand-alone, and in some cases are first in a series. They are in no particular order.

Straight-up-Sizzling-Hot Vampire Romance
No Rest for the Wicked
Kresley Cole

This is what you call a hot romance with an awesome paranormal setting. A tortured vampire hero meets powerful snarky female assassin. A love-conquers-all happy ending so worth going through. Sebastian Roth was turned into a vampire very much against his will, which has caused ages of self-hatred and a desire to die. Kaderin the Cold Hearted intends to compete in a legendary hunt, and to win her affections, Sebastian competes as well—kinda stalking her, but he is so genuine and hot, so just go with it. As they travel around the world together, this is one sizzling hot and passionate journey. The mythology behind Sebastian’s vampirism is a good mix of things you’d come to expect, but told in an engaging way. All the while Sebastian desperately clings to his humanity, and it makes an ooh so broody and sexy hero. Beware, this series is addictive like chocolate, you will want to move to the next book in the series immediately. Read an excerpt.

Kiss of Midnight by Lara AdrianVampires-Descend-from-Ancient-Aliens Romance
Kiss of Midnight
Lara Adrian

This book must be mentioned because it has a very unique twist on the vampires. Lucan is a Breed warrior, the strongest of his vampire kind, on the streets trying to protect unaware mortals and vampires alike from rogue vampires. The Midnight Breed vampires descend from an ancient alien race that came to earth a super long time ago. The hero, Lucien, becomes entranced by the seemingly human (but really a Breedmate—again, go with it) Gabrielle when their paths cross. Their romance is both edgy and passionate. The vampire mythology and hierarchy is unique and entertaining. This is definitely along the lines of a lighter and less intense version of Black Dagger Brotherhood. Lara Adrian writes really steamy and tense scenes, and also gives us a very alpha vampire hero.
Read an excerpt.

Some Girls Bite by Chloe NeillHe’s-Such-an-Ass-but-I-Can’t-Say-No Vampire Romance
Some Girls Bite
Chloe Neill

I put this book off for the longest time because the young Merit on the cover just looked too young to be anyone I could relate with. And it served as yet another reminder to never judge a book by its cover. Once I finally listened to my blog friends and picked it up, I was immediately immersed into Merit’s world. When she meets Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Cadogan of the Cadogan House, the antagonism between the two is sensationally addictive. The vampire traits are pretty standard of what you’d come to suspect with an interesting twist. The vampire hierarchy is very political and interesting and always causing drama. The heroine, Merit, herself is likeable, and we get to learn first-hand from her what it is like to be changed to a vampire, and how to survive in a vampire’s world. The hero Darth Ethan is undeniably alluring. This vampire book will charm your pants off!

Read the first chapter.

Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in BetweenBadass-Heroine-Who-Loves-a-Vampire Fantasy
Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between
J.A. Saare

There Rhiannon Murphy was trying to just live her life calmly, with the only drama being that among the strippers in the gentleman’s club she bartends in. Between the shitkickers she wears, and her unique ability to see spirits, all the vampires in town want her for their own personal gain. Particularly one named… Disco. Well, that’s his nickname, anyway. But make no mistake, this book is not for the faint of heart. Rhiannon has had a really awful upbringing and has to claw her way to where she is today. And now she is a mortal trying to live in a world of immortals who see her only as a pawn in vampire politics. The vampire world is shady and violent, and she ends up romantically and supernaturally tied to Disco without really knowing him very well. As she continues to learn about the vampire lore, so do we, and it’s super good.
Read an excerpt.

Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye WellsHalf-Vamp-Heroine-Kicks-Major-Vamp-Booty Fantasy
Red-Headed Stepchild
Jaye Wells

Like your heroines supernatural with killer snark and unyielding confidence? Sabina Kane is your woman. She is a half-vamp, half-mage misfit who has found her calling as an assassin. She tries to help keep a fragile peace between the vampire and mage races, but you know how finicky those two races can be. Regardless, she can kick the arse of both vamps and mages as she develops new talents. Throw in a hilarious sidekick mischief-demon named Giguhl, and a really appealing mage named Adam, and you’ve got a highly entertaining read. This book is gritty enough for me, while having the right amount of smartass dialog to have me giggling, with enough romance possibility to keep me hooked. Jaye Wells creates a most excellent and well-researched vampire origin story as well as mage and demon lore and mythology.
Read the first chapter.

Five vampire-based series with romance elements, you might want to consider: Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series, Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series.

Pamela Webb-Elliott writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reviews for WickedLilPixie as Spaz. She also has a Twitter (@SpazP) problem, but is not ready to join a 12 Step Program for it yet.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Mippy
Excellent choices in vamp books/authors! I'm a huge fan of all the above mentioned authors, including the other five suggested ones at the end. The exception being J.A. Saare. I vaguely recall seeing her name somewhere... guess I'll have to add that one to my reading list.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
I haven't read Wells or Saare or Adrian! That darn TBR list...
3. CdnMrs
Great post I feel smarter having read it. Love the aforementioned authors, although I read Jeaniene Frost for my "Half-Vamp-Heroine-Kicks-Major-Vamp-Booty Fantasy", but that's just me. Wells is great too.
Pamela Webb-Elliott
4. Spaz
@ Mippy - Yay!! *high five*Oh J.A. Saare's Rhiannon's Law series is so dang good :)
@ Megan - I know, my TBR has a shelf life past my death! LOL.
@ CdnMrs - Oh snap! I completely forgot Cat and Bones!! GREAT CATCH. And that, Annette, is how you do pilates :P
5. ChelseaMueller
Great post! Like @CdnMrs the only biggie I'd add would be Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series.
7. Sparkle
Can't forget Lynsay Sands - Argeneau Series. They are awesome!
rachel sternberg
8. rae70
I am reading "1 Grave at a Time" by J. Frost and I have to give Bones his props!!! He is H-O-T! And Thanks Pam!! I sooo want to pick up and read "Dead Undead"!! Another TBR book for my list as well!
Alana Abbott
9. alanajoli
Can't believe that Jeaniene Frost was left out of this article, so I'm glad to see the series in the comments! I'd also give Nicole Peeler's "Jane True" books a nod -- they're more broad based in supernaturals than just vampires (who are a subgroup of supes), but they feature, and they're pretty nifty. Vampires are also a major part of Meljean Brook's Guardians series, which rocks.
10. LaLaLayla
Another great take on the vampire legend is present in Lyndsay Sand's Argeneau novels, where the vampires are decended from Atlanteans and are "vampires" due to scientific nanos.

LOVE Jeaniene Frost's entire series, as well as Gena Showalter's vampires like McKell and Bride.
Marsha Dennison
11. mldennison
They left out Katie MacAlister's Dark Ones books!!! Absolute favorites! And Katie is extremely nice and exceptionally funny not only in the books, but in online life :)
roslyn izquierdo
12. roslyn
christine feehan is also a good read,,, any of her dark series, vampire alpha males who find their mates... !!!
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