Nov 12 2011 2:00pm

The Gateway Experiment: The Virgin and the Vampire; or, A Guy Reads His First Paranormal

Demon Moon by Meljean BrookYou know, I thought I was ready for romance. I thought that with my first historical I was ready to take on the Romance world; me against the odds, one man fighting the good fight, and all that. Well, folks, I had relied too strongly upon the talented Miss Chase and the roguish charm of Rupert, the hero in her Mr. Impossible.

There is another part of Romance. Far beyond fun romps in the Victorian Egypt, it’s the dark, seedy alley of Romance. It’s the part of town where upstanding, respectable people tuck their heads down and all but run through. One that is filled with vampires, demons, and various other things that go bump in the night. Oftentimes there is a very adult and sexy reason for the bumping, but there is bumping nonetheless, mark my words. This place is Paranormal Romance, and it changes you, people....

This go around I took on the 470 page Demon Moon by Meljean Brook. But, before I get down to the meat and potatoes of this whole thing, I want to take a moment and ask the ladies out there a question. Why is it that womb quivering is a sign of attraction? I mean, if any of my internal organs begin to quiver I am going to seek immediate medical attention. That’s dangerous, and it sounds very painful at that.

I digress. You came here to see what I have to say about Demon Moon. Compared to Mr. Impossible, the relationship between the hero and heroine took a much larger role than the overall plot. I get the feeling that this particular book was written FOR a woman. Now that may sound a little silly, but I feel like the sense of humor, some of the details pointed out to the reader, the overall voice of the novel, etc. were all specifically gendered in their point of view. I don’t want to come off as one of those guys (see the comments on my previous post for a link to who I mean).  It was just like when I watched my first cricket game in college—there was a whole lot going on and though I could follow the important parts, I just didn’t understand the finer details, but that is okay, because I still had a ton of fun.

So with that all out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks: First off there was The Vampire, Colin Ames-Beaumont. This guy is tall, blonde, with a lean, athletic build. He’s confident and self-obsessed to the point of being borderline narcissistic. He’s my older brother. And like my brother, he wears on me after a time.  Colin just ain’t my kind of guy. He’s too…fancy. I’m what Colin might refer to as a proletariat or plebeian. I like the less fine things in life. Going with my previous comparison of Rupert to a drinking buddy, Colin and I probably wouldn’t be seen in the same bars. His would most likely require a dress code, and mine would probably make fun of his pocket square. We just move in separate circles, but that’s okay because we both like Savi.

Savi, or Savitiri Murray is awesome. I enjoy her curiosity; I like the fact that she is smart, self-reliant, and knows her way around anime and video games.  Savi is a girl I would date. She’s not quite as naïve as Mr. Impossible’s Daphne is, and I like that. She would do John McClain proud with her one liners. You can’t get better than “teleport a nuke in and blow the place to fuck-town!” It’s almost up to the “Yippee Kai-Yay…” level on the sheer awesomeness meter. And having a way with one liners is the key to any man’s heart, you can quote me on that.

Which brings us to the cover. I have finally gotten my first taste of the legendary tramp stamp, which was oddly satisfying, though I still have to get in my tattooed chest. I did have a problem that I can’t reconcile. In the story, Savi is described  as having noticeably darker skin and a pronounced Indian heritage with short, spikey hair, yet on the cover we see a fair-skinned, long-haired brunette. Threw me off a bit.

Overall, the action and pacing pretty much makes Demon Moon a sexy urban fantasy, which I dig. There are some details that were fuzzy and some of the action was confused, but I feel that these issues come from how I am approaching the book, more of that ’being in the right mindset’ for it.  I found myself more intrigued by Hugh and Lilith, mostly because Hugh seems more my speed. So far. I refuse to say that Romance is unrealistic escapism, which seems to be the go to argument for everyone else out there. I mean I am never going to: a) slay a dragon, b) run away with an incredibly hot alien princess, or c) kill Hitler and save the free world. Those things are beyond my abilities. I know this; I’d be crazy if I didn’t. But you know what? I still read those books. Hell, I’m also never going to storm the beaches of Normandy, ambush VC, or preform surgery, but I still read nonfiction. Folks should get off their high horse and shut their mouths. But that is just me.

I think if sub-genres were cities, so far I place historicals somewhere in western Europe, you know, Britain or France. Yes, those cities have their dark alleys, but for the most part it’s fun for the family. Have to put paranormal somehere in the New Orleans/New York area. It’s dirty, it’s fun, and you have to be sure to know where you stand or else you might not like were you’re going.

The floor is now open for recomendations for where I go from here—thoughts?


Christopher Morgan works for and He lives in New York City, and wasn’t ready for REAL Romance.

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The Romantic Scientist
1. The Romantic Scientist
Hmmm... If you want to try a contemporary, I'd recommend Something About You by Julie James. I enjoy your reviews--keep 'em coming!
Cristina P
2. krissapl
Oh, so many book recommendations running through my mind, so little time...
How about going from an urban fantasy type romance to a more paranormal one? My favorite author of paranormal is Nalini Singh. She has 2 series, Guild Hunters and Psy-Changelings.
If not, maybe try other romance genres? How about suspense (Pamela Clare, I Team series or Suzanne Brockmann with her 2 series based on Navy SEALs)? In contemporary, I would suggest Jannifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For westerns, Lorraine Heath and Jodi Thomas.
If you want to go back to historicals, why not try one book from the funny Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, one by Courtney Milan, Lisa Kleypas or the prolific Mary Balogh?
Ok, it's clear I can't decide. Better let all the other commenters do the hard work :).
Christopher Morgan
3. cmorgan
I think I'm leaning towards contemporary to go for a sub-genre triple crown, but we will see. I do keep hearing about Singh and Kleypas. But I'm still undecided.
Tanya Kuhlen
4. Tanyak
I agree with Lisa Kleypas... I really don't think you can go too wrong with her. She is one of my "auto buy" authors.
The Romantic Scientist
5. DebraLC
Just a few comments:
The womb quivering = hard on. Maybe that would help understand. I think it's a sensation that is hard to describe. I've heard it described as a clenching sensation.

I agree that romance novels are mostly slanted toward the female gender. We're the ones who mostly write and read it. My compliments for reading romance, it takes nerve for a man to read this genre.

You might try reading some anthologies as they give you a great sampling of authors without taking up so much time. If you like romance and mystery combined try JD Robb (futuristic, the main character is a cop). I've taken to reading Paranormal Romance as straight romance is now boring unless REALLY well written.
The Romantic Scientist
6. huntece
You couldnt go wrong with Karen Moning's Fever series its an urban fantasy with a bit of romance, mystery and horror thrown in. IMO its heroine is one the most kick-ass characters around.
Myretta Robens
7. Myretta
Nowhere is the axiom, "you can't judge a book by its cover" more true than in Romance.... If you're leaning toward contemporary, I might suggest Jennifer Crusie's Welcome to Temptation or, if you're leaning toward contemporary AND Lisa Kleypas, try Blue Eyed Devil (It's the second of three books, but better than the first). I'm pretty sure these aren't in Megan's library, but I'd be glad to send them. I'm enjoying your gateway experience. I hope you are.
The Romantic Scientist
8. ms bookjunkie
First, thank you for your open mind!

Next, some suggestions.

Contemporary: For small town, you could try Robyn Carr's VIRGIN RIVER series. These are what could be described as traditional values books without being inspirational. From what I hear, a lot of the readers are older and a lot of younger women say they have trouble relating to the heroines, but I (a young woman) enjoy the series and appreciate the fact that it sheds light on "women's issues." Everybody's mileage varies.

Contemporary: For urban career-minded woman, you cannot go wrong with Julie James. Just pick a book and enjoy.

Contemporary: Romantic Suspense. I say go for Pamela Clare. My favorites in the I-Team series are UNLAWFUL CONTACT, NAKED EDGE and BREAKING POINT, but you can't go wrong with any of them. She writes about investigative reporters, and the stories they break are from PC's real life as an investigative reporter.

Contemporary: Romantic Suspense. Maya Banks writes all kinds of good (great…awesome!) stuff, but her KGI series is interconnected RS about a family of brothers with military backgrounds.

Contemporary: (Is is RS or mystery & thrillers?) Linda Howard's MR. PERFECT (What do women really want from men? Heroine with a filthy mouth.) and OPEN SEASON (mild-mannered librarian has makeover, becomes party girl, sees something she wasn't supposed to see…) are two of my favorites and awesomely funny (hilarious!) to boot.

Contemporary: Author with a dirty mind *cough* Hi Ms. Dahl! *waves* Hot small town trilogy, hot family-owned microbrewery trilogy plus other good stuff. Modern heroines with modern issues—stalker, body image, shame about past (teenage) behavior, overprotective older brothers etc., etc. Books with heat that make me think about/pay attention to prevailing mores, rape culture and other crap that's shoved down my throat.

Contemporary: The book often used by romance readers to convince unbelievers that romance is awesome: Jennifer Crusie's BET ME. (That reminds me, I really should reread it soonest!)

Contemporary: YA. (Yes, YA.) Caridad Ferrer's WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE.

Contemporary: Though I think the tone is more women's lit than romance, Lisa Kleypas' SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER is awesome. (The hero is a rare animal, he lets the heroine take care of her own business but backs her up in any way she needs. He doesn't take over and try to fix it for her, but he's there to make her road smoother.)

Contemporary: Nora Roberts. Yeah, she's a category all by herself. So much to choose from, depending on what you like.

I think that's it for my contemporary recs. (And I'm so bookmarking this page for what to reread next.)
The Romantic Scientist
9. BoxyFrown
I agree with the recommendations you have gotten so far - Nalini Singh and her Psy/Changeling series, Suzanne Brockman with her Seal Team 16 series, and I have to say JR Ward. I know a few guys that read her and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Christopher Morgan
10. cmorgan
I do come across Ms. Ward in my day-to-day, so that's a maybe. The whole SEAL Team 16 does catch my eye...

@ms Bookjunkie, the YA is tempting, but I already read my fair share of it. I feel like I'd be cheating. Though I'm curious what "small-town romance" is, I started off in a pretty small town myself.

@myretta I am enjoying it. Though I do make sure to watch plenty action movies while drinking beer and eating extra rare steak, just to be safe =P.

I'm going to look some of these titles up this afternoon and see what I can see. Keep the recs coming!
Clare 2e
11. clare2e
Just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying the Virgin Reads articles! About the "womb quivering," maybe it's just that in the past, I spent plenty of days doubled over, doped to the gills on nonetheless inefeective painkillers that the quivering always connotes menstrual cramping to me, not arousal. But that's only me--mileage varies, obvy.I haven't read anything from this flavor of Meljean Brook, so I'll have to give it a whirl!
The Romantic Scientist
12. BevQB
I really don't read many contemporaries, so I can't rec anything there. There's just not enough escapism in them for me.

But I've got to also rec Karen Moning's Fever series. The first one, Darkfever, is written like a masters class in the use of first person POV. Or read one of her Highlanders series books- historical time travel and you'd get a taste of the obsession called Men in Kilts! Better yet, listen to one of the Highlander audio books. While not the first Highlander book, Kiss of the Highlander starts the main story arc of interrelated books.

I'd also rec JR Ward's BDB series just for its sheer cracktasticness (IS a word, sez I). Book 1 is Darklover. You won't know whether to laugh or drop your jaw or take a cold shower- or all three!

Right now, one of my favorite UF/PNR mash-up series is Richelle Mead's Dark Swan series. The first one is Storm Born. Can't rec it enough.

Just read a first book by a new author- The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams. Mostly UF/Fantasy with a bit a romance. I consider it a must read!
Louise Partain
13. Louise321
I have no suggestions that have not been mentioned, but may I say, after years of reading well written books from a man's point of view, and alien it was until I married and got a true insider's understanding, I appreciate your trip into our heads. I say, you will have much better table conversation with any female you wine and dine.
The Romantic Scientist
14. Darlynne
I really enjoy your take on romance novels. My recommendations for contemporary settings are:

Suzanne Brockmann, Hot Target
Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Natural Born Charmer

In fact, your admiration for great one-liners should definitely put NBC by SEP in your TBR pile. Today is apparently acronym day in my world.
The Romantic Scientist
15. Twink
I would love to hear what a man thinks of Lisa Kleypas' "Blue-Eyed Devil." It is one of my favorite books and Ms. Kleypas has said in interviews that of all her novels, that was her favorite. The subject matter is intense, but it realistically illustrates how abusive relationships progress and their aftermath.
The Romantic Scientist
16. Aryn
Jennifer Crusie, and since you're a guy, I'd aim you toward Agnes and the Hit Man (which is a bit of a *say what* at first read but gets funnier the second time through) or Don't Look Down. And I like pretty much everything she has done. Maybe this Time is her most recent. Modern romance.

Patty Brigg's Moon Called or Cry Wolf; the starts of her two werewolf series. For less romance but still a good story, try her Dragon Bones.

C E Murphy's Urban Shaman. Again, less romance but there is her lieutenant. Magic in Seattle. Humor here, if you're looking for it.

I do most of my books in Audio format (lucky me that I can listen at work) which in some cases lends a LOT to the story, and in some cases does not. The above books I have both read and listened to and, except for Dragon Bones, preferred the audio version.

I hope you enjoy whatever you read!
Christopher Morgan
17. cmorgan
Even more to check out, you guys are making this hard... It might not be contemporary, but after reading the deal about Whitney, My Love I am very courious about it.
Kathy Davie
I like the Judith McNaught books of which Whitney, My Love is one.

Contemporaries include:
Janet Evanovich's first 14 in the Stephanie Plum series;
Megan Hart!
Nora Roberts

Georgette Heyer, Regency romances
Jennifer Blake's Royal Seduction is one of my faves
Sabrina Jeffries
Lynn Kurland (does combine some time travel)
Rosemary Rogers
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Shirlee Busbee

Erotic romances:
Maya Banks' Secret series; Lora Leigh; Angela Knight's Mageverse; Gwn Cready's Seducing Mr. Darcy is an interesting twist on Jane Eyre's story; Emma Holly; Lorelei James' Blacktop Cowboy; Sherrilyn Kenyon's BAD & some of her League stories; Sunny; and, Diane Whiteside's Texas Vampires.

Paranormal / Urban Fantsy
Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels; Karen Chance's Cassandra Palmer; Keri Arthur's Riley Jenson; Rachel Caine's Weather Wardens; the early Christine Feehan Carpathians (they get rather same-same after awhile); Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress; Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake; Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock; Larissa Ione's Demonica; Allyson James' Stormwalker; Stacia Kane's Downside is different; Shelley Laurenston's are a crack up; Seanan McGuire's October Daye is subtle and slow-moving; Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid has a twist; Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires; Adrian Phoenix's The Maker's Song; Vicki Lewis Thompson's Wild About You; Rachel Vincent, Shiloh Walker; JR Ward; Eileen Wilks' World of the Lupi; and, CL Wilson's Tairen Soul.

Susan Grant
David Weber's Honor Harrington

Definitely JD Robb's In Death
Anne Stuart's Ice
Beret Brenckman
19. BeretBrenckman
Please dont' read Whitney, My Love. I have multiple copies of the book including a hardcover and while I loved it when it first came out...a current reading makes it suck! Some 80's romances can be read now but that If you want to stay with historical I second the Julia Quinn recommendation. I'd also suggest The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick. It's her best historical.
The Romantic Scientist
20. tgentry90
I also recommend Pamela Clare's I-Team series. And normally I would never ever recommend someone read a series out of order but in this case I will. The 3rd one, UNLAWFUL CONTACT, is my favorite & the one I read first. I'd recommend you read it first. And I agree with the ones that said Lisa Kleypas BLUE-EYED DEVIL. I would like to see what a man says about it. It is one of my most favorite books EVER!! It is the 2nd in the series but you can go back & read the 1st one later.
Christopher Morgan
21. cmorgan
@kathydavie It makes me happy that someone else likes Honor Harrington, though I never read the series as a Romance, more a Hornblower in Space.
 Sandra Spilecki
22. Whitney
For paranormals Laurel K.Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jeaniene Frost and Christine Feehan are great. For Historicals Sabrina Jeffries, Amanda Quick, Julia Quinn, Katheen Woodiwiss, Julie Anne Long, Julie London, Eloisa James etc. For futuristic J. D. Robb and Jayne Castle come to mind. Contemporary brings Tori Carrington's Sophie Metropolis series and Vicki Lewis Thompson is just fun. I could go on and on. Whoever you choose I am sure you will have a good read.
Marian DeVol
23. ladyengineer
@cmorgan I agree Weber's Honor Harrington series is more Hornblower in Space than Romance (although I love it - need to reread it from beginning before catching up on the most recent ones I've missed).

For SciFi romance, I would go with Lois McMaster Bujold - Cordelia's Honor (Shards of Honor/Barrayar).

Historical - anything by Georgette Heyer, although I am quite fond of These Old Shades (currently rereading for umpteenth time); Mary Balogh; Eloisa James.

Never got much into contemporary romance - probably not escapist enough for me.
The Romantic Scientist
24. Bhetti
You could read the first book, Demon Angel, which actually features Hugh and Lilith's story!
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