Dec 26 2012 10:00am

Beyond Vampires and Werewolves: Diversity in Paranormal Romance

Stardust of Yesterday by Lynn KurlandWhat’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions the words “paranormal romance?” Vampires? Werewolves? Shifters of another sort? Angels, fallen or otherwise? Fan favorites and time tested, to be sure, but if anything is possible in paranormal romance, diversity amongst the otherworldy can only mean more to love. Let’s take a look at a few likely candidates, shall we?

Ghosts: How much more romantic can one get than a love that transcends death? All right, the lack of a corporeal body might pose a problem with the love scenes, but it also can focus on the bond between hearts and minds. In the internet age when couples can meet, fall in love and even commit themselves before exchanging a single touch, it’s not that far a stretch. Ghost stories come with a special poignancy, with lovers separated by more than time or distance, and finding a happily-ever-hereafter gives writers a chance to flex their creative muscles. Try The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R. A. Dick for a real classic (or watch the movie) or Stardust of Yesterday by Lynn Kurland and get ready for Mia Marlowe’s upcoming Spirit of the Highlands series.

Outlander by Diana GabaldonTime Travelers: Jamie Fraser. For those who have read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, all possible arguments for the benefits of time travel romance are contained in that one character. Think couples have culture clash when both partners are from different coasts or socioeconomic levels? Try different centuries. Mention A Knight in Shining Armor to a romance reader, and you’re as likely to get squeals of delight as menacing rumbles of annoyance, sometimes from the same reader. Whether a reader loved or hated the ending of Jude Deveraux’s landmark time travel, we’re still talking about it twenty-plus years later, and for good reason. Time travel romance gives a chance to thrust one or both characters into unfamiliar territory, which can refine or completely change their identity. Whether they find their happy ending in the past, present or future, it’s sure to be a wild ride.

Elves: Not the Santa kind, unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case, bring on the presents. Who doesn’t like a hardworking hero who can provide gifts on demand? For this purpose, however, I’m talking the Tolkien variety; gorgeous, delicate, lethal when they want to be, can tend towards arrogance and have long been noted to have an eye for the charms of mortal lovers. Kathryne Kennedy’s Elven Lords books, beginning with The Fire Lord’s Lover, inserts elves into Georgian England’s aristocracy. Hm, come to think of it, that can describe a lot of Georgian heroes already, and what about all those mega-sexy contemporary billionaires? Maybe there are more elven characters already in our romances than we think. They’re crafty that way.

The Last Mermaid by Shana AbeThe deep blue sea: Mermaids, selkies, sirens, ghost ships and uncharted islands holding wonders unknown to the rest of the world are natural ingredients for those who want to add an otherworldly element to Viking, pirate or other seagoing romances, no matter the era. Melanie Jackson’s The Selkie gives us a human heroine and selkie hero in 1929 Scotland, and Shana Abe’s The Last Mermaid, provides novellas both historical and contemporary in a single volume. Fans of the Pirates of the Carribbean movies will remember the tragic romance of Davy Jones and the sea goddess, Calypso. Could a romance writer give characters like this a happy ending? I’m thinking so.

What other mystical creatures need more love?


Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

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Gerri Brousseau
1. Gerri Brousseau
Hi Anna. Now you have me thinking and my creative juices flowing. Thanks ... I needed this!
Robbie Thornton
3. Button
Jaquelyn Frank brings love to Demonkind in her Nightwalker series. She also features some vamps and weres, but throws Druids, Shadowdwellers and other lesser known "Nightwalkers" into the mix. The Shadowdwellers now have their own spinoff series.

Larissa Ione's Demonica series brought us some sexy scrumptious succubus demons to drool over. She even gave us the 4 Horsemen of the Apocolypse as romantic heroes.

Shona Husk did the impossible, she created a sexy Goblin (yes, a Goblin for pete's sake) named Roan in "The Goblin King". I bought this book because frankly, I just wanted to see how she could possibly make a romantic hero out of a Goblin. She did it well.

I love paranormal with the vamps and the shifters, but I really love it when writers take it that little step further and give us something different and unique.
Gerri Brousseau
4. Lizzie18
When I saw a picture of Lynn Kurland's first book, I had to go to that blog immediately. I just love her first books. In fact, I wore out her first two and I had to buy new copies last month. Her second book, A Dance Through Time, is a time travel story and is just as good a Stardust of Yesterday. They are both hilarious but in a very subtle way, in the dialogues, the quirky situations she creates, and the descriptions she uses in said situations. For example, at the end of Stardust of Yesterday, the heroine is giving birth, upstairs with her husband (no longer ghost of course) and the author describes those waiting below : ' The souls, housed in bodies or not as the case might be, were awaiting tidings ' As you can see, they end up with quite a few ghosts in their household !
Lynn Kurland writes extremely well, a notch above most, and I highly recommend the two books above and, let's say, her first dozen books.
She has two series, the De Piaget (started with 1st book) and the MacLeod (started with 2nd book). Most, but not all of them are paranormal but she's heavy in time travel and I thought her last couple of books were getting repetitive in the genre. Still read them avidly but I really love going back to those early books in my 'keepers' bookcase.
Anna Bowling
5. AnnaBowling
@Button, I saw the Shona Husk book, and am very curious to see how she carries off a Goblin hero. Vampires and werewolves are classics for a reason, but it's fun to see the paranormal world stretch out into other creatures that need love, too.

@Lizzie18, nobody does time travel like Kurland, and mixing time travel with ghosts makes perfect sense in her world. The Stardust of Yesterday epilogue has a very special place in my heart. There's nothing like rereading those special keepers.
Katrina Wreggelsworth
6. auntykatkat
You have made me remember, and I will say that I enjoyed Kathleen Nance's Djinn Series and Vickie Taylor's Gargoyles. Going to find some shelved books to re-read.
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