When I started reading romance books in earnest a little over a decade ago, my go-to favorite sub-genre was paranormal. I can safely say, in the wild year of 2020, my love of paranormal romance has not faltered. In fact, it’s grown even more intense. Oh yes, I can wax poetic for days on my love of all things paranormal. Maybe even especially now, with all of the chaos and unsettled situations we are experiencing, paranormal romance is my comfort food, it’s good for my soul. For me, paranormal is the trifecta of escapism. Intricate world-building, suspension of disbelief, and richly developed characters that lead unconstrained and ultimately unconventional lives are the things I love, back then, right now and forever.
When I first started reading paranormal romance, vampires were easy to find and didn’t disappoint. I cut my teeth, pun intended, on the likes of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and quickly moved on to Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward, the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost, and the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian. My paranormal purview grew by leaps and bounds when I found the likes of Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark. Lachlain MacRieve, the leader of the Lykae Clan in A Hunger Like No Other, was nothing at all like the #TeamJacob werewolves I’d been reading. Oh no friends, Lachlain MacRieve was a sexual awakening my then forty-year-old soul didn’t even know it needed. The opening sequence of that book blew my mind and made me #TeamShifter for life. One scent of his fated mate and this man, this tortured soul literally broke his body in a way my imagination would’ve never imagined. Friend, I was shook. The primal animal magnetism, the raw, unfettered attraction, the slight tinge of darkness, all of it made my blood run a little hotter. Dear reader, I was in love with shifters, the door flew wide open, and I have never looked back in regret for one single second. Hands down, shifter romances are my heart’s desire. I recently discover Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series, and my ideas surrounding alphas have been completely turned on its ear. Shifter romances do that, they take conventional and make you look at it and experience it through an entirely different lens. When the authors are next-level creative with their world-building, they take traditional shifter ideas and mores and give them an extra layer. Again, shifter romance will forever own my whole heart.
Imagine my excitement when I realized the other worlds out there just waiting for my attention. Shifters don’t have to be only werewolves. Oh no, paranormal romance would never be so short-sighted. Paranormal finds love for everybody, every creature, every species, whatever your imagination can accept, or whatever the genius author’s imagination can cook up. Celia Kyle gives us a were-mole in Love at First Roar, a mostly blind mole shifter, paired with a scarred werebear. Kerrelyn Sparks introduced me to Carlos Panterra, a werepanther in Eat, Prey, Love (Love at Stake #9). The elegant danger of this sexy man and his primal, protective big cat would have me following him through the dangerous jungles without a second thought.
Now, I will be the first to admit I was late to the Shelly Laurenston game. My fellow paranormal reader friends started yelling about her Magnus Pack series and her Pride series about a decade ago. Laurenston has a way of building worlds that pull you right in and make you forget your troubles. Her witty banter, the brutal honesty, and the scorching sexual tension she weaves throughout her stories leave me breathless on the regular. I kick myself for not starting her backlist sooner, but since I started reading her about five years ago, she has never disappointed. Laurenston’s Honey Badger Chronicles series caught my eye right away. Let me say that again for the folks in the back…Honey Badge Shifters! If badass heroines are your catnip like they are mine, think about the traits of a honey badger. Honey badgers are built tough, they eat scorpions, and as we all know from the meme, they don’t care, until they do. A honey badger is not a damsel in distress, she can handle her own shit. They are little balls of crazy you don’t want to mess with, and Laurenston somehow turns them into believably lovable heroines. Badger to the Bone is out now, it’s Max “Kill it Again” MacKilligan’s story. A certain were-jaguar, ZeZe is hired to kidnap her, and well, bless his heart. If you haven’t read it, you really should, Badger to the Bone, as well as the entire Honey Badger Chronicles series, is incredibly satisfying. For me, it’s the perfect distraction, but then again, I’m a sucker for a strong heroine who kicks ass and takes names. That’s the energy I need in my life right now!
We are in a strange time. Many of us are reaching for threads of normal for comfort. Embracing our new normal is fraught, everything is uncertain and a little scary if we are honest. The thread of normal I’m reaching for just happens to be paranormal. I don’t tend to discriminate when it comes to my love of paranormal, I’ll read and probably love all of them. Honestly, sometimes the more banana pants the storyline, the easier it is to escape the scary reality we are living in. Having a wild honey badger shifter in my arsenal of distraction is a win I’ll gladly elevate. The shifter romance books I love to read amplify the qualities in humans I find most endearing. I’m a full month in quarantine with my cubs. The protective, Momma Bear in me feels for the hair-trigger reactions shifters often experience. Shifter romances don’t just give me an escape, they provide me with solace, a love that will never die. A love that was fated in the stars, and I’ll never let go.