[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Jenn Burke guest post on the site today. Take it away Jenn!]
A few years ago, someone in publishing declared the paranormal romance genre dead. Vampires had lost their teeth, werewolves’ beasts were too tame, and readers were done with all of it.
Not so much, as it turns out.
In my experience, everything that’s old becomes new again eventually. Paranormal romance might have been tired when that declaration was made, but all it takes is someone with a fresh take on a worn trope to make it new again. And such statements never take into account that a lot of “old” tropes are white, cis-centric and heteronormative. Authors and readers from diverse cultures and backgrounds deserve a chance to tell their own stories without critics disparaging the tropes they choose.
So, yes—paranormal romance remains as popular as ever, thanks in part to some books that are eagerly turning traditional tropes on their heads. Here are a few I particularly enjoyed and strongly recommend!
Werewolves? More like wornwolves, am I right?
I love stories about werewolves as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s just the same old, same old. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—werewolf stories are a tradition in romance for a reason.
But sometimes, I know I want to read a story with shifters other than your typical wolves and big cats. I found some pretty atypical shifters in Megan Derr’s Wriggle and Sparkle: The Collected Tales of a Kraken and a Unicorn. As the title suggests, these connected stories feature Lynn, a hard-to-work-with kraken shifter, and Anderson, a grumpy unicorn shifter, who have to learn to work together to solve crimes.
If kraken and unicorn shifters are a little too out there for you, how about a bison shifter? That’s what you’ll find in Stalking Buffalo Bill by j. leigh bailey. I can honestly say this is the only book I’ve ever seen featuring a man who can turn into a buffalo. In other books in her Shifter U series, you’ll find thunderbird shifters and owl shifters too.
Not like other monsters
Part and parcel of the paranormal romance genre is an explanation of where the various creatures came from and why they exist. In traditional paranormal takes, vampirism and lycanthropy were passed around through a bite from a vampire or werewolf, but I’ve read some interesting and imaginative origin takes recently.
In NoX by Adrienne Wilder, werewolf-like creatures are made with a quantum element discovered deep within an ancient Egyptian tomb. This element disobeys all laws of physics, and only works on people who are already dead. The mythos in this world is fascinating, but be warned: this book doesn’t shy away from violence and gore.
Jordan L. Hawk’s SPECTR series has 12 adventure-filled novellas and counting, and they tell a fantastic ongoing story. In this world, demons can be summoned to take over normal humans, and the resulting creature is one of the paranormal ones we all recognize, such as werewolves. However, when Caleb Jensen is accidentally possessed by Gray, a spirit who’s used to inhabiting dead bodies, they become something new: a vampire-like creature that feeds on the esoteric energy (and blood) of other demons. I love everything about this series—the adventure, the romance between Caleb and exorcist John, and the romance between Gray and John—but I especially love the creative take on vampires.
By our tropes combined
One way to refresh tired paranormal tropes is to combine them with tropes from other genres. Often the resulting mash-up is so much more than you’d expect it to be.
Like in Hazard, the first book of the West Hell Magic series by Devon Monk. I love hockey romance, and I love paranormal and urban fantasy featuring wizards and shifters. Devon Monk takes those two things and combines them into an engaging, joyful story about hockey and learning to love all of yourself. It was such a fun read.
Tap-Dancing the Minefields by Lyn Gala hit all of my nostalgia buttons for Buffy the Vampire Slayer…but then turned that nostalgia and its related expectations upside down. I love how Lyn Gala twists the “traditional” paranormal and urban fantasy demon-fighting trope with alien experiments.
What happens when you combine the surprise baby trope common in category romance with dragon shifters? You get a surprise clutch of eggs after a one-night stand—even more surprising because it’s a human male laying them. Clutch by Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly, is the first book in their Forbidden Desires series, and it’s just as fun and ridiculous as it sounds.
There are so many other great, trope-twisting stories out there, just waiting to be discovered! What are some of your favorites?
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About the Author:
Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.
Jenn is the author of a number of paranormal and science fiction romance titles, including the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (authored with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press.
She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeralibu/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/295814398039168/ (Jenn Burke’s Epic Adventurers)
Newsletter sign-up: http://bit.ly/jennburkenewsletter
Give Up the Ghost by Jenn Burke, out now!
The bigger they are, the harder they maul.
Immortal not-ghost Wes Cooper and his vampire partner, Hudson Rojas, have it all—rewarding private investigation work, great friends and, most important, a love that’s endured. But ever since Wes sent a demon screaming back to the beyond, his abilities have grown overpowering and overwhelming. He’s hiding the fact that he’s losing control the best he can, but it’s hard to keep anything a secret for long when your partner’s a former cop…and especially when your partner’s a former cop who wants to move in together.
When all hell literally breaks loose in Toronto and superstrength ghosts are unleashed on Wes and his friends, he and Hudson are thrown into a case unlike any they’ve seen before. To save the city, Wes needs to harness his new power…and find some answers. But when he gets them, the solution to fix it all could mean losing everything.