By the time I hit my twenties, the romance market seemed to be changing. Those authors that I loved had done the unthinkable. Not only had they stopped writing historical and moved into contemporary romances, but they added in the suspense twist. Now, people were being murdered or chased and every heroine was a cop or in love with a cop. This was a far cry from a Highland Laird or a British Duke from the old days. One of the many authors that I depended on, Lynn Kurland, whose wonderful Medieval historicals made me laugh and cry had begun writing…. time travel. Not that I really knew for sure what the books were about or where they were set. All I knew was that it said “Paranormal” on the spine and that meant I wanted nothing to do with it. I wanted my knights in shining armor and my Lairds in kilts. The last thing I needed was a ghost drifting around or, god forbid, a vampire or werewolf. I was a history teacher and a serious reader. I didn’t read the “trash”, I told myself. I have standards!
For a few years, my books were along the lines of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson – light reading that didn’t depress me or require me to think too much with the myriad distractions. That was about the time that my kids became old enough to enjoy the library. I found myself there once a week and while they found books for themselves, I began taking out my old favorites and rereading them and rediscovering a love for romance novels. But after I reread all of them, the same dilemma hit. I had reread my favorites but I didn’t have anything new to read. The old historical weren’t enough to last me very long and the newer books just seemed to be rehashing of the same stories that I read in the classics. And not doing it as well as it was originally done. How many untitled women in Regency England were compromised by young, single Dukes who were rakes that eventually fell in love with the ingénue? I mean come on! The suspension of disbelief became too much for me to handle. Eventually the same old story line got ...well, old and I was in a tough spot. I wanted more to read, but couldn’t find anything to read. That was when it happened….
The first paranormal that I read was a Lynn Kurland. I realized that the “paranormal” on the spine didn’t mean that it was as off the wall as I thought. It was just a historical novel with a heroine from the present day. So I devoured them. And with my new Kindle, that meant I devoured them and moved on to the next one at 3 am sometimes! :) Soon, the idea of a family series became the draw. I didn’t have to say goodbye to characters at the end of the book – they would be back in the next one ('cause no one was beheaded for goodness sake!) And many times as the hero or the heroine. Soon I ran out of all Kurland’s historicals but there were these fantasy books… not my thing. I don’t need elves or trolls or magic – clearly I was a realist and didn’t think I would enjoy “those” types of books. But, as usually happens, a friend said –“ just read one. You will like it. I promise.” So I read the first of the Fantasy novels and realized it was just like a Medieval. There were elves, but no one had pointy ears – just magic. Beyond that, they drank ale, said “Aye”, and had all the chivalrous impulses I could want. And the magic gave the story a…magical twist! It enchanted me and soon I found more series in the Fantasy genre.
From Kurland’s Nine Kingdoms series I found others that were a little more fantastic. Ones with shapeshifting dragons like G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin and C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series with a shapeshifting Fae. Soon, my good friends at Amazon began directing me to books that I “might like”. While I didn’t take just Amazon’s word for it, I began using Google to search these books and see what they were about. Though I still wasn’t on board with the whole vampire/werewolf thing, I was on board with the idea of a series. And many of the series out there are the paranormal ones. Before long, I had read about the Black Dagger Brotherhood and heard all about a character named Zsadist that everyone simply swooned over. Though I still wasn’t on board with the idea of vampires, the characters were drawing me in and I took the plunge.
Well, the rest is, as they say – history. Now, I read a historical two or three times a month, but it is the paranormal series that I devour. Whether it be vampires, werewolves, or Atlantean gods, for me, they have more of the tone and substance that reminds me of the books I used to love than the one thousandth British country girl getting swept away by a handsome and wealthy Duke. And each series is unique. Whether it is Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark with the Valkyrie and the Scottish Werewolves, Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld with cursed Greek warriors who house a demon, or Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters who are saving the world from destruction, I get my fix of history and mythology without having to sacrifice the chivalry of the days of old. When you deal with millennia old heroes, they know more about chivalry than their Regency era counterparts. They lived through it and the depth of their experience and maturity make them irresistible to me. And if you think Anthony Bridgerton is a tortured male, who you just want to offer comfort, try a 1,500 year old werewolf who has spent his whole life searching for his one true mate – only to find her and realize fate has given him his most reviled enemy. That is a male that is tortured.
I know that some of you may think like I did – who wants all that darkness and ickiness? I can promise you that it isn’t all misery and pain. A lot of the appeal of the Regency romances is the light heartedness. I understand that. I like that too and that is why I can always be counted on to read a few a month. But there are series with the same lightheartedness as a Regency. Take, for example, the sex demons of Larissa Ione’s Demonica series. They are sex demons who don’t take themselves too seriously. They laugh at the fact that they have to have sex all the time. And since an ugly sex demon, if one was ever born, wouldn’t last long (since they need sex to survive and who is going to have sex three and four times a day with an ugly guy), you know these guys are hot!
So there it is folks, my confession, my journey, the way I ended up where I am! I know that many of you have said – oh, I just skip over the paranormal reviews, they aren’t my thing. Sigh. I understand – I really do! I was once the same and would have said the exact same thing. But one day, when the reformed rake has once again put the innocent debutante in a compromising position and the Earl and the Countess leave you feeling wanting… pick up a paranormal and see if you can’t find what you are looking for there. Any of the series mentioned in this article is one I would stand behind one hundred percent as the best of the best. You may be surprised at how quickly you discover something that was right in front of you the whole time, but you didn’t even know you were looking for!