Paranormal Romance

Beyond Sexy Vampires: SE-RART Discusses Paranormal Romance

The Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable met at the Norwell Public Library yesterday [Feb. 3, 2016] to discuss paranormal romance, before we move on to women’s fiction in April. Thank you to Becky Freer for providing the meeting space and great refreshments!

We began the meeting with announcements:

heart17MLS Readers’ Advisory LibGuide has links to RA-related webinars such as Genre Overviews:
Genres That Appeal to the Emotions by Joyce Saricks, and
Genre Blends by Megan McArdle, who wrote The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Blends,the book that most of our readings for today came from.

heart17NoveList is offering a free webinar, Romancing the Book Club, Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. “Romance readers are among libraries’ greatest patrons, but the romance genre is often overlooked as a choice for book clubs.” Even if you can’t attend, register to receive an emailed link to the recorded webinar! (Thanks, Susan!)

heart17The Norwell Public Library invites everyone to their Norwell Reads 2016 events. (Note: The town of Norwell is reading The Martian by Andy Weir, not a paranormal romance.)


We talked about romance in general, in a discussion led by Miki, who asked how the group felt about the romance genre after reading contemporary, historical, and now paranormal romances, some for the first time.

Many felt that doing the genre study was an eye-opener and were surprised by how much they enjoyed exploring the genre. One confirmed romance-hater – whom we will call A. (or T.) – said that her feelings about romance being too much about the romance at the expense of plot were confirmed by all three of the benchmark titles, but that enjoyed exploring the subgenres through the second titles where she could find ones that appealed more to her. Gail mentioned that the genre study helped her with collection development, making her more familiar with romance authors and series. Miki brought up how popular romance ebooks of all types are in OverDrive.

Then we delved into paranormal romance in particular, and talked about how the fantasy element of romance in general is even more pronounced in paranormal romance. “Men understand you and you don’t even have to talk because you have this psychic connection. How much of a fantasy is that?” (Antonia)

We talked about the indistinct line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance (You can’t always tell by the cover which is which) and pored over this Genrefy chart by Megan McArdle placing popular titles where they fall on the paranormal romance/urban fantasy scale.

heart17 Click here for the February meeting agenda with the complete list of RA-related readings.

Moving on to talk about about Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon, our benchmark title, the group found it to be a good example of paranormal fiction, in that the main characters (Tabitha and Val) had that necessary instant and unique chemistry (Becky) – recognizable even before the amazing first kiss – and “more than their share of conflict” ((Maggie), while the book was fast-paced, action-packed, and fit the romance pattern in other ways also. Most of the group enjoyed the author’s use of humorous banter to lighten the overall dark tone.

Sieze the Night

From the author’s Web site:
“In the world of the Dark-Hunters nothing is ever as it seems. Life and death both take on a whole new meaning as this immortal cadre of warriors fight to protect mankind from those creatures and demons who would prey on us. It’s dark. It’s deadly and it’s a whole lot of fun and laughter.”

Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Tone/Mood – The tone in paranormal romance may be dark and dangerous, “even though the conclusion provides the requisite happy ending.” (Joyce Saricks) The dark tone in Seize the Night is somewhat lightened by humor –often dark humor.

Characters – Flawed/scarred main characters / Full cast of secondary characters / Characters fit the romance pattern: Strong, smart, independent women and strong, distant, dangerous men. (“Conquering a gentle, affectionate, mild-mannered, sensible hero simply is not as satisfying, either for the heroine or for the reader.” – Joyce Saricks)

“Paranormal romance is where the alpha males really tend to come out and play.” (Megan McArdle)

“Romance can also emphasize the humanity of any supernatural characters.” (Megan McArdle)

Story Line – Forbidden Love (Val – as a Dark-Hunter not allowed a relationship with a human, and even if it were, Tabitha last woman on the planet he could have, etc., Seize the Night, p. 63) Unique Love (Val has never experienced a woman like Tabitha in all of his 2,000 years, etc.), ongoing fight good vs. evil

Frame/Setting – Frame: Paranormal romances feature supernatural and magical elements. Setting: New Orleans

Pacing – Action-packed, fast-paced (except in bed)

Style/Language – The group felt that the prologue set the romantic tone for the book. “One can identify a Romance in the first few pages, just by observing the way a story is constructed and the language used.” (The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, p. 137)

Seize the Night fell about midway on the chart of Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance. Despite the copious good vs. evil fight scenes and the numerous tragic deaths of innocents, true love – especially human Tabitha and Dark-Hunter Val – is definitely the main focus of the story.

Remember to add your second titles to the blog!

heart17 Paranormal romance titles we heard about at the meeting:

Susan – Heart of the Dragon (Atlantis, #1) by Gena Showalter

Paula – Unseen (Krewe of Hunters, #5) by Heather Graham

Amy – The Hot Zone (Rainshadow, #3) by Jayne Ann Castle

Maggie – HeartMate (Celta’s HeartMates, #1) by Robin Owens

Becky – Undead and Unwed (Undead, #1) by MaryJanice Davidson

Jessie – The Parasol Protectorate series (Soulless, #1) by Gail Carriger

Eileen – Succubus Blues (Georgia Kincaid, #1) by Richelle Mead

Laurie – Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1) by Nalini Singh

Miki – Half-Moon Hollow books by Molly Harper
(Nice Girls series and Naked Werewolf series)

Miki – Night Huntress (Cat and Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost

Antonia – The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair

Carol – Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Gail – Casting Spells (Sugar Maple, #1) by Barbara Bretton

heart17 Resources mentioned at the meeting:

NPR’s Happy Ever After: 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances (July 2015) – also the link to a spreadsheet created from this list by a librarian listener.

MLS Readers’ Advisory LibGuide

1) RA guides (Sign up for email updates for new guides tagged “reader’s advisory”)

2) 5 in 15 Booktalks on Historical (June 2015) and Contemporary Romance (March 2015)

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Romance Junkies

Print resources to borrow from the library:

Romantic Times (periodical)

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

Thanks to all for your participation! Please sign up to receive an email when this blog is updated, if you haven’t already.

New members are always welcome!


Seize the Night

SE-RART Meeting, February 3rd: Paranormal Romance

Don’t miss the  first Southeastern MA Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) meeting of the new year! (Register here).

The meeting is Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016, 10 – Noon at the Norwell Public Library, 64 South St, Norwell. We will be continuing with our  year-long study of the Romance and Women’s Fiction genres, with this month’s topic being the Paranormal Romance subgenre.

Everyone attending should read the benchmark title —Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon — as well as a second title in the Paranormal Romance subgenre, and be ready to talk briefly about the benchmark title and your second title in terms of appeal factors: story, characters,tone, style, and pace.

We will read an excerpt from Megan McArdle’s book, The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Genre Blends, for this month’s meeting. In addition, online readings for our Paranormal Romance discussion are:

1) A wrap-up read from Library Journal, as we finish the Romance section of our Roundtable this year

2) And a neat chart from Genrefy on paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy

Registered participants will be emailed the complete list of readings prior to the meeting. Need some ideas for your second title? Check out some Paranormal Romance titles, thanks to Cynthia Orr and Diana Tixier Herald’s excellent book Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2013).

This Southeast Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) is open to all in the aoutheastern Mass. library community. Please register for the SE-RART on the Massachusetts Library System website. We plan to meet every other month, October through June — always on Wednesday — so feel free to register for any that you can attend. You don’t have to commit to attending all of the meetings to join the group! All the 2015-6 dates are on MLS Workshop Registration calendar and on the blog.

The SE-RART group is in its second year, and we’re all learning as we go. Hope to see you on the 3rd, and don’t forget to register!

The snow date for the February meeting is Feb. 10.