The Birth of Paranormal Romance
Halloween is in the air. The scent of bonfires, apple cider, fallen leaves…and pumpkin spice fill the cool, crisp air with spicy aromas.
The days are short and the nights are long. What better way to fill those long chilly nights than reading?
I read paranormal romances all year long but I really look for paranormals to get me in the Halloween spirit. Bonus if they have a Halloween theme.
I grew up reading paranormal books, anything I could find that had some kind of spooky element to it. As long as I can remember there have been books with ghosts, witches, and vampires, but they were lumped into general categories and often hard to find at the library. I had to look at covers, read descriptions and sometimes opt for the help of a good librarian to really find the good stuff.
Which makes me wonder, when did the paranormal romance genre become a thing? Like an actual label and genre that stood by itself?
Tammie and I were discussing it one day over a Generation X/Y Millenial/Xenial post on Facebook. Both of us were born in 1976 and never totally fit into the Gen X label we were shoved into. But Gen Y wasn’t us either. Pieces of each and some things that weren’t either category. We’re definitely too old to be millenials though some charts shove us into that category (which is what Gen Y became) since we were in our young twenties at the start of the new millennia. Essentially we’re the lost ones.
A new term has sprouted, Xenial. “Xennials are typically classified as those being born between 1977 and 1985. They’re a microgeneration that copes with the clash between Gen-X’s cynicism and Millennial optimism.” Much of the xenial description fits but I still have some Gen X in me, too, mostly things regarding culture and memories (Star Wars, payphones, etc) so I continue to straddle the lines unable to be stuck into any category.
Our generational discussion turned to books. Is our generation responsible for the rise of paranormal romance genre? Growing up I devoured Gothic Romances and Horror…and books that blurred those lines. Like Anne Rice.
In the mid-90s I subscribed to a mail order book club and received Silhouette Shadows every month- romances that were darker. Most were paranormal. But they were still labeled as romances. Not paranormal romances. I still have a few. These were on my shelf but I have more packed away in my basement somewhere.
Kiersten Fay has an info graphic on her site detailing paranormal romance- honoring things such as the birth of the first Gothic novel in 1764, Dracula in 1897, and Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire in 1976 (she dated it as 1973 which is wrong). But still no solid date for PNR.
Marilynn Byerly’s Brief History of Paranormal Romance cites THE IVORY KEY by Rita Clay Estrada published in 1987 as being the first supernatural creature as a romantic partner to appear in a category romance (Harlequin/Silhouete).
In 1992, the Romance Writers of America added a "Futuristic/Fantasy/Paranormal" category to its RITA (Romance Is Treasured Always) Awards.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit the TV screen in 1997 and that is considered to be the starting point of the golden age of paranormal romances.
By 2005 paranormal and urban fantasy romances were showing up everywhere. When the Kindle was launched in 2007 the paranormal romance market really boomed.
Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre, 2nd Edition By Kristin Ramsdell (published in 2012) has an extensive section on romance sub genres but the book seems to be out of print and is very expensive. It is listed as a textbook so a professor is probably using it for a class and that’s why the price has jumped so high. In the book Ramsdell speaks of paranormal, urban fantasy, time travel, etc. as Alternative Reality Romances. She keeps fantasy in a separate section and describes it as romances pulling heavily from fairy tales, myths, and legends that often include magical and mystical elements. I would love to get my hands on a copy of this book. My library doesn’t even have one :(.
So I still have no solid date for the PNR label though it seems to have been born in the mid to late 90s. Whenever it happened, I’m glad it did.
Now there are so many amazing books in the genre, with new ones being released every month, I’ll never get to them all.
This month’s list has so many I want to read. What about you?
Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel Book 1) by Jeaniene Frost
Shadow and Ice (Gods of War Book 1) by Gena Showalter
Year One (Chronicles of the One Book 1) by Nora Roberts
The Secret She Keeps by Kathy Lyons, Shannon K. Butcher, Terri L. Austin, Anna Argent
Covert Game by Christine Feehan
A Brush With Fate (Lost Shards Book 2) by Anna Argent
Dragonfire (Dark Kings Book 14) by Donna Grant
Blood Bond (The Sentinel Wars Book 10) by Shannon K. Butcher
Miss Mated: BBW Paranormal Shape Shifter Romance (Raging Falls Book 4) by Milly Taiden
Darak: Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides #1 (Intergalactic Dating Agency) by Cara Bristol
Aton: Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides #2 (Intergalactic Dating Agency) by Cara Bristol
Lionheart (Moonshadow Book 3) by Thea Harrison
Sentinel of Darkness (Darkness Book 8) by Katie Reus
Obsessed with the Vampire: A Paranormal Romance (Vampire Enforcement Agency Book 2) by Kellie McAllen
Archangel's Prophecy (A Guild Hunter Novel) by Nalini Singh
Unbalanced: A Zodiac Shifters Paranormal Romance: Libra (Wylde Magick Book 3) by Ann Gimpel
What Goes Bump In The Night: A Halloween Paranormal Romance Anthology
The Monster Ball: A Paranormal Romance Anthology
Haunted Be the Holidays (Krewe of Hunters) Novella by Heather Graham
A Beary Christmas by Ariel Marie
Columnist Roxanne Rhoads: Story strumpet and tome loving tart...Roxanne Rhoads is a paranormal romance author, book publicist and owner of Bewitching Book Tours. Visit her at Roxanne's Realm and Bewitching Book Tours.
Read Past Monthly PNR Articles by Roxanne Rhoads