Random: lacking a definite plan, purpose or pattern.
I know nothing about romance novels, except for the 18th-century kind. And I know even less about paranormal romance, except for the fact that I have avoided anything Twilight-y like the plague.
Then why choose four random paranormal romance novels, you ask me?
Well, you see, I’m trying to write one. Maybe that choice was random too, who knows. Maybe because I like the idea of sex and supernatural beings, and that the requirements of the genre has already picked the ending for me. But in order to write a genre book, it’s strongly suggested that you read at least a few of them.
So in an effort to acquaint myself with the genre, I went to the library and borrowed four paranormal romance-looking books that were stuck in those rotating shelves reserved to popular paperbacks. What did I end up with?
My Wicked Vampire by Nina Bangs
Why I chose it: Okay, so the title has the words “wicked” and “vampire” and the cover has a rather pale lady with many ear piercings (ooh! a rebel!) and dark red lips, making the whole vaguely erotic. I imagine that’s pretty typical, but I found it attractive enough to pick up.
I don’t think that this book will make it into my hall of fame of best books ever, but it was… entertaining. It certainly taught me about the lengths to which implausibility is stretched in the paranormal romance world.
“So, here’s the deal. Yes, vampires do exist, along with lots of other nonhumans. Edge and I are cosmic troublemakers. My specialty is creating sexual chaos throughout the universe. Edge is the cosmic troublemaker in charge of death. You can guess what he does. Bain is a demon, and yes, Holgarth is a real wizard.” She held up her hand to stop Cinn from interrupting. “Let me finish.”
So, this is the world I’m walking into? Okay fine, I’ll play.
Cinn, the main character, is a botanist who makes… special… plants. Telepathic plants, plants that make you fall in love, plants that grow off of sex and not water and sun. Let me repeat: telepathic plants, and plants that sacrifice themselves out of love.
I am serious.
Aside from the ridiculous plot (the goddess of medicinal plants is after Cinn because of her unnatural experiments), I found the heroine to be rather flat. She has not much of a personality aside from worrying about her plants and wanting to sleep with a vampire. It all felt a bit… I don’t know, too much, like the author had run out of ideas and simply put random ideas together to build her plot. It didn’t quite hold water for me, even from an internal perspective. And I didn’t quite believe that a vampire like Dacian would actually fall in love with anyone. Sleep with Cinn? Sure. But I didn’t get his motivation for actually being emotionally attached to her.
Lessons learned: Don’t push the envelope too much. People can suspend their disbelief for vampires and wizards, but not for telepathic or self-sacrificial plants. Too much weird doesn’t make a book original; it just makes it weird.
Dragon Warrior by Janet Chapman
Why I chose it: Look at the cover, then tell me you wouldn’t choose that book, either. Sure, it’s cheesy, but my, what a hunk. The title doesn’t tell me much, but the photo of a hot guy does. This promises to be steamy.
I found this book a definite improvement over Bang’s honestly ridiculous plot. The setting is real (a tiny rural town in Maine), the main character is certainly deeper, and the plot is more logical.
“Yeah, like I’d expose my sweet, innocent child to Killkenny. He was buck naked when he walked out of the library, Eve. But instead of having the decency to ask the paramedics for a blanket, he was more interested in threatening me.”
“Oh, will you get past that? I told you, William is not going to spank you.” Even arched a brow. “Likely because he knows you’d clean his clock if he tried.”
“Damn right I would.”
So our heroine, Maddy, is sassy and confident, a divorced mother and actually has standards. Good for her! The William Killkenny in question (the love interest, obviously) is, it seems, a 9th-century Irish warrior transformed into a dragon who found his way to Midnight Bay (the setting of the story) to ask a Scottish wizard (from 12th-century Scotland I believe) to transform him back into a human.
While there’s isn’t much in terms of plot (there’s a vague threat of wolves chasing Maddy and William at the most inconvenient times, and some Atlantian wizard who likes to steal other people’s girlfriends and transform into a tiger), there’s a lot in term of character–at least a lot more than with Ms. Bangs above. I actually liked Maddy, and William could hold his own, too (and we have something in common: we hate bras!). Some of the finer points of the story were a little hard to swallow, but they were of minimal importance considering that the focus here is Maddy letting herself fall in love again, and convincing William that he can do the same.
All things considered, this was an enjoyable romance; I might pick up the first and third books of the series (I know! Who reads the middle book of a trilogy!) to check out what happens with the other characters.
Lessons learned: Hunks are good. 9th-century Irish hunks who speak with a vague Elizabethan English vocabulary (rather than Gaelic) are better. And hunks with a vaguely archaic dialect who make their woman orgasm three times in their first erotic encounter? Why, the best, of course.
Coming up in Part 2: Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost and Courting Darkness by Yasmine Galenhorn.You've just read READ: Four Random Paranormal Romance Novels, Part 1 on Read, Write, Live by Anabelle. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!