Genre Guide for Beginners: Chapter 1, Paranormal Romance

Posted May 15, 2017 by Suzanne in Reading on the Dark Side, Under the Covers / 48 Comments

Do you know what some of the most commonly asked questions are? Genre questions. Either asking us what genre a certain book or series is in, or what exactly is that genre. After spending so much time immersed in the world of romance, it has become second nature to instantly catergorise books into their respective genre, or sub-genre. Just a glance at the blurb, or even just the cover then I can tell you what genre it will be. Of course, not everything is black and white and not every book is so easy to label, but a majority are.

We have previously done a very concise guide about genres giving an overview of each, but we decided to take each genre and do a more general and indepth guide. In this, we will tell you the definition of the genre, what types of characters you may expect to see, popular troupes within a genre, some of our favourite authors and series within this genre. And anything else we can think of! By the end of the guide you should be able to tell what book is what and have a few recommendations to pick up.

The first chapter in this guide is *drum roll please*

Definition

Paranormal Romance (PNR) is a very broad category and several other genres can be combined within, to create a sort of Frankenstein’s monster of a genre. But, before I complicate it with exceptions, lets get down to the basics. What is PNR?

The Basics

A PNR can be defined as a romance that has paranormal elements and characters but is set in a recognisable world i.e. contemporary society. The PNR will have a main adult couple who by the end of the book will have a happily ever after (HEA).

But, lets drill down further into that definition, what is it I mean by “paranormal elements and characters”? Here are common elements you will find in a PNR:

  • Shifters
  • Vampires
  • Magic wielders such as witches, warlocks, mages etc
  • Demons
  • Angels
  • Fae
  • Gargoyles
  • Mermaids
  • Mythical warriors
  • Any other creature with paranormal features

Within a PNR you will find these types of characters or creatures. But, that isn’t enough. A book can have these things in it, but there are a few other essential requirements for it to be a PNR. One, the couple will be adults if they aren’t then this is another genre. Two, there will be a HEA at the end of the book, if there isn’t a HEA this is a different genre.

If you still aren’t sure ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are any of the main characters or does any aspect of the world the author has created contain any paranormal creatures or magic?

  2. Is it set in a modern recognisable world (apart from any of the PNR elements above)?

  3. Would you consider the central couple adults?

  4. Is there a HEA at the end of the book between the two main characters?

If all the answers to those questions are yes, you have yourself a PNR. If they aren’t, you probably have another genre, maybe fantasy, urban fantasy or young adult to name a few.

Exceptions

Like all things in life, there are exceptions. You might find yourself in Georgian London hunted by a sexy vampire, in which case is this a historical romance or a PNR? This is when those Frankensteinesque genres come into play, a paranormal historical romance is such a mouthful. At this point it comes to a matter of personal taste, do you think paranormal or the historical element is stronger? It’s a subjective choice.

Another example of an exception, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series, in which it’s a 4 book series featuring the same couple. It has all the elements of a PNR, except their HEA is stretched out over 4 books instead of concluding in one. Would I call this an urban fantasy or would I stick with PNR? Personally, in this case I would stick with PNR. The key word is romance, by the end of book 1 we know that they are a couple and that the main focus of the story is the couple’s romance. In an urban fantasy (which you will also be getting a guide on) the focus is more on the world building and (normally) one main protagonist, who may or may not form a romantic connection.

These are just a couple of examples of the exceptions you will find, most PNR is fairly obvious, but you do get a few. In those cases, just think about what are the important elements of this book? What makes it stand out? What are the strongest themes in the book? And apply a little common sense. Sometimes there is no right answer.

Characters you may meet…

PNR is a great genre, it has such a wide scope and can include so many different things from all realms of mythology and lore. It’s part of why we love it, you can open a PNR and read something you haven’t encountered before. But, of course there are those characters that make an appearance regularly in PNR, authors just can’t seem to help themselves and our enjoyment of these characters seems to be limitless

The Tall, Dark and Broody One

This guy, he’s a bit of a whore, he gets around all the genres and spreads the love to a lot of heroines. In PNR though, Mr D&B normally has a set of fangs, likes to linger in the shadows – which is great, it fits his image – and his mysterious past will span centuries. No matter how much we poke fun at him though, none of us can resist his smouldering eyes, hard body and the pain he hides just beneath the surface. Of all those aspects though, it’s the last one we can’t resist. We just want to heal all his past hurts. Turns out, all he needs is the love of a good woman and sex. Lots and lots of sex.

 

The Mythical Warrior

This one can be either male or female, but I’m thinking about the male version as I write this. With more big guns and / or swords than he could possibly need, even with his extended lifespan, you begin to wonder what he’s compensating for. Turns out, nothing. He is compensating for nothing. This rough mouthed alpha male captures our hearts with his fierce and protective nature, his battle scarred body and unexpected tenderness.

 

The Newbie

Again, this can be male or female, but in general, it will be a woman. The Newbie is the normal gal who has been transported from her normal life and thrust right into a paranormal world she knew nothing about. It could be because of a past ancestor who kindly bequeathed her something in her genetics, could be she caught the eye (or nose) of the hero and is destined to be his one true love. Whatever the circumstances, she enters in wide eyed uncertainty into a world she never imagined existed. Luckily she normally has a sexy as hell hero to help guide her way.

 

The Alpha

This may be a little too broad, as it could describe every hero ever written, but when I say this in a PNR context, I don’t just mean an alpha male, I mean the Alpha. Capital A. He’s the man in charge, the one who controls the pack of other alpha males (lowercase a) and in general just commands you’re attention. He doesn’t have to be a shifter type of Alpha, he could be the leader of a band of warriors, head of a vampire clan or the only thing between the world and a realm of demons. Whatever he is, when your heroine looks at him, she knows exactly who will be on top.

 

The Evil One

He’s done bad things to good people. He may have even relished it, he may even still relish it. He’s the ultimate bad boy. Maybe he was a former evil overlord or a demon who loves his job, either way, he’s exactly the kind of man your mother always warned you about. But, there’s always that hint of goodness, that small thing about him that redeems him from his evil past. Maybe he regrets it, learnt the error of his ways, maybe he volunteers at animal shelters between spreading chaos and mayhem, maybe he saved your life and you have reached down into his pitch black soul and lit him up like a Christmas tree and now his only goal in life is to be worthy of you. Whatever it is that allows us to see past that evil shell, we can’t seem to resist the bad boy.

Popular troupes and themes

Troupes span across romance and will pop up in all genres. But you do get the troupes that have almost a symbiotic relationship with a genre. So although, in all likelihood you will find every troupe known to man if you read enough PNR, these are the ones that you tend to come across the most frequently:

Fated to be Mated

Love at first sniff is normally how I think of this troupe and you can’t swing a cat (a shifter cat) in PNR without coming across PNR’s very special version of insta-love. A hero and heroine meet BOOM something clicks in place, shifts, some kind of missing part of their souls will align and there you have it. It’s their fated mate. The only person in existence that they can truly love, and in some cases have children with. This is especially prevalent in shifter based books, but you can find it all over PNR.

Why UTC loves Paranormal Romances

For a lot of us here at UTC PNR is what got us so addicted to romance. It was our gateway drug so to speak. For that reason it holds a special place in our hearts. But aside from nostalgia, there are other reasons why we love it. PNR holds such a berth of possibilities! Your imagination is the limit, you can call forth creatures from all different types of lore or make up your own. And, on top of that you get a romance as well. A romance that sweeps you away from the mundane and in to a world that can be populated by any number of strange, scary and wonderful things. We just can’t get enough!

UTC Required Reading List

*rubs hands together* We view all these series as required reading for you to fully immerse yourself into the PNR genre. If this is a series – which, generally it is – then we will add the first book of that series ready for you to make a start.

What are your favorite paranormal romances?

 

We are celebrating our 6-year Blog Anniversary this month!!!
*throws confetti*

We want to thank you for years of support and hope that we can bring you more hours of good reading in the future.  And what better way to celebrate than with a giveaway??  Stay tuned this week because we will have a new giveaway bundle up for grabs!  Giveaways will be open until the end of the month. 😉

Bundle # 1

You will receive the books pictured below (at least one is signed!) as well as a UTC t-shirt and some book swag.
This is open internationally!


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Suzanne
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Suzanne

Blogger/Reviewer at Under the Covers Book Blog
Gosh, we all seem to be admitting our ages…and I hate that I am at the point in life when admitting my age is a “thing”…whodda thunk it? I was kind of hoping I would remain 21 forever. However, I have moved out of that New Adult stage of my life and am now strictly in the Contemporary Romance age zone of 28. I would prefer to be in an Urban Fantasy arena, but I don’t think I own enough black leather. However, I could probably squeeze into some PNR, I am fully prepared to give a horn job to my favourite demon, or suck on my sexy vamps…fangs and I am definitely up for some heavy petting with some fine looking shifters. Than again their’s always Sci Fi…I am fully prepared to do the right thing and help some poor alien race with more 6 packs than a supermarket repopulate their planet. Not that I am loose woman or anything.

Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?
Suzanne
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Tammy V
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Tammy V

I like Kresley Cole’s romantic paranormal series. Also I love Mafi’s Shatter Me series and lucky me more are coming out!

Fran Swarts
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Fran Swarts

I love vampires for my romance.

Bube
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Bube

Happy Blog Anniversary UTC!
Best wishes for many more great and wonderful blogging years ahead!
You are one of the BEST! 🙂
My favorite is Dark Hunter Universe by Sherrilyn Kenyon 🙂

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Thank you so much!! <3

Bube
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Bube

My pleasure,welcome from the heart <3! 🙂

Magdalena
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Magdalena

Conversion by S.C. Stephens

Ginelle
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Ginelle

I love PNR 🙂 Started with Anne Rice (although, I wouldn’t consider her romance…not too much anyway.) back in hs…more than 20 years ago 🙂

Lisa Ward
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Lisa Ward

Love paranormal romance..
The Werewolf Bodyguard by Camryn Rhys
And
It’s a series

Deborah Kelly
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Deborah Kelly

I love Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series!

Federica P
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Federica P

Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series

Amy R
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Amy R

Shelly Laurenston’s Pride and Magnus series are one of my top favorites. But I love Suzanne Wright and Kristen Ashley’s PNR a close 2nd.

Marianne W
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Marianne W

I love Chloe Neill, Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter, and Karen Marie Moning!

miki
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miki

i love the guild hunter series by Nalini singh or the penton series by susannah sandlin

Cynthia N
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Cynthia N

Hands down, BDB by JR Ward! I’d give Kresley Cole’s series a very close second.

Great post today and very thorough info on the PNR genre. My love of the vamp started as a very, very young girl watching the original broadcasts of Dark Shadows.

Congratulations on your anniversary! I’m looking forward to many more.

Andra
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Andra

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison and A Hunger Like No Other and Lothaire by Kresley Cole.

Kathleen Bylsma
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Kathleen Bylsma

Great authors!

Latifa Morrisette
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Latifa Morrisette

I absolutely love The Guild Hunter Series and The Psy/Changeling Series by Nalini Singh

Milena
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Milena

My recent favorite PNR is Dating the Undead by Juliet Lyons

Carissa R.
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Carissa R.

vampire academy or BDB

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

Sherrilyn kenyon, early j r ward

Laura Lovejoy-Brunk
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Laura Lovejoy-Brunk

Oh course BDB. I adore Darynda Jones Grave series. Any thing Kresley Cole writes or Lora Leigh’s Breed series. Currently reading Dianna Love ‘s Beledor series

EMELY ALAYO
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EMELY ALAYO

I love romance, although it’s not my ultimate favorite genre, I still enjoy some PNR books every now and then. I’ve read some Sherrilyn Kenyon and Larissa Ione books which somewhat seems similar to me. Maybe I’ll try JR Ward next time.
I’m loving this guide. It’s very informative. Thank you

Chris Alexander
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Chris Alexander

I call them PNR light, but I like Amanda Quick’s Arcane Society novels. Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series is great, too. I do have some UF slotted into my PNR shelf, but it works for me. I’ve been enjoying Darynda Jones. I have to mention the Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson series. They helped get me into PNR. Also, Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld is absolutely fabulous. Rachel Vincent’s Shifters series is great, but even she prefers the UF label.

Betul E.
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Betul E.

Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones & The Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian

Sue G.
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Sue G.

It’s cheesy, but the Twilight series. I got away from reading because I had small kids and when my oldest started reading the Twilight series and couldn’t put it down, I picked it up one night and was hooked. It took you back to your first love. Is it the best books I’ve ever read, no, but it brought me back to reading again! Happy 6th Blogversary!

Elena
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Elena

I haven’t read any paranormal novels, but I’m planning to!

Elena
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Elena

I’ve read TOuch by Jus Accardo and I really liked it

Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict
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Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict

I think you wrapped up my PNR favorites in your recs! Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series too. I need to try Thea Harrison and Shelly Laurenston. I love Shelly’s Call of Crows series, but I really want to read the Pride series.

Didi
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Didi

Thanks for this post! So many PNR romance series to catch up on. Among mine used to be JR Ward’s BDB and Karen Moning’s Fever series. Now the list includes Jordan Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin and KJ Charles the Magpie Lord series.

Timitra
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Timitra

Some of my faves are the Leopard People series by Christine Feehan, her Carpathian series as well as her Drake Sisters series, A few of the Breeds series by Lora Leigh, a few of the BDB books by JR Ward….

Aliyah
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Aliyah

Ahh, so hard to pick one. I think Ilona Andrews’ books are my go to books when I’m grumpy.

Trix
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Trix

Tara Lain’s Aloysius Series and Tales of the Harker Pack are really fun, and so is Mary Hughes’ Biting Love series!

Joanne B
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Joanne B

Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series, and Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series.

Maria Passia
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Maria Passia

Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost!

Anita H.
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Anita H.

Happy Blogversary UTC! My favorite paranormal series are Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld and Pamela Palmer’s Feral Warriors.

Amy Ryan
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Amy Ryan

Oh that’s such a tough choice! Top 5? Lol 1. Jeaniene Frost Night Huntress novels 2. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrew 3. Nalini Singh Guild Hunter novels & Psy-Changeling 4. Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires 5. Every Christine Feehan PNR series!

Texas Book Lover
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Texas Book Lover

I love all the ones you mentioned plus another one I love is Vampires In America series by Db Reynolds.

Artemis Giote
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Artemis Giote

Love your post!!!!
My favorite paranormal romance is The mortal instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

Barbara B
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Barbara B

Love Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling Books!

Jennifer Schaber
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Jennifer Schaber

I don’t read many but seem to steer towards shifters. I like Jessie Lane – probably because she was my first.

Irma
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Irma

So far it’s the Lux series (still :). Thank you for the giveaway.

Chris Bails
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Chris Bails

for me it is a tie between Jeaniene Frost and Laurell K Hamilton. love cat & bones and anita blake and her men

lea
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lea

Mad world series by Christine Zolendz

Mess
Guest
Mess

Some awesome samples of PNR.

Trinidad Lara
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Trinidad Lara

Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series

Ada
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Ada

I just can’t get enough of The Lords of The Underworld by Gena Showalter!

Rachel King
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Rachel King

Sherrilyn Kenyon is currently my favorite PNR author!

Kimberly Curington
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Kimberly Curington

Huge fan of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series!