Tag Archive | "paranormal-romance"

Defining Genre: Not Quite Paranormal Romance

Posted on August 6, 2009 by

Last week, I talked about the paranormal romance novels that are easy to identify. So, what about paranormal novels that have lots of romance in them but don’t follow the category formula? Or what about novels that sort of follow the formula but have really deep world-building and a plot that reads more like an urban fantasy novel? Some paranormal romances read like romances with paranormal elements slapped on for fun, and others read like serious works of urban fantasy with a romance formula moving beneath the surface. Those are the cases where it’s harder to tell what you’re reading.

I struggled with Meljean Brook’s “The Guardians” series when I first read it because the world building was much deeper than paranormal romances I’d read before, and while the hero and heroine go through the usual pattern, there’s so much at stake in the series that the couple getting together doesn’t necessarily promise an HEA. The whole series also has a larger overarching plot that thickens with each episode, instead of getting closer to a resolution.


Defining Genre: Paranormal Romance

Posted on July 27, 2009 by

Matt and I have been talking for a long time about me doing a column here at Flames Rising about different forms of urban fantasy. How can you tell if something is a paranormal romance vs. a true urban fantasy novel (and when it’s just vampire smut)? When is urban fantasy contemporary instead of urban (or is that term out the window)? Are superhero novels actually UF, or are they a different category all together?

The more I read other people writing about defining the subgenres, the more I think that no one actually knows a real, clear cut answer. Until we get more academic papers about the history of urban fantasy and all of its bits and pieces, it’s going to stay amorphous. (And even then, how many UF fans will read the papers on the subject? I’m not sure I will.) But sometimes the subgenre terms can be useful — or, at least, thinking about genre in specific ways can help navigate the genre terrain.


Amazon Ink Fiction Review

Posted on July 17, 2009 by

Primarily set in the city of Madison, Wisconsin, Amazon Ink is an urban fantasy novel where the fabled race of Amazonian women exist. Part of Amazon Ink‘s appeal, for me, was the way Lori Devoti handled the legend of the Amazon warrior women in today’s society.

The main character is named Melanippe Saka, who lives with her mother, grandmother and daughter. Although her daughter hasn’t been acclimated into the Amazonian tribe with its curious-yet-permanent encampments, both her mother and priestess grandmother have different roles that conflict with Melanippe’s ousted status. From the first chapter, you can tell that Melanippe is something of a rebel, which adds quite a bit of conflict when a dead, college-aged girl shows up on her doorstep.


Eve of Darkness Review

Posted on January 16, 2009 by

I’m not entirely sure why Eve was Marked. Since sinners are drafted to kill demons, her sin must be…rooting Reed in the stairwell after they just met, and maybe didn’t know each other’s names. I’m not quite clear on that, or maybe because she “tempted” both brothers. I must have forgotten this detail, or it wasn’t explained well enough, which is a problem when your protagonist is a “chosen one” – readers want to know why.

The series concept seems so obvious in hindsight, it’s actually a surprise that no one thought to do it before. The author’s angels and demons are well-crafted and original, as is the world-building. But then when witches and werewolves come into the picture…it seems a bit kitchen sink.

Review by Tez Miller


Undead on Arrival Fiction Review

Posted on January 7, 2009 by

There’s a war brewing between Shadow Wolves and Werewolves in L. A. Banks’ Undead on Arrival.

Genetics, the military and the paranormal all feature in this third instalment of the Crimson Moon series. Newcomers will easily get lost trying to figure out the differences between clans and packs, Shadow Wolves and Werewolves, and who’s related to whom. In addition, some characters have different names for their different forms (human and wolf), and others are simply referred to as “Hunter’s mother” or “Shogun’s mother”. And since relations are a big issue here, this is rather confusing.

Review by Tez Miller


Personal Demons Fiction Review

Posted on December 23, 2008 by

It starts with an ill conceived radio show. Megan Chase is a respected psychologist, as well as a psychic who uses her talents to help her patients without their knowledge. In order to stop a colleague whose practices she despises from becoming the psychology voice of radio, Megan takes a job as a radio host, which advertises her as a demon slayer. Understandably enough, the personal demons–small demons that encourage people to make bad choices and commit crimes–are a little threatened by what they view of as a declaration of war. But Megan is unaware of the world of demons, beyond her own psychic abilities, and so when she is approached by a mysterious (and sexy) figure who offers her help, she doesn’t know why she’ll need it, or why she should trust him. As it turns out, mysterious and sexy is Greyson Dante, who is also a demon, but is determined to keep Megan safe, whether she wants his help or not.

Review by Alana Abbott


The Darkest Kiss Fiction Review

Posted on December 15, 2008 by

Riley Jenson hunts down two serial killers, in Keri Arthur’s The Darkest Kiss.

One of the murderers is targeting Melbourne’s rich and powerful; including the infamous Toorak Trollops (they’re not prostitutes, just skanks). The other murderer is hitting closer to Riley. All their security systems can’t save the high society types from gruesome deaths. Among the charity functions and whatnot, I almost expected Lillian Frank to pop up and spout something about polo.

Instead, we get Quinn O’Conor, the vampire Riley was emoing over in the previous novel, Embraced by Darkness. Their relationship seems rather superficial, so why they seem so tied to one another, I don’t quite understand. But Riley’s relationships have never been a series drawcard for me: the mysteries are.


Embraced by Darkness Fiction Review

Posted on December 5, 2008 by

Riley Jenson needs all her supernatural abilities to hunt down a particularly eerie serial killer, in Keri Arthur’s Embraced by Darkness.

Riley Jenson is one of the Directorate of Other Races’ guardians, trained to hunt and destroy her prey. With both vampire and werewolf genes, she is mostly werewolf, but has a host of other paranormal skills: she can switch her vision to infrared, is clairvoyant, and can wrap shadows around herself. Mixing searching for a missing pack member and investigating recent serial murders, Riley’s on the hunt.

Review by Tez Miller


Living with the Dead Fiction Review

Posted on November 25, 2008 by

An innocent human learns of the supernatural amongst us in Kelley Armstrong’s Living with the Dead.

Robyn Peltier’s client has been killed, and she’s being set up for murder. Still recovering from her husband’s death, the last thing she needs is her pal Hope Adams and her guy Karl Marsten parading their coupleness in her face, but they’re the only ones who have insight into who the murderer really is…and with whom she’s in cahoots.

But Robyn doesn’t know that Hope is a half-demon and Karl is a werewolf. And when she does find out, Hope and Karl are less than civil to her.


The Chosen Sin Fiction Review

Posted on October 22, 2008 by

Vampires in space make for a bizarre but intriguing read in Anya Bast’s futuristic/paranormal/erotic romance mash-up.

Circa a thousand years from now, The Chosen Sin is mostly set on the desert planet, Darpong. Earth-born Daria Moran is an Allied Bureau of Investigation agent whose mission in life – both personal and professional – is to bring down Christopher Sante, who killed Daria’s best friend, and others, and may be guilty of other ghastly deeds.

But in order to infiltrate Sante’s vampire commune, Daria has to become Chosen – and Alejandro Martinez will Choose her.

Review by Tez Miller


Key to Conflict Fiction Review

Posted on October 9, 2008 by

Welcome to the Gillian Key Admiration Society–that is, if you’re male, paranormal, and exquisitely handsome, as all the men in Talia Gryphon’s Key to Conflict seem to be. From ghosts to vampires to werewolves and dark elves, everyone wants to get retired marine and paramortal psychologist Gillian Key into their bed. Some of them succeed, to a greater or lesser degree (the ghost having to resort to sleeping with her in incredibly erotic dreams, so she won’t know she’s being screwed, if you can forgive the pun–and the forced-love aspect of the novel). While there’s also a plot, it doesn’t really pick up until page 227 of 325, when we meet Gillian’s old marine special ops unit, who gather to rescue a kidnapped vampire. The first 227 pages set up the world in a somewhat haphazard fashion: paramortals went public twenty years ago. Or they were creatures of legend up until the Human-Paramortal War a few years ago.

Review by Alana Abbott


Awaken Me Darkly Fiction Review

Posted on October 1, 2008 by

Fascinating world-building and a unique serial killer make Gena Showalter’s Awaken Me Darkly an engrossing read.

In New Chicago, Mia Snow works for Alien Investigation and Removal, hunting out predators and protecting humans. Not every alien is evil, but the ones who are keep Mia in business. The latest serial killer’s identity has been narrowed down to one of the Arcadian females, and on the chase Mia’s partner is near-deathly wounded. To survive, he needs special blood, and the only provider is the brother of the case’s lead suspect. Kyrin en Arr’s ultimatum is to set his sister free, or else he won’t keep Mia’s partner alive, but letting loose the most likely serial killer is hardly ideal for Mia.

Review by Tez Miller


Taste of Night Fiction Review

Posted on August 20, 2008 by

Science and magic come together to decimate Las Vegas’s population in the second volume of the Signs of the Zodiac series.

Joanna Archer is still living a double life as a superhero and a socialite heiress, going under her sister Olivia’s name. But someone else knows her as Joanna: a Shadow initiate whose metamorphosis isn’t far away. Regan DuPree seems both a helper and a hindrance, and Jo trusts her when she probably shouldn’t. As a result, she unintentionally spreads the deadly virus that the Tupla let loose, and things worsen from there.

Review by Tez Miller


Scent of Shadows Fiction Review

Posted on August 11, 2008 by

Vicki Pettersson brings fresh ideas, deep psychology and Las Vegas’s underbelly in this flashy first volume in the Signs of the Zodiac series.

Since her almost-deadly assault about nine years ago, Joanna Archer has been tough and hard, with an empty façade that keeps even her nearest and dearest away. A blind date ends in violence and death, and Jo’s not just an innocent bystander. Turning twenty-five has awakened powers that have made her a target of the warring Zodiac factions, Light and Shadow. With a parent from each faction, Jo could go either way, and though she chooses to align with the Light, a traitor walks among the troop and exposes them all to the Shadow agents…including Jo’s father.

Review by Tez Miller


A.W. Gryphon “Witchcraft, Magick, and Tackling The Unknown”

Posted on August 4, 2008 by

So far our horror design essays have featured creators of horror role-playing games talking about the development of new projects and the systems that went into those projects. We have more horror game design essays on the way over the next few weeks as well as other creators.

Today we are going to feature our first horror novel essay. Author A.W. Gryphon tells us about her novel, Blood Moon, as well as the challenges that went into writing that elusive first page.


Heroes Adrift Fiction Review

Posted on July 15, 2008 by

Normally I don’t like to read books in a series out of order–the exception being when I’m reviewing them. I’ve got a couple of second novels that I picked up still lingering on my bookshelves, waiting for me to pick up book one. So it always impresses me when a second or third entry in a series can pick up the story without making you feel like you’re adrift (if you’ll excuse the pun). Heroes Adrift does it incredibly successfully, and though our heroes spend the whole book out of their element, the reader catches up to the action in the first few pages.

Review by Alana Abbott


Midnight Brunch Fiction Review

Posted on June 23, 2008 by

Unpublished fiction writer Milagro De Los Santos lives with her boyfriend and his wealthy, vampiric family, but it goes downhill when Oswald’s parents come to stay. They’re the kind of rich bitches who look down on the ‘lower lands’, and on Mil, a woman with a small bank account and massive mammaries. It’s no surprise that on a wine tour with these dreadful people, instead of catching up with them Milagro hangs out with drunken Australians. (In fact and in fiction: where there’s booze, there’s Aussies. And to add to the Antipodal flavour, her conversations with her pal Nancy strongly recall the banter of Prue and Trude from Oz comedy Kath & Kim.)

Review by Tez Miller


Witch Blood (Elemental Witches, Book 2) Review

Posted on May 15, 2008 by

The second installment of the Elemental Witches perhaps unintentionally brings up the question of who’s more evil: demons, or the warlocks who summon them. Or, if you prefer: guns, or the people who use them. The answer in this novel seems to be demons (guns), which is good news for me, who had a thing for hot French warlock Stefan Faucheux in a previous installment.

Another perhaps unintentional issue is what’s more important: being protected, or being independent?

Review by Tez Miller


Witch Fire (Elemental Witches, Book 1) Review

Posted on May 7, 2008 by

The line between good and evil is clearly drawn in the first Elemental Witches novel. Coven = good. Duskoff Cabal = evil. Mira Hoskins doesn’t know she’s an air witch until there’s a home invasion, where she’s rescued/kidnapped by fire witch Jack McAllister who claims he’s hiding her away for her own good. Jack trains Mira to use her magick until the time comes to move to the Coven in Chicago.

Review by Tez Miller


Magic Burns Fiction Review

Posted on April 19, 2008 by

I love the world-building. Atlanta has two stages in time – tech (when life is as we know it) and magic. But the transitions between the two are getting faster, and Celtic mythology comes to life. (That sounds vague, I know, but I didn’t really understand it.)

Kate Daniels (whose father is supposedly Russian, but you wouldn’t know it from her surname) still has her almighty saber Slayer, but also has a new companion: teenager Julie, whose wannabe witch mother is missing.

Review by Tez Miller


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