Erin reads a paranormal romance to tie with Jessi in literary bingo! Cait still holds the lead. Check out the progress of the entire game here.
Bingo square: Paranormal Romance
Author: Kresley Cole
Confession: I fell in love with romance novels when I started reading them my senior year of college as a mental vacation from the heavy stuff assigned in my English classes.
Romance novels are light and fun and easy to read, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after ending. And sometimes they’ll pleasantly surprise me with deep thoughts and complex characters. I love romance novels and I am not ashamed!
Well, sometimes I am a little embarrassed to admit my love of the genre because a lot of romance novels feature some pretty abusive behavior in the name of romantic tension and dramatic conflict and whatnot. I try to stay far, far away from the “rape first, fall in love later” ridiculousness of the old school bodice rippers of the 70s and 80s – read a historical romance “classic” like The Flame and the Flower if you care to discover how date rape can be an effective courting technique (barf).
However, sometimes I encounter newer romance novels that rock a strangely compelling balance of offensive rubbish and pretty fine writing. I find myself conflicted when I enjoy them so much.
Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark paranormal romance series achieves this balance. While the spot-on dialog, detailed mythology and delightful characters are smart and funny and well-written, the romances often begin with behavior that I would find abhorrent in real life. Er, well, in a real life that has vampires and werewolves and valkyries fighting supernatural turf wars in southern Louisiana. Yeah, let’s move on.
In this series the male supernatural creatures have one fated “mate” that they must “claim” in order to fulfill their immortal existence, or something. Ok, so already we’re going a bit backwards on the women’s liberation scale, but there’s more – most of the time the “mates” aren’t even initially interested. They eventually fall in love because, you know, true love and fate. And Stockholm Syndrome.
The titular character in Lothaire is an ancient evil-bastard vampire, so naturally he thinks his fated mate is a bloodthirsty demon goddess who has possessed the body of a nice, normal human named Elizabeth. Poor Elizabeth wakes up from spontaneous periods of demonic possession dressed like a high-class hooker and faced with a frustrated vampire who wants his evil lovey back.
Spoiler alert! Lothaire is an idiot. His fated mate is not actually the bloodthirsty demon goddess, but the nice, normal Elizabeth! Suddenly Lothaire has to make up for treating Elizabeth like shit for the first half of the book when he thought she was just a lowly mortal placeholder for his demon honey.
Of course everything turns out fine in the end. Elizabeth is actually a smart, independent, admirable character, and a far cry from those pathetic 80s romance heroine doormats. She also gets some well deserved payback when she discovers that the best way to unsettle an ancient killer vampire is to take him to your mom’s backwoods Appalachian doublewide, complete with varmints frying on the stove top and Beanie Babies lining the windowsills – “‘Those stuffed animals horrify and repel me.’ He shuddered. ‘And the aura of pathos in this place is inescapable.’”
So even though there’s some questionable romanticized alpha male silliness, I give this paranormal romance a pass. When it’s not taking itself too seriously with overly dramatic (but admittedly hawt) love scenes and questionable relationship dynamics, this book is delightful.
And I guess I need to stop defending my love of romance novels, because really, who cares? Reading is awesome no matter what, and even unintentionally campy romance novels like The Flame and the Flower provide great material for afternoons spent lounging on the beach or stuck at the DMV.