Oh, Kindle, what have you done to me? I used to read “respectable” high fantasy, things with castles on the covers, 800 pages long with 5 sequels and lots of swordplay. Now I use your anonymous leatherette cover to read vampire and demon lady-porn. Sigh.
Well, I think I may have reached my saturation point with my secret “oiled-up chests” fetish. I stumbled on a very popular sub-genre of the sub-genre of paranormal romance and may have burned out on it. It’s what I like to call the “Packs O’ Men” series.
Sherrlyn Kenyon’s “Dark Hunter” Series
JD Ward’s “Black Dagger Brotherhood” Series
Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld Series (Best smutty cover art that makes me laugh)
Laura Adrian’s “The Midnight Breed” Series
Natali Singh’s “Psy-Changeling” Series (Worst smutty cover art. Bubblegum fog machine anyone?)
Christine Feehan’s “Carpathian” Series
I think I’m leaving a few series out, but whatever, I’m tired of linking stuff. Post more examples in the comments if you have them. Yes, I read at least 2 novels of each of these series, a lot of them more. All in the past 5 weeks. Eep!
Why am I listing these together? They’re all series featuring an immortal, sexy group of dangerous, Alpha men who, one by one, fall like dominoes to a practical, spunky woman who tames his inner beast. Because, despite ripping people’s faces off for centuries, they’re all REALLY pining for “The One.” How can one tell they’ve met “the one”? Loin burning on sight, followed by dangerous bad guy antagonist, followed by graphic sex scenes, that’s how! And then they talk about their feelings together. And more sex. And more rescuing of the woman from evil, because these dudes are protective of their ladies like a dog over a pot roast. Then more sex. Happy ever after!
Also, the structure for these (and I’m generalizing because there is some variation within the series I’ve mentioned) is that each book is a standalone romance between two characters, but there’s an overall plot from sequel to sequel involving the same world of characters. You meet some characters in earlier books as secondary characters, only to get THEIR romance later in the series. Genius way to sell sequels!
Don’t get me wrong, some of these I really loved (Natali Singh’s world is really interesting and I like her writing a lot). But the thing is about these books is that, after a girl gets to star in her book and gets her man, the cast-off heroine takes a total tangental role in the world, whereas their sexy, powerful man usually remains more present in the overall intrigue. I found the whole idea of “now she’s taken, so she’s not interesting to write about anymore” a little crazy, especially when the whole sub-genre is supposed to be aimed towards women! I’m generalizing of course, but considering the men hold authority positions in most of these worlds, the little ladies seem to get knocked up and start cooking a lot more than I personally like to read about.
Now, I know the other sub-genre of paranormal romance is “kick ass female with emotional problems gets challenged by a dark, immortal and powerful man who is vexing and then ultimately great in bed and they kick ass together”. That can get annoying too, but in some of these series, the Carpathian is the WORST at this, the girls are “chosen” and the dudes just wear them down into having sex and being with them for eternity whether she’s into it or not, and in the ones I read in the series, SHE WAS NOT! Total caveman behavior. NOT SEXY!
What’s the appeal of the Alpha man in romance novels? Do ladies really want to be dominated and pampered by men who are brutes on the outside and sappy marshmallows on the inside? Is it some kind of primitive appeal? I can definitely say that the tall dark and smoldery keeps me coming back to some of these, but the best books had a lady as equally equipped and clever and powerful as the dude. Pardon me for not rooting for a heroine who’s too stupid to live.
This post was not a review, it was merely an observation. I am going to list some of my favorite paranormal fantasy series in the next week or so, but I’d love to hear what people think about these kinds of novel. I’ve migrated back to my more standard fantasy fare and urban fantasy with more PLOT than romance-y stuff. Will be reviewing more individually down the line.
You can keep up with what I’m reading in this genre by check out my GoodReads vaginal-fantasy and vaginal-urban-fantasy shelves. I wanted to distiguish modern-day from tradition fantasy settings. You can thank me later.