Paranormal romance novels involve fantasy worlds, the supernatural, or science fiction elements, which are intrinsic to the plot. Paranormal elements include: shifters, vampires, magic wielders (think witches, warlocks, mages, etc.), demons, angels, the Fae, gargoyles, mermaids, and mythical warriors. These books still have a happily ever after for a main couple, though sometimes this may stretch over several books in a series.
These books may cross over into other genres too—for example, you can have a historical paranomal romance—but the line blurs most between paranormal romance and urban fantasy, opens a new window. Because of the wide variety and the many different possible classifications, this genre also varies wildly in how steamy the romances are, so you'll want to pay close attention.
Dark Witch, opens a new window
Nora Roberts is the queen of romance novels, and while most of her novels are traditional contemporaries, she is no stranger to the paranormal. In fact her newest series, which started with Year One, opens a new window, is a straight fantasy novel with no central romance. In the first book of her Cousins O'Dwyer, opens a new window trilogy, Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. She finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives. When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…
In Karen Marie Moning's Dark Fever Series , opens a new windowshe does some impressive world building. Not only are the real Fae a lot more powerful and dangerous than what the bedtime stories make them out to be, but millennia ago, they split into warring factions of Light (Seelie) and Dark (Unseelie), and that war is now threatening to spill over into the human world. When Mac's sister is murdered, Mac is drawn into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae. . . .
First Grave on the Right, opens a new window
In Darynda Jones Charley Jones, opens a new window series the heroine is a part-time PI and full-time Grim Reaper. Charley sees dead people, and it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.
Dark Lover, opens a new window
The first in J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, opens a new window series. In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood. Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both...
Dark Prince, opens a new window
First published in 1999, this book launched Christine Feehan's bestselling Dark, opens a new window series about the Carpathians, a dying race of vampires. A telepathic hunter of serial killers, Raven Whitney’s work has drained her body and spirit, and now, in need of rest and rejuvenation, she embarks on a vacation far from home. The powerful leader of the Carpathians—a wise and secret ancient race that thrives in the night—Mikhail Dubrinsky is engulfed by despair, fearful of never finding the mate who can save him from the encroaching darkness. From the moment they meet, Raven and Mikhail are helpless to resist the desire that sparks between them, but malevolent forces threaten to destroy them and their fragile love.
Halfway to the Grave, opens a new window
The Night Huntress, opens a new window series by Jeaniene Fronst features half-vampire Cat Crawfield in a seven book series. This one is a slow burn, and the HEA isn't final until the last book. She pursues the undead with a vengeance in the hope that one of her prey will be the father who ruined her mother's life, but her plans go awry when she is captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter.
Magic Bites, opens a new window
The first in Illona Andrews series featuring Mercenary Kate Daniels, opens a new window who cleans up urban problems of a paranormal kind. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake. Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
Moon Called, opens a new window
This is the first book in Patricia Brigg's series featuring Marcy Thompson, opens a new window, whose life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Marcy isn't exactly normal herself.
Don't forget to let us know about your favorite paranormal romances in the comments. Or Get a Reading Recommendation, opens a new window from a librarian tailored to your personal interests.