Why I’m not into paranormal romance.

August 28, 2008

Earlier I posted about the differences between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and how tricky it can be for fans to know which books fall into which category without doing a little research. I’ve never been shy about my distaste for many of the recent romances I’ve read, so I decided to put a little thought into the reasons for that.

First I want to say that I’m just writing about my personal reaction to these types of books. I am practically the Queen of Questionable Taste, and I totally get that most people’s idea of fun times doesn’t line up with mine. So if you disagree with any of the points below, feel free to dismiss them as the ravings of some dork who is into old pulp novels, gaming, and any movie with either zombies or killer animals.

The funny part is that it’s not the idea of a romance-oriented story that I mind. I tend to prefer action and mystery, but I’ve read some great books with romance plots. It’s just that when romance is the top priority, it can limit other aspects of the story.

The characters need to be the type of people who will get it on two or three times in the middle of an adventure, and relationships are often lightly developed and dependent on sex. There isn’t that hot “will they or won’t they” tension. I already know that they will, it’s just a question of when (and sometimes who). The fantasy aspects of the story are sexed up, and the sex scenes are spiced up with supernatural elements. Both of those things can lead to disturbing places.

But the biggest thing that I can’t stand is the seemingly ever-present hardcore. I’m hardly a prude, and it bothers me that some people are quick to label you as one if you complain about how many pages in any particular book are devoted to doing it. I just tend to find frequent love scenes with Tab A/Slot B levels of detail either boring or laughable.

Fictional sex is like tequila – a little goes a long way, and when someone has had too much of it you feel a little embarrassed for them.

So as you can imagine, I get frustrated when reading some of those books right on the edge between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. There are authors who come up with characters that are compelling despite their overactive sex drives, have plots that are interesting apart from the hook-ups, and tell their stories without resorting to cheesy metaphysical justifications for sex. I haven’t come across many (possibly because I avoid obvious romances), but they are out there.

I weigh the porn-factor against the quality of the rest of the plot, but even if I decide to stick with a smutty series for awhile I still resign myself to losing track of it eventually. You know how some characters are prone to power creep, where they get too strong too quickly? Well the same thing can happen when it comes to sex, if an author feels the need to constantly intensify the next love scene to keep things from getting too vanilla.

As soon as you decide that the level of explicit action in a series is still acceptable, you get hit with furry sex or surprise anal out of nowhere. I end up either laughing or rolling my eyes over the idea of finding that hot, and suddenly the story just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

Obviously there are some people who are into the supernatural erotica aspects, but I just don’t get it. That’s okay, I’m sure some of them don’t get how happy I’m going to be when my cleric hits 3rd level.

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4 Responses to “Why I’m not into paranormal romance.”

  1. Danielle Says:

    I agree with you about the hardcore. I would like to be warned if they going to do some XXX sex (some of it quite objectionable to me) in a book because I would avoid it. I like both genres, but i think they should be separate. I read urban fantasy for the kick butt aspect or problem-solving, the mystery and the world building. That is there in some paranormal, but some is mainly ways to get the characters some sex, instead of telling a love story. I am usually disappointed with those. I think that a big beef I have is separating out the thinly-veiled porn from real urban fantasy books, which is getting harder and harder with doing as you said and reading the blurb. I try to read Amazon reviews, and that helps, but people don’t really talk about how erotic the content is. Some of it is icky and I wish someone would give me a heads up on it in advance. I think that the change in the Anita Blake novels opened the door for this, unfortunately.

  2. lucidlunatic Says:

    I agree with you all the way, except that I also tend not to like reading romance driven books (Twilight being a crowning example). I’m fine with romance as an element (Patricia Briggs’ series, or the Kitty books), but if it’s the dominant factor, count me out.


  3. […] I’m on the record as not being a fan of constant, graphic sex scenes in novels. But having a sixteen year old […]

  4. Amyindurham Says:

    I used to enjoy Laurell Hamilton’s books, but BOY! I find them just creepy and overly erotic now. I don’t even know what the plot’s about or anything. I just stopped reading them. I’m always looking for interesting authors, so I’m glad your blog is here.


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