The greatest strength of paranormal romance is the opportunity it provides for diversity in the genre. The boy-meets-girl-loses-girl-wins-girl-back formula can be told with infinite variations when things such as five-hundred-year-life-spans are thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, paranormal has largely proved more homogeneous than hetero: he’s a vampire too noble to drink blood; she’s a good witch; he/she is a werewolf willing to chew off his/her own paw rather than bite a human. Limiting paranormal to a few constructs, a few worn out mythologies, constricts the subgenre to the strangling point and robs it of its most interesting aspect. One niche of paranormal romance that has yet to be winnowed down is science fiction. The opportunities for worlds with alternate histories, futures and presents that are populated with humans – or human like characters – are infinite and authors like Nalini Singh make a fantastic argument for more sci-fi romances.
HelenKay: Romantic conflict. There are competing views on this issue. Some argue that a romance novel, by its very definition, requires an attraction between the hero and heroine as well as compelling reason to keep them apart – the something standing between the hero and heroine that prevents a happily ever after from being a foregone conclusion. Others say that a romantic conflict pulling the hero and heroine apart often feels trite or forced because we know how that part of the story will end. For these folks, something else can drive the plot without having the story suffer. Parallel Attraction should appeal to the latter group but will likely violate all the “rules” set out by the former.
Wendy: Gena Showalter’s Awaken Me Darkly is a brooding and murky futuristic that weaves suspense and romance throughout a sci-fi plot. When dark haired and dark eyed men begin to disappear in Chicago, Alien Investigation and Removal agent, Mia Snow, suspects the involvement of earth’s not-so-welcome visitors. When one of the missing men turns up dead, her suspicions are confirmed as all evidence points to the deadliest of the other-worlders, Arcadians. Mia and her partner, Dallas Gutierrez, set off to track down the murdering Arcadian before the clock runs out on the remaining missing men. But, just when their chief suspect, Lilla en Arr, is brought into custody, Dallas is wounded by gunplay and given zero chance to survive. As Dallas hangs on death’s precipice, Lilla’s brother, Kyrin en Arr, materializes with an offer for Mia: release Lilla and Kyrin will save Dallas’ life. It’s an offer Mia can neither accept nor decline, but one that propels her headlong into the case and into a deeper involvement with Kyrin. Each step toward uncovering the truth leads Mia into a labyrinth of fertility abuse and high-jacked human DNA. Human deaths litter the landscape both past and present in a quest to create a human Arcadian hybrid being. The clues point back to Kyrin, but Mia is plagued by the mysterious and oddly familiar Atlanna en Arr.