Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish. Given that they are many, and there is only one of me, all Top Ten Tuesday posts will really be Top Three Tuesdays.
This week’s topic is…
This week was a book recommendation week, and as you lovely people know, I am obsessed with paranormal romance. Why? Because you get the edge of urban fantasy with the awww cuteness of romance. So here are three books you should definitely check out if you’re browsing around for your next paranormal romance read.
1. Old Loyalty, New Love by Mary Calmes
Genre: Gay paranormal romance
Warnings: A werejackal, a rich boy with serious burns to his body, way too many people trying to seduce him for his money, and an evil alpha who managed to scare most of his pack away
Length: 246 pages (novel)
When jackal shifter Quade Danas was banished from his pack for being gay, he spent years in the military escaping his father’s prejudice before returning to civilian life as a bodyguard for Roman Howell, the teenage son of a very rich man. After Roman is in an accident that leaves him physically scarred and emotionally distant, Quade is the only one who can get through to him. As Roman becomes a man, he realizes what he wants—his bodyguard by his side and in his bed. Unfortunately, Quade can’t seem to see past the kid Roman once was to the man he has become, certain Roman’s feelings are merely misplaced gratitude. But Roman knows a lot more than Quade realizes, and he’s used to persevering, no matter how many impediments life throws his way. He wants the chance to prove to Quade that he’s strong enough for a jackal alpha to call mate.
Despite the decades Quade has been away, and the heartache of his father’s rejection, his inborn loyalty to the pack remains, and his abrupt departure left the jackal shifters without an alpha heir. As a psychopath shifter staking claim as alpha draws Quade back home, and Quade feels compelled to heed the call, he may be forced to make a choice he never anticipated. But doing so means he must leave Roman behind… unless somehow they find a way to make loyalty and love work together.
Why I would recommend it?
Well, first I would recommend this story because even though the paranormal aspect was definitely at the forefront of the action plot, it was more factual in nature and the romance plotline was the real star of this book.
I absolutely adore it when an author can make the paranormal aspect of their book so normal and so run of the mill that another aspect takes the center stage. To me it is a sign that the world building is so smoothly incorporated into the narrative that the reader just rolls with the punches. Of course after that the author has to follow through with an amazing romance plot, and Mary Calmes did that.
Roman and Quade had amazing chemistry. Their friends-to-lovers relationship, with a good sprinkle of older-man-younger-guy and guardian-protectee power play dynamics, just made for a sincere and believable progression of events. I am a big fan of the FTL romance trope, but introducing the concern of entering a relationship where the power/authority distribution was uneven was most interesting. That’s not to say the Roman was in any way weak, but each character had their areas of strength and their partner knew when to stay quiet and let them take the lead, or when to take control of the situation.
I thought it was really smart to have the book written from Quade’s POV, because he was supposed to be the silent, protective one (that, and Roman always says what he thinks). It made the fact that the readers walk into an already established relationship (the guys have known each other for 8+ years) more easy to get into, and showcased the emotional depth of the more stoic partner with the reader constantly being reminded that he is the broody alpha in the relationship.
Now I love this book so much, I had to get it on audiobook format. Tristan James, the lovely narrator, was simply perfect as the broody, growly, awkward-at-expressing-himself alpha male. Just seriously, give it a read and I think you just might find yourself a Mary Calmes addict for life.
2. A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole (Immortals After Dark Book 2)
Genre: Paranormal romance
Warnings: A virginal vampire/valkyrie halfing, a lykae (werewolf) tortured by vampires to the brink of insanity for a century and a half, an insane urge to mate, and the full moon that takes away all rational thought
Length: 360 pages (novel)
Acclaimed author Kresley Cole introduces a sizzling new series with this tale of a fierce werewolf and a bewitching vampire—unlikely soul mates whose passion will test the boundaries of life and death.
A mythic warrior who’ll stop at nothing to possess her . . .
After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he’s waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him. A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy . . .
Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings. An all-consuming desire . . .
Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?
Why I would recommend it?
I actually recently recommended this book to one of the authors I beta read for. Kresley Cole set the bar for me for how to characterize and create the tension in an emotionally reluctant/resistant alpha male character.
I love how Lachlain—how great is his name?—felt like everything in his life that was meant to be a gift became a curse. I mean how messed up is it to only meet your destined mate after being tortured for years on end, just to discover that she is half of the same species as your torturers? Add the fact that his traitorous body drove him crazy with his need to mate, him accidentally making sure that Emma could only take blood from him, and confronting the fear that he might accidentally rape the virginal woman he cares about—talk about being conflicted.
While Emma’s character was a little less complicated, she still experienced being kidnapped by a wild Lykae who was supposedly her mate, has a self-discovery journey involving more kidnapping and a shocking end, and discovers that being seduced and having raunchy, full moon, outdoor sex with a werewolf might just be something she could live with. Her virgin timidity was perfect, not going too far as to make it seem like she’s lived the last 70 years with out picking up some of the basics of sex, while not making her a practiced vixen playing at being the virgin but just hadn’t found the right prey yet. She was a solid virginal ingénue, which was a great contrast to Lachlain’s rather baser instinct-driven lifestyle.
I simply loved the character development in this story, and how that fed into the paranormal plotline. I felt what they were feeling and never once did Lachlain come out to be the bad guy. Unpredictable, maybe, but never malignant. For a book I picked up at the airport bookstore, with no idea it was the a part of a series, it made me fall in love with the Immortals After Dark series and with Kresley Cole as an author.
3. The Nymph King by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal romance
Warnings: A sexy nymph king with no sense of boundaries, a smart and cynical wedding attendee, and hot underwater loving
Length: 387 pages (novel)
Enter a mythical world of dragons, demons and nymphs…enter a world of dark seduction and powerful magic…enter Atlantis…
Females young and old, beautiful and plain crave Valerian’s touch. None can resist his blatant sensuality and potent allure until he steals Shaye Holling from a Florida beach and holds her prisoner in his underwater kingdom.
The cynical Shaye wants nothing to do with the mighty warlord, but she’s inexplicably drawn to him. For underneath the warrior’s arrogant beauty lies a complex and powerful man. A man whose caress is like fire .
Now Valerian must fight for the privilege of claiming her as his own. Because there’s one thing Shaye doesn’t know.
That when a nymph discovers his true mate, she’s his for life.
Why I would recommend it?
First, it has been about three to four years since I read this book. The thing is, it is still stuck in my mind as a scrumdiddlylicious and witty read about a seductive nymph king and his lovely lady.
As the first book in the series I read—I sooo didn’t check the “Other books by this author” page back then—this book was off the chain, and unfortunately the only memorable one in the series.
I guess it was the mysterious nymph race that really did it for me. The paranormal genre is chock full of vampires, weres, succubi etc., but it was the first book I read about nymphs. I loved Gena Showalter’s world building, especially her reasoning for why nymphs are constantly driven by the need to have sex. She rationalized the “player” type alpha male mentality and made it seem plausible that out there, there are guys that do indeed need sex to be able to function (I am sure most guys would agree that this is indeed a fact).
I also enjoyed how the shoe was on the other foot, and this time it was the female character who was doing everything she could not to fall in love with the irresistible male character. I love a strong-willed heroine, and Shaye resisted temptation even with all the sexing that went on at the nymph palace. Her feisty attitude and her card-worthy retorts to Valerian’s awkward attempts to date a human were hilarious.
So there you have it, three books I recommend you read if you’re in the mood for paranormal romance. They are written by some of my all-time favorite authors, and they leave me happy and I remember them with great fondness. Maybe it’s time to reread them…
Are you a paranormal romance fan? If so, what books in this genre would you recommend to fellow PNR addicts?