Skip to content

Romance Novels: Falling for Paranormal Romance (Guest Blogger Rachel Leigh Smith @rachelleighgeek)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Continuing the series on Romance Novel genres, please welcome special guest poster Rachel Leigh Smith today.

Romance That’s a Bit Out of This World
My Name Is A'Yen by Rachel SmithI spent the first twenty years of my adult reading life (started when I was 11) devouring inspirational historical romance. The first novel I wrote was a historical romance. Then on May 16, 2012, I dreamed about a humanoid alien walking through a forest saying two words over and over. The next morning, I started writing My Name Is A’yen.

While exploring the new world creating itself in my head at the speed of light, I wanted to go beyond the bounds of inspirational romance. My bestie and critique partner, Winter Austin, gave me two author names to check out.

In March of 2013, I read The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter, and I haven’t looked back since. Showalter led me to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter and The League series—and ooh boy. I’m such a Kenyon fangirl now. It started me on a multi-year binge of exploring, devouring, and falling in love with the beautiful world of paranormal romance.

There’s More to the PNR Subgenre than Vampires
I read romance to watch the hero fall in love and watch him become the man the heroine believes he can be. In paranormal romance, the hero is never a secondary character. Quite often, he’s the main character. My hero-lovin’ heart eats it up. There’s also way more to the genre than vampires.

Like most romance readers, I have my favorite tropes and ones I avoid. Paranormal romance (PNR) allows for a new twist on familiar tropes. Right now, I know of two mail-order bride paranormal series, and another one that’s one of those app-based dating agencies. This is one of the tropes I avoid, though, no matter what genre I’m reading.

Another popular one is a band of warriors working to keep something secret or protect humanity from the unsavory elements of a paranormal world. I’m a sucker for the band of warriors. Forbidden romance is also popular. Think a vampire hunter falling in love with a vampire, or a werewolf falling in love with a werecat. Packs and prides in shifter paranormals fit nicely into the big meddling family trope. Arranged marriages are also popular, as are fated mates. I’m rather fond of fated mates. It’s a powerful thing to explore.

One of the fastest growing subgenres right now is shifters*. I’ve discovered I love shifters—cats specifically, though I’ll read wolves if it’s all I can find when I’m desperate. My favorite shifter series is Psy-Changeling by Nalini Singh. I want to write like her when I grow up.

I also enjoy mythology-based paranormals, where the gods and goddesses of various pantheons, usually Greek or Egyptian, are real. Dark-Hunter is the most incredible example, with the Greek, Egyptian, Sumerian, Celtic, Norse, Cherokee, Mayan, and Kenyon’s personal Atlantean pantheon, either featuring as major characters or influencing events off the page.


It’s a Subgenre That Defies Boundaries
As a writer, I classify my A’yen’s Legacy series as both futuristic and paranormal. There’s quite a bit of crossover between the subgenres of Science Fiction Romance (SFR) and Paranormal Romance (PNR). My aliens are varying degrees of psychic, from telepathic to empathic to telekinetic. While I loved writing A’yen’s Legacy, I found trying to stay within a science fiction framework a bit restricting as I worked on new series ideas. A lot of the things I wanted to explore simply didn’t work in an SFR context.

So I decided to build on a paranormal framework, and toss an SFR element in here and there. What came out was a shifter paranormal set in our modern world where the Egyptian and Greek pantheons are at war for control of world events. I’m having the time of my life with it.

Finding the paranormal genre was like coming home, as a reader and a writer. I’ve found the right place where my imagination flourishes, I can build worlds as big or as small as I want, and my novels written mostly from the hero’s POV are embraced.

It’s a big wide reading world out there. Go explore something new!


Rachel Leigh SmithRachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico, and is an active member of Romance Writers of America. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging…

You can connect with Rachel, and get updates about her writing, by connecting with her online:


  1. Rachel Leigh Smith permalink
    Tuesday, April 19, 2016 6:40 pm

    This was a lot of fun to write.



  1. Writing Links in the 3s and 5…4/26/16 – Where Worlds Collide
  2. Romantic RelationshipsHuman Relationships | Human Relationships

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: