Perhaps no supernatural creature looms as large in paranormal romance as the vampire. Sometimes they sparkle. Sometimes the smolder. Sometimes they own the night. Sometimes, they can walk by day. No matter what the rules are for vampires in any given story universe, one thing is for sure across the board: vampires and romance go hand in undead hand. What’s the appeal? Good question. Let’s take a look.
For some readers, vampires and romance go together like oil and water. There’s the whole dead thing, for one. That can be a hard thing to get over, especially for gentle readers. Can someone be the love of someone else’s life, if they aren’t actually alive? Besides the squick factor of having one lover not among the living, the question does arise (pun unintended) about the love scenes: if vampires don’t have their own blood, how can they, ah, express their love physically? Since we are talking about romance novels, this is usually not a big problem, or the author finds creative ways around the issue. Other readers may hew closer to the idea of vampires as villains, and have trouble seeing them as romantic leads,but, thankfully for vampire romance fans, that’s only one flavor of vampires.
Vampires do have a few things going for them. Longevity, for one thing. Sure, they technically are dead, or were dead, at some point, (unless vampires work differently in their particular universe) but the up side of that is that they have longevity. Though it’s entirely possible to have one of the lovers be a vampire of very recent origin (and, in fact, this may be one way to resolve the issue of how long a vampire and their mortal lover can have together before time catches up with one of them) more often than not, there is a bit of an age gap, often in the triple digits, or higher.Vampires have seen some things, and that often means they come with more than the average complement of emotional baggage. These guys (and gals) can carry grudges longer than the average human lifespan. They may have a lost love who’s haunted (or hunted) them for not only weeks, but centuries, and if their modern day (for whatever era “now” may be in this particular book) counterpart resembles their prior love, or if they actually may be (whether they remember it or not) well then, we are going to have some interesting goings on, aren’t we? Thought so.
While the first image that comes to mind when someone says “vampire” may be the classic Bram Stoker version, for many, that’s only one of the many versions that populate romance fiction. From two hundred year old high school students, to Highland warriors who sport both kilts and fangs, to modern day billionaires who cloak themselves in luxury, vampires can slip into any subset of romance fiction. Nerve-biting romantic suspense? Sure. All-out paranormal melee with vampires fighting (and/or falling in love with) other creatures such as werewolves, ghosts, shape shifters, and more? Absolutely. Light-hearted romantic comedy? That, too. There’s even been Amish vampire romance, which proves that the appeal of the vampire goes far deeper than some might expect, and that’s a lot deeper than a mere six feet.
Vampire abilities and weaknesses can vary, depending on author and world-building, and what’s true for vampires in one book, or, more likely, series, may not be true for others. Where Author A’s vampires may recoil at the sight of a cross, Author B’s vampires may actually have deeply held personal faith. Author C’s vampires may be unable to bear or father children, but Author D’s vampires can do one or the other, where Author E’s can do both, and Author F’s can, but it’s extremely difficult, or highly discouraged, and possibly both at the same time.
Speaking of the ones who would be doing the discouraging (or encouraging, as sometimes happens) vampire society is a big part of many vampire romances. Talk about culture shock, and possibly hard to impress friends and families. There may be some envy, fear, or antagonism toward humans (or other creatures) especially those who get involved with one of their own. Not that vampire romance always requires a human, because it most certainly doesn’t, though many of them do. The contrast between a powerful otherworldly vampire and a mortal human brings a lot of built in conflict, and, when the rules of vampire society come into play, things can ramp up a few levels in the tension department.
Remember that angst we mentioned earlier? Vampires are loaded with that stuff. For those who were, at one time, mortals themselves, falling in love with a mortal can remind them of all that they’ve missed from not living out the life they’d always thought they would have. There’s food, for one thing, which many vampires don’t eat anymore, which also brings up the issue of blood, which calls back to those gentle readers who may have some concerns about one’s beloved actually drinking from their veins. For some modern vampires, this can be worked around with other means of obtaining blood, such as blood banks, or animal blood (also usually not directly from the animal.) Other vampires may have an option to regain their humanity, and rejoin their beloved in the mortal realm, and there is also the option of turning the beloved, turning happily ever after into happily forever after. The possibilities are endless.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you like vampire romances? Why or why not? Do you have any favorites? What type of vampire do you like best: historical, contemporary, scary, funny, sexy, something else? Pull up a chair in the comments section and tell us all about it. If vampire romances aren’t your thing, we want to hear about that, too. There’s room for everybody at this table.