Today, please join me in welcoming author Liv Rancourt to Preternatura. Liv is dropping by today to celebrate her latest release, Between the Sheets. Between the Sheets was published on August 25 by Crimson Romance.
Liv Rancourt writes light, funny, contemporary romance and urban fantasy. Her novel Hell…The Story was a 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarterfinal entry. Previous publishing credits include Forever and Ever, Amen, a paranormal romance from Crimson Romance, and A Vampire’s Deadly Delight, an urban fantasy novella from Black Opal Books. She has also contributed several short stories to the Ten Tales series edited by Rayne Hall and she is represented by Margaret Bail from Inklings Literary Agency. Liv’s day job is as a neonatal nurse practitioner, and she’s taken care of small and sick infants for almost thirty years. Before she got serious about writing, she spent her free time fronting a rock band and hanging out in the church choir. Currently, she lives in Seattle with her husband, her two kids, and a slightly addled menagerie. You can learn more about Liv by visiting her website, on Facebook and by following her on Twitter.
ABOUT BETWEEN THE SHEETS: Life for music teacher Maggie Schafer has been full of flat notes lately. Sick of being single and celibate, she vows to get her groove back at the upcoming Western Washington Choral Directors Annual Retreat. Too bad the only guy who seems interested is a pompous dork who thinks he’s God’s gift to women—and the music education world. When he gets a little too arrogant and crosses boundaries, gorgeous pianist Randy Devers swoops in to run interference. After sharing a shockingly hot kiss in front of the whole conference, Maggie and Randy come up with a plan to pretend they’re dating. However, the more time they spend together—and the more physical their “pretend” relationship gets—the more she wonders if there could be anything beyond just smoking chemistry and a friendly agreement between them. Maggie’s got history, Randy’s got baggage, and they’ve got a weekend to get their rhythms in sync and figure out how to turn their solo lives into a beautiful duet.
And now, let’s hear from Liv…
When I asked Suzanne if she had space for me to do a guest post on her blog, she gently pointed out that my new release was contemporary romance, while her blog focused on paranormal.
On the other hand, she said, if you can do a post highlighting the similarities between contemporary and paranormal romance, she said, that might work swell.
Cue the Google search.
It took a bit of digging, but I think I did find a couple interesting parallels. Before getting into the similarities, though, I want to start by defining these two subgenres of romance, so we’re all talking about the same thing. Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:
Contemporary romance is a subgenre of romance novels, generally with the setting after World War II. The largest of the romance novel subgenres, contemporary romance novels are set in the time when they were written, and usually reflect the mores of their time.
Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of both romantic fiction and speculative fiction. Paranormal romance focuses on romantic love and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the speculative fiction genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
When you put it that way, it’s much easier to see the differences, right? Contemporary romance uses settings and characters from the readers’ own time in ways that are immediately understandable. The characters in the last contemporary romance you read could be your friends or neighbors or riders on your morning bus. The characters in a paranormal romance could too…
If you worked in Hell.
Okay, so that punchline was kind of a reach, but you get the idea. When I did a search for analyses of contemporary romance as a genre, I didn’t find a whole lot, so I’m going to toss out a few ideas I came up with and we’ll see what works.
To start with, if you take away the fantasy elements, paranormal becomes just plain romance. For example, let’s consider Logan from the first book in the popular Billionaire Boys Club series, and Wrath from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Both are tortured, alpha heroes. Each are part of a small, secret society. They meet, fall in love with, and make themselves vulnerable to women who are not part of their normal world.
And they’re both hot.
Logan shares a character type – if not a taste for blood – with Wrath, and while his novel isn’t shelved on the paranormal aisle, I think his extreme wealth is as much a fantasy as immortality.
How about another example…In Serena Bell’s fantastic book Hold On Tight, single mother Mira has just moved to Seattle. She’s trying to cope with uncertain childcare and a demanding new job when she runs into her son’s father, who she hasn’t seen in eight years. He’s now a war hero and an amputee, and it doesn’t take long before the spark that drew them together before he went to Iraq flares again.
Compare that to a book like the YA paranormal romance Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. In this lovely story – a great favorite of my teenage daughter – the heroine Grace feels a strong connection to a yellow-eyed wolf who lives behind her house. Then summer comes, and she meets a yellow-eyed boy, Sam. She knows it must be her wolf, and as their relationship grows, Sam must fight to stay human. If he loses himself and shifts back to his wolf form, the consequences will be severe.
In both Shiver & Hold on Tight, the hero is struggling to find himself. In both these stories, the heroine faces profound challenges. And in both these stories, the power of love creates magic.
Then there are the bad boys, the cowboys, motorcycle club members, and rock n’ rollers who star in contemporary romance’s sub-subgenres. (And since this is a blog post and not a thesis, I won’t start listing examples, although Lorelie James Rough Riders books are awesome….and Debra Kayn has good fun with bikers….and, oh wait, I said I wasn’t going to do this. Stop me now!) These guys each play a different version of the alpha theme, and honestly, their worlds are so far removed from most women’s experience, they might as well be undead shapeshifting wizards.
Bottom line, I think paranormal romance is simply romance dressed up with sparkly bits. (That wasn’t a vampire reference. Seriously.) The elements that work in one – alpha heroes, bad boys, magic – work in the other just as well. While I was putting together this post, I came across an essay written by Damon Suede as part of the Celebrate Romance series. In it, Damon says,
Romance only has two requirements: an important relationship and a positive outcome. No small task! The legendary Jude Devereaux often notes how difficult it is to surprise readers who already know the ending. This oceanic genre demands love and hope and beyond that, the sky is no limit.
The sky is no limit. How cool is that? The things you love about one subgenre in romance are most likely going to be there in another. Even if you’re absolutely convinced you can’t love a hero who has a pulse or a bad boy who doesn’t have to battle his inner wolf, you might be surprised. Contemporary and paranormal romance have more in common than you’d expect.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Suzanne! It’s been fun!! Now I have one final question for your readers. Do you swing towards paranormal exclusively, or do you genre-hop? I’ll give away an e-copy of my novella Between the Sheets, along with a $5 Amazon/B&N gift card to one lucky commenter, so let me know what you think!
Thanks for dropping by today, Liv. Congratulations on the release of Between the Sheets.
If you would like to enter to win a copy of Between the Sheets and the gift card, then leave a comment answering Liv’s question.