Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance with M.V. Freeman and W*n a Book

Happy Thursday! Normally, I’d be thinking “one more day until the weekend,” but if you’ve read this blog very long and have heard me whine and moan about football season, well…it’s football season. So I have seven hours on the day-job on Saturday, where I do the important job of directing inebriated football fans to restrooms. Which means cramming two days’ worth of writing and the week’s grocery shopping into Sunday. Ugh. I hate football season.

But I don’t hate Feeling Fictional! I have a guest post on our favorite pirate that went up yesterday, and thanks to Roger for letting me know about it.

There’s also a review of Elysian Fields up today at Leeanna.me, where she asks the burning question: Romance in urban fantasy–yea or nay? Read on for another look at that question.

* * * *

Today, please help me welcome one of my favorite people, author M.V. Freeman! Her latest release is Incandescent, a paranormal romance with a strong urban fantasy storyline published by Crimson Romance.

She’s a native of Minnesota, but now calls North Alabama her home. She is member of RWA and (along with me) is a member of the Southern Magic and Georgia Romance Writers chapters. By day her mind is filled with medical jargon at the local health clinic, but at night she finds herself exploring alternate worlds within our own. Heavily influenced by Slavic languages and culture, you will find she weaves these elements into her stories. She harbors a love of strong coffee and cream for late-night writing, and adores dark stories with anti-heros and determined heroines. You can learn more about M.V. Freeman by visiting her website, on Facebook, or by following her on Twitter. 

ABOUT INCANDESCENT:  Some gifts are unwanted, and Laurie Hudson’s affinity for fire is one she hates. It has destroyed her relationship with her family and she has few friends. She’s fought hard to keep the fire inside suppressed, living a low key life as a bartender, until a brutal and charming man blows into her life.  Around Mikhail Petrov, her careful control disintegrates. She is at once drawn to his urbane, cool demeanor and irritated by his overbearing manner. Her options are taken away when he kidnaps her, forcing her into a fight she wants nothing to do with. As she learns to survive, Laurie faces the hardest choice of all, her freedom or the destruction of the frustrating man she’s come to care for.  A formidable Tri-elemental, Mikhail Petrov commands earth, air, and water. He will use anyone or anything to free himself from the oppressive rule of the Mages, including the untrained fire element he discovers, Laurie. Most of his family has been wiped out in an effort to manipulate him. He thinks he has nothing left to lose. To him, Laurie is a tool, a rare and powerful elemental that is his to use. He fights his feelings for the fire elemental because with caring comes weakness, another opening for destruction. Rarely are emotions as easy to control as his elements.  As he trains Laurie to work with him, he doesn’t expect his growing attachment to her. With the Mages closing in, Mikhail faces a choice: destroy the fledgling relationship with Laurie to gain his coveted freedom, or sacrifice himself for hers.

And now, let’s hear from M.V., who is going to talk about a conversation we’ve had several times–the sometimes very thin line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. 
Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance: The Line I Straddle.

I have a problem.

I love Urban Fantasy. I also adore Paranormal Romance. The two genres don’t mix, or so I’ve been told. I keep trying to make them merge together like peanut butter and chocolate—separately, they are good, but together they are fantastic.

Unfortunately, genres are not like chocolate (sort of). You can’t force things to be what they are not, but I am trying and I’m wondering if I am fighting too hard to mix them.

When I consider Urban Fantasy I immediately I think of Jim Butcher, Suzanne Johnson, J.F. Lewis, Stacia Kane, Ilona Andrews, Jeaniene Frost… (do I have to stop?). Most are written in first person (not all), they are plot- and action-heavy. But what exactly is it about these books which draws me in to them, like an addict finding their fix? Is it the story (yes) but what keeps up me there? The characters, especially the main character the reader follows on that journey through the book and the series. Because isn’t that what Urban Fantasy is? Seeing a character grow and change. It is also the world building—throwing me into their world with different rules enthralls me. 

Paranormal Romance has similarities to Urban Fantasy, with some key differences. Authors I associate with this genre and have read are: J.R. Ward, Gena Showalter, Kresley Kole, Christine Feehan, Lexi George, and Sherrilyn Kenyon (again, it’s hard to stop). These stories are not told in first person, the romance is central to the plot, but they are still filled with dangerous storylines, and the growth is how the characters learn to love each other. What keeps me reading these? For me it is the tension between the hero and heroine, and the increasing pull between the two as they fight off the bad guys or solve a problem, that has me turning the page.
To me it is a natural progression to meld the two genres: Urban Fantasy and Romance. What comes out can be interesting and fun, but hard to sell. I have to pick one or the other: One group thinks it has too much romance. The other, not enough.

Before you think I am straddling this bridge alone, I would like to point out a few authors who I think are crossing the line and mixing the genres together and are very successful at it: J.R. Ward, Jeaniene Frost, and Ilona Andrews. All three have great characters and a fabulous love interest. The plots are intricate and integral to the story. The tension is high and I cannot stop turning the page.  If any of the elements–plot/action/tension/romance–is removed, the story wouldn’t be the same. 

As I balance between two worlds I have to be realistic. Do I go with one or the other? Do you think it is possible to balance the two? Why or why not? 

Thanks, Mary! I have encountered this in both my Sentinels series and Penton series as well. Sentinels is definitely UF “with romantic elements” and Penton is definitely PNR with a heavy UF storyline. A lot of reviewers complain about too little or too much romance in the UF and about too much action in the PNR. Plus, publishers want to know where a book fits when they put it on a real or virtual bookshelf. So it really is a fine line to tread. 

So, what do you think about mixing urban fantasy and paranormal romance?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Incandescent (which is a great read, by this way!).

31 thoughts on “Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance with M.V. Freeman and W*n a Book

  1. I do like my UF to have a romance in it, but I don’t want it to be the center of the story (which would be the distinction between UF and PNR, at least in my mind). If the book is UF, it doesn’t really bother me if the romance isn’t fully developed in the book or even if there isn’t a romance at all.

    • Same here, Rebe. I think until I started writing in both genres I didn’t realize how different they are. With the third Sentinels book, I steered the series firmly back to UF territory and dialed the relationships back a little.

      By the way, MV is at her day-job but will be responding to comments this evening!

  2. UF with a romance is fine with me as long it belongs in the plot and not just thrown in. Straddling that bridge many times great conflict for plot and character development. Incandescent looks intriguing. Will add to my TBR pile.

    • Yes, I think that’s a definite key. The relationship has to factor into the plot or contribute to the character’s growth, and not just be stuck in there for the heck of it. 🙂

    • I am totally in agreement here. If the relationship messes with either character or plot–it makes the whole story awkward.
      And I hope you enjoy it!

  3. I read the same authors you do and I think as long as the book is good who cares what genre it is put under. I love both, if they converge to me it would be awesome, but if doesn’t I’m still going to read them. evamillien at gmail dot com Thanks for sharing the post and I am looking forward to reading your book.

  4. when it’s not center and is growing on several books in teh series i’m all for it. i think patricia briggs does manage to mix everything successfully too in her mercy thompson serie

    • Miki, Patricia Briggs is another awesome writer–and I agree as well, slowly growing it is far more fun than rushing it along. I admit, I’m working on that.

  5. I love the mixture of the two. For me it makes the stories more realistic. Romance is in everyone’s life so why should it not be in books as well. One of my favorite things about the Sentinel series is the romantic tension in them. That underlying sense of romance, its not the focal point but adds that bit of bite I’m looking for. Urban Fantasy is one of my favorite genres and the other being Paranormal Romance. To me UF can get monotonous without the shake up of some romance aspect, the same goes for PNR without a little action.

    • Steph–
      Exactly, I think they both complement each other if used well. One adds tension the other adds forward momentum. I know for me, it keeps me turning the page.

  6. I’d be pleased with the mix but then I love (pun) a bit of romance in any fantasy book. More than a bit at times but it needs to fit in the overall story of course.

  7. I like a little romance in my paranormals. The most important element to me, though, is the story… if it’s not a good story, then who cares about the romance?
    Thanks for the giveaway! If Suzanne recommends your book, it’s gotta be good!

    • Lindalou– See, I agree, to me there has to be a compelling story to wrap around the characters. If not; I don’t care how fabulous the characters are–it makes the story flat.

      And Thank you-!

  8. Thank you Suzanne and everyone for having me on the blog! You are awesome.

    I have enjoyed it–and you know I adore your books Suzanne– Jean Lafitte — which of course is a character, but I shall not quibble.

    May you all find a good book to read, time to read it in– and a second one when that is done.

  9. I don’t have a problem with urban fantasy mixing with paranormal. As long as the story works, I’m pretty much a happy camper.

  10. Hi M.V. – I loved Incandescent and I’ve been hoping to read your next book. Do you have a publication date for it? (oh and please don’t enter me in the contest since I’ve already read it).

    Since I like both genres, I have no problem with them being mixed up in one book, but I know other readers prefer the lines to be drawn more clearly. I think it’s great that authors have a self-pub option now, so if they write a book that gets rejected because it doesn’t fall cleanly into one genre, they can publish it themselves.

    • Hi JenM,
      Oh, I am so glad you liked Incandescent! I can assure you my second book in the series–Illumination is complete, but I don’t have a publication date for it yet. I will be shouting it from the roof tops when it does happen!

      I agree–if a book is well written and blurs those lines its fabulous to have the option to self publish–and one I have seriously considered.

    • Mary–
      I have to admit I’m not a huge foot fan either, but UFC now there’s a sport I find interesting (to watch).

      And I agree mixing it up–I think is what I see, so long as the plot and characters remain true. (which I am on board with)

  11. Since Jeaniene Frost and Ilona Andrews are two (actually 3!) of my favorite authors, I think you can safely say that I’m in the camp that likes them mixed.