Why We Read Paranormal Romance: A Confession

So, I finally allowed my husband of twenty-two years to read the first and only paranormal romance I have ever written, Reap ‘Em & Weep. I wanted him to be in the loop and understand why I’ve spent so many late nights hidden away in the Writing Cave upstairs. He’d never read anything like it. Not paranormal. Not romance. He’s more of a Dean Koontz, Harlan Coben, Robin Cook sort of guy.

He claims to be impressed by my creativity and professes to like my story. (As well he should.)  I have asked him to read a couple of my favorite authors so he could have a frame of reference on my style/voice. I gave him Janet Evanovich’s Wicked Appetite to start with and plan to give him Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark next. My book has more sex in it than either of those, but he’ll get the gist.

He’s not complaining about the sex. One late night, not long after I downloaded it onto my Kindle for him to read, he came strutting into the Writing Cave totally disrupting my chi with a Cheshire cat grin and waggling eyebrows and said just two words, “Chapter Fourteen.”

Yep, that was the first sex scene. He approved.

A few nights later the entire scenario was repeated when he reached, “Chapter Twenty Nine.” Insert waggling eyebrows and wink here.

He’s commented more than once that we (my paranormal girlfriends and I) are reading porn. Well, yeah but unlike regular porn or as the romance clan likes to call it, erotica, there is a plot and a plan. He disagrees. Here’s what I’ve determined. When men read sex in the written format, it’s porn. When women read it, it’s erotica. It’s all in the perception.

(Side note, the Library won’t let me Google a discussion on the difference between porn and erotica on their Wi-Fi so no cool corroborating links here.  Whatever. Thanks for censoring my education.)

Last night, the husband started Wicked Appetite. This morning he says, “I don’t know how or why you girls read that stuff.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, all doe eyed and innocent.

“Every other paragraph is sexual innuendo. How can you read that stuff and not want to live it out all the time?”

“It’s fantasy.  It’s fun,” I reply, confused as to his dilemma.

“But you could be doing those things for real, all the time. Isn’t reality better than fantasy?” Crickets chirp while I consider. “You shouldn’t have to think about it that long. Yes, the answer is YES.” Husband shakes head and exits bathroom.

So I’ve been considering this exchange further. Why are we drawn to ‘fantasy romance’ when many of us have the real thing ready, willing and oh so able at our beck and call? I mean my man needs no warm up time at all; Shazaam and he’s on the job.

Yet…yet…something about the fantasy of romance is still so appealing. So what is it?

Well for one, no one sees my fat rolls and cottage cheese thighs in any of my paranormal romance books. It’s all very sanitized and perfect. Well, if being chased by soul poaching, demon possessed reapers is perfect.

Still, I think that’s the lure. It’s not what you HAVE; it’s the adventure of possibilities. The strange. Not that I‘d know what to actually DO with any of the hot romantic heroes in those books. Well, so yeah, I’d know what to do, but the chance of follow through is virtually nill. Enter that whole self-confidence hurdle. And cottage cheese thighs.

Romance books for me (and I suspect for most of my girlfriends in whatever flavor they choose: historical, contemporary, paranormal) are pure escape. Sure we could read more “literary” choices, but you know what, they are equally unrealistic just in different ways. No one wants to read about her real life, she wants to read about the adventures, trials, tribulations and love of someone else.

In the paranormal romances I read, rarely are the characters worrying about how they are going to manage Dinosaur camp, a demanding day job, pets, swim lessons and a baseball game along with preparing, eating and cleaning up after dinner each day. Add in laundry, bill paying and trying to catch up on the DVR, and you’ve have a typical day in The Big Cedars. Oh they have problems alright, big hairy, fangy or otherwise creepy problems, but their problems are so much more interesting and exotic. Not mundane daily stuff. Like real life.

It seems we often don’t have nearly enough control over our own lives so it’s nice to see that others have a much more complicated  existence than we do. No matter how hard your day is, there’s a pretty good chance you will NOT have to spear an imp with a fire poker in your living room.

Life is good.

5 Responses to Why We Read Paranormal Romance: A Confession

  1. Hahaha! Or stake a vampire on your front porch. Great post. I read for the escape from reality, like you said. Getting to know a new guy in each book is a definite plus as well. 😉

  2. That’s exactly why I read! I want to escape from the crap hole problems of every day life. And if it’s humorous and romantic, that much better. I write for different reasons, ones I haven’t examined very closely and probably won’t because I suspect the answer is a lot darker.

    As of last night, i stopped at chapter 14. Geez, I can’t believe I missed out on the sex scene by that much. Well, we know what I’m doing tonight. 😀

  3. Neat new blog Lisa! I followed Cedars before life got complicated with full time school, work and boys that refuse to stop growing up and having their own complicated lives! Can’t say that I write paranormal romance, but love to read it and agree with all these points. Someday I will get back to writing (historical stuff is my thing) and am glad to see you out there doing it, good inspiration.

  4. This is so good. We at Paranormal Romance Reads love to read paranormal (and other genres) as well. I stumbled upon your blog and could not resist chiming in. Reading romance is such a great escape! Much success to you with your writing. If you are published (e-book or otherwise) let us know if we can do a spotlight for you!

    Paranormal Romance Reads