Thursday, February 03, 2011

Romancing the Vampire

I don't read a lot of pure romance novels. I think I went through a phase in my late teens in which I read a few Danielle Steel books; then I came to the conclusion that every book had the same basic plot with only a few variations in time-frame and setting. I think I even read a few Harlequin Romances and ended up with the impression that there aren't a lot of variations across the genre. I don't say this to be judgmental. I'm sure the same thing could be said about the books I like.

Honestly, I can't be too judgmental because I do dabble in paranormal romances from time-to-time, though I generally gravitate toward books that are more paranormal than romance. When it comes to romance I'm a "Pride and Prejudice" kind of girl. I'll take the romance and you can keep the sex.

It isn't often that I check out the romance aisle but, as a fan of paranormal fiction, I can't always avoid the overlap between the genres. I gotta say, I had no idea there were so many vampire romances out there. They're everywhere! And they run the gamut from bloody to just plain silly. Some of the 'lighter' titles include "Wait Until Your Vampire Gets Home" and "Undead and Unwed." We're not talking Dracula here.

It hit me while I was looking at all these books-- we're not going to be able to take the vampire back from the romance aisle.

I've been bemoaning the fact that the "Twilight" crowd took the monster away from us, but I may have been hasty in my judgement. The monster had been defanged before Stephanie Meyer ever got her hands on it and made it all sparkly. And the more I think about it, the more I realize the vampire is just too irresistible. Too perfect a foil for those who like a little risk with their romance. And I couldn't help but start listing the reasons why I think we're not going to win the battle to keep the vampire as a pure monster.

~Vampire Bites are an Easy Metaphor for Sex~

I can't think of a vampire story that doesn't equate the vampire's bite with sexual penetration. Most often the act of drinking blood is likened to a sexual release-- often for the vampire and the victim/willing partner. It is a little strange that the act of eating is so often linked to sex, but as a literary device it makes sense. If the vampire's prey is another human being, what better way to lure them in than through the power of charisma and the promise of a really good romp? There really aren't any other monsters that can be brought into the bedroom the way a vampire can. Werewolves are a popular alternative, but there is usually a clear separation between the character as a werewolf and the character as a lover. Not so for the vampire. There are also parallels that can be drawn between the normal act of intercourse and the possibility of life through impregnation and the act of exchanging blood and possibility of eternal life. Something to think about.

~Women Love to Imagine Taming the Bad Boy~

I'm not going to lie-- I have never liked bad boys. Too high maintenance. But I know a lot of women who do. I get the psychology. I know that there are a lot of women out there who fantasize about meeting the bad boy and being the catalyst that moves him to change his ways. Oh boy. Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment. So it's not shocking that the eternal bad boy-- the vampire-- would be ripe for the romance treatment. "Twilight" and "True Blood" are excellent examples of this in action. The heroines of each story have that every-woman quality for the reader to relate to, but they're irresistible to the vampire bad-boys (all of them) thanks to some mysterious quality lacking in other women. The object of their affection is drawn to them and has to fight against his bite-'em-and-leave-'em nature to settle down with his one true love.

~The Thrill of Danger~

This goes hand-in-hand with the bad boy thing, but it's still in a category all by itself because a vampire is a whole different animal than a tough guy on a motorcycle. In the case of the bad-boy most women are just trying to get a man to settle down. But in a vampire-romance a girl is just as likely to be dodging rival vampires and wooden stakes as she is likely to have to fend off the ex-girlfriend. This isn't something I think most readers are going to want to deal with in real life-- but it's fun to read about.

~The Potential for Immortality~

In the vampire romance there is always- always- the threat/promise of the vampire boyfriend losing control and turning his one-true-love into a vampire. And, if we're being honest, isn't that what we're pulling for? Isn't that why we buy vampire fiction? Or is that just me? I like the will-he or won't-he theme of vampire romance (not gonna lie) because it's impossible not to wonder what we would do in the same situation. Would I want to be a vampire? Immortal life or sunlight? Decisions, decisions.

~The Ultimate Knight in Shining Armor~

If a woman has tamed her vampire she has gotten her hands on one heck of a protector. As much as men like to be able to protect their loved ones, women like to be protected and sheltered. If you have a vampire at your back, it's pretty unlikely you're going to have to worry about being mugged or worse. You might have the run-of-the-mill vampire drama, but bar fights are a breeze. I also think there's the whole older-man thing at play here-- I'm not buying any of that "cougar" nonsense-- women like men who are knowledgeable and ready to take charge of a situation; someone who has a few centuries under his belt is bound to be pretty sure of himself.


It's over isn't it? We might get lucky and get a few good horror stories with the vampire now-and-then, but the legend has been taken over by *ahem* frisky women, hasn't it?

Please tell me I'm wrong.


Scott said...

I think with enough input infused back into making vampires unrepentant killing machines (The Strain by Dixon and Del Toro) we MIGHT...just might be able to take the vampire back from the romance shelves....they can have the swamp thing instead. ;)

Sigh. I hate romantic vampires.

SQT said...

Scott- I liked "The Strain," -- haven't read "The Fall" yet.

The biggest problem right now is that most vampires are written as too human. They wring their hands over not wanting to drink human blood. I rarely find a vampire that just accepts their nature and goes with it.

I just started Cherie Priests new vampire book-- "Bloodshot." It's on the lighter side, but the vampire isn't afraid to be a vampire. So that's a start.

M. McGriff said...


I wish I could tell you that you're wrong but I think this trend will stick around a little longer because of all the reasons you mentioned. When it comes to the "average girl getting THE ultimate bad boy" syndrome, the mainstream public is totally eatting that up right now. I know one thing, I'm ready for vampires to be scary again (minus the glitter! LOL)

Charles Gramlich said...

I actually should have a collection of vampire fiction coming out this year. Called midnight in rosary. It has a fair share of romantic and sexual overtones, but I'm hoping people will give it a look see.

Blodeuedd said...

LOL! Oh that first pic is hilarious and so true ;)

Yup I read them, but *coughs* Lately I find vamps so so..let's just say metro sexual. I will rather go for an alpha were

Michael Offutt said...

I'm so happy to have found your blog. It's refreshing to find a person that thinks as I do...that there is something wrong when the vampire has been taken out of horror and now lies in the romance genre. To make matters worse, publishers eager to make a dollar have cluttered the shelves with Twilight knockoffs looking for the next paycheck. I guess that's just how capitalism works...sometimes it's so frustrating.