When I was 12, in 1995, I discovered the amazing world of paranormal romance novels. I picked up Twilight Phantasies by Maggie Shayne, still one of my favorite books and authors btw. It was part of the Silhouette Shadows series, one of the very first publishers to take advantage of a brand new field of romance novels, the paranormal. They began publishing them in 1993, the first novel called The Last Cavalier by Heather Graham. The last book was published in 1996 to my despair.
Totally addicted I gobbled up each installment, searching used book stores and eBay for the older issues and was able to find the last few published in 1996 in current bookstores. I read these novels over and over again until I found new delights like Amanda Ashley, Shannon Drake, Linda Lael Miller and Christine Feehan.
This year, after a depressing bout with some crappy YA, I went back to my roots, re reading some of the Silhouette Shadows I have loved since my preteen years. I always wind up back with them, because they are nostalgic for me, even if the plots fail to inspire the same loyalty they did, once upon a time.
I am going to review some of these books in the following words. Not all, there are over sixty in this series. I am also going to review them in groups, because I noticed kind of a trend in these pioneer paranormal romances.
Creepy Family History
Several novels in this series follow the same plot line. A Girl finds out she has family she didn’t know about, a family secret she wasn’t aware of or inherits a family estate she had no clue about. These really are my favorite novels in this collection. The love interest is always mysterious, not a douche bag, a good ole fashioned hero and falls quickly in love with the heroine. There is usually a monster or a ghost involved as the villain and most often really good story telling.
Return to Bloodstone House Jane Toombs
Dark Enchantment Jane Toombs
What Waits Below Jane Toombs
The Haunting of Brier Rose Patricia Simpson
The Secrets of Sebastian Beautmont Carrie Peterson
The Seventh Night Amanda Stevens
The Woman in White Jane Toombs
The next set was some of the first werewolf books I ever read. Some much better than the others. Not much to go into with these, they pretty much speak for themselves. Some of them are made into werewolves with medicine and magic, others are hereditary born this way. The Rebecca Flanders is a series.
Heart of the Beast Carla Cassidy
Secret of the Wolf Rebecca Flanders
Wolf in Waiting Rebecca Flanders
Shadow of the Wolf Rebecca Flanders
The Volan Curse Jane Toombs
Waiting for the Wolf Moon Evelyn Vaughn
Be still my undead heart, this is where my love of vampires truly blossomed into a full fledge obsession. Most of these vampires are the traditional types. Though, thankfully, the Maggie Shayne are not as brooding-hate-themselves as others in this genre.
Good Night, My Love Jeanne Rose
The Perfect Kiss Amanda Stevens
Twilight Phantasies Maggie Shayne
Twilight Memories Maggie Shayne
Twilight Illusions Maggie Shayne
Dark Obsession Amanda Stevens
Kiss of Darkness Sharon Brondos
Now I am not sure why some of these were even considered paranormal… Accept that this collection advertised “the darker side of love” but amnesia was a common theme in this collection. All three are women who have amnesia, usually from an attack or accident. Usually the amnesia fixes the relationship between husband and wife or fixes a deplorable personality trait in the woman. Mostly there is danger in the form of a murder mystery.
Who is Deborah Elise Title
Shaded Leaves of Destiny Sally Carleen
Kiss of the Shadow Man Maggie Shayne
These are also some of my favorites. However I am a sucker for a ghost story. In this section you have creepy haunted houses, vengeance driven ghosts, ghost children, haunting tales of love beyond the grave, dead slaves, silent movie stars and one pissed off dead witch hunter.
Imminent Thunder Rachel Lee
Treacherous Beauties Cheryl Emerson
Bridge Across Forever Regan Forest
Silent Screams Carla Cassidy
The Willow File Lori Herter
Burning Times Evelyn Vaughn
Beneath the Surface Evelyn Vaughn
Mystery Child Carla Cassidy
Trust Me Charlotte Moore
Old Flames Sandra Dark
Time Travel/Past Life/Reincarnation
This is a broad category since these topics can span quite a large area. Some of these stories were done well, other not so much. You have a camera that makes a girl travel back in time, a couple re living their past life while trying to save the current one, people thrown into other’s bodies and people meeting when time streams go timey wimey.
The Last Cavalier Heather Graham
Stranger in the Mist Lee Karr
Night Mist Helen R Myers
Flashback Terri Herrington
Footsteps in the Night Lee Karr
Dream a Deadly Dream Allie Harrison
By Love Possessed Vivian Knight
Till We Meet Again Kimberly Raye
Not sure why, but in the 90’s apparently Native Americans were super popular in the land of romance novels. All these novels have mainly Native American themes, from fighting demons or opening portals to other dimensions. None were really my favorites. The Rachel Lee is part of a series that continued past Shadows.
Hangar 13 Lindsay McKenna
The Portal Sharon Pape
Sharing the Darkness Marilyn Tracy
Thunder Mountain Rachel Lee
Heart of Dreams Jeanne Rose
Navajo Nights Vella Munn
Since they advertised this with the phrase “the darker side of love” I am going to assume that is why most of these stories did not contain one ounce of paranormal anything. From a girl who wants to take pictures of swamps to a teacher who falls in love with a Hispanic artist, these stories are littered with missing children, murder and vanishing people. Some have hints of supernatural, but mainly not.
Swamp of Secrets Carla Cassidy
Lover in the Shadows Lindsay Longford
The Raven Master Diana Whitney
Dead Reckoning Allie Harrison
Between Dusk and Dawn Val Daniels
Dark, Dark My Lovers Eyes Barbara Faith
Sleeping Tigers Sandra Dark
False Family Mary Anne Wilson
Watching for Willa Helen R Myers
These are not in a category because; well they just didn’t fit in any where. One is about a woman who falls in love with a monster who she can only be with in her mind, another has fairies in it while one is about a demony thing that possesses people to do Jack the Ripper’s crimes. Most of them are pretty good, unique.
A Silence of Dreams Barbara Faith
Whispers in the Woods Helen R Myers
The Prince of the Air and Darkness Jeanne Rose
Memory’s Lamp Marilyn Tracy
Something Beautiful Marilyn Tracy
Dark Moon Lindsay Longford
The Abandoned Bride Jane Toombs
Break the Night Anne Stuart
Now and Forever Kimberly Raye
Douche Bags covered by paranormal
Now what I wanted to talk about. In many of these novels the love interests are just assholes. Guys that now a days we would look at as creepers, stalkers and guys you warn your friends away from. They are brooding, violent, moody, time bombs. The main characters fall head over heals with these alpha males because they are trying to “save” them. In these beginning paranormal romances the reason these guys act like douche bags is because they are being possessed by otherworldly forces or some supernatural crap is MAKING them act like a horrible person. This allows for the MC to rescue them, defeat the evil and BAM suddenly the guys are great, loving, sweet, awesome and totally swoon worthy.
Now I can suspend my disbelief for these gentlemen, in the novels it literally isn’t their faulty. I mean who asks to be possessed by an ancient slave owner pissed at the world? But doesn’t this say something about women? That we want to find a reason why the man in our life is a jerk? That it can’t possibly be just their horrible personality?
This is a common occurrence in many of my older romance novels. Amanda Ashley is a prime example, in the first , say, ten books I own by her the vampires are moody, broody, pain in the butts who hate themselves and their un dead life style and need some young fresh innocent Mary Sue to rescue them. However her last few novels have really changed, now the females are stronger and more independent and the vampires embrace who and what they are, dare say they even LIKE it! It is an interesting thing to see how paranormal romance has grown over the years. I mean you still find the traditional over testosteroned angry alpha mopey dude and weak heroine, but I find it less and less and really enjoy it.
I recommend browsing your used book store for any of these novels some have been republished as well in newer format. But pick them up, simply for a smooth, fast read that may make you roll your eyes, but appreciate the paranormal romance genre all over again.