While Stephanie Meyer’s 4 book series “Twilight” may have brought vampire romances out of their coffins in the eyes of the book-reading public, the paranormal genre has been going strong with these vampy romances for decades and, in at least one case, over a century! There are a few redeeming qualities in “Twilight” …fine maybe only two: it’s re-popularized reading for people across the globe, perhaps more so than that Harry guy- and it’s almost singlehandedly created Teen fiction sections in bookstores everywhere. However, taken in stride, the Twilight series has mainly given older adults a reason to look in the Teen fiction section, the writing isn’t very good, and it’s late to a ball that started way before teen angst tried strolling through a paranormal vampire’s world.
This Top 10 list chronicles some of the most popular and best examples of vampire romances (series or standalones) minus the teen angst. They also don’t sparkle. Or suck.
The list is put in order of publication in relation to “Twilight” (ATP – After Twilight Publication or BTP – Before Twilight Publication).
10. Guildhunter Series
While the Guildhunter series by Nalina Singh is technically about a vampire hunter – Elena Deveraux – who falls in love with an archangel, it is still a romance. In Singh’s world, angels can create vampires and they in turn become the army of the angelic beings. This series is not necessarily strictly a vampire romance since Deveraux turns into an angel herself, not a vampire; yet it still features vampires and romance! On the other hand, Singh has a Guildhunter novella featuring a vampire and an angel falling wings over fangs for each other.
9. The Night Huntress Series
The Night Huntress series might very well be one of the only true romance series in this list since it features two characters who develop their relationship throughout the books, which leads to their eventual marriage as they fight against vampires, ghouls, witches and all sorts of paranormal beasties. Oh and the series does indeed feature vampires, both the full-blooded male vampire master, Bones and his half vampire bride, Cat Crawfield… don’t you need blood in your system to blush? Oh that’s right, she’s just half?! Jeanine Frost’s series featuring the demon hunter and her hubby the bounty hunter, has only six novels so far and she suggests that it will finish in nine.
8. Black Dagger Brotherhood Series
This series by J.R. Ward chronicles the lives and loves of the vampires known as the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Through the 10 novels thus far, Ward has told the stories of the vampire warriors as they try to find love through the war against the Lessening Society. Each book centers around one specific warrior and his or her quest to become whole again in life, death and love.
7. Undead Series
In the Undead series, MaryJanice Davidson has created a spunky 30 going on 300 vampiress who just wants true love, her designer shoe collection and a little blood to stave off that true death. Run over by a mini-van, she wakes up as a vampire- actually, newly-minted Queen of the Vampires. Betsy has a half-demon sister, a wealthy best friend, a bitchy stepmother and an on-again, off-again relationship with her vampire husband Eric. While Minneapolis is not quite as small as Bon Temps, it can be just as quirky a back drop for this comedic romance series.
6. Dark-Hunter Series
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series is probably one of the largest romance series out there. Each book centers around a new set of characters, one a Dark Hunter, the other his/her intended mate. Dark Hunters are soulless hunters after Daimons, or vampires, and they are just about as bad-ass as the vampires they hunt. They chop down the things that go bump in the night and only die through decapitation or sunlight – come to think of it, that’s kind of like a vampire as well?! Well, at least they don’t sparkle and they’re multi-cultural, spanning millennia and continents around the world as they fight those vamps and woo the vixens.
5. Southern Vampire Mysteries
Chances are most people have heard of “True Blood” even if they haven’t heard about Sookie Stackhouse. In her Southern Vampire Mysteries series, Sookie has many tumultuous relationships- with vampires, mainly- but also quasi-relationships with shapeshifters such as werewolves, weretigers and one true shapeshifter. Of course, these relationships are all more complicated because she happens to be part faerie, which means that all vampires want a bite. Eventually she declares her love for Eric Northman though that is in the 10th book of the series even though they have been flirting with love for the previous six books.
4. The Carpathians Series
In the Carpathian novels starting with “Dark Prince,” Christine Feehan creates a race of beings, the Carpathians, that must find their soul mate or they become vampires. Oh yeah, they have to drink blood to survive, but don’t necessarily have to kill to survive. That would be bad – in fact, that’s the sure-fire way to become a blood-sucking creature of the night with no soul. But you can avert that fate with that one true love; unfortunately that mate must either be a fellow Carpathian or survive being converted into one with their sanity intact. So far, there have been 23 Carpathians that have found true love, with more possibly to come.
3. Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series
Anita Blake is a necromancer and U.S. Field Marshal who happens to be in a legit three-way relationship, a “triumvirate,” with a vampire and a lycanthrope. In Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, she’s technically after the undead bloodsuckers, but she discovers that they are obviously not the only thing with a thirst for humans in her world. Similar to Blade, Blake is one bad-ass character who can do harm to most supernatural critters while they shiver in their boots. Though this series is technically classified as horror at times, it reaches through to that paranormal romance audience due to Blake’s love triangle.
2. Queen of the Damned
“Queen of the Damned” by Anne Rice chronicles the fiery start and end of the relationship between Lestat de Lioncourt and Akasha, the queen of the vampires. There is nothing sparkly about this doomed love. Akasha wants a new king after she kills the old one, becoming the only embodiment of the original vampire blood. Lucky for Lestat, that means he gets to man, er vamp, up to become her king – increasing his strength from feeding from her and she gets a brash, bold new lover. Unfortunately, the older more “respectable” vampires realize that Akasha’s bloody tirade against vampires and humans alike would make a bloody mess of the world – so they eat her alive.
Bram Stoker’s Victorian Gothic novel, “Dracula,” started the whole vampire romance trend a little more than a century ago. Like “Queen of the Damned,” this romantic tale is more tragedy than romance. Dracula’s already got a bevy of beauties – albeit undead vamps – but he’s looking to add Mina Harker. As we all know, that doesn’t turn out well, what with all the blood-hungry suitors that are out for Vlad’s blood! You would think they were the vampires. At any rate, this gothic lit was the basis for all the current bestsellers – and shows what a real vampire is like!