Where to Start: Paranormal Romance


Dark Lover by JR Ward // VBCI do my best to give great VBC readers a good starting place for urban fantasy, paranormal romance and young adult via our recommendations sections. As a general rule, I’m likely to encourage people to read Richelle Mead, Stacia Kane, Jeaniene Frost, Rachel Vincent and J.R. Ward books, as go-to books.

Those reading suggestions are typically for people who have already started reading genre fiction—hey, you made it to VBC, right?

This brings up the big question of where to start if you’re completely new. Let’s talk paranormal romance today. While J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood leads the PNR recommendation section here (VBC review of Dark Lover), but is that the best starting spot?

If you are going to introduce a friend to paranormal romance, which book (or series) do you point them to?

Do you go for the ultra sexy (my picks for best sex scenes!) or sweeter romance? Should you indoctrinate them into the world of alpha males from the beginning?

Hit the comments with your suggestions! I’ll tally up the recommendations and add a “VBC Readers’ Picks” list to the site.


28 Responses to “Where to Start: Paranormal Romance”

  1. Sarah P. says:

    I started off reading paranormal romance with Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series, but before that I read a whole bunch of urban fantasy that had lots of romantic elements, so I would say that the best place to start would be a UF with lots of romance. I recommend the Kate Daniels series all the time.

  2. Wendy says:

    I find that my friends are a little more cautious about books that have a “romance” label. I tend to start them off with Urban Fantasy. Most recently I’ve recommended: the Fever Series (Karen Marie Moning), Kate Daniels series(Ilona Douglas), the Grave Series (Darynda Jones), Kim Harris and Chloe Neill.

  3. Lee says:

    I would start them off with the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. It is a great way to be introduced to the Urban Fantasy genre.

  4. Lisa says:

    I started off with Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost, and that’s what I always recommend to friends of mine, along with Angels Blood and Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh and the fever series.

  5. Melanie says:

    For true PNR, I would say Black Dagger Brotherhood or the Psy/Changling series. But most of the people I’ve done recommendations for have already read many of the UF that are mentioned above.

  6. Melanie says:

    Immortal After Dark series by Kresley Cole is another great place to start.

  7. Colleen says:

    Magic Bites – Ilona Andrews. Great start to a great series.

  8. TiDubb says:

    I have to go with Cynthia Eden whose earlier works make Demons oh so sexy. Then I would recommend Lora Leigh’s breed series, followed up with Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series. There are just so many…

  9. The paranormal romance one. I would’nt recommend BDB, b/c I was recommendated that first and I hated it and only b/c it was so hard to get into. Worldbuilding and whatnot and after I felt like all PNR were like that, so I immediately said I disliked this genre.

    Tried another series and now I Like PNR. So for me BDB was not a great series to start out with. I would recommend something maybe that was considered a little on the lighter side, not all complicated like Immortals After Dark, Night Huntress( I know it’s somewhat considered UF, but I though of it as PNR too, a mix of both), And definitely Larissa Ione’s books as well.

    For Urban Fantasy, I’d say start with Chicagoland Vampires, it’s on the light side. GOod to start with. It’s like the transition if you’re moving on from YA to adult UF/PNR. Fever too! I jumped right into Fever! =)

  10. My intro to PNR was the Dark Series by Christine Feehan, followed by the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I would recommend Gena Showalter and J.R. Ward as well 🙂

    For UF my intro was Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer Series, but what made me really love UF was Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.

    I love many others but they’d be my recommendations.

  11. Sandy says:

    Well this is how it worked out for me. My friends were reading ultra sexy paranormal romance novels in high school. Books I purposely avoided because of SEX. Books they on occasion talked about and tried to get me to read. In college when I was about 16 or 17 I discovered The Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon website. Now I like Greek mythology and these stories sounded really original and interesting to me and I was so interested in the characters and stories themselves I didn’t care that they were romance novels and so that’s how I got into Paranormal Romance. The first few books made my cheeks heat up of course but that thankfully doesn’t happen anymore ;).

    So I say if you are introducing a complete newbie to paranormal romance start off fisrt with the story you think they’ll enjoy the most and nothing too crazy sex wise. Save the whips and chains for book 5 or 6 ;).

  12. Kayla says:

    Typically I recommend the Sookie Stackhouse series, or the Drake Sisters by Christine Feehan.

  13. Followthep says:

    I gave my friend a list of 6 PNR series to start:

    1. Psy/Changeling by Nslini Singh
    2. IAD series by Kresley Cole
    3. BDB series by JR Ward
    4. Demonica/Horsemen by Larissa Ione
    5. Night Huntress series by Jeanine Frost

  14. Liz S says:

    I agree with Kenyon, Ward, Feehan, Singh, Frost. I would add Christine Warren, Mary Janice Davidson, Shellly Laurenston who also writes as G.A. Aiken, Kerrilyn Sparks, Lyndsay Sands, Lora Leigh, Patricia Briggs as other great authors in introduce a newbie to PNR.

  15. Karen Wapinski says:

    I like the Edge books by Ilona Andrews to start because they’re well-written stand alone romances but have an UF ongoing storyline. The heroes aren’t also so aggressively alpha as to put off someone who may not be used to the usual PR alpha male yet. And if they’re a little more adventurous Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark.

  16. Amy M says:

    What started off my UF / PNR love was the Sookie Stackhouse series. I started it when the show on HBO started, but at the time I didn’t have HBO so I figured the books would suffice. From there I went to the Mercy Thompson series and then Kate Daniels.

  17. Sara L. says:

    I typically recommend the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs and the Psy Changeling series by Nalini Singh.

  18. Deanna says:

    For paranormal romance I always suggest the Lords of the Underworld series and the Night Huntress Series. If they enjoy one or both of these series that’s when I’ll start suggesting other books and series, but those are my 2 suggestions.

  19. Snapdragon says:

    I would say Lynn Kurland has some really great PNR. Also Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series and Christine Feehan has some great series too.

  20. Robin says:

    I’d say Chicagoland Vampires, Immortals After Dark Series, Kim Harris, Dark Series by Christine Feeham, Demonica Series, Night Huntress, Vampires of America, Sierra Dean Secret Series, and any series by Keri Arthur

  21. twimom227 says:

    I asked this same question about a year ago (What makes a good “gateway book” ?) And the discussion centered around where the reader was at before you make the recommendations… For example, if a reader hasn’t read romance, I always recommend the Psy/Changeling series as an introduction to PNR. OR if they want a vampire-centric romance, I recommend The Midnight Breed series. If they’ve read romance, but not PNR, I recommend BDB. For fans of a more erotic nature – looking for some paranormal, I recommend the ACRO series by Sydney Croft.

    As for UF – Kate Daniels!

  22. Nena says:

    For first time PNR and Urban Fantasy readers, I would recommend finished series that are not very long and involved, but that have engaging protagonists, imaginative world-building and detailed character development. These series will hook the reader and prepare them for more lengthy or unfinished series. This list includes Urban Fantasy books with very little sex but with a romantic sub-plot, to hot and steamy paranormal romance.
    The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
    The Jane True Series by Nicole Peeler
    The Unbound series by Rachel Vincent
    Sabine Kane series by Jaye Wells
    The Edge series by Ilona Andrews
    Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
    The Darkest London series by Kristen Callihan
    The Mageverse series by Angela Knight
    The Daughters of the Glen series by Melissa Mayhue

  23. Sarah says:

    I think my suggestion would depend on the person asking for a recommendation — coming from a romance background, I’d recommend starting off with Ilona Andrews’ Edge series or (for the actio–in all senses of the word–fans), I’d suggest Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. For fantasy fans, I’d start them off with Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.

    Kate Daniels series Ilona Andrews
    Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
    Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs
    Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs
    Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
    Angels series by Nalini Singh
    Elder Races by Thea Harrison

    just for starters!

  24. Mel Scifi says:

    My favorite authors for paranormal romance are:

    1. Darynda Jones – The Charley Davidson Series is about a young woman who is the a private investigator and uses her ability to communicate with the dead to solve crimes. This series is full of witty humor.

    2. Kresley Cole – In this serie, valkerie, werewolves, demons, witches, fae, and other creatures are about to partake in a great war. A different pair of characters are featured in each novel of the Immortal After Dark Series and just lick the typical romance, the couple’s crisis is resolved by the end of the novel. Cole allows readers to check in on all the characters periodically through the back story that continues throughout the entire series. Sex content is high.

    3. Larissa Ione – The heroes of these books are five demon siblings who run a hospital for the paranormal. The Demonica Series also follows the traditional romance novel layout with the characters finding happy endings by the end of each novel. The books have lots of sex because the main characters are sex demons and must have sex to survive. All the books are connected with a background story so you receive updates on all the characters.

    4. Lara Adrian – The Midnight Breed Series is about warrior vampires who fight to protect humans from rogue vampires. Adrian’s vampires originated from male aliens who mated with females from Earth. Again, all books are connected with a background story and the novels follow the typical romance format with each couple finding HEA. Sex content is high. Fans of Lords of Underworld Series or Blackdagger Brotherhood Series have complained that this series was too similair. I personally read Adrian’s books first and enjoy them more than either Showalter’s or Ward’s series. I own but have not finished either series yet.

    5. Nalini Singh – Psy-Changling series is about shifters and people who have psychic abilities. This series also allows couple to discover HEA by the end of the novel by connecting the books in the series with a back story. Lots of hot sex.

    6. Nalini Singh – Most of the books in the Guild Hunter Series are about guild hunter Elena Deveraux and Archangel Raphael.

    7. Dianne Duvall – Immortal Guardians Series includes characters that are similar to vampires but we have not yet discovered their true origins in the series. A new couple is highlighted in each novel with their HEA occurring by the end. A back story connects all the novels.

    8. Mimi Jean Pamfiloff – The Accidentally Series is about Greek Gods. The first books is Accidentally in Love with…a God? New couples are introduced in each book and each find HEA with a back story to connect the books.

    I could list others too…Katie. MacAlister, Molly Harper, and Jeaniene Frost. I tried to read “lighter” reads. I personally believe series such as Kim Harrison’s Hollows and Karen Marie Moning’s Fever are more intense, darker, and involved to be simply paranormal romance. Again, this is only my opinion.

  25. Katie Macalister has a great sense of humor and sexy fun with her series of paranormal romance books. I would suggest for the lighter side of romance, this series would be good for beginners into this world of reading.~

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