It’s October, so we’re suddenly in the mood for a spooky read under a warm blanket, maybe with our sweetie by our side. But what if your love of contemporary romance love runs strong? Today Santino Hassell is here talking about the differences between the genres, and which he prefers and why. Santino’s latest, Sightlines, a paranormal romance, concludes his Community series, and is out next week, so the topic is on his mind. Take it away, Santino!
When asked to choose between reading a contemporary romance and a paranormal romance, it really depends on how I’m feeling. Whereas a contemporary romance is more likely to have the relationship at the forefront with other external issues weighing on the characters and affecting their decisions, often the external issues in a paranormal romance are more extraordinary. Paranormal has two jobs: the relationship plot and the overall plot—sometimes taking down a Big Bad. This is where my mood comes in when making my choice.
Both subgenres are pure escapism for me but it might be surprising to learn that I personally find contemporary more escapist than paranormal. That sounds ridiculous even as I think and write it, but I have my reasons! I swear! Essentially, while both subgenres guarantee me that HEA, a contemporary romance exists in a world that looks and feels like the real one but it’s one where…. everything works out. Even when reading a book as gritty and intense as Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe—a book where people were recognizably messed up and damaged and untrusting—I knew in that world… things would work out. In the real world, things would have been far more frightening and uncertain. Even knowing that, the book gave me hope for all people who have been shoved to the fringes of society. And that’s why I love romance so much—the feelings of optimism and hope it inspires in my dark cynical soul.
Paranormal is similar, but it’s totally dissociated from real life. When reading paranormal, I expect the exceptional to happen. There also tends to be a more clearly defined line between protagonist and antagonist whereas those boundaries can be more ambiguous in contemporary. What I can also expect in paranormal, is for my brain to go into hyperactive overdrive trying to figure out whether the author is using the world they’d created as a commentary or parallel to real life. I also geek way out on worldbuilding. Like way out. It’s my jam. However, I tend to start thinking more about the world than the story and distract myself by analyzing the mechanics of the world instead of losing myself in the words.
Basically, I love both. Both make me happy, and both make me think. However, at the end of the day, my personal preference will always lean toward contemporary romance. There, I can temporarily exist in this perfect world that is realistic enough for me to think, hope, and wish that things will one day be different in real life. For the same reason, my usual paranormal preferences tend to be novels with settings that closely resemble our world but with supernatural people living in it.
To sum this up, times are hard, and I will devour any book that allows me to temporarily lose myself in an alternate reality where things are stable, and positive, and certain.
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