Since I am in the middle of a book about fairies, paranormals came to mind and since the first paranormals I read were also romance, I decided to focus first on paranormal romance.
First a definition which comes from wikipedia.com:
Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of the romance novel. A type of speculative fiction, paranormal romance focuses on romance and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the genres of traditional fantasy, science fiction, or horror. Paranormal romance may range from traditional category romances, such as those published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, with a paranormal setting to stories where the main emphasis is on a science fiction or fantasy based plot with a romantic subplot included. Common hallmarks are romantic relationships between humans and vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other entities of a fantastic or otherworldly nature.
So I think it was around 2004 or so, I had just started back to reading on a voracious level again and was frequenting Nora Roberts' fan bulletin board - A Day Without French Fries, one of the few places back then to discuss reading besides mailing lists. While perusing there I learned about an author by the name of Sherrilyn Kenyon and everyone was raving over her Dark Hunter books. So I belonged to Booksfree and I decided to try her out. I, being the anal person I was then, started with Fantasy Lover. When I received it in the mail, I couldn't wait to start it and delved right in. Wow - I was sold, this was a good story and I probably finished it in a day or two. So it was off to start the Dark Hunter series officially with Night Pleasures (though I think I found the book Dragonswan was published in and read that as well, but it doesn't stick in my mind). After that one I was sold and quickly worked my way through the books that were already published and then eagerly awaited each new installment.
So that was the start, and I quickly needed to find some other authors. I had also read about Laurel K. Hamilton (which yes I know isn't technically paranormal romance), so I read several of hers. Then I read the Three Sisters Island trilogy by Nora Roberts and kept branching out from there. It wasn't quite as prolific back then as it is now, but there was still plenty to be found. I loved it and never looked back, I was constantly looking for new authors.
Now it's easy - throw a stone and you'll hit a paranormal of some type, and you know what - I still love them. I love that authors continually find new things to write about or fresh ideas about old storylines. I can't think of a paranormal romance I have read that I didn't like. Sure some authors do the genre better than others. And of course we have "Twilight" fever to contribute to some of the popularity of the genre, though honestly it was hugely popular before Twilight really took off (and yes I have read the entire Twilight series, except for the Bree Tanner one that just came out).
Some of my favorite paranormal romances:
- Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts
- Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye
- The Stone Prince by Gena Showalter
- Be Mine Tonight by Kathryn Smith
Hugely popular series I have not read (but plan on reading)
- The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward
- The Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
- Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole
- Lords of the Underworld by Gena Showalter