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Friday, July 23, 2010

Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance? What’s the deal?

So this has been something I’ve been researching and debating for some time now. What is the difference between these two genres? It can’t just be that one has to end with HEA while the other has a carte blanche to do whatever…like kill the hero kind of whatever.

Now before this leads to any side debates about true urban fantasy, I want to specify that I’m talking about Urban Fantasy as it exists today, not as it existed back in the day when it was classic fantasy with an urban twist.

I know that Urban Fantasy is grittier, darker, a lot of the time in first person. I know that it’s female focused with lots of Buffy like heroines running around.

What I’m having trouble with is the sex. How much sex is too much in an Urban Fantasy?

Coming from erotic writing, I have a particular inclination to have sex, graphic sex, in my manuscripts. Now, in a paranormal romance (at least the stuff I’m reading) that’s acceptable, expected, if not demanded by myself and a portion of the reading public. But what about Urban Fantasy?

I gather that many UF novels have some element of romance or sex in them, that it’s a subplot. But how much is too much? I've read many debates on public forums about this topic…some say it’s better when there’s none while others want more. I’m inclined to agree with the latter.

It’s something I’m struggling with now. I want to write something that I would want to read and I like to read both paranormal romance and Urban Fantasy with graphic, mind-blowing sex scenes in them. As do all of my friends. Now I know that some would argue with this viewpoint. I just finished reading a series of comments on a forum where a ton of people were complaining about graphic, embarrassing sex scenes in novels but I have to say I get a little bored, and disappointed if there isn’t at least one. (And if there is only one, I feel cheated…like we were building up for nothing)

Maybe I’m reading UF for the wrong reasons.

Just for clarity…what do you all want? UF with graphic sex or not? Behind closed door kind of description or none at all?

On another note – I unexpectedly got my first review of Assassin the other day! 4 out of 5 stars! Check it out here at The Book Pushers – Thanks Julie for your constructive feedback and wonderful compliments!

And remember – there’s still a contest going on for this month – comment each week and you’re entered that many times for an e-copy of Assassin! I’ll be drawing a winner on August 1st.


  1. Well, as a die-hard fan of JR Ward and her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I love when gritty paranormal and violence is mixed in with a lot of steamy sex. I think the tension, darkness and adrenelin-inducing action in both make then a perfect fit for one another. Like chocolate and peanut butter! Both are good alone, strict Urban fantasy and paranormal, but together they are even better. SO, more sex for me please.

  2. To be honest I've always thought that it was more to do with the sexual content than anything else. Although theres titles that transend this, perhaps there should be a third option,
    Urban Fantasy: Genre as a whole
    Paranormal Romance: Mills and Boon of Urban Fantasy
    Supernatural Erotica: Your LKH onwards

  3. I would have to agree with Gareth. I don't think it's as simple as two specific genres anymore. Maybe it was at one time, but I'm fairly new to this whole business, and I would probably say more sex falls into the supernatural erotica category. Honestly in that type of book, I want the behind closed doors kind of erotic sex, steamy, hot and explicit. But, in a paranormal romance, I would want it as a backdrop to the story and not interfere with plot, etc.
    And, nice blog!
    Happy Birthday! Hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. My understanding (which is quite limited) is that in a Paranormal Romance, the relationship plays a central role in the plot, and in Urban Fantasy it's more of a sub-plot. As for sex scenes, they vary in detail from author to author. I think there's room for everything from steamy details to "fade to black". You and your friends are readers, too. If you want a mix of the two, so will others.