I often think back to the conversations I had in college with my bestie across the country. In high school, we devoured Anne Rice together and settled ourselves firmly into Camp Vampire. We told each other about Anita Blake, and J. R. Ward, and the Carpathians. We exchanged battered copies of The Dark Hunter and Women of the Otherworld books over the summers. We both got caught up in life at some point and might have briefly exchanged thoughts about True Blood or the Twilight phenomenon, but we weren’t devouring those books as thoroughly as we had been back in the days of having free time. But that part of me still lived deep inside, and I have been making an effort to read more books set in the paranormal world — in part because there are so many that I either never found when I was younger or that have emerged in the past couple of years. Some people think paranormal romance has had its heyday and is no longer The Thing, but I must tell you, it’s going on strongly, and it took a lot for me to make the list this short.
What is Paranormal Romance?
The hardest part of making this list for me was making parameters for it! I knew straight away that I had to have a close distinction for it because there is definitely a difference between Paranormal Romance and Urban Romantic Fantasy. Both have magical elements, but the true paranormal element is the beings involved: vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts. One is broken down into series featuring single couples in each book, with each romantic arc ending at the end of each book. Urban romantic fantasy, on the other hand, might have separate story arcs (like a mystery to be solved) ending in each book, but the romantic element continues throughout the whole series.
Some of the book series that folks might think belong in paranormal romance, from Kate Daniels to the Southern Vampire Mysteries, aren’t technically romance, and so they don’t go on this list. Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, LA Banks — also same.
But then the past few years have thrown another wrench into the wheel, and that’s Monster Romance. Is Monster Romance technically paranormal romance? For the sake of my poor list-making skills, no. I had a recent conversation with my IRL romance book club, and it helped me put them into perspective: paranormal romance might deal with human-adjacent people who might be some element of “monstrous” but began as human and often present as human; monster romance, on the other hand, deals in the inhuman who share human emotions.
I said it, and I’m sticking with it.
I also held off on including books that lean more into general fantasy than paranormal. So there are a few witches and magic-makers, but if a series leans into faerie and mages and all that, I’ve left it out. Don’t At Me.
Oh, and non-shifter Omegaverse doesn’t appear here, either. I don’t dislike it; I just haven’t read enough of it. (Well, enough that’s not Stucky fan fiction.) If you’ve got recs, send them my way.
So. What are some paranormal romances that everyone should read? Well, every person would give you a different list. This one is mine. Some of them are very specific to my own tastes, but I think folks would enjoy them greatly; otherwise, they wouldn’t be here. Some are classics of the genre, and some are books that you might never have even heard of. Let’s get to it!
A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor by Kathryn Moon
I realize I’m coming right out the gate with a cheat that defies the exact rules I set, but this is partially a paranormal romance, so I’m allowing it for myself. Also, I just think if you haven’t read this book and you like books featuring multiple partners and interesting cross-relationship dynamics — and also a lot of very hot sexytimes — then you should be reading this. Kathryn Moon also has a more traditionally paranormal series called Written if you want to try that instead.
Dark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole
I’m going to admit: I asked The Experts about the best place to start with Immortals After Dark because A Hunger Like No Other really didn’t do it for me. And they really came through! The consensus was that Dark Needs at Night’s Edge is a great entry point because the love interest is learning about the world, and so you can too! Also, there’s the ghost of a former ballerina and an exiled vampire warrior stuck together in an old mansion. Sign me up!
(No Rest for the Wicked was also mentioned as a starting point, as yet another new character is learning about the world, and it, too, sounds delightful, so I have a couple new books to read.)
The Tenant by Katrina Jackson
What happens when you inherit a haunted house? Noel is about to find out.
When he discovers that his aunt has died and left him her house in Louisiana, Noel jumps at the chance to live by himself and start fresh in a new place. He just isn’t expecting to move into a house that needs a lot of love and possibly an exorcist. I mean, it’s just Ruby. Ruby rightfully stole this house back from a terrible person nearly a hundred years ago, and she’s not about to let someone else move into her space.
A Wolf in Duke’s Clothing by Susanna Allen
We don’t talk a lot about historical paranormal romances, but they are always fun. This one is particularly good if you like historical and paranormal but don’t get your hands on books that are both very often. Alfred is a duke, and you’d think people would fawn all over him as people in historical romances are wont to do with dukes, but many of his peers find him too unnerving. As well they should — since, you know, he’s a werewolf. And he’s looking for his mate.
Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert
I will happily wait a million years for the next book about these sister huntresses because the world that Talia Hibbert has created is magical. Using her given chops at romantic comedy, she gives us an all-too-brief story about Chastity, a monster hunter and barista, and Luke, the lovesick wolf who keeps coming into her family’s café. It is laugh-out-loud funny and is a good balance of romance, action, and family dynamics.
Wanting a Witch by Lauren Connolly
A Sapphic Solstice Romance between a witch and a vampire? Yes, please.
When vampire Keta shows up at witch Roe’s house to thank her for saving her life years ago, she expects that to be the end of it. But thanks to Circumstances, Keta ends up needing a place to stay, and Roe has a guest room. As the pair spend more time together, they learn more about each other and the falsehoods that have purported the incompatibility between vampires and witches for centuries.
Haunted by Christina C. Jones
Christina C. Jones is not known to be a paranormal romance author, but much as she does everything else, she settles us into her world and takes us along for quite the ride. Khalida is just a small-town girl living in a lonely world, until she meets the dark and mysterious Aram. Why does she feel there’s something off about her past, and why does she keep having these absolutely filthy hallucinations? (Content note for dubious consent; read with care.)
Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher
I don’t read a lot of paranormal romances set in magic-norm worlds, so it was interesting to be dropped into a New York City where there is a council of supernatural beings and a universal hierarchy. Violet was born to a magical family but doesn’t have any magic herself. So when the council surprises her with a requirement to complete a witchbond, even without technically being a witch, she turns to the last man she expects to need: the Alpha Werewolf of North America. AKA Linc, the man who broke her heart.
Human Enough by E. S. Yu
This is a short novella that packs quite the punch! Noah is an autistic vampire hunter who joined the organization to avenge his murdered parents, but things at work might not be all they seem. When a raid leaves him captured by a vampire, he meets Jordan, a quiet and sweet vampire who is just as much a captive as Noah is. But two heads are better than one, right? If they get out of this alive, maybe they can figure out what secrets both sides are hiding.
Frostbite by J. Emery
Here, we’ve got another vampire hunter (recently retired) and a vampire, but this time they’re snowed in together. Fancy vampire prince Ezra goes out for a night on the town, only to end up kidnapped. He escapes relatively easily but finds himself alone and unsure of where he is, until he finds an unoccupied cabin in the woods. Unfortunately, Morgan, who has just gotten into a row with his hunter family, appears at that same cabin, and now the two have quite the conundrum. Because the snow is still falling, they have no connection to the outside world, and they are each finding the other just a little too attractive.
Bear With Me by Lucy Eden
My favorite of this series is actually The Wolf of Wall Street because Beauty and the Beast vibes, but Bear With Me is a joy and a delight all the same. Chellie is an influencer who had a little bit of a meltdown after a breakup and is now
hiding recuperating at a lovely mountain resort. What she doesn’t know is that she’s actually staying at a resort designed for shifters, and the bear that’s been passing through at night is the grumpy guy who runs it.
The Last Wolf by Maria Vale
The Legend of All Wolves series is one that differs greatly from many wolf-shifter romances in that instead of humans who take wolf form, these are wolves who become human. Silver sits very low in her pack’s hierarchy, and the last thing she should be doing is helping a stranger. But she does, and ends up helping him when he is injured and staying with him as a potential mate. There are a lot of pack politics, and there’s some gruesome stuff in this book, but the romance and the non-romance plot are pretty well balanced.
Sing Me to Sleep by R.M. Virtues
I broke my own rules again with this one because it’s really monster slash fantasy, but seriously, this is my list and I need everyone to read it.
Penelope has been dealing with a great deal of grief and loss recently, and on top of it all, she’s been having trouble sleeping. When she finally takes some sage advice and uses a sleep aid (of sorts), she finds herself imprisoned by her own mind in sleep paralysis. Acheron is a demon of the sort that latches on to the fear that comes with said paralysis. But there’s a connection between them that neither of them expects, and the fallout might change all of Hell.
(Also, if you love this one but want something a little lighter, might I point you towards Deal With the Demon by Chace Verity?)
Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger
A servant for a vampire hive falls in love with the inventor they have out in their shed. But the inventor is…oblivious as all get out. That’s it, that’s the story.
If you’re familiar with the Parasolverse, you might wonder at my recommending this book instead of Soulless, the original Parasol Protectorate book. I would say it’s mostly because this book stands on its own, whereas Soulless is really best read as part of the series that it opens. (I still definitely recommend checking out Soulless, though; Alexia and that whole gang are magnificent.)
Also, if you’re interested in Carriger’s worldbuilding but aren’t interested in the historical/steampunk element, you can check out the San Andreas Shifters books, starting with The Sumage Solution.
Nothing But the Wolf In Me by Nikki Clarke
This one moves a little more slowly than some of the others on this list, but the worldbuilding and characters will keep you reading! Valeena is happy hiding out in a mountain cabin with her weapons, until she ends up saving a dog (wolf?) who finds his way to her porch. When he’s well enough to reveal himself as a magical being, she ends up pulled into his universe. Ever read about a Black wolf clan? Multiple Black wolf clans? I honestly just want a history of their existence, but we can’t have everything.
The Tyrant Alpha’s Rejected Mate by Cate C. Wells
I never thought I would pick up a book called The Tyrant Alpha’s Rejected Mate and enjoy myself. There are just too many things in that title that make me cringe away in horror. But I’m glad I read it with one of my romance book clubs because it was my first Cate C. Wells, and it will not be my last! Both of the central characters, including the Tyrant Alpha (Killian) and his Rejected Mate (Una), are both interesting, dynamic characters, and their journey back to each other is top-notch. (Boy has to work for it. And work he does.)
The Friend Contract by Dria Andersen
Gabe and Naomi are best friends — and also shifters. He’s a bear, and she’s a panther. He’s also been in love with her since before he can remember, but the only time he ever tried to tell her so…it didn’t go well. So now, in a Hail Mary shot, he convinces her to Fake Marry him to help him get out of an arranged marriage (that doesn’t exist). She agrees, but only with some rules (thus the titular contract), and the friends become…something else.
Wolfsong by TJ Klune
Y’all, I almost forgot to include this book, and I never would have forgiven myself. If you haven’t read this book yet, stop, go get it, and come back when you’re done.
This is an odd book that sort of isn’t quite an adult romance but also isn’t YA. We meet Ox, the narrator, when he’s 16. He encounters young Joe on the road and ends up being enveloped by Joe’s family. There are bad things that happen, but they’re always there for each other, until they’re grown and Joe leaves. And when he comes back, Ox isn’t the same person he left…of course, neither is Joe. (I am not describing this well, but you just have to read it, okay???)
Witchful Thinking by Celestine Martin
High school teacher Lucy likes her quiet life, even though she often wishes she could do more. So when she accidentally hexes herself into not being able to say no, she goes on quite the adventure in her own hometown. And when her new neighbor (and longtime crush) Alex asks her to help him with an issue at his house, she, of course, can’t say no. If you’re looking for a mosying, quiet witchy romcom (with a bonus merperson involved), this is the one for you.
My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine (August 29)
Speaking of paranormal romcoms, this one is the perfect blend of fun shenanigans and dark secrets. Cassie is an artist who is about to be evicted from her apartment and, therefore, finds herself applying for a room in an apartment that might be owned by a serial killer. But when she meets Frederick, her new landlord, she finds him charming, if a little…odd. And when she finds damning evidence of foul play, he has to come clean: he’s a vampire. And he wants her to teach him how to operate in the modern world.
(Someone on Goodreads referred to it as What We Do In the Shadows meets The Flatshare, and that is just…perfect. One hundred percent will always read.)
This is, of course, just a starting off point if you really want to explore the vast world that is paranormal romance, and you can dig into these authors’ backlists and readalikes to your heart’s content. I’m also looking forward to a new witchy book by Meg Cabot, Enchanted to Meet You. And of course, I await Ali Hazelwood’s dip into the paranormal pool with bated breath — but Bride doesn’t come out until next year (sobbing emoji). Either way, there are so many ways to dive into paranormal romance, whether you want to focus on one specific kind of paranormal creature or navigate the whole universe.