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Book Review: Best New Paranormal Romance, edited by Paula Guran

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What is paranormal romance? Well paranormal is defined in the dictionary as ‘beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation‘. So really it can be anything you want it to be. Lately the term has been attached to books with, among other creatures, vampires and werewolves. And romance? Well my favorite definition is ‘an artistic work, such as a novel, story, or film, that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.’

But while most romances have the traditional happy ending, not every story in this book does. This collection of stories goes beyond romance as defined above. Many of these stories are devastating in their beauty while others leave you with that mushy feeling you get when you have just finished the final page of a happy ending.

Each story has a different paranormal element; a merman stranded in the dessert, an ex-socialite becoming the goddess of lonely places, or a star fighter finding healing in love. If you're looking for something paranormal that doesn’t revolve around vampires or werewolves, these 12 stories fit the bill.

I have to admit that I have never been one for short stories. I hate that they end so quickly, that I have only been given a small part of a whole. But then I feel the same way about some novels, so maybe it all depends on how well the short story is written. Each one of these is a gem, brilliant and captivating, and I have never enjoyed reading short stories more.

'A Maze of Trees' by Claudia O’Keefe is one of the few without a traditional happy ending but that isn’t the only reason it stands out from this collection. The writing is simply fantastic. It is also filed with some wonderful detail. When I read the line below I could just picture it so clearly: ‘Poised inches from my face was a green grasshopper, holding up a leaf from a pin oak. As I watched, the insect raised the leaf just a little higher over its head, then dropped it in front of me and slowly backed away, long crooked leg by long, crooked leg.’

'Single White Farm House' by Heather Shaw is exactly what the title says it is. In this delightful story a white farm house and her family travel to San Francisco to meet a very sexy skyscraper. I loved the idea of a house being really alive. Some times it seems as if a house really is alive, breathing in and out, carrying the smells of long past flowers and birthday parties.

I was surprised to find in this romance collection one story by a man. 'The Hard Stuff' by John Grant is about a man who comes back from the war in Iraq without his hands. Wounded in body and soul the main character finds love and healing through the world of fairy.

Best New Paranormal Romance is more than just romance. These stories will move you, make you smile, or send a thrill down your spine.

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About Katie T. Buglet