So I’ve finally jumped on the vampire romance bandwagon.  And no, it’s not Twilight.  I don’t do sparkly vampires, demon babies, or creepy assed borderline baby love.  I may be a lemming but I’m a lemming with taste dammit!

I’ve worked with my book company for almost 3 years now.  At first I was in a small store but then I transferred to a larger store that opened up nearby.  And when I was in the small store, we were pretty much staffed entirely 100% by women.  We had men come in seasonally, but it always seemed to be the womenfolk who stayed.  Now between us we had pretty much every section of the store from baby to fiction, kids and bio covered.  But we all seemed to be allergic to Romance.  No one would touch it.  It was like the books had the plague or something.  (Personally I would considering “or something” what with all the hanky panky going on in the pages and on the covers.  Seriously!  Porn much?)

So I bit the bullet and decided to dip a toe into the Romance section, armed with a spray bottle of hand sanitizer and a baseball bat, with a hot shower on standby to wash the smut off after.  And after a bit of research I carefully picked up the first book in one of the most popular Romance series in the store at the time, Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s Dark Hunter series.

I admit the first book amused me.  It was entitled Fantasy Lover, and the premise was of a Spartan general who pissed off the wrong Greek gods and was trapped in a book, to be summoned every full moon for one week by any woman with a mind to summon him, and be sed woman’s personal boy toy for the week.  I was amused and thinking plenty of corny thoughts when I saw this of course, so I didn’t have high hopes for this series.  Especially considering the formula most Romance use.

You know the formula.  Heart sore woman meets broody, untrusting man.  They deny their feelings for each other, despite the heavy petting and nekked wrestling, only to confess their souls to each other after some tragedy almost causes one of them to die or else lose each other forever.  Once in a while that’s ok.  But when you have an entire genre based on this formula, one word comes to mind: Boring!

But I must admit I was pleasantly surprised.  Oh granted it was corny in places and formulaic as hell all the way through, but I enjoyed it because it wasn’t all love and tears and sappy love songs from beginning to end.  It was actually quite dark, bloody and gritty and that’s what hooked me in.  See you would have a chapter of love and mush and sap, and then a chapter of blood, guts and glory.  Yay!  Entertainment!  But what really drew me in and made me a fan, was the mythology.

Sherrilyn Kenyon draws a lot of mythology into her series.  It’s mostly Greek, but there is some Atlantean thrown in there with the odd god from another pantheon popping in to say Hiyya!  every so often.  And I am a huge huge mythology fan.  I minored in Classical Civilization in Uni, and when I was a kid I could rattle off all the Greek gods, their sacred symbols, purview’s, and their Roman names at the drop of a hat.  So if you put something like this in my hands you can pop me in a corner and bring the house down around my ears I won’t care.

To date I’ve bought up the entire series in paperback form, and I’ve just finished reading Dark Side of the Moon, which is book 10 of 19 (so far).  Every book focuses on a different couple falling in love etc etc, but the overall thread is fascinating.

Basically back in the day Apollo created the people of Atlantis, Appolites, to rule the world.  But something happened to tick off the Appolite Queen and she went and killed Apollo’s mistress and their children.  Of course this didn’t go over well with Apollo, who cursed all Appolites (even his own kids) to never show their faces to him (come out in the day else they go up like a match) and die a slow and painful death on their 27th birthday, the same age his mistress was when she was killed.

So the Appolites went about dying for a few years before a Atlantian hell-goddess showed them how to survive by taking human souls to extend their life span, and these soul-sucking Appolites would then be called Daimons, or in layman’s terms, Vampire.  Tall, blond, beautiful, with fangs and blood lust to match, Daimons feed on blood and souls to survive.  But then Apollo’s sister Artemis stepped in and started creating Dark Hunters.  Human warriors who die with tragedy in their hearts and sell their souls to Artemis for a chance at vengeance.  In return for that vengeance they then life the rest of their soulless lives fighting Daimons, and releasing the human souls they feast on before the souls die.  These Dark Hunters are given superpowers, decoration fangs, and the same aversion to sunlight because they are soulfully handicapped.  They’re also given a race of humans called Squires who help keep the secret and the homes of the Dark Hunters up and running.  Dark Hunters can be freed by love, if the person they love is given the stone that hold their soul and presses it against their Dark Hunter mark for a certain period of time, fighting the burning, fiery agony that accompanies it.  If they drop the stone, the soul is lost and the Dark Hunter becomes a Shade.

But its not all vampires, gods and humans running amok.  There’s were creatures too!  Because apparently a king married an Appolite woman and when she died he went about splicing the genes of their children with animals to try and prolong their lives, creating two branches of were-creatures:  Arcadians who are born human and can turn into animals, and Katagarianas who are born animal and can turn human.  These folks are constantly at war because the Fates weren’t too happy that dear old dad tried to circumvent their will and so cursed the two races to forever be at war with each other.  And anyone who said Hell hath no fury like a woman scored had nothing on temperamental ancient gods.

So we have were creatures, vampires, pseudo-vampires, gods, and humans running amok here, so needless to say it makes for an interesting series.  And of course once I realized how much fun vampire romance can be, I just had to find more.  And so help me I did….

Did I get you hooked too now?  This is my personal reading order (i.e the order I read them in), otherwise just pop on over to Ms. Kenyon’s site here.