I have a confession. I didn’t used to be a romance fan. In fact I’m sort of a fan through the least likely place, through horror. I’ve always been a sucker for paranormals and it *used* to be that paranormal=horror. Vampire=horror.
I’m sure if you’ve ever read any comment on any Twilight blog entry, review or essay ever you’ve heard it too. “Vampires don’t sparkle!” or “Vampires aren’t romantic! They’re cold-blooded killers!”
It’s the age old “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter” argument. Like Reese’s, I say, just enjoy it! Vampires absolutely have a place in romance, and a lot of people underestimate why.
Monsters became timeless tropes for a reason, because they represent something to us. Look at zombies, ten years ago they were a passe niche trope. Now? They’re everywhere. Have they changed? Nope, we have. Today it’s hard not to find a person who doesn’t feel like the world is being pulled out from under their feet. We feel hopeless, overwhelmed, betrayed by people and establishments that we trusted. The small pack of survivors boarding themselves up in a house, hoping none of the infected is inside with them, while the world goes to its personal dark and nasty place–that’s us! That’s how it feels!
The progression of vampire from horror to romance is no different.
The Dracula vampire was monstrous because of its sex appeal, because of its wrongness. Anne Rice’s vampires were dangerous because they were so far above us, beautiful, violent and dangerous, that interacting with one meant our own death–a death we were only too happy to embrace to be around them.
For decades vampire were the top of the food chain. They answered the question, what’s a bigger predator than us? And the horror was about our complete inability to meet a vampire toe to toe and stand a chance of surviving. For once we were the gazelle, not the lion.
But then the mentality shifted and other people became scarier, because things like serial killers and psychotics and sociopaths existed, in real life, and really could wander into town and eat us!
So vampires looked for new territory and found it, with very little changing at all. See they’re still sexy. So appealing people might just decide throwing themselves at a vampires feet would be worth it for the few moments of bliss it brings.
Vampires still mean something scary and attractive at the same time. Because in romance vampires represent the terrifying, unstoppable, absolutely irresistible desire…to connect with each other. People in romance books are falling for vampires because let’s face it falling for anyone, giving yourself and your emotions over to another person, is terrifying.
Maybe they’ll hurt you. Maybe it feels like you can’t survive if they do. No one has the power to hurt you like the people you love, so what if they were in fact not human and might be a true predator? In real life we don’t need real vampires, because there are certainly enough predators and leeches and users of the human variety around to pick up the slack.
And yeah, dating a vampire can propel you into the super secret (super sparkly) world where magic and secrets exist–and you’re part of them! Or it can end up with your tender emotions–and neck–as nothing more than a tasty snack for a predator.
Danger is an inherent part of romance. So why shouldn’t vampires find a place in books about people making themselves, purposefully and hopefully, vulnerable in the hopes of finding true love?