Thursday, 30 April 2009

Urban Fantasy Romance = Oxymoron?

Believe it or not I am trying to retain some objectivity here. This is just my opinion, subject to change I guess, though I've yet to be convinced that UFR is anything but a nightmare I can't wake up from. And I'm trying to bear in mind the quote about there being two kinds of fool. But I can't help but feel that whoever thought of sticking Urban Fantasy and Romance together, kind of missed the point.

The moment a romantic/sexual relationship becomes over 30% (random number choice) of the plot I think your right to call it urban fantasy in any sense becomes tenuous. Call it paranormal romance, call it romantic fantasy. But to me, when the protagonist and their situation (to me, the driving element in UF) become overshadowed by their sexual/romantic needs you no longer have UF.

Ghostland by Jory Strong was the catalyst for me thinking about this and in a way the book has succeeded because it's got me thinking about why I read what I read and why I feel the way I do about it.

But this book has also frustrated me (gross understatement) because I feel there was a brilliant urban fantasy to be told here - a breakout book for 2009. Instead I'm left with the desire to go through the book and delete all references to hardening cocks, swelling labias and 90% of the sex scenes.

I'm also left not knowing whether to give this book away or keep it and read the next book in the series in the hope that the sexual element will be toned down in favour of more plot and character development. This is a world that I want to be taken deeper into DAMNIT!, but I don't want to be skipping pages and pages of sex just to get back to the good stuff.


Carolyn Crane (aka Carolyn Jean) said...

Oh, now you have me very interested in GL. I sort of like the mix, but you are right to want the genres defined. I have also heard the term Urban Paranormal.

Hey I love the new look!!!

LesleyW said...

Thanks Carolyn :) Thought it was time for a change - and okay I admit I only just figured out how to do it. lol

I've finished Ghostland and will be posting a longer review soon. And I think I like UP even less than UFR. Geez I should learn to chill. lol

Mary M. said...

Lol. I've never thought about that situation from a urban fantasy fan's POV. I'm primarily a lover of romance, so added romantic content in a book of any kind is usually welcome - up to a point that Laurell K. Hamilton crossed by a mile since her 10th AB (not worth the VH anymore) book. But yeah, if I can be incredibly annoyed when my favorite romance books turn into urban fantasy with quickly put together romantic storylines that disappear in the background, I can understand your annoyance when straight urban fantasy books are suddenly overwhelmed with swelling labias and other out of control genitalia. :-DD Well, I don't know what we can do, as mixing genres seems to have become the new hot thing in publishing these days. The most comforting thing I can think of is to tell you that at least, the publishers of GL didn't try to pass off the book as straight urban fantasy, and I doubt it will be much of a comfort. As for the phrase "urban fantasy romance", it's the first time I hear it but I don't dislike it per see - a priori, it seems rather fitting for a urban fantasy oriented story with strong romantic content and explicit long as there is a complete romance in the book and an acceptable development. I'd like to be able to put the latest BDB books in such a category, except I don't think they deserve even the co-label romance anymore. *sigh*

LesleyW said...

Mary - thanks for your comment. I at least feel better for having gotten it off my chest. lol. I must admit re. the BDB books I cringe a little when they are referred to as UF, mainly because for some readers this may be their first exposure to writing which is 'considered' to be UF and there is just so much better out there.

Look for my longer review of Ghostland later today.