When it comes to choosing between paranormal lovers, we’ll always be staunch advocates for the vampire. Consider the facts: All kisses are garlic-breath free, and neck nibbling is a foreplay guarantee. As centuries-old heartthrobs with an aversion to sunlight, they know how to make the evenings, shall we say, worth everyone’s while. Vampires are eternally young, charmingly introspective—and, if Stephenie Meyer is to be believed, they even sparkle. Would you turn down a date with brooding, glittering sexpot? We thought not.
Naturally, we love sinking our teeth into romances featuring blood-sucking heroes and heroines—and the books below deliver them in spades. Whether they’re fighting hardened criminals or surrendering to a fiery passion, the vampires in these novels have some serious bite. Hang tight, spider monkey.
Dark Lover is the first book in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, which is set in a world in which few vampires remain. In fact, Wrath is the only purebred vampire left, and he sets out to get revenge on the savage killers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when Wrath’s most loyal fighter dies, leaving his half-vampire daughter orphaned, Wrath decides to take the fighter’s daughter under his wing and usher her into a world of fantasy and passion.
Said by Neil Gaiman to be “pretty much perfect,” this novel is an urban fantasy that centers around small-town baker Rae Seddon, nicknamed “Sunshine,” and her interactions with a post-vampire apocalypse. When she’s confronted by vampires who subsequently chain her to a wall, she knows the end is near–that is, until hunky vampire Constantine comes to the rescue.
Dead Until Dark
The inspiration for the hit show True Blood, the Sookie Stackhouse series centers around its namesake character, a telepathic girl from Bon Temps, Louisiana. In Dead Until Dark, the first book in the series, Sookie meets the enigmatic vampire Bill Compton, and he stirs a passion in her that she didn’t know she possessed. Bill and Sookie joins forces to hunt down a serial killer terrorizing their small town, which has plenty of paranormal secrets of its own.
Ass-kicking outlaw hunter, and half-Vampire, Raven Black is partnered with vampire Christian Poe to fight crime for secret organization Keystone, and the two clash from the start. But the loathing they feel starts to turn to another L-word: lust. Unfortunately, Keystone has a strict no-fraternizing policy that might sexually frustrate readers as much as the two main characters in this three-book series.
Guilty Pleasures, the first installment of the Vampire Hunter series, is a cult favorite that follows necromancer Anita Blake as she raises and kills the undead, solving gruesome murder mysteries along the way. When she meets master vampire Jean Claude–the owner of Guilty Pleasures vampire strip club–she knows she’s met her match … in her professional life and in the bedroom.
Halfway to the Grave
If you’re looking for a side of suspense with your romance, you should check out the first book in Frost’s Night Huntress series. When half-vampire Catherine Crawfield goes vampire hunting in hopes of finding the father who ruined her mother’s life, she’s captured by a vampire bounty hunter. After training with him, she realizes that not all vampires are bad–but when she and her sexy vampire beau are in danger, she’s forced to choose a side.
Dark Stranger The Dream
If you like your hot paranormal romance woven into deep world building and legendarium, this is the 13-book series for you. The first three Dark Stranger books focus on the relationship of immortal Kian and Syssi, a possible descendant of the gods. Scottish vampire Kian is reluctant to even meet Syssi at first, but once they come into contact, the fireworks are undeniable.
Yes, this series opens at a high school for “good” vampires (Moroi) and their half-vampire, half-human protectors (Dhampirs), but it heats up–and grows up–quickly. In the first book, two Dhampirs, Rose and Dimitri, work up a sweat as they fight evil vampires (Strigoi) side by side. The sparks start to fly, until a shocking twist shatters their budding romance. But that’s only the beginning of their story.
This spin-off to Vampire Academy inhabits the same world from the first series, but it revolves around Alchemist Sydney Sage and her often-fraught relationship with Moroi vampire Adrian Ivashkov. The Bloodlines series gets darker and hotter than the original, and it’s a must-read for Richelle Mead fans.
As much as accountant Amanda Devereaux wants a normal life, she knows that can never happen when she wakes up handcuffed to a smoking hot and emotionally wounded vampire named Kyrian. Author Sherrilyn Kenyon uses humor mixed with Greek mythology and fairy tales to construct a story that holds the fate of the world in one hand and the passions of two paranormal beings in the other.
Human telepath Raven Whitney first meets Carpathian prince Mikhail Dubrinsky in her mind when she senses his dark thoughts are leading him down a bad path. She reaches out to the not-quite-vampire in attempt to give him a self-confidence boost, and she sparks a life-changing relationship that neither saw coming. Although Mikhail can be a bit too possessive–and Raven can make some dumb choices–their bond still manages to melt our hearts.
By the way, if you like this book, there are 30 more (yes, you read that correctly) set in the Carpathian world.
Rom-com queen Meg Cabot applies her talents to an urban fantasy romance that takes direct inspiration from Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula. Heroine Meena is a feisty soap opera writer, who finds herself caught between the sexy, complicated Prince of Darkness Lucien Antonescu and vampire hunter Alaric Wolf.
Although it’s a fluffier read than others on this list, Insatiable offers the important underlying message that perhaps dating a vampire isn’t as great as other books make it seem.
Featured still from "True Blood" via HBO