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Human Hunks in a Paranormal World

StormForce-ResizedWhether it’s fangs, fur, feathers, or fins, we love our paranormal heroes. Think of the tropes that have become the standard fare in the books we love: sexy, tortured immortal falls for human girl (a choice that might prove deadly); a woman reaches a milestone/finds an object/inherits something that brings out heretofore-latent supernatural powers (and there’s probably a demon after her); paranormal slayer/hunter/enforcer falls for the fill-in-species-here woman he’s supposed to be killing.

Sound familiar?

Whether it’s a closed world where the paranormal critters are unknown to humans, or an open world where everyone lives in not-quite-harmony, the humans are, well, human. Bleh. They might be a strong foil, like Karin Murphy is for Harry Dresden, but they’re secondary characters. Not heroes. Certainly not romantic heroes.

Which is where Jack Kellison and I ran into some issues.

My new novel Storm Force (written as Susannah Sandlin) features a top-secret counterterrorism team made up of both humans and shapeshifters. Three Army Rangers, a female eagle-shifter who serves as a tracker, and a pair of black-jaguar-shifter brothers who provide the muscle. When I look at that list on paper, my first instinct was to make one of the jags my hero, or even both. I mean big cats are too sexy for their skins, right? And two are better than one.

But Jack Kellison, aka Kell the Army Ranger, refused to cooperate. This was his unit, damn it, and he was going to be the hero, even if he was a human soldier with a bad back who pops ibuprofen like Tic-Tacs. Even if his eagle-shifter teammate Robin, who weighs ninety pounds drenched in swamp mud, can bench press twice what he can (and reminds him of it frequently). Even if the book’s heroine, Mori, isn’t human at all.

I can’t say what she is without spoilers, but let’s just say that when Kell (thinking she’s human) handcuffs her to the hotel room sink while he takes a shower, she could have left any time she wanted. She was just staying to enjoy the view.

What can a human hero bring to the table in a paranormal romantic thriller? (Yes, I made that genre up, trust me.)

–Kell brings passion to his work, along with a reckless disregard for his own safety. He has a deeply ingrained hero complex, and telling him he can’t do something will pretty much guarantee he’ll do it or die trying.

–As a human, Jack’s political agenda is simple: do his job, do it well, protect the people he loves, and make sure he can live with his decisions at the end of the day. Paranormal critters have so much baggage!

–For what he lacks in comparable physical strength, Kell compensates as a strategist. He’s well-trained as a Ranger; he thinks on his feet; he trusts his gut.

–He knows his way around the human legal system, which comes in handy when dealing with shifters who are accustomed to making and following their own laws. When their laws collide with ours, Kell is a good guy to have around.

Kinda sounds like hero material, doesn’t he?

As an author, it has been a challenge to keep Kell dominant when he’s surrounded by shapeshifters who are bigger and badder than he’ll ever be. But he’s got a big-enough ego to hold his own, Mori is learning to trust him, and he has a cross-eyed Catahoula hound named Gator and a one-room cabin in the Louisiana swamps. What’s not to love?

Want to try a copy of Storm Force? I’ll give away a copy to one commenter or, if you prefer, a signed print copy of a book from the Penton Legacy paranormal romance series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega) or from the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road).

Have you read a book with a human hero/paranormal heroine? How did the guy keep up with the paranormal characters?

About Storm Force: As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine….Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target? 

Note: Storm Force is currently being offered by Montlake Romance as a $1.99 Kindle Serial. On July 9, it also will be available in print, digital and audio from other vendors as well as Amazon.

48 thoughts on “Human Hunks in a Paranormal World

  1. The only one who comes to mind is Terrible from Stacia Kane’s downside ghosts series. He keeps up with the paranormal stuff around him because he’s a total thug. Still Kane succeeds in making him likeable.

    Still stalking bookdepo for the print version of Storm Force btw 😉

    • Yes! I’d forgotten about Terrible. That series is one I started, got sidetracked, and haven’t gotten back to. Man, talk about antiheroes! BookDepo should have Storm Force (the full novel) on July 9–sorry they’re not doing the serials outside the U.S.!

  2. Great post Suzanne!!! Kell sounds great! 🙂

    You know the only series that’s popping into my head with a human hero and paranormal heroine is Jackie Kessler’s Hells Belles series… The heroine is a succubus who kills men while she has sex with them. They’re usually horrible guys who deserve it, but she meets one and instead of killing this man, she falls in love with him. Causes all sorts of problems!

    I’m super interested to hear all about the Kindle Serial program! I hope it’s a huge success for you!

    Lisa 🙂

  3. i love your serial^^, i find it really original that for once the male is the human one and in teh same time he is a really good alpha because he is protective, loyal
    Generaly when it’s the women who are the human they just go with the flow, they don’t fight for their place ( not always but often)

    • Thanks, Miki! Yes, I realized early on that a guy like Kell, who would definitely be an alpha male in the human world, was going to feel…maybe not intimidated, but annoyed by these stronger shifters. And he’d be trying, even unconsciously, to prove himself a leader.

      • i think it’s injury is a big element in the decrease of its self esteem but i don’t think any shifter would follow order if teh one who give them doesn’t have the quality of an alpha^^ Kell just didn’t see thing from their point of view^^

  4. I’m behind in reading the serial, but enjoying it so far. It’s great to see the strength a being a human in a starring role!

  5. Enjoying the serial a lot. Don’t think I’ve read anything else with a human hero / paranormal heroine. The little cliffhangers at the end of each episode just got big at the end of episode 4. This story just gets better and better.

  6. I can’t think of another paranormal I’ve read where the human is the hero. Sounds like an interesting premise. Congrats on your new release and thanks for the contest…

  7. that’s a good questions. It’s rare to have a human hero in paranormal books…AAAAH Yes I have one, Anita Blake! Well of only at first but she was human in the first book! She is still now but it doesn’t count anymore. I think it was ok, she was a fun heroine but well it’s more difficult now. As soon as I have a fun character, it’s as good as no one else.

    • Ah, Anita! Well, she was from the very beginning an animator who could raise the dead. Of course then she became like the uber-shapeshifter carrying all these dormant strains of lycanthropy. And then it just got stranger and stranger 🙂

  8. Great, thought provoking post, Susannah/Suzanne! I’m sitting on an MS with a human hero, but it was a very different book for me. And now I’m VERY curious about what kind of creature you’re heroine is!

    • Thanks, Amber! My heroine spills it all in Episodes 5 and 6, and the mystery is not only what she is but why her parents promised her in marriage to a man twice her age on the day of her christening 🙂

  9. I have read some light PNR with human hero/supernatural heroines, but they really didn’t have much action kind of things where he would have to keep up with the paranormal characters.
    manning_J2004 at yahoo dot com

    • That’s the challenge with a high-action book and a human hero. He knows that, physically, all the paranormal guys (and girls) can kick his butt. So he has to make up for it with smarts and strategy and, yeah, a little ego 🙂

  10. What a great post. I wonder if the appeal of the paranormal for me is that I can experience through the characters all of the things that rise above the mundane human existence. I will admit we have incredible people in real life, but personally I don’t know any of them. I have not read a fantasy book that deals with a completely human character as the mc. Molly Harper’s very funny series have human/para pair-ups all the time, but they are meant to be funny. As you can tell from my avatar, I like the urban fantasy TV series “Lost Girl” and they deal with the subject of humans and non-humans all the time. Come to think of it, the show would make a great book series 🙂

    • I think that is the lure of paranormal for me as well. It lets us look at human issues from a different angle, and experience the fantastical and what it might look like in our world. It has been interesting to write alternating chapters from my human hero and my paranormal heroine’s points of view and see how differently they interpret things.

    • Marsha and Suzanne–I couldn’t agree more. I’m fascinated by the way paranormal realities shine light on the normal by exaggerating our realities. Suzanne, do you think that reversing the trope to make the male hero human is especially effective in that way?

      • I do think it adds an extra dimension to it–in a different way than when the heroine is human and the hero is not. Guess it sounds sexist, but I think women are more comfortable when the big bad paranormal guy is stronger and faster, but the human guy dealing with a stronger, faster female? He has some issues to work out!

  11. Well, as you know I have all of the books in the Susannah Sandlin collection and don’t want to take away anyone else’s chances of winning your books, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE Storm Force and all the characters your brilliant mind has cooked up 🙂 Keep up the greatness!

    • Thanks, Toni! I’m having such fun with Storm Force, and am already thinking I’d like to give Nik and Robin their own books. And you’re about to get a better look at Archer 🙂

  12. Great post, Suzanne! I love this human hero/paranormal heroine idea (as you well know since you’ve beta read one of my stories with this setup 🙂 ). For me, I wanted the heroine to have the chance to be strong and make the hero have to measure up to her.

    My next WIP will also have that setup, and I’m currently trying to figure out the details of the hero. I know his current job, but I need to figure out what in his history makes him alpha enough to handle her. It certainly *is* trickier to write. 🙂

    (Then again, my story with a paranormal hero and a human heroine has my most beta hero. Hmm… I think I just like being contrary. LOL!)

    • And I loved your story with that setup, Jami! That’s a great way to think of it, having the hero need to measure up to the heroine. I think that’s something Kell’s going to struggle with once he finally realizes Mori isn’t human.

    • Thanks, Casey! Storm Force is really different than Royal Street–the books under the Susannah Sandlin name are more R rated, darker, smexier (although Alex and Jake and Jean Lafitte are pretty darned smexy) 🙂

  13. Can’t recall any books at this moment..so excited about the chance to win your books 🙂 since i haven’t read any of them *dang*

  14. Great post, Suzanne. Larissa Ione offers us some great human heroes, including Arik Wagner, an army soldier (paranormal unit). He falls for Limos, the Horsewoman of the Apocalypse in Immortal Rider, the 2nd book in Ione’s Lords of Deliverance series. Arik is one tough, stubborn and snarky *human* alpha male.

  15. Lynsay Sand’s Argeneau vampire series combines humans and vamps.A Quick Bite has a female vamp who falls for a human,

    • I’ve had some of that series in my TBR pile forever, Lisa. It’s one of those series that’s so huge I’ve been intimidated by it. I can see it taking me a year of reading to catch up! The third book of my Penton series has a female vamp (just turned), who’s struggling with her feelings for her (still human) husband and the vampire she bonded with after she was turned.

  16. I can’t think of any where the human hero stays human; they always get converted to something else. The most recent human heroes I read about were in Larissa Ione’s Demonica and Lords of Deliverance series: Kynan and Arik.

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