My first issue with the repetition of this storyline is that it’s always the hero whose soul needs to be saved by the true, (and often fast won), love of the heroine. Thus far, this is always because he’s some sort of supernatural creature and the human heroine who loves him anyway breaks his curse. Urban Fantasy may have its problems with angsty and tortured females, but at least the heroines get to be in the thick of things and just as non-human as the ill-fated hero in Paranormal Romance.
Second issue, no matter what curse/circumstance/whathaveyou the hero is suffering under, it’s always a woman that’s supposed to get him out of it. I’m not saying that it’s a surprise that mainstream paranormal romance is nearly 100% heterosexual; I’m saying that even a background acknowledgement would be nice. Inevitably, the history of the lost soul and how it can be recovered is revealed in reference to a friend, or friend of a friend. Said friend has yet to be part of a same-sex pairing on a noteable scale. (Personally, I can’t find it on a miniscule scale, if you know of a story that touches on this, please let me know, I’d love to read it and support it so we get more on the market).
Third issue, the concept that on a planet of more than six billion people, that there’s only one single individual meant for the hero and heroine, even if hundreds or thousands of years separate their births. Now it’s wonderful to explore the concept of two people meeting who are “perfect” for each other, or darn close to it. But the idea that only a single person in all existence will have the right mix of traits and interests to be a meaningful companion to any other person…That a thousand years of life, meeting people from all walks and stratum of society, will yield no one else until the appointed time…do I need to go on?
I love love and I love love stories, but I think there are twists and turns the modern romance reader is ready to see done with even the oldest archetype. What happens if the hero is straight and his soul mate, (note, I don’t say true love), is also male? Wouldn’t it be a soul mate’s job to help you find a true love? Soul mate as wing man, brother, best friend; a different kind of relationship that lets the heroine learn about the hero through an intimate secondary interaction? You sometimes see the secondary male, but never with the intensity between soul mates.
I won’t even go into the need for same-sex mainstream romance. What about meeting two people who are both soul mates/true love options? How do you resolve that when there’s no wrong choice? (Not that I necessarily feel there needs to be a choice, but as a poly romance writer I’m biased and admit that). And for goodness sake, can we have a male with the sincerity and “purity” to save the heroine? (Or another hero, wait, I mentioned that already, nevermind).
I know that here at Samhain and other e-presses, we’re putting these storylines out there, but they aren’t what I’m seeing on the shelves in abundance and I know there’s an audience out there for them, our readers prove that. I just want more options and variation to the broody untouchable paranormal hero saving the life of the independent but self-conscious and vulnerable human heroine, who saves his soul/is his soul mate, against all odds.
Love is more abundant than that. Its stories should be too.