Review: African-American Paranormal Romance Part 3: The Perfect Mate

By Paula R. Stiles

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img8435941Morris, Stephanie. The Perfect Mate. 2009. 14pp. Free. Available on the author’s website.

Today’s short story is an erotica tale of the PWP (Plot? What Plot?) type from the interracial category by Stephanie Morris. The Perfect Mate, like yesterday’s The Thirteenth, has vampires, but here, the vampire is the dangerous-yet-tender male lover (a common trope in traditional romance) and not an enemy. He drinks blood, but not enough to kill anyone, and sort of roofies them into not remembering what happened so that they won’t be traumatised. I’m not a huge fan of this trope. Just because you don’t remember an attack doesn’t mean it won’t affect you, and not remembering might screw you up worse. Or that could be my loathing of the Magic Reset Button shining through. But I’m willing to handwave it here as it’s just a way for the author to introduce the vampire as a romantic lover, not a predator, and isn’t used on the heroine.

We first meet Dominic, a pale, green-eyed vampire, on Halloween after he’s just sent a victim on her merry way. He bumps into sassy Carmen, who just happens to be the “perfect mate” he’s been searching for over the past century. Credulity-straining coincidence? You betcha, and if that bugs you, you took a wrong turn the second you read “PWP” or “erotica”. Carmen is out in the costume of a witch, and that seems to turn the both of them on even more during their first encounter. They flirt, she goes home and fantasises about him, they meet again, and they have hot sex, with the promise of an eternity of lots more.

This story seems to follow a standard trope for interracial romance – the woman is African-American and the man is white. The very-simple reason for this is the audience: romance is written for women not men and interracial romance is still a sub-set of African-American romance because its intended audience is also African-American. In romance, the woman is the audience identification character. Hence why she’s usually beautiful (or, if she’s not conventionally beautiful, she still drives the man nuts with desire because he likes his women junoesque, or whatever) and just the kind of woman who is the male character’s ideal fantasy. It’s therefore not really a surprise that interracial romance would be popular with an African-American audience. It’s probably for the same reason you have so many white women running off with Native-American “braves” in western romances – the Other fantasy is pretty hot.

At any rate, it works fine here. Carmen may be screwing the vampire in her story instead of staking him, but she’s still got plenty of gumption. Yeah, she takes in the revelation of his true nature with remarkable calm (she’s already figured it out on her own by the time he admits it), but it beats the hysteria and back-and-forth you get in stories like the TV version of The Vampire Diaries, where you start to wish Elena would just fish or cut bait, already. Part of the story is from Dominic’s POV, which results in him being well-described (even if he never does quite stop being a fantasy, but that’s really the point, so no biggie). The first paragraph has an especially-nice description of how blood tastes to him.

There may not be a lot of African-American paranormal romance out there, but that doesn’t mean we’ve even remotely exhausted the possibilities with these three reviews. You can also check out Lexi Davis’ The After Wife, about a young woman being pursued, body and soul, by the Devil himself. Or, you could try Parker Publishing’s interracial romance section, which includes selections like Carnival Diabolique, an anthology of three paranormal romance short stories, one of them by Seressia Glass, about women (and men) encountering hot demon lovers. Dorchester Publishing’s African-American section is a lot smaller than its paranormal section, but it does offer When Souls Collide (psychics), The Holiday Inn and Holiday Brides (holiday miracles) as crossovers. And that’s just a start.

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