M. Pax for suggesting today's topic.
Most of the paranormal romances we read take place in our modern day world. They're alternative realities filled with magic, monsters, and supernatural beings. You can describe urban fantasy in the same manner. The two genres are similar on a lot of levels and sometimes it might be difficult to separate them.
The key difference: paranormal romance focuses on the protagonist's relationship. It's the heart of the story, so to speak. If the protagonist does not succeed in love, then they don't succeed with anything.
Urban fantasy might have romance, but it's not central to the story. It's a sub-plot, and if the protagonist wins or loses the heart of their love interest, it won't greatly affect the outcome of the story.
Here are some other general differences:
Urban fantasy - most often written in third person.
Paranormal romance - most often written in first person.
Urban fantasy - creatures like vampires and werewolves are usually more horrific and traditional.
Paranormal romance - creatures like vampires and werewolves are romanticized.
Urban fantasy - grittier style and usually a lot of violence.
Paranormal romance - lighter style and less violence as the focus is on emotions.
Urban fantasy - darker events and more tragedies.
Paranormal romance - more hope and the happily ever after ending.
Examples of urban fantasies:
The Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Twenty Palaces novels by Harry Connolly
Examples of paranormal romances:
The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
The Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Anita Blake series by L.K. Hamilton
Not all paranormal romances and urban fantasies follow the rules. My favorite paranormal romances are the dark, gritty ones, and I don't require a happily ever after. I'm fascinated by relationships and how extreme situations affect them.
What are some of your favorite urban fantasies and paranormal romances? What makes you like one more than the other?