8 Unusual Romance Novel Genres

Amazon
Amazon

For all the turned-up noses offered by the literary community, the romance novel genre tends to move a lot more volume than your latest John Updike reprint. Sales reached $1.08 billion in 2013, and at least a third of devoted readers buy a minimum of two books every month.

With the rise of self-publishing and e-books, romance readers now have more genres than ever to choose from—some so niche and specific that they’ve created a loyal audience all their own. Take a look at eight categories of romance we promise truly exist.

1. AMISH VAMPIRES

Amazon

At first glance, a culture that prohibits flashes of flesh and unmarried coupling seems like a poor clothesline for the bodice-ripping prose romance has relied on for decades. But that demure, conservative approach is part of the appeal for Amish romance titles. Books like Amish Redemption and Harvest Blessings feature couples who practice chaste courtships and delay their first kiss for weeks.

To help differentiate the sea of Amish titles released monthly, some authors have taken to amalgamating the genre with vampires. Amish Vampires by Kerry Neitz details a harrowing mission to rescue a space colony of farming Amish from an onboard vampire. In Chosen, book one of The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy by Barbara Ellen Brink, an Amish girl named Jael discovers she’s been selected to protect her community against a parasitic threat. While some might perceive the titles to be more in the vein of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they’re successful. In 2013, The Living and the Undead became one of Amazon’s top 100 e-book titles.

2. NASCAR

Amazon

Meet Lance Cooper. A former star of the NASCAR auto racing circuit, he gets into a fender bender with ex-kindergarten teacher Sara Tingle. Sparks ignite. That’s the premise of In the Groove, the first title published under a licensing deal between the Harlequin book group and NASCAR in 2006. Research by the race league found that roughly half their fans were female—and of those, 26 percent were more likely to pick up a romance novel than someone who didn’t follow the sport. To promote the launch of the partnership, NASCAR even hosted some speed dating events at races in Daytona Beach in 2007.

3. MERMAIDS

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They may flirt uncomfortably with bestiality overtones, but mermaids have long been a source of literal fish-out-of-water romances. Among the standouts: A Mermaid’s Kiss, in which an angel falls into the sea and convalesces under the care of a mermaid named Anna, and Lies Beneath, about a mer-man who falls for the woman his evil mermaid sisters have ordered him to kill.

4. GARGOYLES

Amazon

The success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series opened the floodgates for supernatural romance, which has touched on forbidden love among centaurs, satyrs, and occasionally dinosaurs. Gargoyles were perfectly suited for this kind of template, and titles like Stone Guardian and Rock of Love examined their role as a protector of humans—particularly single women—in the face of otherworldly evil. 

5. CAVEMEN SUITORS

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Time-travel and some very suspect science sets the premise for many of these books, which feature contemporary women drawn to the simple, dominant brains of Neanderthals. Lust of the Caveman goes the sci-fi route, with a female scientist loading the brain of an ancient man into a modern body. Critics believe the appeal of the books resides in the caveman’s general disregard for both their own appearance and modern societal gender roles—the Tarzan template.

6. ALIEN ABDUCTIONS

Amazon

For some, being spirited away by orifice-probing extraterrestrials is a nightmare. For some romance readers, it’s a source of relaxation. Titles like Captured and The Survival Race blend sci-fi with distressed-damsel scenarios, as the heroine finds herself on strange planets and in the middle of hostile alien relations.

7. BREWERY OWNER INTRIGUE

Amazon

Heroines in Love, Chocolate, and Beer and Paradise Hops own and operate breweries when love interests come calling. The dramatic potential of breweries (financial woes, murder, industry sabotage) can also support ongoing series, as in the case of Enemies on Tap, part of the Sweet Salvation Brewery saga. Liz Crowe, author of Paradise Hops, said that focusing on craft beer as a backdrop makes her stories more relatable. The Beer Necessities blog dubbed the emerging trend “50 Shades of Grain.”

8. PARANORMAL PREGNANCIES

Amazon

A paranormal sub-genre of the paranormal sub-genre is paranormal pregnancy, where the protagonist is expecting some variation of a werewolf, vampire, alien, or other creature. For completists, the WereBabies 10-volume set explores the romantic entanglements for expectant mothers of were-lions and dragon-man hybrids. 

8 Great Gifts for People Who Work From Home

World Market/Amazon
World Market/Amazon

A growing share of Americans work from home, and while that might seem blissful to some, it's not always easy to live, eat, and work in the same space. So, if you have co-workers and friends who are living the WFH lifestyle, here are some products that will make their life away from their cubicle a little easier.

1. Folding Book Stand; $7

Hatisan / Amazon

Useful for anyone who works with books or documents, this thick wire frame is strong enough for heavier textbooks or tablets. Best of all, it folds down flat, so they can slip it into their backpack or laptop case and take it out at the library or wherever they need it. The stand does double-duty in the kitchen as a cookbook holder, too.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Duraflame Electric Fireplace; $179

Duraflame / Amazon

Nothing says cozy like a fireplace, but not everyone is so blessed—or has the energy to keep a fire going during the work day. This Duraflame electric fireplace can help keep a workspace warm by providing up to 1000 square feet of comfortable heat, and has adjustable brightness and speed settings. They can even operate it without heat if they just crave the ambiance of an old-school gentleman's study (leather-top desk and shelves full of arcane books cost extra).

Buy It: Amazon

3. World Explorer Coffee Sampler; $32

UncommonGoods

Making sure they've got enough coffee to match their workload is a must, and if they're willing to experiment with their java a bit, the World Explorer’s Coffee Sampler allows them to make up to 32 cups using beans from all over the world. Inside the box are four bags with four different flavor profiles, like balanced, a light-medium roast with fruity notes; bold, a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa; classic, which has notes of nuts; and fruity, coming in with notes of floral.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Lavender and Lemon Beeswax Candle; $20

Amazon

People who work at home all day, especially in a smaller space, often struggle to "turn off" at the end of the day. One way to unwind and signal that work is done is to light a candle. Burning beeswax candles helps clean the air, and essential oils are a better health bet than artificial fragrances. Lavender is especially relaxing. (Just use caution around essential-oil-scented products and pets.)

Buy It: Amazon

5. HÄNS Swipe-Clean; $15

HÄNS / Amazon

If they're carting their laptop and phone from the coffee shop to meetings to the co-working space, the gadgets are going to get gross—fast. HÄNS Swipe is a dual-sided device that cleans on one side and polishes on the other, and it's a great solution for keeping germs at bay. It's also nicely portable, since there's nothing to spill. Plus, it's refillable, and the polishing cloth is washable and re-wrappable, making it a much more sustainable solution than individually wrapped wipes.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Laptop Side Table; $100

World Market

Sometimes they don't want to be stuck at a desk all day long. This industrial-chic side table can act as a laptop table, too, with room for a computer, coffee, notes, and more. It also works as a TV table—not that they would ever watch TV during work hours.

Buy It: World Market

7. Moleskine Classic Notebook; $17

Moleskin / Amazon

Plenty of people who work from home (well, plenty of people in general) find paper journals and planners essential, whether they're used for bullet journaling, time-blocking, or just writing good old-fashioned to-do lists. However they organize their lives, there's a journal out there that's perfect, but for starters it's hard to top a good Moleskin. These are available dotted (the bullet journal fave), plain, ruled, or squared, and in a variety of colors. (They can find other supply ideas for bullet journaling here.)

Buy It: Amazon

8. Nexstand Laptop Stand; $39

Nexstand / Amazon

For the person who works from home and is on the taller side, this portable laptop stand is a back-saver. It folds down flat so it can be tossed into the bag and taken to the coffee shop or co-working spot, where it often generates an admiring comment or three. It works best alongside a portable external keyboard and mouse.

Buy It: Amazon

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12 Very Haunted Roads

Don't get caught on these roads at night.
Don't get caught on these roads at night.
Pixabay, Pexels // CC0

What could be scarier than driving down a dark road at night? Driving down one of these dark roads at night. If any of the below routes—compiled by Commercial Truck Trader—pop up on your GPS this spooky season, consider finding an alternate way to your destination.

1. Jeremy Swamp Road // Southbury, Connecticut

Jeremy Swamp Road and several other streets in southwestern Connecticut are said to be frequented by Melon Heads, creatures that, according to the New England Historical Society, live in wooded areas and “look like small humanoids with oversized heads” that “survive by eating small animals, stray cats and human flesh, usually the flesh of teenagers.” Some say the Melon Heads are the result of inbreeding, with others theorizing that they escaped from local hospitals or asylums.

2. Owaissa Street // Appleton, Wisconsin

Legend has it that every full moon, a tombstone in Owaissa Street’s Riverside Cemetery bleeds. The tombstone belongs to Kate Blood, who, according to some stories, was either a witch who killed her husband and children with an ax, or was a woman murdered by her husband. (Local historians, however, say Blood died of tuberculosis.) Visitors also report seeing a creepy hooded figure roaming the cemetery.

3. Prospector’s Road // Garden Valley, California

Driving along this hilly, three-mile stretch of road is not for the faint of heart: It’s supposedly haunted by the spirit of a tall, bearded prospector who was murdered after he drunkenly bragged about his claim. According to Weird California, those who run into the entity—who is supposedly responsible for many an accident along the road—will hear him whisper: “Get off my claim.”

4. Sandhill Road // Las Vegas, Nevada

The flood tunnels beneath Sandhill Road between Olive Avenue and Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas are said to be haunted by a dead couple. People have also reported hearing creepy, ghostly moans coming from the darkness and being chased by the specter of an old woman.

5. Bloody Bride Bridge // Steven’s Point, Wisconsin

Drivers on Highway 66 in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, might get a glimpse of the ghost of a bride who was supposedly killed on her wedding day in a car accident on the bridge. Legend has it that if those drivers park on the bridge at midnight and look in their rearview mirrors, they’ll see the bride, in her bloody wedding dress, sitting in the backseat.

6. Boy Scout Lane // Steven’s Point, Wisconsin

Also located in Steven’s Point, the isolated Boy Scout Lane is supposedly where a group of Boy Scouts died, although no one quite seems to know why or how—some say they were killed while camping when their fire raged out of control; others say it was a bus accident; and some say they simply disappeared. Whatever the reason, visitors to the area now say they can hear footsteps and calls for help coming from the woods.

7. Route 66 // Villa Ridge, Missouri

Located on Route 66, the abandoned Tri-County Truck-Stop is a hotbed of ghostly activity. Before the restaurant shut down, employees reported hearing strange noises, seeing apparitions, and watching as coffee pots were thrown across the room by invisible forces.

8. Stagecoach Road // Marshall, Texas

On this red dirt road—which once served as a route for stagecoaches traveling to the town from Shreveport, Louisiana—paranormal investigators have snapped photos of ghosts and had the batteries of the equipment they were using to investigate drain inexplicably. Others who have driven down the road and turned off their cars said they felt a presence stepping on the bumper; when they went home, they discovered tiny handprints in the red dust on the back of the car. The road is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a Voodoo priestess.

9. Route 666 // Douglas, Arizona

The road formerly known as Route 666 may now be part of Route 491 [PDF], but some still call it The Devil’s Highway. Drivers traveling on this section of highway have recounted being pursued by a pack of terrifying dogs or a phantom semi-truck, among other strange and scary encounters.

10. Goatman's Bridge // Denton, Texas

Old Alton Bridge is an iron-truss structure built in 1884 that got its unsettling moniker from local legends. Fifty years after the bridge was built, a successful Black goat farmer named Oscar Washburn—who went by the nickname “Goatman”—put a sign on the bridge that read “This Way to the Goatman.” The sign incensed the Ku Klux Klan, who hanged Washburn on the bridge. But according to Legends of America, “when they looked over to make sure he was dead, they could see only the rope. Washburn was gone and was never seen again.” Some report seeing a man herding goats across the bridge, which was decommissioned around 2001, while others say they’ve seen a half-man, half-goat creature there.

11. Route 375 // Rachel, Nevada

Entertaining the idea of a close encounter? Drivers on this road—which runs near the Nevada Test and Training Range, home of Area 51—have reported hundreds of strange, potentially alien sightings from Alamo to Tonopah, leading to the route’s nickname: “The Extraterrestrial Highway.”

12. Ortega Ridge Road // Montecito, California

This road is haunted by Las Ters Hermanas, or The Three Sisters—three nuns who, it’s said, were murdered more than a century ago. They can be seen standing on the side of the road, arms crossed, their eyes bright blue and their faces glowing.