Science-fiction publisher Tor is going boldly where no paperback has gone before with a new line of novels labeled "paranormal romance," a genre hybrid which combines time-tested...

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Science-fiction publisher Tor is going boldly where no paperback has gone before with a new line of novels labeled “paranormal romance,” a genre hybrid which combines time-tested romance plotting with science fiction, fantasy, time travel, reincarnation and other out-of-this-world subjects.

In the last year, romance fiction has suffered a sales slump. Hoping to add an extra kick to the boy-meets-girl plot convention, the first title, “Shifting Love” by Constance O’Day Flannery (Tor, $6.99) tells the story of a Philadelphia woman and shapeshifter (think Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s protector and sometime big black dog) who becomes entwined in the fate of a bored, wealthy entrepreneur with a tragic past.

Besides shapeshifters, subsequent plots promise “enchanted Egyptian tarot decks, Mafia hitmen turned werewolves, Key Largo bartenders practicing voodoo” and other creatures of the dark side, according to an article in Romantic Times. Or is it enchanted Egyptian hitmen practicing bartending? We’ll consult the 8-ball and get back to you.

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Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor