Some of this hotness derives from the fact there is so much sexual tension in these novels, no doubt due to the chivalry. But some of this hotness derives from the fact that the chivalry in the book seems so sweet because it is fairly uncommon.
NPR examined this phenomenon, too, in a recent Halloween piece that called the "modern vampire...bloodthirsty but chivalrous." It even goes so far to call chivalrous vampires "the latest craze!"
In the NPR piece, there's an intersting quote from Eric Nuzum, NPR employee and the author of a vampire book, The Dead Travel Fast, which might shed some light on why these books are popular:
"You look at vampires from any given era and you see what they thought was frightening," Nuzum says. "You see what they thought was sexy, and what they thought was forbidden."
Perhaps part of what's "sexy" about chivalry now is that because of Third Wave Feminism, it is sort of "forbidden." Or, at least, discouraged by independent, pay-my-own-bills women like me.
Personally, I don't know how I feel about chivalry at all. I like it in practice, but not as a concept. Suffice it to say, I always bring my own money to pay for myself on dates but I'm confused about how hard I should insist on spending it. And I suspect lots of young women feel the same way as I do and we're reading these YA books because the confusion resonates with us.
These vampire romance novels tap into these gender role growing pains –– yet though they are sexy reads, they don't provide any real-world answers to our confusion.
Hmm, maybe I should start watching True Blood.