Fantasy romance isn’t a new genre. Though the most popular examples appear in young adult books, there’s so much more to explore when it comes to these sexy, enchanting stories. If you’re a lover of, well, love mixed with adventure and set in different worlds, then it’s time you added these books to your to-be-read pile.
From the story of a young woman looking for a more thrilling life—only to be met with the most exciting adventure—to a historical fantasy romance about an heiress with mind-bending powers, this list has something for everyone.
A Stitch in Time
Sarah Yates is bored. In her 30s, divorced, and alone, she’d do anything for an adventure. John Needler answers her plea one night, when he rings her doorbell and tells Sarah she’s a “stitch”—someone who has the ability to go back in time to change the future. Soon, she’s traveling through time trying to ensure a “happily ever after” for everyone. But will she get hers? Combining romance and time-traveling fantasy, this story will speak volumes to anyone who’s ever yearned for “something more.”
Dance Until Dawn
The first book in the Immortals of London series follows Ellie Wakefield—a 22-year-old dancer who’s been bitten by a vampire in order to keep her alive. Well, as alive as an immortal can be. The vampire to do the biting: Three-hundred-year-old William Austen, a powerful immortal who’s been admiring Ellie from afar for the last year. At first, Ellie is, understandably, confused and afraid, but as time passes—and she becomes acclimated to her new powers—she and Will are thrust into the fight between good and evil, and must learn to work together to defeat unwelcome visitors.
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What if you could read minds…and see just how downright awful everyone’s thoughts were? Those are the depressing circumstances heiress Roddy Delamore finds herself in. Set in the Regency era, she’s looking for a husband, but doesn’t know how she’ll find a man she trusts when all of her suitors have dishonorable thoughts. And when Roddy finally finds a man whose mind she can’t read, she jumps at the chance to marry him, despite his bad reputation.
Her new beau, Lord Faelan Savigar, the Earl of Iveragh, can’t believe that she’d want to marry him, what with all the terrible rumors about his past. But as these two get to know each other better, they realize that this match might just be perfect.
A Court of Thorns and Roses
Sarah J. Maas’ sprawling fantasy series begins with A Court of Thorns and Roses, in which a young woman, Feyre, is captured and sentenced to a life living in the faerie lands. Her captor, a shape-shifter and High Lord of the Spring Court, Tamlin, isn’t the beast Feyre thought he was. And as their feelings begin to blossom for one another, she learns that there is much more at stake than her heart. The series continues in A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruin, and A Court of Frost and Starlight, with more books to come set in Maas' compelling world.
In the world of Graceling, those who are supernaturally talented at certain skills — for instance, cooking or animal husbandry— are said to be Graced. Katsa’s Grace is killing. After her brutal talents reveal themselves at an early age, she works as King Randa’s hired muscle, although she longs to do something more positive with her Grace. When a mission brings her face-to-face with the handsome, charming Prince Po — a Graceling himself—Katsa begins to see a different side of her powers. The two start out as mere training partners, but their undeniable understanding of each other and intense connection soon leads to a romance you’ll live vicariously through.
Brishen Khaskem is a member of the amphibious eel-like Kai race, known for their gray skin, sharp teeth, and general deadliness. As prince, Brishen knows he can only serve his family’s kingdom by agreeing to a strategic marriage with a human Guari woman. Ildiko comes from Gauri royalty, and is resigned to her fate as the bride of a Kai man, although she’s terrified that their union will mean her death.
When an equally nervous Brishen and Kai run into each other on their wedding day, neither knows the other is their future spouse. The two joke about their mutual repulsion with each other’s races, and are relieved when they realize they are to be wed. Brishen and Ildiko soon settle into a platonic union based around their humor, frequently joking about how ugly the other is — Brishen calls Ildiko a mollusk, she calls him an eel — but over time, their connection blossoms into something richer than either of them dared to dream.
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A Promise of Fire
Cat is the legendary Kingmaker, destined to divine the truth in falsehoods — but she wants nothing to do with her power. Hiding from her true identity and a traumatic past, she works as a soothsayer in a circus. But Griffin, a power-hungry warlord from the southern provinces, recognizes the ability Cat tries so hard to hide. Seeking to use her powers for his own gain, he kidnaps her and takes her to his realm. But the Kingmaker and her captor soon recognize they have a connection that’s about more than Griffin’s quest for political power. If you crave fantasy romance with an independent heroine, A Promise of Fire will leave you thirsty for more.
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Kushiel’s Dart is the first novel in a surprisingly erotic epic fantasy series set in the realm of Terre d'Ange. The protagonist is Phèdre nó Delaunay, who has a distinctive fleck on her eye that marks her from a young age as one who has been pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, and therefore is fated to be attracted to both pain and pleasure. As an adult, Phèdre is a courtesan/spy who resolves to sleep with whomever she pleases, and works to stop a disastrous threat looming over Terre d’Ange. Brilliant and self-possessed, Phèdre is a unique heroine that it’s easy to root for. If you’re looking for a steamy fantasy read where the vivid world-building is only matched by the vivid exploration of sexual desire, look no further.
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