House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas.
Sarah J. Maas’ bestselling Crescent City series in the New York Times # 1 begins with House of Earth and Blood and introduces Bryce Quinlan, half-fae and half-human, to a modern fantasy world of magic, danger and to avenge scorching romance. With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance and an exciting side, this inventive new fantasy series plunges into the grief of loss, the price of freedom – and the power of love.
I recently discovered that I love romantic fantasy books. I love them because they aren’t romance books as the romance isn’t the main storyline, but they have some passed out romantic gimmicks here and there. I also love that they are usually slow burning romances set in amazing and magical worlds. For me, these books have the perfect mix of magical setting and plot, as well as a romantic and often fearful plot line. You are just * cooking kiss *.
Little disclaimer, the books featured here are romantic fantasy, not fantasy romance, and there is a small but significant difference. Fantasy romance is a subgenre of romance, while romantic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy. Indie writer AJ Lancaster explains it pretty well, as some books tend to be in the gray area between the two. So this list includes fantasy books that have romance in them (some heavier than others) but that don’t rely on a love story to move the plot forward. If you want to check out some fantasy romance recs, we have to read some!
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So without further ado, here are eight great romantic fantasy readings.
8 great romantic fantasy reads
Thorn by Intisar Khanani
CW: Torture, Abuse, and Animal Abuse.
Princess Alyrra is on her way to her fiancée’s kingdom when she is ambushed by Valka. Valka, her former maid and a sorceress with a grudge, then casts a spell to switch bodies. She leaves Alyrra, unable to tell the truth, and takes her place. In her new life, Alyrra still manages to fall in love with her fiancée, Prince Kestrin, and learns of the profound injustice that has befallen the kingdom. And so she has to face a choice: return to court and save Kestrin’s life, or sink back into the shadows and live as a royal goose girl for the rest of her days. Thorn is a wonderful retelling of the fairy tale “Goose Girl”. It focuses on Alyrra’s story, her growth, and how she finds confidence in her voice to take a stand. The romance is on the edge, but it’s slowly burning and sweet!
The Orange Tree Priory by Samantha Shannon
The nameless, an ancient evil dragon, rises again. Some believe Sabran Berethnet is the key to his prison. Sabran is constantly being assassinated, so Ead, a magician, infiltrates the Berethnet Court to protect her. Across the sea, Tané is closer to becoming a dragon rider than ever before until she is faced with a choice. All of these characters, separated by miles but also ideologies, must work together to defeat the Nameless One before he gets up. Priory is a more classic fantasy story with compelling characters and a fan of points of view that allow you to see the story of his world in very different ways. While it’s a fairly large rock, spanning over 800 pages, it’s full of magic, complex world-building, and a beautiful, slow-burning F / F romance that makes it absolutely worth reading.
Silver in the Woods by Emily Tesh
Silver in the Wood is a short novella retelling “The Green Man” and one of the more romantic books on this list. This is followed by Tobias Finch, who lives deep in Greenhollow. He was once human, but now he’s part of the forest. He lives a quiet life until a folklorist named Henry Silver shows up. As their bond strengthens, a threat knocks on their door. The Lord of Summer has come and Henry and Tobias have to protect their home. Silver is a soft, calm book with an enchanting atmosphere that will immerse you right in the story.
The beauty of Renée Ahdieh
It’s 1872 and Celine Rousseau has fled Paris. New Orleans is their safe haven now until anemic bodies emerge. One of them is discovered in the hiding place of La Cour des Lions, a group that rules the New Orleans underworld. Now Celine can’t trust anyone, including Sébastien. He is the leader of La Cour and Celine has growing feelings for him. There is a crime thriller in which Celine and Michael, a detective, have to find the killer. And so, Celine finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old feud with vampires and a price too high to pay even for love. Ahdieh writes a great, atmospheric story about creatures mixed up at night with a forbidden romance that will knock you out.
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Mia Corvere’s father was executed, her brother taken and her mother thrown in prison. As Darkin, she has power over shadows. But she does not yet know how to control the full extent of her powers. So Mia joins the Red Church, a school of assassins. She wants to destroy those who destroyed her family and to do that she has to survive. Survive their classes, their teachers, the killer at large, and their initiation. And in the shadows, something darker lurks waiting to overthrow the whole church. Nevernight is a dark, bloody book. With its unique world structure and narrator, it’s a terrifying tale of family and betrayal. The romance, while dirty, isn’t a huge part of the story. But it offers some relief from the intrigues and murders that go on at any given moment.
Witchmark by CL Polk
Witchmark tells the story of Miles Singer, a doctor and war veteran with a secret. He works in a hospital and hides the fact that he has healing powers. So his family wouldn’t find out and force him to become his sister’s battery. But one day a poisoned man, accompanied by a stranger, asks Miles to find his killer. It all has to do with the mysterious, violent, and murderous tantrums that some of the fellow veterans experience. Now Miles must team up with the stranger Tristan to solve the puzzle. CL Polk delivers a compelling mystery within a magical society and a fearful will-they-won’t-them romance that will make your heart beat faster.
Wizard of the Crown of Zen Cho
This is a Regency-era novel of magic, fairies, and court intrigue. Zacharias Wythe, a freed man who was previously enslaved, is called the Sorcerer Royal. He is the magical protector of England and he has to find out why the nation’s magic is drained. Then there’s Prunella Gentleman, an orphan who is fed up with school and tries to stifle her magic instead of letting it grow. The two become unlikely allies when they work together to solve what exactly happens to magic. The beauty of this story lies not in its romance, even though it is there, but in the way the author deals with diversity and discrimination, resulting in a complex fantasy story worth reading.
Angel blood by Nalini Singh
Elena Deveraux is a vampire hunter. She was hired by a dangerous creature that no mortal wants attention from. The Archangel Raphael. Such an ancient and powerful being who has strayed from human affairs even when he has to rule these people. Elena is good, but she fears that she is not good enough for this job as she has to hunt down an archangel who has gone bad. So she got into the middle of a paranormal crime thriller that could destroy her. Singh writes a unique and compelling story with amazing world construction and a slow burning romance full of tension that will make you fall in love with paranormal romances again.