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21 Best Fantasy Romance Books

Fantasy romance is a wildly popular subgenre, and if you’re looking for love (and lust) in stories about a young woman hoping for more excitement in life, or a secret princess saddled with powers she neither understands nor wants, you’re in the right place.

 

21
Dance Until Dawn
by Berni Stevens – 2014
Book 1 of 2 in the Immortals of London series

At twenty-five, West-End dancer Ellie Wakefield should be having the time of her life. The only problem is, ever since waking up in a leaky cellar belonging to three-hundred-year-old vampire, Will Austen, she’s been very much dead. And to make matters worse, she’s since found that an aversion to blood and a fear of the dark aren’t very helpful—especially when you’re a fledgling vamp.

William James Austen has fallen hard. He’s spent the last year loving Ellie from afar and now he’s finally able to be truthful about who and what he is. As the most powerful and revered vampire in London, he’s used to getting what he wants.

But this time, Will might just have bitten off more than he can chew.

“If you love Paranormal Romance, if vampires and their ladies fill you with anticipation, if you enjoy a knockdown, all out fight between the good and the evil of the paranormal world—then this novel is for you.”
—Keeper Bookshelf

20
Fantasy Lover
by Sherrilyn Kenyon – 2002
Book 1 of 21 in the Dark-Hunter series

Being trapped in a bedroom with a woman is a grand thing. Being trapped in hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years isn’t. And being cursed into a book as a love-slave for eternity can ruin even a Spartan warrior’s day.

As a love-slave, I know everything about women. How to touch them, how to savor them, and most of all, how to pleasure them. But when I was summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander’s sexual fantasies, I found the first woman in history who saw me as a man with a tormented past. She alone bothered to take me out of the bedroom and onto the world. She taught me to love again.

But I was not born to love. I was cursed to walk eternity alone. As a general, I had long ago accepted my sentence. Yet now I have found Grace—the one thing my wounded heart cannot survive without. Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a two-thousand-year-old curse?

“[A]n extremely sexy and wonderfully creative novel that will spice up readers’ lives. Not only is the book sensual and exciting, but it is filled with poignant emotion and tender love.”
—RT Book Reviews

19
Dead Until Dark
by Charlaine Harris – 2001
Book 1 of 13 in the Sookie Stackhouse series

Inspiration for the HBO series True Blood

Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Bon Temps, Louisiana. She’s quiet, doesn’t get out much, and tends to mind her own business—except when it comes to her “disability.” Sookie can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. Then along comes Bill Compton. He’s tall, dark, handsome—and Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting for all her life…

But Bill has a disability of his own: he’s a vampire with a bad reputation. And when a string of murders hits Bon Temps—along with a gang of truly nasty bloodsuckers looking for Bill—Sookie starts to wonder if having a vampire for a boyfriend is such a bright idea.

“Vivid, subtle, and funny in her portrayal of southern life.”
—Entertainment Weekly

18
The Darkest Night
by Gena Showalter – 2008
Book 1 of 15 in the Lords of the Underworld series

All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she’ll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member: a man trapped in a hell of his own.

Neither can resist the instant hunger that calms their torments and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction—and a soul-shattering test of love…

17
Darkfever
by Karen Marie Moning – 2006
Book 1 of 11 in the Fever series

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone—Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae…

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane—an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women—closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book, because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands.

“[A] compelling world filled with mystery and vivid characters.”
—Publishers Weekly

16
Rhapsody: Child of Blood
by Elizabeth Haydon – 1999
Book 1 of 8 in the Symphony of Ages series

Rhapsody is a woman, a Singer of some talent, who is swept up into events of world-shattering import. On the run from an old romantic interest who won’t take no for an answer, Rhapsody literally bumps into a couple of shady characters: half-breeds who come to her rescue in the nick of time. Only the rescue turns into an abduction, and Rhapsody soon finds herself dragged along on an epic voyage, one that spans centuries and ranges across a wonder-filled fantasy world—a world so real you can hear the sweet music of Rhapsody’s song and smell the smoldering forges deep within the Cauldron.

“A spell-binding storyteller with the rare ability to manage memorable characters with both intimacy and power.”
―Romantic Times

15
The Bone Doll's Twin
by Lynn Flewelling – 2001
Book 1 of 3 in the Tamír Triad series

For three centuries, a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. But the people grew complacent and Erius, a usurper king, claimed his young half sister’s throne.

Now plague and drought stalk the land, war with Skala’s ancient rival Plenimar drains the country’s lifeblood, and to be born female into the royal line has become a death sentence as the king fights to ensure the succession of his only heir, a son. For King Erius, the greatest threat comes from his own line, and from Illior’s faithful, who spread the Oracle’s words to a doubting populace.

As noblewomen young and old perish mysteriously, Tobin, the king’s nephew, grows toward manhood. But unbeknownst to the king or the boy, Tobin is actually the princess’s daughter, given male form by a dark magic to protect her until she can claim her rightful destiny.

Only Tobin’s noble father, two wizards of Illior, and an outlawed forest witch know the truth. Only they can protect young Tobin from a king’s wrath, a mother’s madness, and the terrifying rage of her brother’s demon spirit, determined to avenge his brutal murder.

“This terrific tale is dark and exciting, and the magic in it is truly wonderful … A magnificent epic.”
—Booklist

14
Archangel
by Sharon Shinn – 1996
Book 1 of 5 in the Angel series

Through science, faith, and force of will, the Harmonics carved out for themselves a society that they conceived as perfect. Diverse peoples held together by respect for each other. Angels to guard the mortals, mystics to guard the forbidden knowledge, and Jehovah to watch over them all…

Generations later, the armed starship Jehovah still looms over the planet of Samaria, programmed to unleash its arsenal if peace is not sustained. But with the coming of an age of corruption, Samaria’s only hope lies in the crowning of a new Archangel. The oracles have chosen Gabriel for this honor, and further decreed that he must first wed a mortal woman named Rachel.

It is his destiny and hers. And Gabriel is certain that she will greet the news of her betrothal with enthusiasm, and a devotion to duty equal to his own.

Rachel, however, has other ideas…

“Taut, inventive, often mesmerizing, with a splendid pair of predestined lovers.”
—Kirkus Reviews

13
Radiance
by Grace Draven – 2015
Book 1 of 2 in the Wraith Kings series

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived contentedly as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

“[A] genuine joy to read, and the fantastic story is filled with dangerous twists and turns!”
—Romantic Times

12
Graceling
by Kristin Cashore – 2008
Book 1 of 3 in the Graceling Realm series

Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, who is smart, beautiful, and lives in the Seven Kingdoms where selected people are born with a Grace, a special talent that can be anything at all.

Katsa’s Grace is killing.

As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his brutal enforcer… until the day she meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, and Katsa’s life begins to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace, or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away, a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

“The teenage characters in this novel, like those we may know in life, grow into their graces. They realize that their monstrous individuality is not so monstrous after all.”
—The New York Times Book Review

11
Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon – 1991
Book 1 of 8 in the Outlander series

Scottish Highlands, 1945. Claire Randall, a former British combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.

10
Ship of Magic
by Robin Hobb – 1998
Book 1 of 3 in the Liveship Traders Trilogy

Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships—rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Now the fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia.

For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship—and the Vestrits—may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.

“A truly extraordinary saga . . . The characterizations are consistently superb, and [Hobb] animates everything with love for and knowledge of the sea.”
—Booklist

9
Dark Lover
by J.R. Ward – 2005
Book 1 of 18 in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series

The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both…

“Hold on tight for an intriguing, adrenaline-pumping ride.”
—Booklist

8
Kushiel’s Dart
by Jacqueline Carey – 2001
Book 1 of 3 in the Kushiel’s Legacy series

Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phédre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. But when Phédre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice but to act.

Accompanied only by a disdainful young warrior-priest, Phédre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey to return to her people and deliver a warning of the impending invasion. And that proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.

“[B]rilliant and daring… an assured and magnificent book that will appeal to both male and female readers.”
—Publishers Weekly

7
Borrowed Souls
by Chelsea Mueller – 2017
Book 1 of 3 in the Soul Charmer series

Callie Delgado always puts family first, and unfortunately her brother knows it. She’s emptied her savings, lost work, and spilled countless tears trying to keep him out of trouble, but now he’s in deeper than ever, and his debt is on Callie’s head. She’s given a choice: do some dirty work for the mob, or have her brother returned to her in tiny pieces.

Renting souls is big business for the religious population of Gem City. Those looking to take part in immoral—or even illegal—activity can borrow someone else’s soul, for a price, and sin without consequence.

To save her brother, Callie needs a borrowed soul, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the money to pay for it. The slimy Soul Charmer is willing to barter, but accepting his offer will force Callie into a dangerous world of magic she isn’t ready for.

With the help of the guarded but undeniably attractive Derek—whose allegiance to the Charmer wavers as his connection to Callie grows—she’ll have to walk a tight line, avoid pissing off the bad guys, all while struggling to determine what her loyalty to her family is really worth.

“Mueller explores an intriguing concept in a seedy, visceral setting that pops to life on the page.”
—Publishers Weekly

6
All the Broken Places
by Anise Eden – 2016
Book 1 of 3 in The Healing Edge series

Cate Duncan is a promising young therapist, dedicated to her work. But after her mother’s suicide, she is seized by a paralyzing depression. To save her job, Cate agrees to enter a program with Dr. Angeline MacGregor, run by her stern son, Ben, and housed in a repurposed church. Cate doesn’t quite understand what the program entails, but she soon learns that the skills she will develop there may not only help her learn how to cope with her own problems, but will also lead her to a much greater purpose.

The MacGregor Group is a collection of alternative healers whose unconventional approaches include crystals, aura reading, and psychics. They know that their life’s work invites skepticism, and welcome the chance to prove naysayers wrong. But they need the unique abilities that Cate can bring, and as she slides ever closer to her own abyss, they will do everything in their power to protect Cate from those who wish her harm, including herself.

“Those with an interest in parapsychology will be fascinated by this artfully written series starter.”
―Publishers Weekly

5
A Promise of Fire
by Amanda Bouchet – 2016
Book 1 of 3 in The Kingmaker Chronicles

Catalia “Cat” Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

“An exquisite high-fantasy romance with masterful worldbuilding.”
—Kirkus (starred review)

4
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern – 2011

Both my wife and I loved this book.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

“Magical. Enchanting. Spellbinding. Mesmerizing.”
—Associated Press

3
The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss – 2007
Book 1 of 2 in The Kingkiller Chronicle series

This is one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. Strongly recommended.

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

“This breathtakingly epic story is heartrending in its intimacy and masterful in its narrative essence.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

2
A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas – 2015
Book 1 of 3 in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

“[T]he sexual tension and deadly action are well-supported by Maas’ expertly drawn, multidimensional characters and their nuanced interpersonal dynamics… Sexy and romantic.”
―Kirkus Reviews

1
The Princess Bride
by William Goldman – 1973

A tale of true love, high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts, as depicted in the beloved 1987 film.

“One of the funniest, most original, and deeply moving novels I have read in a long time.”
—Los Angeles Times

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