If you've known me any length of time (or just flipped through my instagram), you probably know that autumn is my favorite season and I adore October, both for glorious autumn vibes and for spooky season. All of that informed by reading in October. I reread some seasonal favorites (like R Cooper's A Little Familiar) and read some new-to-me paranormal romance too.
I'm continuing my paranormal book recs this week with some vampire romances. There isn't anything scary here—like I said last week, I love spooky and atmospheric and paranormal, but I don't do horror. I don't seek out vampire books the way I do witch books, but I don't avoid them either and I read a ton of paranormal. And I've read/watched a bunch of vampire stories over the years—Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles books in high school (and the movie—I haven't seen the new television show yet, but I've heard it's fantastic, so it's on my list), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, both movie and show, and later on some of Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake books and a few of Lynsay Sands's Argeneau series, and the Twilight series as well. Here are some of my favorite vampire romances that I come back to often:
My August reading post never happened last month because I spent the beginning of the month mostly sleeping while sick with covid (three and a half years of being careful and avoiding it—I'm still so annoyed it caught up with me). A month later, I'm still dealing with some fatigue but otherwise recovered, and you're getting a combined August/September reading post. My reading plans themselves were also derailed a bit by covid, since I really did mostly sleep and when I was awake, I could barely focus on anything so not a lot of reading got done. But, I do have some books to share with you:
Capture the Sun by Jessie Milhalik (M/F SF romance): This is the third book in (and I believe the conclusion to) the Starlight's Shadow series—I do wish there would be more to this series, not only because I love the characters but also because a few of those supporting characters' storylines were kind of left up in the air or hastily resolved off page and that annoys me. But, overall, I enjoyed this series, both the SF plot and the romances. And even more so, the chosen family dynamic of the characters aboard Starlight's Shadow. Definitely start at the beginning of the series.
Deven and the Dragon and Corin and the Courtier by Eliot Grayson (M/M fantasy romance): I'm slightly confused about which of these two books is meant to be the first book in the Beautiful Beasts series. It seems that the story in Corin and the Courtier occurs first, but I believe Deven was published first. I read Deven before Corin, and it didn't make much of a difference as the stories are only loosely connected through a family relationship between a main character of each book. They are light, fun fantasy romances with dragon shifters and a fairy tale vibe. Deven is probably my favorite of the two, just because Fiora was such a sweet character (a fun, dramatic, adorable dragon shifter), but I enjoyed both.
Resurrection Reprise by Hailey Turner (urban fantasy with M/M romance): Ever since Spencer (and his psychopomp, Fatima, who is an utter delight) made his first appearance in the Soulbound series, I wanted his story, and I was so excited when I heard about this book. It did not disappoint. I loved getting inside Spencer's head and learning more about him. The romance between him and vampire Takoma was wonderful, as was the paranormal action and mystery plot. Some appearances by other characters Soulbound characters were fun and perfect without taking away from Spencer's story (I'm also going to need a book for dragon shifter Wade now, please). I'm not sure if you can jump into this one without reading the Soulbound series, but it's really good, so you should do it anyway.
In Charm's Way by Lana Harper (F/F paranormal romance): This is another book I was really excited for. I've been enjoying The Witches of Thistle Grove series, and I'm already looking forward to the next, though this book is not my favorite of the series so far. POV character Delilah has appeared in previous books, and I'll admit she was not my favorite in those books. She makes a difficult main character and this book is just full of her anger. I was also a little skeptical of the romance in this book—it does end on a HFN, which I thought was good as the two characters still have a lot to resolve. What I loved was learning more of the deepening lore of Thistle Grove and the bonds that are growing between members of the four witch families. I'm interested to see where the series goes next.
What the Hex by Alexis Daria (M/F paranormal romance): This was a fun little paranormal romance novella. Catalina returns home to Isla Bruja (the secret island that is home to the most powerful Latinx witch families) for her sister's wedding and finds that the groom is possessed by a demon and both families are under the demon's magical control. Except the groom's brother/best man, who is also Catalina's old high school rival. The two are left to figure out how to get rid of the demon and save their families before the wedding, and of course, they fall for each other along the way.
What have you read and loved lately?
Happy August, my darlings! July was a busy month for me, and August is set to be another. But I did get some reading done—some rereads in audio during walks/cleaning/cooking, a couple of things I started and put aside for when I'm in the right mood, and a few new to me books I finished.
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (Fantasy with F/F romance): The Jasmine Throne is an epic fantasy inspired by Indian folklore with intricate world building, fantastic characterization, and a compelling plot. Though there are multiple points of view (all of them providing needed information and perspective), the story centers on Priya, a maidservant possessing forbidden magic and a secret past, and Malini, a princess imprisoned because she tried to overthrow her evil brother the emperor. The romance between the two is very much slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers, and not at all the focus of the story, but it's perfect for the story. The women in this book are quite willing to plot and plan and burn a patriarchal system to the ground, and I am here for it. The second book in the trilogy is already out, and I'll definitely be reading it soon.
Murder at Pirate's Cove by Josh Lanyon (Cozy Mystery): I've had this first book in Lanyon's Secrets and Scrabble series for a while, but finally moved it to the top of the (mountainous) TBR when a friend recommended the series. Ellery recently inherited a failing mystery bookstore and a rundown mansion in a small town, and needing a change, he moved there to start a new life. But then he finds the guy who has been pressuring him to sell the bookstore dead and becomes the chief suspect. So of course, he has to try to solve the mystery himself. Plus there is the beginning hints of a romance between Ellery and the police chief. It's classic Josh Lanyon and solidly good. I have the next book all ready to read.
Bisclavret by KL Noone (M/M Fantasy Romance): This short story is a really lovely retelling of the medieval story by Marie de France in which a man turns into a wolf three days out of the month and is betrayed by his wife to keep him in wolf form forever but is then saved by the kindness of the king. The broad strokes of the story are the same here with the addition of a lovely slow-burn romance between bisexual Lord Bisclavret and the demisexual king.
Twice Bitten by Eliot Grayson (M/M Paranormal Romance): This novella is part of Grayson's Mismatched Mates series and was a lot of fun. When a werewolf shows up in town, vampire Angelo is tasked with solving his problem and making sure he doesn't cause trouble. Angelo has enough problems of his own without adding someone else's and just wants to get through this without ruining his suit or falling in love. I think you can guess how that turns out. The chemistry between the main characters is great, and there is a delightful visit with some characters from earlier in the series (magical attack scorpions had me laughing out loud).
What have you read and loved lately?
This year has been flying by! Somehow I blinked and it's already July. Does anyone else feel like the year is just speeding along? I had big plans for my reading last month, and as usual, they didn't come to fruition. But I did read some books I want to tell you about:
White Trash Warlock by David R Slayton (Urban fantasy with M/M romance): From the title, it feels like this book is going to be lighthearted, but it's definitely serious in tone and deals with issues of poverty and family trouble. Adam hasn't seen his brother or mother since they had him committed when he was a teenager because he could hear voices. The voices were actually spirits, but his family either didn't believe in his magic or didn't want to deal with it. He checked himself out as soon as he turned eighteen and has been living with a great-aunt with the same gifts as he has in her trailer, working odd jobs ever since. Then his brother calls Adam because his wife is under the influence of a spirit and Adam is the only one he knows who might be able to help. The world building is solid and interesting and the family grievances real and compelling. A great beginning to a series I will be continuing.
High Times in the Low Parliament by Kelly Robson (Fantasy with F/F romance): Lana is a brilliant scribe, who also believes herself to be absolutely charming with the ladies. While doing a favor for a fellow scribe, she angers a fairy and is sent to be a scribe at Low Parliament as a punishment. Once there, she finds things are not well and all of Parliament will be drowned if the members can't begin to agree. I'm a little torn about this novella. On the one hand, it was fun and quirky. On the other, I was so confused with the lack of world building. Fairies seem to be overlords of humans in this world, but not rulers really. There was a war at some point in the past that led to this situation and also the rules around Parliament. Also, there are only women in this world, but it's never mentioned why. It is a novella, and the length may account for the lack of world building. But I could have used a bit more. If you can ignore the questions and just go with it, as I said, it's a fun little novella.
Gateway Catastrophe by Louisa Masters (M/M paranormal romance): This was an excellent end to the Ghostly Guardians series, though I am sorry to see the series end (though I am excited to see that there is going to be a spin-off series, especially since it seems that it will involve some intriguing characters introduced in this book). While each book in the series follows a new couple and romance, the overall story carries from book to book, so definitely start this series from the beginning. The paranormal storyline is suspenseful and interesting, the characters and relationships are likable and relatable, and ghosts inhabiting the estate are hilarious.
Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen (Queer historical mystery): Lavender House is described as "Knives Out with a queer historical twist" and I can definitely see the comparison in this noir-ish mystery. In 1952 San Francisco, Andy has been fired from the police force after being caught in a raid at a gay bar. He lost his apartment and is drinking and contemplating suicide when Pearl finds him. She tells him her wife has been murdered and she needs him—a gay investigator—to find out who did it. Andy is introduced to the residents of Lavender House, people who have built a place and a family in which they can be themselves without worrying what the outside world would think of their sexualities or relationships. The mystery is satisfyingly twisty. I suspected who might have done it, but then thought maybe I was wrong several times. I also really loved the characters, Andy especially, and I'm so looking forward to the next book in the series when it comes out in the fall.
Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore (YA trans historical romance): Self-Made Boys is a remix of The Great Gatsby, part of a series of classics remixed to be told from the perspective of marginalized identities. Nicolas Caraveo is a young Latino trans man from the Midwest who is a whiz with math. His cousin Daisy persuades his parents to let him move to New York to take a job he's been offered on Wall Street. When he arrives, he finds that Daisy has remade herself and is passing for white to be accepted in society and become engage to Tom (because, as she says, if she has to marry, she's going to do it in a way that benefits her and allows her to help her family). Nick soon meets his mysterious neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who throws lavish parties that bewilder Nick and is also trans. Jay has made himself into someone he hopes Daisy, his lost love, can be with, and Nick agrees to help him get her back, but falls for Jay himself in the process. I love this remix and how Nick's Latinx heritage and trans identity affect his perspective and the course of the story.
What have you read and loved lately?
I had planned more of these posts, but time got away from me, as it so often seems to. I wanted to get in one more before the end of Pride Month to give you a few more book recs (find my first post here and my second post here). Today, I'm giving you some recs for fantasy romance, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and SF romance. I probably could've done a post on each of those (which might have been the plan...), so even though I limited myself this is a long post.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: In this cozy fantasy, battle-weary orc Viv decides to hang up her sword and open a coffee shop in a city that's never heard of coffee. The plot is gentle as she works to build her shop and make a home for herself and as she meets people and builds a family too. There's also a sweet F/F romance winding through the background.
So This is Ever After by FT Lukens: Arek is the chosen one of a prophecy that states he and his friends will save the kingdom from its evil ruler, but this book isn't about that. It begins as the prophecy is fulfilled. Arek is convinced to become king until the rightful heir is found—but he finds out there is no rightful heir and magic prevents him from renouncing the crown. And the magic also requires him to marry. He's been in love with his best friend for ages but doesn't think Matt loves him back, so he tries to find someone else to marry. It's a fun and funny and sweet stand alone.
In the Ravenous Dark by AM Strickland: Blood mage Rovan has been hiding her magic for her whole life because if people knew, she would be bound to a spirit who would control her, but her magic is discovered when she saves someone and she is forced to the palace where she is bound to a spirit and thrust into the politics and intrigue of the country. This book is far more serious than the last I listed but it has wonderful characters who learn to trust each other and become family as they incite a rebellion among both the living and the dead. Rovan is pansexual here and falls in love with both the sexy ghost she is bound to and a princess.
The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinka: In this YA fantasy, every year a boy is sacrificed to keep the tide from swallowing the island city. Lina is certain that this year her brother is going to be sacrificed. She asks the boy she secretly loves for help saving her brother, but it is the boy she loves who is taken. Lina goes to the Witch Queen Eva to trade herself for him. Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved and has sworn she won't make that mistake, that she will do what she has to to save her city, but she and Lina spend time together and begin to fall in love, even as the dark tide rises. I loved the atmosphere of this book—the island city felt a little fairy tale, a little Venetian, dark and beautiful.
Payback's a Witch by Lana Harper: I love a good witchy paranormal romance, and this (and the books that follow in the series) is one. Emmy ran from Thistle Grove to escape her lackluster magic and live a normal life away from the families of witches that founded the town and continue to inhabit is hundreds of years later. She only returns to fulfill a family obligation and plans to leave immediately after. She doesn't expect to join in a revenge pact, to learn more about herself, her family, and the magic of Thistle Grove, and to fall for Talia, another witch. It's a delightful book with lots of fall vibes and a good introduction to the world, which gets expanded on as we meet other people in the following books. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke: This paranormal romance/mystery is the beginning of a series that has become a favorite of mine. Wes is a not-ghost. He was dead but a witch brought him back, just not all the way. He's spent decades using his ghost-like abilities to retrieve items for clients. Only this time he witnesses a murder, which brings him back into the orbit of his ex, Hudson, who is now a vampire. It's such a fun book. I enjoyed the mystery and the second chance romance, and the building of a chosen family. Wes is also demisexual, and it's always great to find representation that's handled well.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: Yadriel is a trans boy whose traditional Latinx family has a difficult time accepting that he can be a brujo. To prove that he is, he summons a ghost. He means to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin to set him free, but he gets a different ghost entirely—Julian, the school bad boy. And Julian isn't going to accept death quietly. He wants to find out what happened to him. The mystery and magic are both great, but the characters are the stars here. I adored this book.
Hunter of Demons by Jordan L. Hawk: In this first book in the SPECTR series, while trying to find the demon who killed his brother, Caleb is possessed by Gray, a drakul (sort of a vampire). Exorcist John is sent to remove Gray and finds out that, though he is a powerful exorcist, this is beyond him. The three main characters and the relationship that develops between them over the course of the series is wonderful, and the world building is fantastic.
The Last Sun by KD Edwards: This is the first book in the Tarot Sequence and I binged all the books that are out in a ridiculously short amount of time. I don't read much urban fantasy—I'm always looking for more romance and more character development. While I would have loved more page time for the romance in this series (because it's wonderful), I adore the characters and their dynamic with each other and the found family they build through these books. As the series continued, the world building deepened and plot twists popped up, and very much need to know how certain things are going to be resolved!
Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell: I adored this SF romance with an arranged marriage trope! When Imperial Prince Taam suddenly dies, his widower, Jainan, is rushed into another marriage with his husband's cousin Prince Kiem for political reasons. Then, it comes to light that Taam's death might have been murder and Jainin is a suspect. Kiem and Jainin have to learn to trust each other so they can solve the murder and avert an interplanetary war, all while falling in love with each other.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: I'm not entirely sure how to describe this book or the series it begins. Someone described it to me when it was released as lesbian necromancers in space. And, yes, that is part of it. It's a combination of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery. It has great characters and dialogue and interesting world building. And everything is put together is intriguing ways. And each book in the series so far is completely different from the last. This book introduces us to Gideon—who is dramatic and unashamed about checking out pretty girls and such a fun character. Gideon is made to be the cavalier to the Ninth House's heir who has been summoned, along with the heirs of all the houses to take part in trials by the emperor. What follows is sort of a locked room mystery with murder and puzzles and danger.
And since I write fantasy romance, I'm going to have to mention mine. The Chronicles of Tournai is a series of books revolving around the royal family of the principality of Tournai and their secrets and magic. Each book is a stand alone romance, but characters reappear in each book. If you want to start at the beginning, pick up The Prince's Consort, a prince/commoner romance. If you like dragon shifters, you can jump in with The Dragon's Devotion or The Envoy's Honor, or if you're looking for something extremely cozy (though none of my books are particularly high angst), try The Merchant's Love. For opposites attract plus spies and intrigue, you want The Artist's Masquerade. For opposites attract with some forced proximity, check out The Sorcerer's Guardian. For opposites attract with an age gap, take a look at The Spymaster's Secret. (Opposites attract is fun to write!)
My other series is Elemental Magicae, the two books in which should be read in order. A Dance of Water and Air starts with a prince being told he must marry the queen of a neighboring country in an arranged marriage. Only when he arrives, everything is very strange and he ends up falling in love with the queen's brother instead. When he's accused of trying to assassinate the queen, they flee, trying to save themselves and two kingdoms from danger.
May is AAPI Heritage Month here in the United States and Asian Heritage Month in Canada, so I thought it would be a good time to rec some books by Asian authors. I had a tough time narrowing down the list, and also found a ton of books on my TBR when I was combing through my shelves and Kindle that I absolutely need to read now (I need way more time to read, obviously).
The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma (m/f contemporary romance): In this first book of the Singh Family series, the oldest Singh brother puts his own dreams on hold to come home and try to save the family's company. There, he meets Mina, a smart, confident lawyer sent to work with the company in assessing the potential buyout. Sparks, of course, fly between them. There's also lots of corporate espionage and family drama. I need to get back to this series!
Hold Me by Courtney Milan (cis m/trans f contemporary romance): Courtney Milan has written a ton of fantastic historical romance, and I couldn't decide which to pick, so I went in a different direction! Maria runs an apocalypse-centered blog and is very careful about preserving her online anonymity. She's been interacting with a commenter from her blog in emails and chats for over a year but neither of them knows the other's identity. When she meets Jay, a driven genius, they immediately do not at all hit it off. And they also don't know they've been talking for months. It sets up a fun enemies to lovers romance. There is a lot of casual diversity and intersectionality in this book, which is great. It's the second book in the series, but stands alone well.
Uptown series by Ruby Lang (m/f contemporary romances): This is a series of quick, fun romances set in New York City and dealing with property and neighborhoods intersecting with the characters in different way. Each stands alone well. The first books gives us an impromptu fake boyfriend as Fay (dealing with the end of a marriage) is harassed while on a house tour. Oliver (dealing with family pressure after losing his job) steps in, and the two continue the charade (and continue touring gorgeous houses together)...until, of course, the fake relationship becomes a lot less fake. I really enjoyed the house descriptions too!
Ash by Malinda Lo (YA fantasy with f/f romance): When Ash's father dies, she's left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother, a set-up very much like the original Cinderella tale that this book reimagines. Ash escapes into the stories of fairies her mother told her and dreams of fairies of stealing her away—and thinks her dreams might come true when she meets a fairy. But it's really when she meets the King's Huntress that her life begins to change and she begins to see a life past her grief. There's a lovely f/f romance and a suitably creepy fairy who has laid a claim on Ash that she must escape.
Holidays with the Wongs series by Jackie Lau (m/f contemporary romance): The Holidays with the Wongs is a series of novellas set around different holidays and centering different Wong siblings. In the first novella, the meddling parents and grandparents set up all four siblings with blind dates for Thanksgiving to disastrous results. Each novella is lots of fun—sexy romances, fun tropes, meddling lovable family. Read them any time or save them for their individual holidays.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (historical fantasy): The Chosen and the Beautiful is a retelling of The Great Gatsby and it's loyal to the original, only with the addition of mysterious, intriguing magic and a change of narrator to Jordan Baker, a queer, Asian American immigrant adopted and raised in high society by a rich white family. There's still a contemplation of wealth and status and the American dream, but through Jordan's eyes and with exploration of her identity as a Vietnamese American woman in that world. The reimagining is fascinating, and the writing is lush and beautiful.
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas (historical mystery): Sherry Thomas has a bunch of historical romances I could have highlighted here, but her Lady Sherlock series is so good that I had to mention it. This is the first book in the gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes series, and it is extremely enjoyable. Interesting heroine, complex. characters, engaging writing, and lots of set up for the series to come.
Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee (YA fantasy with f/f romance): This first book in the Sidekick Squad introduces us to a world where superheroes are common and where Jess, who comes from a family of them, has no powers of her own. She manages to get a paid internship, which has the perk of letting her work with her secret crush Abby, but then finds out she's actually working for the worst supervillain in town. She keeps the job—to spite her superhero parents—and then finds out that there's an even more dangerous plot afoot. This is such a fun series starter with an interesting world, lovable protagonist, wonderful friends, and a sweet crush.
Do you have any recs for me (though I shouldn't ask with my massive TBR!)?
I may have gotten up ridiculously early this past weekend to watch a certain coronation and started thinking about my longstanding love for royalty romances. There are obviously lots of problematic things we could discuss about royalty, but there is also something about escaping into the fantasy of a royalty romance, of dashing royalty sweeping commoners off their feet (or maybe clashing with them), of ballgowns and sparkly tiaras. By the way, there was a distressing lack of sparkly tiaras at the coronation, though there was some other beautiful jewelry. The headpiece the Princess of Wales wore was beautiful and very tiara-like and Charlotte's matching one was adorable. Also by the way, Penny Mordaunt's whole coronation outfit was fantastic, and I'm including the massive sword she held up in a very badass way for the whole thing. Anyway.
I've read a ton of royalty romance. I have no idea what I read first, but I know I grabbed the Cordina's Royal Family series by Nora Roberts off my mom's bookshelves back in middle or high school. They're category romances written in the 80s about the siblings in a royal family and I have no idea how they hold up, but I really liked them back when I read them. The second book in the series was always my favorite because of the tension between the heir to the throne and woman who used to have a schoolgirl crush on him. (I'm going to need to reread it, aren't I?) I spent a bunch of time looking through my Kindle and bookcases and Goodreads to decide what to include in this post, and mostly just realized once more that my TBR is massive and has a ton of royalty romance on it and I have to figure out how to live forever so I can get through it all.
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole: And really the whole Reluctant Royals series (I'd include the Runaway Royals series too, but I haven't read them yet—they're on my Kindle in the aforementioned massive TBR). I love the premise of the book: Naledi is an epidemiology grad student who keeps receiving emails saying she's betrothed to an African prince and believes they're a scam. But it turns out they're real. He comes to the US to find her and when she mistakes him for someone who is not a prince, he goes along with it. The whole series is delightful.
His Royal Secret and His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace: In this duet, the Prince of Wales is gay and keeping it a secret, but then he meets a reporter on an international trip. They have a fling, which, of course, turns into much more. I loved the characters and the relationship between James and Ben, complicated by Ben's past and James's family situation. So good. (I'm going to want to reread all these books, aren't I?)
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: This book has been kind of everywhere (there's going to be a movie!), but if you haven't heard of it or read it, I am recommending it again. The son of the first female president of the United States has to fake a friendship with a British prince after pictures of them having a confrontation are leaked to the press and relations between the two countries are put in jeopardy. Of course, the fake friendship turns into a real (secret) romance just as the president starts her reelection campaign. This book was so fun—sweet, sexy, snarky, uplifting.
The Queen's Game by Carla de Guzman: The scandalous princess and heir to the throne of her small Asian island country returns home when her father dies to ascend the throne and is made to fake date her childhood friend, the quiet prince of the neighboring country. A really lovely story in which a prickly woman is fighting to be her own type of queen and is supported all the way by the cinnamon roll prince who loves her.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: In 19th century Paris, Prince Sebastian is supposed to be looking for a bride, but he is more worried about keeping his secret—that at night, he puts on fabulous gowns designed by his best friend and brilliant dressmaker Frances and takes Paris by storm. This graphic novel is utterly charming. The art is beautiful, the story is lovely, and the ending made me so happy.
The High King's Golden Tongue by Megan Derr: Prince Allen has been preparing for years to be consort to the High King. But when he finally meets the man he is supposed to wed in an arranged marriage, the High King dismisses him as a pretty politician and nothing at all that he needs. I love an arranged marriage story, and this fantasy novel is a good one. A wonderful slow burn romance, great world building, and an excellent plot outside the romance.
The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin: One more fantasy romance for you, with another arranged marriage plot. A marriage was arranged between Princess Esofi and the prince of Ieflaria when they were children, and now that they're adults, it's time for them to wed. But during her months' long journey to her new home, her betrothed dies. Since Ieflaria needs Esofi and her home country's help, she is offered a betrothal to the prince's younger sister, who is now heir to the throne. Only the new heir doesn't want the throne. The romance is very sweet plus there are dragons and unicorns.
Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell: And finally (because I have to stop this list somewhere!), a SF romance that I adored. Which also has an arranged marriage. When Imperial Prince Taam suddenly dies, his widower, Jainan, is rushed into another marriage with his husband's cousin Prince Kiem for political reasons. Then, it comes to light that Taam's death might have been murder and Jainin is a suspect. Kiem and Jainin have to learn to trust each other so they can solve the murder and avert an interplanetary war, all while falling in love with each other.
And if you're looking for some more fantasy romance with royalty, I've written some. You can find them here.
Do you have any favorite royalty romances?
Somehow, it's May already, though it doesn't feel like here. It's chilly and gray and rainy—perfect reading weather, I suppose, though I would really like it to feel more like spring. Especially after the short taste of summer we got during April. *Sigh* I'm sure (I hope) the weather will get it's act together soon. In the meantime, let's talk books. Here are some that I read and enjoyed in April:
Rattling Bone by Jordan L Hawk (cis m/trans m paranormal romance): This second book of the Outfoxing the Paranormal series was just as enjoyable as the first. This one takes us to Oscar's hometown, where he, his boyfriend Nigel, and their ghost team confront family secrets, grudges, and tragedies and the literal ghosts they left behind. The setting is incredibly atmospheric and the ghost story creepy. Oscar and Nigel's relationship is an existing one, so this book focused far more on the paranormal story than the romance. I'm definitely looking forward to more in this series.
Prince of Air and Darkness by MA Grant (fantasy with m/m romance): I really enjoyed this first book in the Darkest Court series (which has been on my TBR for a while now!), but I have to say I was expecting more focus on the romance between fae prince Roark and his human roommate Phineas. I feel that this was much more a fantasy with lots of fae politicking and a prince trying to protect both his people and the human he loves but doesn't believe he can be with. I would've loved more of the romance, only because I enjoyed these two together, but the book was still very good.
Circle the Square series by Sam Burns (m/m fantasy romance): I read the two books in this series (The Elemental Keyes and The Elemental Ruins) back to back, and I'm very glad I did because the first book ends with a cliffhanger. As book one opens, we meet Blaze who is a seer and knows that the world ends tomorrow. Then Elethen, a Robin Hood type thief, falls through a portal from a different world and everything starts to change. The books give us the story of twins Blaze and River and the men they fall in love with, of magic, treachery, and trying to save two worlds. The stories were fast paced and fun, but I loved the characters, both main characters and supporting (the young king is a delight!), most of all.
Emily Wilde's Encyclopedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett (fantasy with m/f romance): This book was an utter delight. Emily Wilde is a driven scholar who is horrifically bad with people. She travels to a remote area of Scandinavia to study an unknown type of faerie and is immediately followed by her colleague/rival/only friend/love interest Wendell Bambleby, who has secrets of his own. The setting is vivid, the folklore is engrossing, and there is just enough danger but not so much to completely do away with the cozy atmosphere. The characters are really wonderful, especially Emily as she grows close to the villagers and tries to puzzle out these relationships and how they're changing her. The romance between Emily and Wendell is light, but lovely all the same. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings by Lily Morton (m/m paranormal romance): Another book I've had on my TBR for ages! This one is a mix of creepy ghost story and romance. Levi has inherited a gorgeous old house in York, which he decides to renovate and live in. He doesn't find out until after he moves in that the house is known as the Murder House and it's very much haunted. The description of the malevolent haunting is definitely creepy, though I did figure out some of the mystery of the ghost fairy early. The romance between Levi and Blue is just lovely. They complement each other so well, and I love how Levi is about Blue's past. Very glad I finally read this one, and diving into the second book in series next!
What have you read and loved lately?
Happy April, my darlings! I hope March treated you well and brought you many books you loved. Here's what I read last month:
The Tarot Sequence and The Eidolon by KD Edwards (urban fantasy with m/m romance): This series has been on my radar for a while, and I finally binged through the three books that have been released in the main series plus the first book in the related Magnus Academy series in audio. And loved them. And now must wait as patiently as I can for the next book in the series because I need to know what happens. I don't read much urban fantasy—I'm always looking for more romance and more character development. While I would have loved more page time for the romance in this series (because it's wonderful), I adore the characters and their dynamic with each other and the found family they build through these books. As the series continued, the world building deepened and plot twists popped up, and very much need to know how certain things are going to be resolved!
The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles (historical m/m romance): I cannot tell you how excited I was for a new KJ Charles book, and it absolutely lived up to all my expectations. Gareth and Joss had a brief affair in London, which left them both hurt and bitter. Just as it ends, the heartbreakingly lonely Gareth finds out his estranged (and frankly horrible) father has died and left him property and the title of baronet, so he goes out to Romney Marsh to claim it. He doesn't expect to meet Joss again there (and their reunion does not go so well!). Joss is an incredibly overworked smuggler and head of a smuggling family (sort of—everyone is afraid of his mother, who I could not stand, and who asserts her authority to incredibly poor results), who has nothing for himself alone. The romance between the two is lovely and sweet, and the shenanigans and mystery they find themselves involved in are absorbing and twisty.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (cozy fantasy with f/f romance): I am very excited for this newish (or maybe new to me?) sub-genre of cozy fantasy—low stakes, cozy vibes, fantasy. (I think my The Merchant's Love would count as cozy fantasy, though I didn't know that's what I was writing five years ago!) Anyway, Viv is an orc who has decided to leave behind a life of fighting and adventuring to open the first coffee shop the city of Thune has ever had. And that's what happens. Along the way, she makes connections and creates a lovely found family (and there is a sweet slow burn romance going on mostly in the background) while dealing with some obstacles that pop up in her way. The characters are wonderful (Thimble must be protected at all costs!), and the descriptions of baked good will make you hungry. I adored this book.
Heart Haunt Havoc by Freydis Moon (horror/paranormal with trans m/nonbinary romance): If you know me, you know that horror is very much not my thing. This skirted right up to the line of what works for me and what would make me put the book in the freezer. An exorcist is hired by a witch to cleanse their haunted house of ghouls and ghosts. In the process, Colin uncovers secrets that Bishop, the owner of the house, would prefer remain hidden, and they stumble into a romance. There's a lot packed into this short novel. Examinations of love and grief, complicated relationships with religion. The descriptions were vivid and the writing atmospheric. The romance was almost gentle and soft, and gave the impression that the characters fit perfectly.
What have you read and loved lately?
Antonia is a writer and a reader and a copy editor/proofreader. She loves books, travel, art, photography, baking, pasta, and shoes.