Catharine Glen: 5 Books To Read To Jump Into Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance

You love a good romance. We all do, that’s why we’re here! When two characters fall in love and overcome adversity: nothing better! Sometimes there’s another love interest, and the infamous triangle emerges: who will she choose? 

But now you’re looking for something more. Something new and different. Enter reverse harem (RH) or #WhyChoose, a subgenre under the poly romance umbrella in which the female protagonist has multiple suitors and does not choose one, but all! [Further reading: RH and the Rise of Polyamorous Fantasy Romance and The Path to Reverse Harem Romance]

With the genre exploding over the last year, there are tons of books to choose from spanning all genres. But don’t worry, romantic fantasy fans. I’ve got you covered. Here are five great fantasy books that will draw you into the world of reverse harem romance.

Note: All books listed below are suitable for ages 18+.

Power Of Five By Alex Lidell

The Story: Orphaned Lera is magically bonded to four fae warriors in search of their “fifth”, who to their disbelief turns out to be a mere mortal woman. It must be a mistake, right? But as their relationships develop, they realize Lera is so much more than they initially believed. 

Why You Should Read It: This one is for all you fae lovers! Four hot fae guys that are fated to be with Lera, each with a distinct personality. River is the serious leader of the group who rejects Lera from the get go. Coal is the cold, brooding one who maintains his distance. Shade is the broken wolf shifter in mourning after the death of his twin. Tye is the flirtatious, playful one who is totally on board with Lera joining them. They each approach their new relationship with Lera differently, some more willing than others, which affects the dynamic of the group and how the romance unfolds. I found something to love about all the guys, individually and as a group. Being fantasy romance, the story focuses on the relationships, with a secondary plot revolving around fae politics and the greater consequences of Lera joining their group.

The “Power of Five” series is complete at four books. They are relatively short, quick reads ending on cliffhangers that are intended to draw you into the next installment. An easy, fun series to step into the world of reverse harem fantasy.

Stroke The Flame By Elizabeth Briggs

The Story: After she is struck by lightning, four handsome men from Kira’s dreams appear in the flesh, revealing they’ve been chosen as the new elemental dragons — and she’s their mate. As the newly assembled five come to grips with their destinies, they must learn to trust each other and work together as a team if they have any hope of overthrowing the tyrannical Black Dragon. 

Why You Should Read It: First of all, dragons. But if that’s not enough… One of the aspects I love most about this series is that neither Kira nor any of the guys know each other before the start of the book. This means there’s a focus on building trust, accepting their new roles, and coming to terms with the fated bonds between them. There are secrets, hints of jealousy, conflicting motivations, and even reluctance — after all, none of them had a choice, including Kira. Each of the guys represents a different element and has a distinct personality: Jasin, the cocky soldier (Fire), Auryn, the scholarly prince (Air), Slade, the protective blacksmith (Earth), and Reven, the cold, mysterious assassin (Water). To unlock each of their elemental dragon forms and share their power with Kira, they must travel to each of the four elemental temples spread across the realm and, ahem, get it on. The promise of sexy times at the end of the books is definitely a plus!

The “Her Elemental Dragons” series is complete at four books. Each is a complete story focusing on the progression of Kira’s relationship with her men. These books are definitely hard to put down and are a solid representation of the genre. 

Dragon’s Gift By Jada Storm And May Sage

The Story: Dareena Sellis is a small town nobody, until a dragon huntress chooses her to be the Dragon’s Gift: the one woman chosen every hundred years to bear children for the future dragon king. There’s only one catch — instead of one, there are three sons vying for the throne…and Dareena. 

Why You Should Read It: Do hot and steamy scenes with three dragon shifter brothers sound appealing to you? Dareena starts from nothing and is suddenly thrust into the politics of Dragonfell, pursued by three virile men, and given the impossible task of having to choose just one. Drystan is the aloof, responsible leader, Lucyan is the flirtatious, seductive strategist, and Alistair is the warm, kind-hearted soldier. The focus of the story is mainly on the relationships and the sex, and there’s plenty of it right in the first book. 

The “Dragon’s Gift” series is complete at three books. It’s a pretty fast burn with instalust: there’s not a lot of relationship development up front. So hop aboard for the dragons, stay for the steam!

The Fifth Knight By Claire Luana And Jesikah Sundin

The Story: To save her family from a rival clan, Fionna, a warrior in her own right, sets out to steal Excalibur from King Arthur himself. Arthur and his closest knights are seeking their fifth who, as foretold by Merlin, will break Morgan la Fay’s curses over the land. They certainly don’t expect the fierce and formidable Fionna to be that knight.

Why You Should Read It: Fans of Arthurian lore will appreciate the research that went into bringing Arthur and his knights to life. All of the characters are well developed and feel genuine in their interactions and their motivations. There is a strong brotherhood among the men and Fionna’s joining to their group challenges that bond. King Arthur is a man of honor, caring first and foremost for his kingdom. Galahad is the big, charming Norseman and rock of the group. Percival is the youngest and must remain celibate due to his role with the Grail search. Lancelot is cold and standoffish, for he believes any involvement with Fionna on his part will ignite the third curse cast by Morgan la Fay. Fionna herself is strong, not only physically, but in her convictions and reasons for her actions: she’s conflicted and it pains her knowing she must betray Arthur to save her family. But what is borne from the betrayal is far more than any of them expected. 

The “Knights of Caerleon” series is complete at three books. If you’re looking for a slow to medium burn romance steeped in historical lore with plenty of steamy, more explicit scenes, you’ll find all of that and more here.

Bloodlust By Auryn Hadley

The Story: Salryc Luxx, a purebred Iliri, joins the Black Blades, an elite military force of strong, super-skilled Ilirian crossbreeds. Humans want to exterminate all Iliri, yet at the same time fear their predatory nature. Sal and the Blades form a strong bond, but that could all be destroyed if the enemy succeeds in their plans. And they are closing in…

Why You Should Read It: There are not many true epic fantasy reverse harem series out there, and this is, simply put, one of the best. After being freed from slavery, Sal was trained to be a ruthless fighter, which enables her to join the Black Blades. She must reconcile the prejudices she faced in her past with her current acceptance by the men, slowly forming deep, strong relationships with each of them. They need to be strong, for they work together as a unit and must be able to rely on each other in battle. Because the Blades are half-Iliri (unknown to the rest of military command), they will all succumb eventually to their race’s innate bloodlust, which can only be quenched by sex, lending some explicit scenes between Sal and her men. While the relationships play a major role, the overarching war for steel (and the secondary aim of both using and eradicating all Iliri), provides the drivers for the story. 

The “Rise of the Iliri” series is on-going as of this posting, with eight books published and the ninth forthcoming in July 2019. If you’re looking for something big to sink your teeth into, with plenty of action, worldbuilding, great characters, slow long-term burning romance, deep bonds between the characters, and explicit sex scenes, then Hadley’s sweeping epic military fantasy is a must read.

About the Author

Catharine Glen is a romantic fantasy author residing in New England. Her favorite kinds of stories take place in faraway worlds with unforgettable characters, plenty of romance, adventure, magic and the supernatural. She tends to get immersed in all things Japanese, reading, Lego, and possibly consumes a bit too much coffee and tea. She’s also a wife to a loving husband and a mom to two children and a spirited Jack Russell.

Catharine’s forthcoming reverse harem romantic fantasy series, The Shadowed World Saga, is anticipated in late 2019.

Reach her at:

Catharine is also the author of the romantic fantasy novel The Rose Crown.

Elite soldier Marian serves and protects the royal family—a responsibility she does not take lightly. But when she thwarts an assassination attempt on the king, she unwittingly becomes a prime suspect. Worse, she is left with a terrible, pulsing wound and vile, intrusive thoughts that are not her own. Now, the mysterious cult behind the attack has targeted her, and Marian soon learns of their goal to restore a devastating relic: the legendary Rose Crown.

Former mercenary Henryk has vowed to prevent the restoration of the Rose Crown at any cost. When he encounters Marian, he discovers the terrifying truth of her involvement—and the mortal danger they both face. Drawn together by the very thing that could destroy them, Henryk and Marian must forge a bond of trust—before it’s too late.

Can Marian battle against the ancient darkness consuming her soul, or will it utterly destroy them both?

AJ Lancaster: Book Review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Sometimes a book draws you in so completely that you only remember you meant to go to bed hours ago after you emerge, blinking, from the very last page. I mean, look at that opening sentence:

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.

Uprooted, p1

How can you possibly stop there? It’s clearly necessary to keep reading at least as long as it takes to find out that the Dragon is a wizard who lives in a tower, and that he takes a village girl to serve him every ten years. And once you’re that far in, well, if you’re me you won’t be able to stop, even if it is after midnight. Who needs sleep, anyway?

Uprooted isn’t technically a fairytale retelling, butit certainly feels like one. It’s partly the dreamy prose and partly the setting, which is alive and magical and sinister in the form of the malevolent Wood. Uprooted is somehow simultaneously epic fantasy about saving the world and small-scale cozy fantasy (that’s a genre, right?) about the comforts of home. I love it fiercely. I own multiple copies and have re-read it countless times.

My copy of Uprooted with bonus cameo by my cat Kestrel

So what makes me love it so much?

Let’s start with our heroine, Agnieszka (Ag-NYESH-kah). She’s messy, stubborn, big-hearted, uneducated but intelligent. The story is told entirely in her voice, and her arc forms the story’s core as we watch her grow from awkward village girl to self-assured sorceress.

She’s also clumsy and frequently spills things, and it’s so nice to see the non-adorable consequences of this represented in fiction. 

“How do you do this to yourself?” he asked me, almost marveling, one day when I wandered in with a clump of rice pudding in my hair—I had accidentally hit a spoon with my elbow and flung some into the air—and a huge streak of jam going all the way down my front of beautiful cream silk.

Uprooted, p36

(It should be mentioned at this point that our grumpy hero, Sarkan aka The Dragon, is a neat freak, and, yes, the conflict between him and our messy heroine on this front is just as amusing as one could hope for.)

It’s also a relief to find a heroine who, despite her magical qualities, doesn’t distance herself from other women or define herself as being “not like other girls”, which is a trope that hugely annoys me. Agnieszka’s best friend is the beautiful, confident, poised Kasia, and in a lesser book they’d be rivals. In Uprooted, a lot of the plot is driven by the strength of their friendship. 

The other central relationship in Uprootedis the slow-burn romance between the Dragon and Agnieszka. It’s that good old trope of enemies-to-lovers. When we first meet the Dragon, he is cold and callous, removing Agnieszka from her village and imprisoning her in his tower—and Agnieszka fears him. But as the story unfolds, we learn that the Dragon isn’t the villain of this tale at all, despite his prickly exterior.  

These two are chalk and cheese, and it’s very satisfying to watch as they come to understand each other and realize that ultimately they share the same goal of saving humankind from the relentless evil of the Wood (more on that later).

Some readers may find the Dragon’s grouchiness not to their taste, but for me his actions speak louder than words—and as Agnieszka quickly realizes, his bark is much worse than his bite.

The Dragon tries to teach Agnieszka magic, and he’s soannoyed by how unpredictable her magic is. Magic should be sharply defined, methodical, and work the same way every time! But Agnieszka’s magic is organic, intuitive, and context-dependent—and often fails spectacularly during their lessons.

[After Agnieszka has accidentally set fire to the guest bedroom]

He roared at me furiously for ten minutes after he finally managed to put out the sulky and determined fire, calling me a witless muttonheaded spawn of pig farmers—“My father’s a woodcutter,” I said—“Of axe-swinging lummocks!” he snarled.

But even so, I wasn’t afraid anymore. He only spluttered himself into exhaustion and then sent me away, and I didn’t mind his shouting at all, now I knew there was no teeth in it to rend me.

Uprooted, p54

Initially, Agnieszka doesn’t want to learn magic, doesn’t want to accept that she can’t go back to her old life. Her emotional journey is one of learning to step up and embrace her new self, whilst not sacrificing her values and her deep connection to her home village.  

Because home, the sense of being rooted (ha, see what I did there?) to a place, is ultimately what Uprootedis about. This also probably explains why it appeals to me so strongly, since I like to write about magically sentient places. There’s something powerful about home, the place that you both can and can’t return to after you’ve gone away and changed.

Which brings me to… the Wood.

It’s hard to make a place into a compelling antagonist, but Naomi Novik has managed it in the eldritch horror that is the Wood. Its evil lies not just in the monsters that roam beneath its branches, but in how it deliberately taints people it comes into contact with and uses them to manipulate events outside its borders, inciting deaths, wars, and misery. The central mystery of the novel is why the Wood hates humanity—and what created it in the first place. 

Both Agnieszka and the Dragon have to grow and change in order to have any chance of defeating the Wood, creating magic stronger than the sum of their parts. 

“Try and match it,” he said absently, his fingers moving slightly, and by lurching steps we brought out illusions closer together until it was nearly impossible to tell them from one another, and then he said, “Ah,” suddenly, just as I began to glimpse his spell: almost exactly like that strange clockwork in the middle of his table, all shining moving parts. On an impulse I tried to align our workings: I envisioned his like the water-wheel of a mill, and mine the rushing stream driving it around. “What are you—” he began, and then abruptly we had only a single rose, and it began to grow.

Uprooted, p95

There’s also wars, court politics, and magical monsters. What more could you ask for?

TL;DR list:

  • Enemies to lovers.
  • Magic training montages.
  • Strong female friendship.
  • Evil sentient wood.
  • Fairytale-like atmosphere.

Have you read Uprooted? What did you think?

About the Author

AJ Lancaster lives in the windy coastal city of Wellington, New Zealand, with two ridiculous cats and many novelty mugs. She writes fantasy of the whimsical rather than grimdark variety.

Her Stariel Quartet is romantic gaslamp fantasy, set on a magical sentient estate in a world where the fae are only stories…until now.

Reach her at:

The first book in the Stariel Quartet is The Lord of Stariel:

The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is.

Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they?

Will it be the lord’s eldest son, who he despised? His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense? His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?

Hetta knows it won’t be her, and she’s glad of it. Returning home for her father’s funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.

But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with.

Winged, beautifully deadly problems. 

For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe. In theory.

15 Books to Read If You Love Women Mages

Here’s a list of books if you like strong women who wield magic. These books were selected by our administrators and community members. We hope you find your next favorite read!

1. Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

Gillengaria seethes with unrest. In the south, hostility toward magic and its users has risen to a dangerous level.

“Wonderful world building with a series of great characters all of whom are layered and well worth spending hours of time with.”

Amazon Reviewer

2. Stroke the Flame by Elizabeth Briggs

Four sexy dragon shifters. A huntress with a dark past. A bond that could save the world.

“Elizabeth Briggs books are well written, filled with enchanting characters and intriguing plots and worlds. Definitely worth reading and recommended.”

Amazon Reviewer

3. Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke

A sailor with forbidden magic. A golden heir with a secret love. If you love fantasy with mages, battles, romance, and wild sea adventures, Alisha Klapheke’s Uncommon World series is perfect for you!

“Monsters, magic, multiple warring factions, mystery, romance, this books encompasses it all. I recommend it wholeheartedly!”

Amazon Reviewer

4. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.

“A vibrant world, rich characters, more than a hint of the supernatural, and an endearing main character who doesn’t have all the answers but isn’t afraid to find them makes this a must-read.”

Amazon Reviewer

5. Blade & Rose by Miranda Honfleur

A kingdom in turmoil or the love of her life. Which one will she save? Dive into a medieval world sensual and dark, full of magic and greed, love and blades, where factions vie for influence and there are no easy choices…

“From the moment I began “Blade & Rose”, I realized I was being transported into a vibrant, marvelous world of magic, mystery and intrigue, told through the lens of the deeply relate-able, strong and engaging main character, Rielle, and I never looked back.”

Amazon Reviewer

6. Fallen Empire by K.N. Lee

In this sprawling epic fantasy novel with shifting wolf hybrids, dragons, and mermaids, Amalia and Kylan begin their quest to return their realm to its former glory. 

“I really enjoyed reading this book. It was unpredictable, kept me on my toes and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.”

Amazon Reviewer

7. Lawless by Janeen Ippolito

A dragon felon, a forsaken prince, and a jaded airship captain walk into a city—and everything explodes. A steampunk fantasy adventure with a side of snark and quirky romance.

“What a fun adventure! This book had everything, action, strong female lead, romance, and a great sense of humor that literally made me laugh out loud.”

Amazon Reviewer

8. Shadows of Lela by Tessonja Odette

A forgotten princess. A deadly quest. A threat that hides in shadow… If you like swoon-worthy romance, adventurous quests, breathtaking magic, and surprising twists, then you’ll love Tessonja Odette’s epic fantasy tale.

“I LOVED this title. It had everything a lover of the fantasy genre could ask for; original mythical creatures, an all-new magical realm, solid writing, loveable characters, hate-able characters, and of course unicorns!”

Amazon Reviewer

9. Beneath the Canyons by Kyra Halland

The new gunslinger in town. The rancher’s daughter. They share the same dangerous secret – magic. If you love magic, adventure, and romance in a unique setting, come discover the wonders and mysteries of the Wildings today!

“If you like mystery with romance, danger and humor, this is the book for you. Think Western with wizards and aliens. I know, right, but it WORKS. Good read.”

Amazon Reviewer

10. A Thief & a Gentlewoman by Clare Sager

A city of intrigue. An irresistible con. A mysterious enemy. Immerse yourself in a gripping story of sword fights, sabrecats, and simmering romance.

“The world-building is intriguing and evocative, the romance warm and engaging, and the plot weaves together light and dark, becoming richer and deeper as the story progresses.”

Amazon Reviewer

11. The Avant Champion by C.B. Samet

All things considered, it was a good day to die… The Avant Champion: Rising by C.B. Samet is an intelligently written book that will turn fantasy readers into fans.

“Captivating. Draws you in slowly to capture you before you are aware of the snare laid to hold you to the end.”

Amazon Reviewer

12. Phoenix by Jessica Wayne

The first installment in an epic five-book fantasy series following one woman’s incredible adventure to another world, and the monsters she must face when she arrives. 

“This book was full of magic, violence, heartbreak, and hope. The characters were well written and felt real to me. The relationships were everything. I loved it.”

Amazon Reviewer

13. Frostbound Throne by May Sage

Vale was born in battle seven hundred years ago, and in all this time, he’s never encountered an enemy that poses a real challenge. Until now.

“I loved this book! If you enjoy fantasy, adventure and romance you will love it as much as I did. The writing style is sophisticated with out being pretentious.”

Amazon Reviewer

14. Mage Slave by R.K. Thorne

A warrior prince, an enslaved mage, a plot to draw the world to war. Magic, politics, love, and fate collide in the destinies of two people in this fantasy adventure from R. K. Thorne. For lovers of swords and sorcery with a side of romance.

“Brilliant! I can highly recommend this book. It’s a fun, easy read to get lost in.”

Amazon Reviewer

15. A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

Magic awakens. Darkness stirs. The Wraith Lord hunts. Hold onto your heart, dive in and be swept away in this spectacular epic adventure.

“What a great book to start a new fantasy series. A different take on the usual. It had it all – mystery, a quest, heartbroken heroine, a savior or worse enemy, and Fae and Monsters galore.”

Amazon Reviewer

Do you have any recent reads you’d add to the list? Comment below!

About the Author

Nicolette is a native San Diegan with a passion for the world of make-believe. From a young age, Nicolette was telling stories, whether it be writing plays for her friends to act out or a series of children’s books (which her mother still likes drag out to embarrass her with in front of company).  

She still lives in her imagination, but in reality she resides in San Diego with her husband, children, a couple cats, and an old dog.  She loves reading, attempting arts and crafts, and cooking.

Reach her at:

Nicolette also writes books about women who wield magic, including The Priestess and the Dragon:

A story of love, magic, and revenge that readers say they couldn’t put down. 

“It’s just a really interesting, unique read. I’m hard-pressed to think of another book that is quite like this one. A unique read that makes me want to read more.”

Amazon Reviewer

Rose Amberly: Fairy tales, Fantasy and legends hold up a mirror to real life

If like me you’ve balked at how un-feminist our classic fairy tales can be, then you understand how reluctant I was, last Christmas, when my niece asked me to read her Cinderella. 

For a start, three of the women in the story come in for very harsh descriptions, they’re either, ugly, stupid, or evil. As for Cinders, all the girl has to do is dress up nice to deserve the prince. Give us all a magic wand and we’ll all get a prince of our own. Oh, and just a minute, why is the prince such a prize anyway?

So, I did my best and tried to ‘edit’ the story, to focus more on how kind Cinders was, how despite her circumstance, she finds the time to help others. And then it hit me, the hidden story.

So let me tell you my take on Cinderella, the one that might feature on Oprah. It’s a story of success in the face of difficulties, a story of challenge, and opportunity.

A woman is widowed and left penniless with two daughters to raise. In a society where marriage is the principal career open to women, she needs a new husband, hopefully one with money. Unfortunately, no sooner does she find a new husband than he goes and dies too. He leaves her having to manage his disordered finances and debts.

The next snag comes in the shape of her step-daughter who is far too pretty. How is she supposed to find suiters for her own daughters when Cinders steals all the attention. So the twice widowed woman has to think like a business strategist; it’s a kill or be killed world out there. She looks at her daughters with honest eyes and sees that they are … average … they’re going to need all the help she can give them. Any spare money will have to go on beauty treatments, expensive clothes, and health farms. She needs to save money and get the competition out of the way. Laying off some staff and moving her step-daughter into the kitchen achieves both objectives. And when the invitation to the royal ball comes … well, what would anyone in her place do?

Don’t all shout at me at once. This is what the real world is like. As J.R.R. Tolkien says, evil is more often committed by ordinary people trying to survive, to compete. We’ve all had jobs where we’ve been treated unfairly, prizes we should have won that went to somebody with inside connections.

Now we come to Cinderella herself. As every life coach will tell you, don’t sit around moping and crying over the unfairness of life. So, she works hard, makes good friends and doesn’t give up hope. When a stranger claiming magic powers turns up with an offer of new clothes that only last till midnight, and she converts a bunch of rats and a pumpkin into a crystal carriage, what does Cinderella do? Does she give in to doubts and fear? She does what every business guru tells us to do, she grabs the opportunity with both hands. She finds her courage and takes the risk.

I wish I could say that I’ve always been this brave, that I haven’t sometimes chosen the safe and familiar option. I think on reflection, Cinderella would make a fantastic educational story for children of both sexes.

In, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche says that lies hold up a truthful mirror to the world. He cites both Gulliver’s Travels and ancient mythology. In Gulliver’s Travels, the small people fight wars over which side of the egg should be sliced first. The giants on the other hand, decline Gulliver’s offer of new weapons, they don’t believe in war.

The thing about fantasy and fable is that it allows us to comment on reality much more easily than other kinds of fiction. By elevating the question into architypes and imaginary characters, we can bring up questions of good vs evil and lay out our conclusions in a way that would seem crass in ordinary fiction.

Could you write in your next novel People don’t stay in the pigeon-holes we make for them, or that Children grow up and stop listening to their parents? Both are true but would sound cliché and flat. Pinocchiodoes it so much better. The wooden toy, once complete, becomes a boy. He has feelings, makes mistakes and wants to go out and explore the world. He tells lies and learns about consequences. Author Stella Night explains Pinocchio in terms of romantic relationships.

The other part of my story was actually about how a woman can’t change a man, only he can change himself. It was an idea that I had because I had watched my friend desperately try to save her marriage by constantly trying to change her husband, making him go to courses, yoga, and various things to make their relationship better. He didn’t respond well to any of them. In the end, she gave up. She actually just focused on her own ‘stuff’ in life. Then her husband sorted himself out on his own and returned to her becoming an amazing husband.

A similar allegory can be made with Goldilocks.

Who would you want to marry out of George Clooney, astronomer Brian Cox. Bill Gates, the football star in our local high school, or the handsome mechanic at the Mercedes dealership (let’s assume they are all single)?

My answer is, none! They’re too famous, too brainy, too rich, too young, too old, too sporty. Would I be happy in a mansion in Malibu, or a tax haven island for the super-rich? Can I live on a farm in the Prairies? No. I’d want someone just right for me. What’s my size, my personality, my lifestyle?

Once I started to think about it, I realized how our classic fairy tales can in fact say a lot about real life. When I worked as a relationship counselor, I lost track of how many people, especially women came to me with what I learned to call the Little Mermaid syndrome.

For those not familiar with the Hans Christian Andersen tragic version of The Little Mermaid: A girl falls in love with someone she doesn’t really know, she hangs her own dreams on him and believes him to be perfect for her. Then she gives up everything for him, her world, her family, her way of life, even her voice which was the one thing he liked about her. And for what? On land, he doesn’t even notice her.

Sound familiar?

The problem when women – and most of us were raised thinking that success in love would be our greatest aim – when women fall in love, they can sometimes build up the man into what they hope he could be. And in our effort to be with him we give up our independence, the very thing that made us attractive to him in the first place. We become needy and vulnerable. I’ve met a psychiatrist who quit her job and moved to Germany – which she didn’t speak – and sat at home bored waiting for her man to come home from work. A lawyer who sold her home to finance some guy’s dubious business venture and was left destitute.

I’m not saying fables and fairy tales were written as symbols of such life examples, rather that they are a blue-print of how humans behave or respond. It’s the reader, or in some cases the writer, who can find a new way of looking at these stories.

The award-winning writer Salman Rushdie in his novel, Shame, describes Beauty and the Beastas the story of an Indian arranged marriage. The girl, full of youthful romantic dreams, is horrified that her father has arranged a marriage with a local merchant. In her eyes he is a beast. But gradually, with patience and kindness, she begins to see how hard he works to provide a good life for them, she grows out of her youthful fantasies and learns to appreciate having a good home and the respect of the community. Her husband becomes a prince in her eyes.

In a recent conversation, romance author Lena Maye told me about her own latest work.

I focused on choices. We set out in a certain direction and sometimes we need to stop and think about what we really want — not what anyone else wants for us — and then change direction to follow ourselves. A theme repeated through the story was for Laurel to trust only herself in the labyrinth, and that she’s the only one who can find her way through. She has to block out everyone else — everything that she’s grown to rely on, all the noise around her, even Radek — and ask herself: what’s my path?

I think we all need to stop every so often and ask, what is my path, where am going and is it still where I need to be.

About the Author

When Rose Amberly was little, she pestered her mother for stories every night (and morning and afternoon.) In the end, her parents taught her to read so they could have some peace, but very soon she pestered them for books and more books. By the age of six, she started to make up stories and tell them to her parents pretending she’d read them in a book. Happily, now she’s all grown up and no longer has to pretend.
She travelled widely and tried different careers is education, therapy, art management and even briefly, bookkeeping but none of them were as much fun as making up stories.
Rose Amberly lives in London which she thinks is the most fabulous city in the world. She loves to set her stories in England to share with readers some of her favourite places.

Rose has a new release in the fairy tale collection After Dark:

Favourite fairy tales get a smart grown up and passionate remake.  Some stories follow the classic tale very closely, others move further and wider to offer a different ending. With a range of heat from sweet to very steamy they also range in romance sub-genres from contemporary to historical,  magical fantasy, and paranormal.

  • The Goblin King: Based on Labyrinth
  • Always a Swan : Based on The Ugly Duckling
  • Forever: Based on Snow White
  • The Girl with no Name: Based on The Little Mermaid
  • A Touch Too Hot: Based on Goldielocks
  • The Wood that Would: Based on Pinocchio 
  • Robin Hood Prince of Hackers: Based on Robin Hood
  • Sun Gold: Based on Rumpelstiltskin
  • Cock-a-Doodle-Do: Based on Mother Hulda

9 Favourite fairy tales get a grown-up make-over. Charming heroes, dangerous royals, Hollywood stars, farmers and mysterious neighbours take you on a sensuous magical journey from London to Washington DC, Tuscan hills to a rugged Canadian nature reserve. Nine stories full of passion, glitter and unexpected twists.
These charming old favourites are retold as passionate love stories (contemporary, historical, paranormal, and fantasy romances). Experience tears, heartbreak, and happy smiles as our heroines make life changing choices, overcome troubles, and find true love.
Equinox romance carefully selected nine exciting romance authors to create this collection with high quality writing and delicious escapism.  

13 Books to Read If You Love Gaslamp

Here’s a list of books if you like Gaslamp. These books were selected by our administrators and community members. We hope you find your next favorite read!

1. Nefertiti’s Heart by A.W. Exley

Cara Devon has always been impulsive, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.

“I love everything about the story. The title alone has gotten me ensnared. This book has blown me away.

Amazon Reviewer

2. The Watchmaker’s Daughter by C.J. Archer

With a cast of quirky characters, an intriguing mystery, and a dash of romance, THE WATCHMAKER’S DAUGHTER is the start of a thrilling new historical fantasy series.

“Mystery, secrets, deceit, action, magic, and a tiny bit of romance all rolled up into a well-written adventure story in London with Scotland yard and a hint of cowboy- what’s not to like?”

Amazon Reviewer

3. The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.

“This imaginative and tightly crafted first novel opens the door to a vivid and awe-inspiring vision of Victorian era England.”

Amazon Reviewer

4. Ferromancer by Becca Andre

Solutions aren’t always black and white—sometimes they come in shades of iron gray.

“The characters were fleshed out and felt real, with just enough flaws to seem genuinely human. I’m a big fan of witty/well paced dialogue, and this definitely satisfied!”

Amazon Reviewer

5. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale…This is a book to treasure.

“I gave this an easy 5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes three-dimensional high fantasy read, full of a delightful set of characters and a terrifically intriguing world.”

Amazon Reviewer

6. The Earl of Brass by Kara Jorgensen

Eilian Sorrell is no stranger to cheating death, but when a dirigible accident costs him his arm, he fears his days of adventuring are over.

“This novel was interesting from beginning to end. The main characters were honorable, well educated and forward thinking.”

Amazon Reviewer

7. Prudence by Gail Carriger

From NYT bestselling author Gail Carriger comes a witty adventure about a young woman with rare supernatural abilities travels to India for a spot of tea and adventure and finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

“But her best talent, and the true reason that I will always read anything she ever writes, is her ability to craft the most hilarious witty banter! I literally laugh out loud when I read her books. They bring me so much joy and glee that I suffer major book hangovers whenever I finish one.”

Amazon Reviewer

8. Ghostlight by Rabia Gale

Trevelyan Shield would rather fight demons and exorcise haunts than deal with debutantes, alive or dead.

“I love Rabia Gale. Her worlds are unique and interesting and her characters are complex and flawed, like most of us.”

Amazon Reviewer

9. Clockwork Alchemist by Sara C Roethle

Liliana is trapped alone in the dark. Her father is dead, and London is very far away. If only she hadn’t been locked up in her room, reading a book she wasn’t allowed to read, she might have been able to stop her father’s killer.

“Really enjoyed this book. Lots of action and suspense, as well as a bigger picture yet to be revealed. Really enjoyed the characters and the humor they displayed.”

Amazon Reviewer

10. The Star of Anatolia by amaila Brinkley

Meet Miss Anastasia Galipp. Debutante, know-it-all, and the Home Office’s secret weapon.

“I loved all the details that the author provided of the agency and the culture of the series. I am looking forward to the next installment! Well done!”

Amazon Reviewer

11. The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

London papers scream of dirigible attacks, kraken swarms, and lung-clogging, sulfurous fogs. But a rash of gypsy murders barely rates mention.

“First, I love that the heroine is smart and not afraid to hide her femininity, which is refreshing. Second, I really like the hero – wounded, brilliant, and of course handsome.”

Amazon Reviewer

12. Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster

Standing between London and a deadly plot against the throne, are the dangerous spies and femme fatales that form the Company of Rogues… that’s if they don’t kill each other first.

“It was suspenseful as well as sexy. I love the way that the love between the two characters starts off slow but then you see the intensity in which they come to trust and immerse themselves in each other.”

Amazon Reviewer

13. Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina

She wants to be an engineer, but her parents–and society–will never allow it. Until riots break out in steampunk London and she seizes her chance…

“I greatly enjoyed this series of stories. They are all fun, adventurous, and entertaining. I tried to keep my laughter quiet in deference to those who were around me, but I just couldn’t hold in the laughter at many points.”

Amazon Reviewer

Do you have any recent reads you’d add to the list? Comment below!

About the Author

Nicolette is a native San Diegan with a passion for the world of make-believe. From a young age, Nicolette was telling stories, whether it be writing plays for her friends to act out or a series of children’s books (which her mother still likes drag out to embarrass her with in front of company).  

She still lives in her imagination, but in reality she resides in San Diego with her husband, children, a couple cats, and an old dog.  She loves reading, attempting arts and crafts, and cooking.

Reach her at:

Nicolette also writes Gaslamp books, including Heart of Thorns:

A story of murder, magic, and manners that readers say kept them up at night.

“Secrets, lies, mystery, magic and the enchanting way Nicolette presents them to us – that heady concoction will keep you glued to her Heart of Thorns.”

Amazon Reviewer

A.W. Exley and Rabia Gale: What’s Gaslamp?

Today we’d like to introduce you to an old genre that is getting some new recognition — gaslamp. While gaslamp has been with us for over a hundred years now, it has only recently been given its own category on Amazon and a BISAC code.

What is gaslamp?

GASLAMP (also known as gaslight fantasy or gaslight romance) is a subgenre of both fantasy and historical fiction. It tends to have a clearly recognizable grounding in either a Regency, Victorian, or Edwardian setting. Gaslamp is further differentiated from other forms of fantasy by the supernatural elements, themes, and subjects it features. Many of its tropes, themes, and stock characters derive from Gothic literature. This means there is often a combination of romance and horror or suspense. For example, the innocent heroine thrust into a creepy setting and beset by peril, who must find the internal strength to succeed in the end.

Gaslamp is not to be confused with steampunk, although the two can overlap. Some call gaslamp steampunk’s magical cousin. The key difference between gaslamp and steampunk is that steampunk has more of a science edge and includes mechanical or steam technology. Steampunk focuses on alternate developments and need not have any magic at all, while gaslamp focuses on supernatural elements and need not have any technology that didn’t actually exist. Gaslamp is further distinguished from steampunk in that it doesn’t require a dystopian or “punk” setting to the world.

Why do we need another book category?

If we said the words “urban fantasy” or “paranormal romance”, you would immediately conjure up an image in your head of that type of story. You might also think of a favorite author or book in that category.

Promoting “gaslamp” as a sub-genre is just another way to help readers know instantly what sort of journey they are going to embark upon. Just like “urban fantasy” might make you think of a kick arse sarcastic heroine, “gaslamp” should make readers think of a by-gone era, an imperiled heroine, and a dark force.

Gaslamp fantasy is a young genre that has already seen its boundaries redefined. At first, only fantasies in Victorian settings fell into this category. However, the success of bestsellers like Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series opened up gaslamp fantasy to include the Regency era. On occasion, fantasy novels that evoke the atmosphere of relevant time periods also fall into gaslamp fantasy. A prime example is The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett, which combines Austen and Bronte tropes in a secondary world setting.

C. J. Archer is arguably the most successful indie author in this genre. Her multiple series are set in Victorian times and contain a strong supernatural element. Other indie authors are also carving out their own space and reaching readers hungry for stories of ghosts, faeries, and magic in historical eras known for elegant manners, grand houses, and dark city streets.

More examples of gaslamp can be found in movies and TV. Crimson Peak combines many of the elements — we have the innocent heroine who is plunged into peril with paranormal happenings in the creepy old house. In the end, Edith overcomes her fears and becomes a stronger person as she confronts Lucille in the final battle. 😊

Television gives us the marvellous BBC adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and another TV series that epitomizes the gaslamp tropes is Penny Dreadful with its combination of the Victorian era, supernatural beings, and a suspenseful atmosphere. Recently it was announced that Joss Whedon is writing a new TV series called The Nevers for HBO that is described as an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world. While it is called science fiction, it does sound like a new gaslamp series to us and we can only wait for it to debut. 🙂

If the combination of these elements causes a tingle down your spine, you just might be a gaslamp fantasy fan! While it is hard to find communities just for this niche, many readers congregate under the historical fantasy umbrella. We run one such group on Facebook, the Historical Fantasy Book Club, where gaslamp fantasy is one of the popular sub-genres read and discussed. You are welcome to join the Historical Fantasy Bookclub, where we have a regular book of the month and discuss all aspects and sub genres of historical fantasy (including gaslamp!)

What’s your favorite gaslamp novel? What are you adding to your TBR? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Authors

A.W. Exley

Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita’s life. She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita writes fantasy historical novels from her home in rural New Zealand.

Rabia Gale

Rabia Gale breaks fairy tales and fuses fantasy and science fiction. She loves to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. In her spare time, she reads, doodles, eats chocolate, avoids housework, and homeschools her three children.

A native of Pakistan, she grew up in hot, humid Karachi. She then spent almost a decade in Northern New England where she learned to love fall, tolerate snow, and be snobbish about maple syrup and sweet corn. She now lives in Northern Virginia.

Anita and Rabia have new releases in the gaslamp anthology Caught in Crystal:

A gaslamp anthology from some of your favourite historical fantasy authors.

Iron Tears by Becca Andre
Alone in the world, Kali must sort out her mysterious ancestry with the help of an enigmatic stranger who might prove to be her family’s greatest enemy.

Pricked by Thorns by Nicolette Andrews
Catherine’s mother is adamant she marry. But for Catherine finding a husband, might prove to be a deadly affair.

The Demigod Dilemma by Jamaila Brinkley
When young ladies go missing from Mayfair, the Home Office knows just who to call. This is going to be Anastasia Galipp’s most dangerous Season yet.

The Seer’s Eye by A.W. Exley
A family trip to the circus takes a dangerous turn when the familiar tingle of an artifact touches Cara Devon. What price is demanded, to change the future?

Rain Through Her Fingers by Rabia Gale
Trapped in an unnaturally flooded Brighton, Elaine must find the courage to confront an old foe and protect a new friend.

The Alchemist’s Tomb by Sara C Roethle
Arhyen and Liliana thought their troubles were over when they are given a mission to steal an artifact from a tomb. Will stealing from the dead prove fatal?


About the Authors of Caught in Crystal

Becca Andre

Nicolette Andrews

Jamaila Brinkley

Sara C Roethle