45 Swoon-worthy Fantasy Romance Novels

Want to fall in love with a fantasy romance? We at Romantic Fantasy Shelf got you covered! If you’re happy to support indie authors, we’ve marked them with a convenient #indie. In no particular order:

1. Warprize (Chronicles of the Warlands Book 1) by Elizabeth Vaughan

“Vaughan’s brawny barbarian romance recreates the delicious feeling of adventure and the thrill of exploring mysterious cultures created by Robert E. Howard in his Conan books and makes for a satisfying escapist read with its enjoyable romance between a plucky, near-naked heroine and a truly heroic hero.” —Booklist

2. Lord of the Fading Lands (The Tairen Soul Book 1) by C. L. Wilson 

“This book transports you into this amazing world of the Fae. You will get lost in their history and will love these characters. You will love their code of honor and be amazed with their power.” –Amazon Reviewer

3. Master of Crows by Grace Draven #indie

“You get that sense of a living world, weaved with dark magic and ordinary lives, as if this place exists outside of the pages and the book is a window giving you a glimpse. Against this background, plays out a touching love story.  …It’s not a sex story, although sex is in the book. It’s a slow burn relationship that unfolds over the course of weeks. I’m jaded and I had this terrible sense of dread before the finale because I’ve become attached to the characters.  She got me.” –Ilona Andrews, #1 NY Times Bestselling Author of The Kate Daniels Series

4. Pestilence (The Four Horsemen Book 1) by Laura Thalassa #indie

“These complex characters manage to change and alter each other so drastically that neither is the same at the end of this book. This series is masterfully in-depth and complex. You will have moments of laughter, tears, and scenes that will leave goosebumps behind. This book somehow manages to not only capture these characters, but shine a light on what it means to be human; good and bad.” –Amazon Reviewer

5. Heart of the Fae: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (The Otherworld Book 1) by Emma Hamm #indie

“The romance between Sorcha and Eamonn is slow-building, but that makes it even more believable and real. The relationship building between, not just Sorcha and Eamonn, but all other characters (especially Boggart, Oona, and Bran) is adorable (mainly Boggart’s adorable).” –Amazon Reviewer

6. No Man Can Tame (Dark-Elves of Nightbloom Book 1) by Miranda Honfleur #indie

“Rich world-building in this fantasy romance about heroes from different cultures bridging the gap to bring their peoples–and themselves–together.” –USA Today bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Lindsay Buroker

7. Promise of Darkness (Dark Court Rising Book 1) by Bec McMaster #indie

“A combination of fairy tales and mythology plus a believable slow burn romance kept me glued to my kindle. I defy anyone to read this and not fall in love with these characters.” –Amazon Reviewer

8. Mystic and Rider (Twelve Houses series Book 1) by Sharon Shinn 

“The incredibly powerful mystics’ talents slowly revealed. Love and trust growing between companions-of-the-road. King and queen, warriors, peasants & mystics face treason & revolution. And love blooms among the thorns.” –Amazon Reviewer

9. A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles Book 1) by Amanda Bouchet

“A perfect blend of adventure and love story with a fantastic hero and heroine at its center, this is a not to be missed story of gods and goddesses, magic, prophecies and the power of true love.”—Heroes & Heartbreakers

10. Lonen’s War (Sorcerous Moons Book 1) by Jeffe Kennedy #indie

“Jeffe Kennedy has a terrific knack for meticulous worldbuilding, which helps to make her characters both relatable and otherworldly. I thoroughly enjoyed Lonen’s War and the Sorcerous Moons trilogy. If you’re a fan of fantasy romance, you should definitely pick this up!” ~ Thea Harrison, NYT and USA TODAY bestselling author of the Elder Races series

11. Kitsune: A Little Mermaid Retelling (Tales of Akatsuki Book 1) by Nicolette Andrews #indie

“It’s a tale of love, war and betrayal, with a huge dollop of magic… If I had to sum it up in one word, well, I can’t. That’s how good it was… It’s one of those novels that you just know will stay with you.” –Goodreads Reviewer

12. Soulbound (The Return of the Elves Book 1) by Bethany Adams #indie

“It was a fresh take on true love, what is real, what can be thought and . . . did I mention true love?” –Amazon Reviewer

13. Betrayal’s Price (In Deception’s Shadow Book 1) by Lisa Blackwood  #indie

“Fantasy, romance and loyalty takes the reader into a world of magic and the mystery of sharing a body with another.” –Amazon Reviewer

14. Burn Bright by Bec McMaster #indie

“Neva is a breath of fresh air. She definitely fits the bill as the heroine. Cas is not quite the typical knight in shining armor, but he will do. This was an amazing story of old myths, evil kings, and a kind Prince.” –Amazon Reviewer

15. Beauty In Darkness (Royal Hearts Book 1) by Elizabeth Briggs #indie

“This story is magical. A true fairy tale. It’s an imaginative, lovely read.” –Amazon Reviewer

16. Stolen Princess: A Fantasy Romance (Royal Conquest Book 1) by Nikki Jefford #indie

“A wild ride full of romance, adventure, and twists that had me swooning one page and making shocked gasps the next. Expertly written with rich world-building and complex characters.” –Amazon Reviewer

17. The Winter King (Weathermages of Mystral Book 1) by C.L. Wilson

“THE WINTER KING is a fierce blend of heart-pounding action, pulse-throbbing romance that touches the depths of your soul, and brands it with an emotion that seizes and captivates, and vibrates everything within. Combined with sexy romance, explosive magic, bloody murder, and unimaginable mayhem, all wrapped around a berated and belittle Warrior Princess, that is destined to save all the kingdoms combined!” –Amazon Reviewer

18. Dark King (Sea Fae Book 1) by C.N. Crawford #indie

“Adventurous, humorous, suspenseful with a dark past and a bright future as well as a romance that leaves you needing more.” –Amazon Reviewer

19. A Sorceress of His Own (The Gifted Ones Book 1) by Dianne Duvall #indie

“A Sorceress of His Own has a wonderful dynamic, an amazing promise of future adventures and a well-told romance that is sure to please.” –Long and Short Reviews

20. Trick (Foolish Kingdoms Book 1) by Natalia Jaster #indie

“Their relationship was intricately woven into something so real and beautiful.” –Amazon Reviewer

21. Gilded Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (Celestials Book 1) by Emma Hamm #indie

Available November 27, 2019!

22. Through the Paintings Dimly by J.M. Butler #indie

“‘Through the Paintings Dimly’ by J.M Butler was a brilliantly immersive read which didn’t shy from dark topics or twisting the literary knife a little deeper–This delivered a touch of horror and more than a dab of fantasy in with a romantic ribbon. ” –Amazon Reviewer

23. Radiance (Wraith Kings Book 1) by Grace Draven #indie

“In short order, Draven has demonstrated that she is a truly gifted teller of romantic fantasy tales that are utterly unforgettable. In Radiance, Draven explores a forced political marriage between seemingly incompatible races. The growing relationship between these protagonists is a genuine joy to read, and the fantastic story is filled with dangerous twists and turns!” –Jill M. Smith – Romantic Times Reviewer

24. The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen  #indie

“Heart-pounding romance and intense action wrapped in a spellbinding world. I was hooked from the first page.”– ELISE KOVA, USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens books

25. Locked by J. M. Butler #indie

“A clever, funny, and quick little romance.” –Amazon Reviewer

26. Poison Study (Soulfinders Book 1) by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study is both a riveting romance and a spellbinding fantasy.” — B&N Explorations

27. Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe Book 1) by Rosamund Hodge

“The complex layers of each character in this book just blew my mind. I was kept on the edge of my seat until the very end. I LOVE this book. It’s a must read for sure!” –Amazon Reviewer

28. Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

“Full of swoony romance intertwined with non-stop adventure, Kiss of the Royal was a delight from start to finish. Lindsey Duga has created a world with fairytale charm and shivers that readers are sure to enjoy.” ―Mindee Arnett, critically acclaimed author of Avalon and Onyx & Ivory

29. Chosen of Azara (Tales of Tehovir Book 1) by Kyra Halland #indie

“Not only is this book great fantasy, but at the same time it’s also a fantastic tale of love.” –Amazon Reviewer

30. The Kiss of Deception: The Remnant Chronicles, Book One by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception has it all–beautiful writing, heart-pounding suspense, a fiery princess, and an epic romance that’ll make you swoon. This is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!” ―Alyson Noël, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Immortals

31. The Golden Spider (An Elemental Steampunk Chronicle Book 1) by Anne Renwick #indie

“The Golden Spider is a delicious treat for fans of gadgets, science, and steampunk romance!” –Jen at That’s What I’m Talking About

32. Dawn’s Promise (Silent Wings Book 1) by A.W. Exley #indie

“I found myself enthralled in the world the author created and couldn’t get enough of this gentle yet fiery romance between the two main characters.” –Amazon Reviewer

33. The Sorcerer’s Concubine (The Telepath and the Sorcerer Book 1) by Jaclyn Dolamore #indie

“Excellent touching fantasy novel with a fairly original system of magic and races which centers around forbidden romance (with some pretty hot scenes) and includes racial tensions, some necromancy, magical races, the possibility of war, politics, and the development of sorcerous skills.” –Amazon Reviewer

34. The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga Book 1) by G.A. Aiken 

“Throw in a bunch of centaurs, elves, dwarves, witches and a cranky dragon, a lost treasure, spectacular fight scenes and hint of romance, and you have got the beginnings of a great fantasy adventure that will leave you wanting more.” –Amazon Reviewer

35. Assassin’s Gambit: The Hearts and Thrones Series by Amy Raby 

“Raby’s debut heralds the arrival of a terrific new fantasy romance voice….[Raby] has a gift for storytelling.” —RT Book Reviews

36. Vengeance Born (A Novel of the Light Blade Book 1) by Kylie Griffin

“Vengeance Born is a Fantasy Romance, and totally different then most romance stories. It is a story of two unlikely people, who come together to help each other survive a deadly situation. It is a story of trust, prejudice and how love can change anything.” –Amazon Reviewer

37. The Curse Giver by Dora Machado #indie

“If you like fantasy with a dash of romance and suspense then buy this book.” –Amazon Reviewer

38. The Wolf King’s Bride (Fate of Imperium Book 1) by C.A. Worley #indie

“Fabulous centre characters combined with romance, intrigue and action make this such an incredibly easy read to lose and immerse yourself in.” –Amazon Reviewer

39. The Fire Lord’s Lover (The Elven Lords Book 1) by Kathryne Kennedy

“A Tolkien-esque world combined with an eighteenth-century historical romance produces a satisfying tale with twists you’ll never expect. Excellent!”—Jennifer Ashley, USA Today bestselling author of Pride Mates

40. Pathways (The Kingdom Chronicles Book 1) by Camille Peters #indie

“Talk about being sucked into a story. I was almost immediately drawn into this fairy tale world. The magic was perfect. The romance was engaging. I am so happy I read this one.” –Amazon Reviewer

41. My Lady Mage: A Warriors of the Mist Novel by Alexis Morgan

“This is the story of the threat reaching across the entire countryside and the task of these five warriors to protect the girl who called them and to free the land of whatever the evil turns out to be. It’s a fast paced story of romance and action.” –Amazon Reviewer

42. Troubled Waters (An Elemental Blessings Novel Book 1) by Sharon Shinn 

“The story has romance, fantasy, suspense, political intrigue, and murder. If you like to read a fast-moving fantasy with a strong heroine, pick up this book.” –Amazon Reviewer

43. The Companion by Susan Squires #indie

“It was a rich tale with all the historical background to round out the story and yet not bore. And the romance sizzled.” –Amazon Reviewer

44. The Dragon Princess: Sleeping Beauty Reimagined (The Forgotten Kingdom Book 1) by Lichelle Slater #indie

45. Hunted by the Winter King (Faeted Mates Book 1) by Ariel Hunter #indie

“I’m already in love with Mara and her feisty spirit. I can’t wait to read more…” –Amazon Reviewer

Which of these have you read? Which others would you recommend?

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

15 Books to Read If You Love Warrior Women

We here at Romantic Fantasy Shelf thought it a good time to celebrate our favorite fierce warrior women and magic users in a post of books about women who fight hard and fall in love. These books were selected by our administrators and community members. We hope you find your next favorite read!

1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In a world where some are bestowed with special gifts, Katsa is given the gift of killing. An action-packed fantasy that tackles what it means to be strong.

“I absolutely adored Katsa. She was such a fierce, independent heroine…”

Amazon Reviewer

2. First Test by Tamora Pierce

One woman fights to realize her dream of becoming a knight amidst discrimination. This is a fantastic tale about persistence despite opposition.

“This series tackles weighty issues like sexism, bullying, classism, poverty, crime, and the injustice of law head-on, all while never once sacrificing the suspense and delight of the story itself. “

Amazon Reviewer

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

A deadly assassin must win a contest against the most wicked, bloodthirsty men in the kingdom for a chance to win her freedom.

“I couldn’t put the damn book down! From the moment I started reading I was entranced in a world I had never been yet felt like I had known my whole life.”

Amazon Reviewer

4. The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley

Exceptional prose, strong characterization, and an imaginative world that readers adore.

“A strong female lead, horses, swords, magic… i read it probably a dozen times. “

Amazon Reviewer

5. By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey

An action-packed romantic tale about one woman’s journey to realize her destiny.

“This is one of my favorites books of all time. Lackey writes very real, very diverse characters and her Heralds of Valdemar series has the best fantasy world I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.”

Amazon Reviewer

6. Steelflower by Lilith Saintcrow

An adventure story featuring a foul-mouthed assassin and her companions. Filled with action and romance that readers rave about.

“The world that Saintcrow constructs pulled me in and her characters were alive and emotionally invaded my life it seemed.”

Amazon Reviewer

7. Steal the Dragon by Patricia Briggs

A slave turned assassin, political unrest, and plots abound in this exciting romantic adventure.

“This takes you into a completely different world with heroes, villians, magic and much more with a plot that twists and turns – P. Briggs at her best!”

Amazon Reviewer

8. Embellish by Demelza Carlton

A fun and fast-paced retelling, mixed with a great romance.

“I loved this story. A great female role model, a great equal relationship between the two main characters and supportive families in the background.”

Amazon Reviewer

9. Mercenary by Catherine Banks

A human girl raised by elves fights for her place at the mercenary academy, despite her parents’ opposition and fending off kidnap attempts.

“The characters were outstanding and I enjoyed the pacing: fast, and action-filled.”

Amazon Reviewer

10. Duel of Fire by Jordan Rivet

In a world where swordfighting is king, one girl is paired with an indifferent prince. A story packed with magic, battles, and danger

“The author’s merging of prose and world building is sublime. “

Amazon Reviewer

11. Savages by Katherine Bogle

A warrior with a dark past and a fight for freedom that may just cost her life. An epic story that you can get lost in!

“This book had me gripped from the time I picked it up”

Amazon Reviewer

12. Ishtar’s Blade by Lisa Blackwood

A woman chosen by the goddess as her warrior maiden, a kingdom ripe with intrigue and romance that will leave you swooning.

“It’s not too often that I can’t put a book down, but this was definitely one of those times. I loved the fresh, intriguing mythology. “

Amazon Reviewer

13. The Shadow and the Sun by Monica Enderle Pierce

A story packed with action and romance, featuring a badass heroine and hero you’ll fall in love with.

“I loved that a woman was the hero of the story, which is something lacking in this genre. I LOVE a good dose of girl power! “

Amazon Reviewer

14. The Fifth Knight by Clare Luana and Jesikah Sundin

A clever take on the usual King Arthur retelling. This reverse harem is packed with action and slow burn romances.

“Every page is filled with gorgeous, poetic prose and deliciously vivid imagery that makes it easy to fall into the magical world that Luana and Sundin have masterfully created. “

Amazon Reviewer

15. Curse of the Fae Queen by Delia Castel

A fae huntress, a curse, and a slow-burn why-choose romance that we think you’ll love.

“It is such a beautiful tale that I couldn’t get enough of from page one. I want more!!! Now!!”

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 warrior women, with her latest being Okami:

(Romantic Fantasy Shelf March 2019 Book Club Winner)

An enemies-to-lovers romance set in ancient japan.

“I was honestly so hooked on this story that I couldn’t put it down. The characters are very strong and well written… the story and plot flowed well with many twists and turns.”

Amazon Reviewer

Jaycee Jarvis: In Defense of Beta Heroes

I’m a huge fan of beta heroes both as a reader and a writer, so I wanted to explore how beta heroes play out in fantasy romance and romantic fantasy, and make a few reading recommendations along the way.

Beta heroes are generally defined as softer, emotionally intelligent people who are willing to take directions and listen to advice, both from their romantic partner and from other characters in the book. They are in direct contrast to the ever popular, take-charge, domineering alpha heroes. Because alphas are often larger than life, it is easy for beta heroes to get dismissed as weak or–worse yet–boring, when in fact being willing to do the emotional labor in a relationship and truly listen to their partners can be incredibly sexy.

Radiance by Grace Draven is a good example of an incredibly hot, slow-burn relationship that builds over time. Brishen and Ildiko are wed in a largely symbolic marriage to unite their two very different people—in a plot that seamlessly crosses Beauty and the Beast with a marriage of convenience. This set-up lends itself to a beta hero, as Brishen is willing to do his duty—however distasteful–and make the best of it rather than resenting the circumstances. They quickly learn to be honest with each other and frank about their cultural (and indeed species) differences. Brishen wins his bride over with his humor, kindness, and respect—all hallmarks of a great beta hero. As this excerpt shows, the agency of the heroine is often underscored in stories with beta heroes, which is one of the things I like about them most.

The laughter faded but their smiles remained. Brishen’s thinned a little. “What do you want to do, Ildiko?”

He had asked a question Ildiko thought she’d never hear in her lifetime. No one ever asked her what she wanted; they only told her what she was to do and say. For a moment she was struck dumb. He waited patiently as she gathered her thoughts.

Radiance by Grace Draven

Because beta heroes generally value compassion over status or control, there are some traits or stereotypes that are often paired with beta heroes. They are often written as scholars or geniuses rather than soldiers or commanders. This association with being quiet or nerdy is a natural fit, which is part of what makes Jadrek from Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey a quintessential beta hero.

As a scholar who relies on his knowledge and book learning to help Tarma and Kethry, Jadrek often underestimates himself and lacks confidence with women, showing the very sweetest side of a beta hero. Oathbreakers is a romantic fantasy with an epic fantasy storyline, so the love story between Kethry and Jadrek is an important subplot, not the main focus of the novel. Because of this, the relationship development happens more as part of the other action, yet the romance still gets me in the feels every time—especially when Kethry finally admits her growing attraction…

“It’s you I admire, Jadrek; the mind, the person. You’re something special—something those pretty bodies downstairs aren’t, and probably never will be.”

Very hesitantly, he leaned forward and kissed her. She returned the kiss as passionately as she dared, and suddenly he responded by embracing her and prolonging the kiss until she was breathless.

When they broke apart, his gray eyes were dark with confusion. “Kethry—”

“There are more comfortable places to be doing this,” she said, very softly. “Over there, for one.” She nodded at the curtained bed, half-hidden in the shadows.

He blushed. He blushed even harder when she led him there by the hand, and all but pushed him down onto it. “I—” he stammered, looking past her. “Kethry, I’m not—very experienced at this sort of—”

“You were doing just fine a moment ago,” she interrupted…

Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey

While sexual inexperience is often found in beta heroes, it is not a necessary trait. Harlan, from Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy, is more sexually experienced than Ursula, the heroine of this fantasy romance. Harlan also breaks the beta mold in other ways, as a skilled swordsman and the leader of his own band of mercenaries. He is confident and assured of himself, yet he has no trouble deferring to Ursula, letting her take the lead in many milestones in their relationship, and stepping back when she takes charge–an important mindset for a man who wants to partner with a powerful ruler. Because Ursula is so emotionally cut off and determined to stand alone, Harlan’s compassion and tenderness are exactly what she needs—even if she can’t admit it to herself at first. He is the perfect foil for her harrowing emotional journey. Harlan himself puts it best—

“There is no shame in feeling emotion. It doesn’t make you weak. Strength is in bearing our wounds, living through them, and carrying forward regardless—not in pretending they never existed.”

The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

Beta heroes can add emotional depth and texture to books already filled with wonder and magic. Do you have any favorites for me to add to my TBR pile? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

Jaycee Jarvis has been an avid romance reader since devouring all the Sweet Dreams books her middle school library had to offer. Also a fantasy fan from an early age, she often wished those wondrous stories had just a bit more kissing. Now she writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop, creating the kind of book she most likes to read.

When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children and a menagerie of pets.

Learn more about her around the web:

She enjoys writing beta heroes as much as she loves reading about them. Her latest book, Deadly Courtship, features an empath who isn’t afraid to bare his heart.

In a world rife with elemental magic, can a bard with a knack for predicting the future help a warrior face her painful past?

Han-Triguard Magdalena turned her back on her heritage and her family in order to pursue life as a Hand, honor bound to serve as a Protector in the tropical market town of Trimble. She never regrets putting duty first until a string of brutal murders changes everything.

Her former lover, the attractive musician Jasper, stands accused. Madi knows the gentle empath could never kill anyone, but her word alone is not enough to protect him. Even worse, one of the other victims is a member of her old clan, for whom justice is entirely out of reach.

As Madi begins to question the demands of her work, Jasper asks her to give safe haven to his brother’s orphans. With the children, Jasper has the family he’s always wanted, a dream Madi has never shared. Living in close quarters, their attraction combusts while Madi is beset by unwanted tenderness for the children. When a new threat looms, Madi vows to protect their future, make peace with her past, and maybe find a love worth fighting for.

If only she can stop the killer in time…

Available on Amazon and through KindleUnlimited:

What to Read if You Love Beauty and the Beast

If you’re anything like me, you love a good retelling. One of my all-time favorite Disney movies is Beauty and the Beast, and finding an exceptional retelling of the classic or a book heavily inspired by it is a rare treat. Here’s a list of Beauty and the Beast inspired books as suggested by our readers in our Romantic Fantasy Shelf Facebook group and some of our top picks, in no particular order.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Not strictly a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it still hits all the right notes: a girl locked in a castle, and a beast with a curse to break.


“I could not stop reading until I finished the last book and I still beg for more, as any good series would leave you wanting.”

Amazon Reviewer

Beauty by Robin McKinley

A masterfully written and sweet retelling perfect for lovers of YA fantasy.

“This is a beautiful retelling of a classic story with great imagery, a strong heroine and fantastic language in the telling.”

Amazon Reviewer

The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

An old West twist on the classic tale by one of romantic fantasy’s master storytellers.


“An intriguing retelling of a tale as old as time – Beauty and the Beast gets new life in this version.”

Amazon Reviewer

Entreat Me by Grace Draven

A beautifully rendered, brutal, and sexy tale perfect for adult fans.


“An expertly done fairytale, so that the tale sucks you in and has you turning the pages well past bed time.

Amazon Reviewer

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Weaving in Greek mythology and other folklore, this is an exciting retelling with a compelling arranged marriage element.

Cruel Beauty had me hooked from the first sentence and as soon as I finished reading, I was depressed that it was over. If you’re a lover of retellings, dark romance, and a courageous heroine, then this is one book you do not want to miss.

Amazon Reviewer

Goddess of the Rose by P.C. Cast

Dark, sexy, and steeped in mythology, this is one readers rave about.

“ For [anyone] who is a fan of classic fairy tales with a twist, I would say stop waiting and read this book!”

Amazon Reviewer

No Man Can Tame by Miranda Honfleur

RFS Book Club Winner February 2019

Beauty and the Beast inspired with a unique twist with dark elves, clever world building, and a slow-burn romance that will leave you aching for more.

For those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast retellings or high-fantasy romance stories, I definitely recommend No Man Can Tame. It has all the appeal of both the genres beautifully woven together in a satisfying and charming package

J.M. Butler

Check out J.M. Butler’s full review right here.


Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm

RFS Book Club Winner February 2019

It hits all the beats of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a fresh setting woven with Celtic mythology.

For those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast retellings with a darker and grimmer edge or Irish mythical retellings, this book is likely a good match.

J.M. Butler

Check out J.M. Butler’s full review here.


Stolen Enchantress by Amber Argyle

A mash-up of Beauty and the Beast with the Pied Piper makes for a unique twist.


“Argyle paints a breathtaking, Avatar[-esque] world in this incredibly well written story. “

Amazon Reviewer

The Fury Queen’s Harem by Meg Xuemei X

The tables are turned in this reverse harem: the girl is the beast and there are three men to break her curse.

“I was completely captivated. Meg Xuemei X has done an incredible job at writing a one of a kind story that is sure to pull the reader in within the first few pages…”

Amazon Reviewer

Enchant by Demelza Carlton

An adult retelling, filled with great characters, twists and turns that readers adored.

Enchant is the perfect name for this book. It completely captivated and enchanted me from the beginning to end.”

Amazon Reviewer

Dragon and the Beast by Amberlyn Holland

Dragons, intrigue, magic and romance. This book has it all!

“I could not put it down.”

Amazon Reviewer

Beauty and the Goblin King by Lidiya Foxglove


A sexy retelling you don’t want to miss!

“It’s steamy, sexy, and makes you want your own goblin king.”

Amazon Reviewer

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Lyrical prose, amazing characterization, and Gaelic mythology: what more could you want?

“I pretty much loved everything in this novel and think I was sucked in from the very start.”

Amazon Reviewer

Shadow & Thorn by Kenley Davidson

A thief, an exiled prince, and a whole lot of intrigue, magic, and romance.

“Written with such insight and intelligence there were just too many gems to count.”

Amazon Reviewer

Fausta Borja’s Beauty and the Beast

A steamy gothic romance retelling, with strong French influences.

“If you [want] a raunchy fairytale, this is for you.”

Amazon Reviewer

J.M. Butler: Review of Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm (RFS Book Club Winner – February 2019)

For the month of February 2019, the readers of Romantic Fantasy Shelf voted for two books to read: No Man Can Tame by Miranda Honfleur and Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm. We’ve already reviewed No Man Can Tame, and as we are wrapping up our Night of the Beasts month, today we talk about Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm.

This story is the first book in The Otherland Series, and it is also a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. And aptly so as that was our theme for the month.

Type of Story

Heart of the Fae is a high fantasy romance that takes its time getting to the romance. Emma tackles a lot of unpleasant and difficult subjects and themes within this book, making it live up to its description as a Beauty and the Beast with more adult themes.

It too is a retelling that maintains key elements of the original fairy tale while offering its own twists and spins. Here the beast is a cursed fae prince who has been disfigured and cursed in such a way that whenever he is wounded, geodes and crystals appear where the wound was. The beauty is Sorcha, a midwife trying to save her father who runs the family brothel. She goes on a great and confusing quest in an effort to save him.

Sorcha and Eamonn’s story continues in Veins of Magic

Though comparatively, the story starts out slow, picking up substantially after the first third when our primary protagonist Sorcha reaches the island. Emma favors a more descriptive telling approach to the story throughout.

It is important to note that this is not a standalone story nor does the first book in the series end in a satisfying place. The cliffhanger makes sense for the point where it ends, and for readers invested in Sorcha’s journey, picking up the sequel will be an easy decision.

Best Parts of the Story

Without a doubt, the best scenes within the story are between Sorcha and some of the fae inhabitants such as the boggart/brownie and the pixie, Oona. It is particularly within the hag’s hovel that the story shines. It seems as if Emma has a particular affection here because there’s a special tenderness within these scenes that makes them charming and memorable.

Additionally her descriptions can be grippingly memorable and vivid. Descriptions of the castle and the grounds, for instance, were quite charming. The incorporation of the other senses makes the scenes even more compelling.

And, while I never thought I’d be saying this, I have to point to the prologue as well. It marries an old folkloric and mythic voice to a semi-modern rhythm with beautiful descriptions. The rhythm and poetry of the final lines sold me on the story. I may just have to pop back over and read it again.

Worldbuilding Overall

The best part within this story is the infusion of mythology and folklore within the world. While it is not entirely clear whether this is an actual Ireland or a uchronic Ireland, it is a fun world to imagine. I lean toward it being another place entirely, particularly given the blood beetles, which sound truly terrifying. I especially liked the appearance of Macha throughout the story and her representation. Even if one is not particularly familiar with Irish mythology or folklore, it is easy to follow along.

Additionally, Emma’s decision to give the beast such a creative disease with intense repercussions was an excellent choice. It adds to the dark mysteriousness of the story.

I applaud Emma’s desire and efforts at addressing darker subject matter. But I would have liked more nuance to lead to balanced and less confusing situations, and greater consistency within the worldbuilding and character development. Some of these issues may in fact be resolved later as the characters develop or as the world is further explained in the second book. But these elements might take away from the story’s positive elements for the reader.  

The Romance and the Characters

In a sense, The Heart of the Fae is at a disadvantage for discussing the romance because the characters do not meet until a third of the way into the book. And then they make up for lost time, reaching their first romantic connection before the first half ends. The initial meeting is terse, brusque, and aggressive, but they soon find their way to attraction and connection. The characters can sometimes feel erratic in their activities and driving forces as well as memories, but both Sorcha and Eamonn remain drawn to one another in the romantic climax that the reader is waiting for.

Bran returns in the series’ fourth book, The Faceless Woman

Other secondary characters also steal the show. Bran, in particular, takes the focus whenever he is on the page. I won’t share more about him since he goes through some rather interesting developments as a character, but he is one you’ll want to look out for. He feels like a good choice for further stories and focus. Oona and the boggart/brownie also steal the stage, and the Unseelie Queen presents an intriguing character.

Effectiveness as a Retelling

Aside from the cliffhanger ending, The Heart of the Fae does do well at hitting all the beats of a traditional Beauty and the Beast retelling while making them creatively its own. The sacrificial element here plays a needed prominent role, and there are many nods to the Disney Beauty and the Beast as well.  

For those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast retellings with a darker and grimmer edge or Irish mythical retellings, this book is likely a good match.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Share in the comments!


About the Author

J.M. Butler is an adventurer, author, and attorney who never outgrew her love for telling stories or playing in imaginary worlds. She is the author of The Tue-Rah Chronicles, which includes Identity Revealed and Enemy Known. Independent novellas set in the same world include Locked, Alone, and Cursed. She has also written a number of other stories including Mermaid Bride, Through the Paintings Dimly, and more. She writes primarily speculative fiction with a focus on multicultural high fantasy and suspenseful adventures with intriguing romances. And on top of that, she lives with her husband and law partner, James Fry, in rural Indiana where they enjoy creating fun memories, challenging each other, and playing with their three cats.

Reach her at:

Check out J.M.’s prequel to her romantic epic fantasy series the Tue-Rah Chronicles:

Dozens of children have gone missing…

Naatos, a shapeshifter, suspects a devious mindreader named Salanca of abducting children. Salanca has hidden her vicious schemes because, though the other Neyeb can read minds, she knows how to shroud her thoughts deeply.

Naatos must act swiftly and covertly to avert the murder of the stolen children even as he has been rejected yet again for receiving a Neyeb bride.

Not all is as it seems, and a wounded but cursed infant changes Naatos’s plans and life forever…
___

This is a prequel novella to The Tue-Rah Chronicles. It is not necessary to have read The Tue-Rah Chronicles, and it does not contain spoilers.

Get it on Amazon today!

J.M. Butler: Review of No Man Can Tame by Miranda Honfleur (RFS Book Club Winner – February 2019)

For the month of February 2019, the readers of Romantic Fantasy Shelf voted for two books to read: No Man Can Tame by Miranda Honfleur and Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm. We’ll be reviewing both on the blog, and today we’re talking about No Man Can Tame.

This story is the first book the Dark-Elves of Nightbloom Series, and it retells one of my favorite fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast. Now don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy reading some of the lesser-known fairy tales retold as well as some of the other popular ones. Really, I love seeing all of them. But Beauty and the Beast is my favorite. I have read many retellings of it over the years—some I loved, others were meh, and a few I hated. But No Man Can Tame is now one of my favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings.

Type of Story

No Man Can Tame is a high-fantasy romance, and it lives up to all my expectations for a book in this genre. The romance is front and center, but there is a great deal of rich worldbuilding. The world itself is set in the same universe as Miranda’s Blade and Rose series, though unlike Blade and Rose this has an Italian rather than a French influence. The story is told through the perspectives of both Aless and Veron.

“This Cinderella is far from a victim. Much to her stepmother’s dismay, Danielle’s independence and intelligence attract the love of the prince.” – Amazon

The retelling itself maintains key elements of the original fairy tale but offers a number of original twists and spins. It is also, to a degree, a double Beauty and the Beast story. In a sense, both protagonists are beauties and beasts, both having to learn key lessons and understand how to be more selfless for this relationship to work. In a sense, this retelling reminds me also of the movie Ever After in its tone and style, as if it would be shot in a similar style.

The story reads quickly with good pacing. While it is a slow-burn romance, it does pay off, and it fits solidly within the genre expectations. Aless and Veron’s story is wrapped up in such a way that, while I wouldn’t object to more stories featuring their perspectives, I won’t feel cheated if I don’t get to read more about them.

One of My Favorite Tropes Represented

Aless, the Beast princess, must wed Veron, an Immortali and prince of the dark elves to assure peace and secure the alliance between their nations. Arranged marriages are one of my favorite tropes simply because of the guarantee of conflict and how it tends to escalate the romantic tension, along with the unknown aspects that come from being in a relationship with a stranger who may not share your same values.

Miranda plays with this trope very well, understanding the implications that arranged marriages have and their impact on individuals while still recognizing that readers want a little bit of fantasy and indulgence with these sorts of stories. So she creates a mixture of conflict and challenges with plenty of build up, attraction, and eventually consummation. More importantly, the contrasting cultures are not there simply as trappings or window dressings. There are consequences and impacts because of these beliefs on both sides.

The Most Crucial Element of a Beauty and the Beast Retelling

In my opinion, the sacrificial element is one of the most important elements of a Beauty and the Beast retelling. In some way, the beauty must sacrifice herself or some part of herself to preserve the safety or happiness of another. It offers a key element of insight into the characters and a connecting point for later events within the book as well as the concept of inner beauty.

In this case, Miranda delivers a particularly strong interpretation. While it is a little spoiler, it takes place near the beginning of the story, so I won’t feel as bad about it. Aless agrees to marry Veron to allow her sister the chance to marry the man she loves and thus preserve her sister’s happiness. This turns out to be part of a rather cunning trick on someone else’s part, but the sacrifice is still there.

Similarly other characters demonstrate sacrifice, sometimes in small ways such as Veron sharing his rations with a fellow starving soldier, despite then having nothing for himself. It is woven throughout the story and plays into the finale in a satisfying way.

The Romance Between the Characters

Aless and Veron’s chemistry is a slow build with a fair bit of tension to begin. They are kept apart not merely because they have different physical standards for beauty but because of cultural expectations and challenges that their relationship brings about. Veron is firm but calm and resolute, utterly loyal to the commands of his queen, his mother. Aless, on the other hand, is more headstrong and impetuous, determined to make the most of things and to create her own solutions even when others attempt to deny her this.

While initially she finds the dark elves’ appearances off putting and even a little frightening (Veron’s claws physically hurt her more than once), Aless in particular grows in her appreciation of the dark elves and their culture, even coming to value their standards. There’s a fascinating scene with the dark elf queen which showcases this in particular.

The romantic relationship works the traditional issues within any relationship: trust and honesty. Both characters have reasons for their particular perspectives, and their motivations and histories sometimes come into conflict, creating persuasive reasons for the delays in their consummation.

As both Veron and Aless become close and work through violations of trust and expectations (indeed some deep emotional wounds are inflicted at a few points), the attraction does develop between them until it reaches the much anticipated exploration of the romantic relationship. Miranda handles this artfully. There are sex scenes with a decent bit of heat and a strong focus on the emotions, and they do contain important information for the plot and character developments.

The Characters and Their Relationships Beyond the Romantic

In Warhammer lore, “few can match the Dark Elves in sheer cruelty, sadism and hubris.”

Another strength of this story is the breadth of the cast of characters. Veron and Aless both have families who play key roles within the story. One of my favorite relationships in this is Aless’s relationship with her sister Bianca. Both sisters are beautiful and admired, but Bianca is their father’s favorite. Yet both remain close. The impact of a third sister is also felt as well as a brother.

Veron likewise has his own family who play not only a key role in his life but in his development. One of the most intriguing is his mother, who has little screen time but is just as refreshing a change-of-pace character as Bianca. The subterranean and ferocious dark elves come from a matriarchal culture, which is reflected throughout the world building in general.

Veron’s mother herself is a strong, stern, and resolute woman, but not cruel or evil or capricious as dark elf queens are often portrayed. She keeps her confidences close, and there is much that is hinted at that suggests she could very easily have her own story. At a key point within the story, she must serve as a queen and determine appropriate consequences for direct disobedience. While she is not as kind as some might like, she is just in her determinations and provides sound reasoning for her decisions.

From Forgotten Realms, the cruel and evil Malice Do’Urden by Dwight “Arkangel” Angelito

Veron’s mother herself is a strong, stern, and resolute woman, but not cruel or evil or capricious as dark elf queens are often portrayed. She keeps her confidences close, and there is much that is hinted at that suggests she could very easily have her own story. At a key point within the story, she must serve as a queen and determine appropriate consequences for direct disobedience. While she is not as kind as some might like, she is just in her determinations and provides sound reasoning for her decisions.

Indeed, all of the secondary characters feel strong enough to carry their own stories. I am excited that there will be more stories within this series that will hopefully explore these. What makes this all the more exciting is that the characters, from the protagonists to the antagonists, are all mixtures of good and bad with understandable motivations, weaknesses, and aspirations.

Fascinating Influences Within the Story

As a fellow epic fantasy author, I find worldbuilding to be one of the most fascinating aspects of stories like this. One of the things I spotted that brought me a great deal of joy was the influence of the Eddas in Miranda’s development of the dark elf culture. Norse mythology is one of my favorites, and seeing how well it was woven in without being overbearing was a delight.

Svartálfar in Norse myth are “black elves,” who dwell in Svartalfheim or the “world of black elves.”

Additionally, at points, I recognized some allusions to William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Though “allusions” might not be as good a word as “subversions.” Aless has a formidable and indomitable spirit. Despite her mistakes, she cannot be tamed (thus, I think, the title). She and Veron are equals within their marriage, and while he does not try to keep her from being that, he does have to learn what it is for her to be who she is, just as much as she has to learn how to truly see beyond her own interests.

A Couple Minor Beauty and the Beast Elements

While certainly not essential to the Beauty and the Beast retelling, Miranda did incorporate a couple other facets of the story. The library’s inclusion and its cultivation throughout the story is one of my favorites. Not simply because I love libraries but because of what it reveals about Aless, her past, her family, and her culture.

Additionally, magic roses appear as well. They are present for only a little bit, but if my authorial senses are correct, I suspect we may see more of them in future books.

For those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast retellings or high-fantasy romance stories, I definitely recommend No Man Can Tame. It has all the appeal of both the genres beautifully woven together in a satisfying and charming package.

Have you read this one? What did you think about the spin on Beauty and the Beast? Share in the comments!

About the Author

J.M. Butler is an adventurer, author, and attorney who never outgrew her love for telling stories or playing in imaginary worlds. She is the author of The Tue-Rah Chronicles, which includes Identity Revealed and Enemy Known. Independent novellas set in the same world include Locked, Alone, and Cursed. She has also written a number of other stories including Mermaid Bride, Through the Paintings Dimly, and more. She writes primarily speculative fiction with a focus on multicultural high fantasy and suspenseful adventures with intriguing romances. And on top of that, she lives with her husband and law partner, James Fry, in rural Indiana where they enjoy creating fun memories, challenging each other, and playing with their three cats.

Reach her at:

J.M.’s recent release is Enemy Known, the second book in her romantic epic fantasy series the Tue-Rah Chronicles:

Trapped between warring forces, Amelia must own her destiny before her heart splits in two.

Although cursed to be unable to kill, Amelia must still fulfill her prophetic duty to end her unwanted husband’s march of terror. Already Naatos, a world conquering warlord, and his brothers have conquered Libysha. Her people demand she vanquish them to prove her loyalty and save them. To refuse is to lose the trust of her own family and friends, the people whom she always longed to protect.

But Amelia’s enemies aren’t only on the outside. When betrayal threatens the refuge of her allies, Amelia must return to Naatos in order to distract him from further bloodshed, all while fighting her growing affection for him and his family. Yet the more she learns of tragic history, the murkier the truth becomes. The very people Amelia defends have committed their own atrocities, including linking Amelia to a human soldier who holds half her soul in a life-threatening bond.

Attacked by her allies and cared for by her enemies, Amelia struggles on, more disillusioned with her destiny. A massive army of deadly shapeshifters looms on the other side of the Tue-Rah, an interdimensional portal. With the fate of worlds resting on her shoulders, she must walk the balance between hero and villain before she is torn in two.