Upcoming Romantic Fantasy/Fantasy Romance Titles in 2020

2020 may be more than halfway over (thank goodness!), but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the year isn’t chock full of great new releases that are sure to satsify your craving for fantasy romance or romantic fantasy.

Come on, let’s take a peek at the goodies coming up. (Titles are listed in order of release and then alphabetically based on author’s last name.) At the very end, you’ll find a list of stories that are due to come out at some point in the latter half of 2020 but don’t have a final release date.

July/August

Let’s start off with the last week of July. Now you might be pointing out, “Jess, why are you including stories that have already been published as of the publication of this blog post?”

Ahhh, that is an excellent question. And the answer is simple. I am very far behind. When I asked the lovely authors to share what stories they had coming up, they supplied them promptly. It just took me a couple weeks longer to get this post up and running. So some of these upcoming releases are current releases!

July 28, 2020

Bethany Adams’ collection of Books 5 – 7, The Return of the Elves, released on July 28, 2020. It is a portal high fantasy romantic fantasy with stories that take place on Earth and in other realms.

A widening abyss. A threat unknown. A canny enemy.

Although Prince Kien was defeated, the trouble he started is far from gone. Now poison seeps into a crack in Earth’s energy field, requiring allies new and old to take action. Continue a journey that crosses from Moranaia to Earth and through the Seelie and Unseelie courts as mage, warrior, and rogue alike must work together to solve a new threat and face a rising enemy.

This collection includes Books 5-7 in the Return of the Elves epic fantasy series:

-Abyss

-Awakening

-Ascent

As well as:

-A BONUS short story, “The Sentinels,” first published in the Once Upon an Enchanted Forest anthology.

July 31, 2020

Domino Taylor & Vivienne Savage’s Book 3 in the Kingdom in the Sea went live on July 31, 2020. It is the final book in this fantasy romance series.

As unknown powers develop in Manu, darkness spreads to more than the underwater kingdom. If Kai is to abolish the evil of the dark sea gods, she’ll need to make new allies beyond the ocean–if the underhanded politics of Atlantis don’t destroy them first.

Don’t miss the thrilling conclusion of the Atlantis saga.

August 13, 2020

Elizabeth Briggs’s Book 2 of Royal Hearts went live on August 13, 2020. It is a steamy fantasy romance.

She would do anything for her kingdom. He would do anything to protect her.

After the King of Talador’s mysterious death, Princess Lily must prepare to take the throne, even if she doesn’t feel ready yet. As her coronation draws near, an attack on her life sends her fleeing the castle with her devoted Captain of the Guard, Keane, the one man she trusts above all others.

When she arrives at her other palace, she is courted by seven handsome suitors, all hand-selected to potentially be her future King. With her kingdom in danger and her forbidden magic growing stronger, the last thing Lily wants to do is select a husband—especially when she’d rather be with the man who’s been by her side for years.

Now that Lily is going to be queen, Captain Keane understands she needs to marry a nobleman, even if the thought makes him want to run his blade through every one of her suitors. As long as he hides his true feelings for Lily, he can continue to protect her—even if no one can protect his heart. But when the attacks on Lily grow more dangerous and a threat from the past emerges, they must embrace her magic and their forbidden love if they’re going to save her throne.

Kiss Of Snow is a steamy fantasy romance, perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Miranda Honfleur, and Grace Draven.

August 18, 2020

Kendra Moreno’s Book 3 of Daughters of Neverland went live on August 18, 2020. It is a dark fantasy romance with a series of twisted fairytale retellings. You can find out more about Kendra Moreno at her website.

Blood, lust, and pixie dust. . .

The Crocodile continues to drain Neverland of its life, and the world is running out of time. The very soil is dying, and no one can stop it. The clock is ticking.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Tink knows Neverland will never be the same, and though the Daughters face the dangers from the Crocodile and the Lost constantly attacking, that isn’t the only threat on the horizon. A choice must be made, to live or die, to fight or perish, and there’s no clear path to take. But even at the end of the world, love stumbles before the pixie, and though she’s the Wicked Queen, her heart carries a battle axe.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The happy thoughts are piling up, and Tink must face them head on. Can the Daughters stop Neverland from dying? Can they save the ones they care for most?

Every monster has a heart.
Every demon has a home.
And every pixie must believe.

Tick. . .tick. . .tick.

If you’re not in the US or don’t use Amazon, you can use this link to get your copy.

September

September 1, 2020

Jennifer L. Armentrout’s A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire releases September 1, 2020. It is a dark fantasy romance, and it is set in the Blood and Ash series.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a new novel in her Blood and Ash series…
Is Love Stronger Than Vengeance?


A Betrayal…Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice….Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.

September 10, 2020

Denali Day’s Book 3 of Dokiri Brides releases September 10, 2020. It is a barbarian fantasy romance. You can check out her website here, and you can sign up for her newsletter here and get a free novella, Sven the Collector.

She’d walk through fire to save their world. To claim her, he’d let it all burn.

Her widowed heart freshly healed, Lavinia wants nothing more than to bind herself to Ivan, the man who adores her fatherless sons almost as much as he loves her. Then duty calls her to risk their future and return to a life she’d fled — to a man who wants her as much as she fears him.    

Tasked with escorting Lavinia back to the land of her birth, Ivan pledges his heart along with his protection. He’ll have his mark upon her within days. But no sooner do they arrive than her previous life threatens to tear her away forever. 

Haunted by the mistakes of her past, Lavinia would do anything to redeem herself and save her people. Consumed by desire, Ivan must decide if passion is worth more than the survival of his race.

Duty or love? They can’t have both.

The third novel in a sweeping new fantasy romance series. If you liked the world of Game of Thrones and the savagery of Conan the Barbarian, you’ll love Denali Day’s epic new series.

Buy Ivan the Bold to embark on your fantasy today!

September 12, 2020

Kendra Moreno’s Book of 2 The Valhalla Mechanism releases on September 12, 2020. It is a steampunk fantasy romance inspired by Norse mythology. You can find out more about Kendra Moreno at her website.

Ottilie Kingsford thought she knew her world. She lived a double life, dodging disappointing bachelors during the day, spying for the Queen at night. She craved adventure and excitement, but there was none of that in the streets of London.

Until a single mission changes her entire perception of reality.

Now, with Ragnarok raging across earth, Tillie is knee deep in mythological creatures and the Gods who imprisoned them. FIghting dark elves and the deepest secrets of Asgard coming to light, Tillie, Thor, and Loki must search for a cauldron that could slow the end of days. Mischief, Espionage, and Thunder collide in an epic power, but will that be enough to save the realms from utter destruction?

The thrones of civilizations begin to crumble. The nine realms will tremble as they waltz in the ashes of Ragnarӧk. If Tillie can’t stop it, Yggdrasil will burn.

It’s time to learn just how much fortune favors the chaos…

If you’re not in the US or don’t use Amazon, you can use this link to get your copy.

September 15, 2020

Grace Draven’s Book 3 of The Wraith Kings releases September 15, 2020. It is a fantasy romance and a continuation of the much-beloved story, Radiance.

 

The WRAITH KINGS saga continues.

The demonic horde that threatened to devour the world has been defeated, but at great cost.

Plagued by guilt and nightmares, Serovek Pangion sets out to deliver the soulless body of the monk Megiddo to the heretical Jeden Order for safekeeping. Accompanying him is sha-Anhuset, the Kai woman he admires and desires most–a woman barely tolerant of him.

Devoted to her regent, Anhuset reluctantly agrees to act as a Kai ambassador on the trip, even though the bold margrave known as the Beladine Stallion gets under her skin like no other, and Anhuset fears he’ll worm his way into her armored heart as well.

But guilt and unwelcome attraction are the least of their problems. The demons thought vanquished are stirring again, and a warlord with blood-soaked ambition turns a journey of compassion into a fight for survival. When the Beladine king brands Serovek a traitor, Anhuset must choose between sacrificing the life of a man she’s grown to love and abandoning lifelong fealty to the Kai people.

A tale of loyalty and acceptance.


Bec McMaster’s Book 2 of Dark Court Rising releases September 15, 2020. It is a fantasy romance with a wicked fae princes and an enemy princess.

Thiago and Iskvien survived a dangerous curse, but will they survive the coming war?

True love will face the ultimate challenge when a dark goddess rises, secrets threaten to tear them apart, and a queen will stop at nothing to gain revenge.

September 17, 2020

S.M. Gaither’s Book 1 of Shadows and Crowns releases September 17, 2020. It is an enemies-to-lovers epic romantic fantasy with a bit of steam, a lot of banter, and a bunch of magic and meddlesome gods and monsters.

The old gods are growing restless. An ancient evil is stirring. Can they stop the coming storm?

Mercenary Casia Greythorne cares about two things: Completing whatever her latest job is, and earning enough coin to buy the expensive medicine that’s keeping her mentor alive. 

So when the king himself offers her a job, she can’t resist the massive reward he offers—even if it means working with Captain Elander, the arrogant, mysterious right-hand to that king.

Her partner may be infuriating, but at least their mission seems simple and quick enough: Investigate the origins of the strange plague that’s been ravaging their empire, help find a cure, and then call it a day.

But in a land brimming with old magic and meddling gods, nothing is ever that simple, and nothing is ever what it seems.

As the bodies pile up and strange monsters begin to wreak havoc throughout the realms, Cas and Elander will have to work together to protect their world whether they like it or not. Because one thing is clear: Something ancient and evil is stirring in the shadows of that world.

And their empire will not survive its full unleashing. 

Filled with luscious world-building, banter-filled enemies-to-lovers romance, and epic battles, this first book in the Shadows and Crowns series is the perfect next read for fans of Throne of Glass! Don’t miss your chance to grab it for the low, special pre-order price!

September 22, 2020

H.L. Burke’s Ashen goes live on September 22. It is a fantasy romance fairy tale retelling.

Stealer of warmth, bringer of death. What if Cinderella had a secret that kept her locked away?

Unable to make her own body heat, foundling Lizbete survives in the tavern kitchen, drawing warmth from the fires, the sun—and sometimes, other living beings. Her days are spent cooking alongside the tavern owner and avoiding the suspicious gazes of the villagers in her small northern town. While she quietly longs for the handsome Brynar, she knows she has no chance with the mayor’s son, even if he invites her to the First Frost festival.

When sudden earthquakes strike Brumehome, blame falls upon Lizbete, and not even her friendship with Brynar can protect her. She finds shelter in the dangerous caverns of nearby Ash Mountain. There she discovers mysterious people with her same ability to draw heat—and a fiery doom in the mountain that slowly awakens with every quake.
Now the festival Lizbete thought to avoid is her only chance to warn the villagers. Yet even with Brynar at her side, can the strange girl dubbed the Ash Lizard hope to save the town that fears her?

A rugged YA Cinderella retelling set in a fantasy world with light steampunk elements.


Roshani Chokshi’s Book 2 of The Gilded Wolves releases on September 22, 2020. It is a romantic fantasy epic.

Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever in The Silvered Serpents.

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

September 30, 2020

Clare Sager’s Book 2 of Against Dark Tides releases September 30, 2020. It is a new adult romantic fantasy adventures with pirates and passion. You can find out more about Clare Sager at her website.

Enemies. Lovers. Enemies once more. Now they must work together to survive. 

Notorious pirate Lady Vice has lost everything: ship, crew, and friends. Even her body has betrayed her, leaving her magic weak. To make matters worse, she’s stuck at sea with the man who stabbed her in the back.

Knigh Blackwood is no longer a captain, no longer a pirate-hunter, no longer … anything. All he has left is the woman he betrayed, and she’d rather cut out his tongue with his own dagger than forgive him.

There’s just one thing that might make up for what they’ve lost: Drake’s treasure.

But they’re not the only ones searching for clues and the elusive X that marks the spot. Between them and the treasure stand a scheming duke, a former lover, and a sea monster thought the stuff of legends – not to mention Vice and Knigh’s complicated feelings for each other.

If you love the scheming of Black Sails, the high seas adventure of Pirates of the Caribbean, and the romance of Holly Black, you won’t want to miss this heart-pounding new series.

Buy AGAINST DARK TIDES now and escape to a magical world where enemies become allies and even the closest lovers can become the worst foes.

*** 

As you might expect from pirates, these stories include mild cussing and steamy encounters.

  • Prequel – Across Dark Seas – Out now
  • Book 1 – Beneath Black Sails – Out now
  • Book 2 – Against Dark Tides – Coming September 2020
  • Book 3 – Under Black Skies – Coming 2021
  • Book 4 – Through Dark Storms – Coming 2021

October

October 1, 2020

Kate Grove’s Book 3 in the Yokai Treasures releases on October 1, 2020. It is a mythical romantic fantasy. You can find out more about Kate Grove at her website. And you can also sign up for her newsletter here.


October 6, 2020

Kristin J. Dawson’s Book 3 in The Unchosen releases October 6, 2020. It is the final book in the series, and is a romantic fantasy epic.

Ice warriors to the north. A greedy kingdom in the south. With only one ally, Dacia fights for its very existence.

Empress Nicoleta Aurelian is engaged to Prince Asander of Auripo, and his training of Dacia’s soft army is not enough against the ancient magi of the north who have magic beyond any Dacian’s comprehension. With the Rose Court in shambles, and attack imminent, Nicoleta must blaze a new trail for her kingdom.

Refusing to lie down and wait for the first blow, Nicoleta travels Dacia, calling them to arms. She must bring old enemies together, and trust in the one man she cannot give her heart to, Marcus Constantin, to blindly follow her plan, no matter the cost. Nicoleta must win more than a battle, or even a war, they must keep invaders from returning. She must not only unite her deeply divided kingdom, something that no emperor had ever attempted, but also rip the kingdom apart the social norms from the inside out, in order to save it.

Can Nicoleta bring her country together, and figure out how to stop the ancient magic before its too late? The final installment of The Unchosen trilogy will take you on a gripping, page-turning war-torn story, slow-burn romance, ancient magic, and characters that will stay with you long after you close the book.


V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue releases on October 6, 2020. It is a beautifully contemplative historical romantic fantasy.

In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s genre-defying tour de force.

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever―and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

October 9, 2020

Lyra Wolf’s Book 1 in the Nine World Chronicles releases October 9, 2020. It is a dark romantic fantasy that draws on Norse mythology. You can find out more about Lyra Wolf at her website. You can also sign up for her newsletter here to get a free copy of Lies, Knives, and Apples.

The Destroyer is coming to Asgard. All will fall. All will burn…

Loki thrives on danger, but when he’s struck by a painful vision of ash and death he knows his fun has run out. The Destroyer is real and isn’t taking prisoners. 

Refusing to have his life obliterated by some stuffy prophecy, all Loki wants is to save Asgard. But the gods stand in his way. They don’t trust the “Trickster.” 

To prove himself, he must return to the side of the man he wanted to forget. Odin, his blood brother and a first rate con. 

When he meets a mortal woman, his plans hit a snag. 

Sigyn is delightfully stubborn and quick with a blade. She also, inexplicably, possesses a divine element found only in a god.

As Loki falls for her, he never expects it to fulfill the prophecy threatening all their lives.  

Forced to choose between betraying Odin and protecting the woman he loves, Loki must face all he never wanted. 

…But the truth changes everything. 

“Truth and Other Lies” is the first book in an imaginative new series inspired by Norse mythology, and thrusts you into a world that’s dark, twisted, and deliciously fun.

October 29, 2020

Shannon Pemrick’s Book 6 in Experimental Hearts releases on October 29, 2020. It is a romantic epic fantasy. You can find out more about Shannon Pemrick at her website.

Freedom is everything.

I should know, I finally have it. After fighting for my deepest desires for so long, it feels more like a dream than reality. But when I start to get comfortable, I’m reminded of one last task that needs to be done.

Only, things don’t go according to plan.

From the shadows, old and new enemies spring forth, bent on destroying what I worked so hard to create. It’ll take everything I have, and my unbreakable bond with my life mate, to keep everything from falling apart.

And destiny isn’t done with me yet.

The fate of the timeline is at stake, and at the end of all this, I may never be the same.

October 29, 2020

Alexi Blake and May Sage’s Pick Your Poison releases on October 29, 2020. It is a dark fantasy romance.

Fae-touched Keira has always seen the folk. For eighteen years, she’s managed to avoid attracting their attention, until one encounter in the woods.

Thrust into the nightmarish realm of the fae, she has to forge herself into someone else to survive.

Calreth represents everything she should fear. The lord of the Hunt is the worst kind of monster, as terrifying as he’s devastatingly beautiful.
Asking his favor constantly puts Keira in the worst kind of danger—from the fae, from the folk, and most horrifying of all, from Cal himself—but he promised to help her get home.

Although the person she’s becoming may not fit in the mortal world. Her very blood craves the fae realm. A land of perils, schemes, and deception, where she may never belong.

An enticing, dark world, with magic spells, romance, and betrayal.

October 30, 2020

Nicolette Andrew’s Book 1 of Thornwood releases October 30, 2020. It is a Gothic romantic fantasy epic with fae. You can check out her website here, and you can sign up for her newsletter here.

She pretended she could not see them. They told her the fae weren’t real. Then they cut out a woman’s heart and she could no longer look away.

Catherine’s first memories were of the fae. They visited her in her garden, and she offered them saucers of cream and honey. But they repaid her in tricks and misfortune. They broke vases and locked her in trunks. Her parents didn’t believe her–no one did–and so all her life she took the blame for their mischief.  When Catherine arrives at her new home in the village of Thornwood, she’s determined to put her past behind her and live a normal life. That is, until a girl is found with her heart cut out… murdered by one of the fae. 

Catherine has spent a lifetime looking the other way. She convinced herself she was mad and that the fae were not real. But a chance meeting with the handsome gardener, Ray Thorn, throws everything into question. She can no longer ignore the truth, because the killer is after women who can see the fae, and Catherine might be their next victim. 

With the killer still on the loose, Catherine and Ray race to uncover more about her power and the dark secrets Thornwood hides. But time is running out and to find the killer, Ray brings her into his world, the mesmerizing and deadly faery. She should know better than to trust one of the fae, and making a deal with him could jeopardize everything she’s worked for, but if she doesn’t… she’ll be the next to lose her heart.  

Fans of Carnival Row and Jane Austen will not want to missHEART OF THORNS, the first in this gothic romantic fantasy trilogy.  

Unlock the mysteries of Thornwood in this tale steeped in fae intrigue, romance, and mystery…


Juliet Marillier’s Book 2 of the Warrior Bards releases October 30, 2020. It is a Norse romantic fantasy.

A young woman who is both a bard–and a warrior–seeks to repay her debts and settle scores in this thrilling historical fantasy series.

The young warrior and bard Liobhan has lost her brother to the Otherworld. Even more determined to gain a place as an elite fighter, she returns to Swan Island to continue her training. But Liobhan is devastated when her comrade Dau is injured and loses his sight in their final display bout. Blamed by Dau’s family for the accident, she agrees to go to Dau’s home as a bond servant for the span of one year.

There, she soon learns that Oakhill is a place of dark secrets. The vicious Crow Folk still threaten both worlds. And Dau, battling the demon of despair, is not an easy man to help.

When Liobhan and Dau start to expose the rot at the center of Oakhill, they place themselves in deadly danger. For their enemy wields great power and will stop at nothing to get his way. It will take all the skills of a Swan Island warrior and a touch of the uncanny to give them a hope of survival. . . .

November

November 5, 2020

Kimberly Rogers’ Book 1 of The Unseelie of Sonera releases on November 5, 2020. It is fantasy romance epic.

Her past is a mystery.
Protecting the children is her duty.
Her future could destroy everything she loves.

Tatiana has no people and no past before she became a companion and nurse to a noble family for five generations. She knows only that her feathered wings make her different, neither human nor gargoyle. When her young charges are orphaned, Tati escorts them across the sea to their father’s homeland. In a strange new city, she finds others like her and the chance to uncover her own past but pursuing it risks losing the children she loves.

Ramessu has spent his life serving the human rulers of the port city of Chaon. A servitude threatening to destroy his people. With their females collared, unable to fly or use magic, the Unseelie are slaves and they are dying. When an uncollared adult female arrives in the city, Ra knows she could change everything…or tear their people apart.

Unseelie Uncollared is the first book in the Unseelie of Sonera epic fantasy trilogy. Explore the world of Sonera beyond the Five Kingdoms in this thrilling new trilogy where loyalty is challenged, sacrifices are made, and love creates new hope.

November 24, 2020

Nora Roberts’ Book 1 of The Dragon Heart Legacy releases November 24, 2020. It is a romantic portal fantasy.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts begins a new trilogy of adventure, romance, and magick in The Awakening.

In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword―representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own…

When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father―and it’s worth nearly four million dollars.

This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies―through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…

November 30, 2020

Nicolette Andrew’s Book 2 of Thornwood releases October 30, 2020. It is a Gothic romantic fantasy epic with fae. You can check out her website here, and you can sign up for her newsletter here.

She didn’t want to believe. She tried to run away. But you can never escape the fae. 
Despite personal tragedy and being ostracized by the village, Catherine is determined to carve out a life for herself in the village of Thornwood. She’s content with her garden, and quiet life but it is a lonely existence. She would do anything to win the village’s forgiveness and her place in the community. To pay penance for her sins, she swore never to see faery or Ray again. But she cannot run from the power that blooms in her or the danger that lurks in the shadows.

When a strange plant’s creeping vines chokes the gardens of Thornwood, it also corrupts the minds of those encounter it, turning them into raving mindless zombies. Catherine works to find a cure but the plant is not of this realm and she has no choice but to turn to Ray for aid.  Together they must find the source of the plant, but doing so means not only embracing her power but confronting her budding feelings for him.  But as they investigate the plant’s origins, it exposes Catherine to those that would destroy her at any cost. 

As they work to save the village, Catherine is further embroiled in fae politics and the threads that tied her to the Thorn Court and her the source of her power.  Getting mixed up with the fae cost her dearly before. If Catherine fully embraces her power she can save the village but in doing so she must give up on her very humanity.

December

December 1, 2020

Alexi Blake and May Sage’s Book 1 of The Darker Woods releases December 1, 2020. It is a fantasy romance epic.

My lips hitch up an inch as the hulking, slender man bends down to whisper in my ear. “A divided kingdom without a leader is weak. You will fall. You will fail. You will all die without my kindness, little girl.”

He expects me to falter, shiver, and drop my gaze to the ground like the flock of gentry buzzing around him.

My eyes widen in feigned dismay. “Kindness? Why did no one think to tell me you had any?”

I have to allow him that one concession: Rydekar is fun to tease.

He doesn’t even smile. I don’t think anyone has taunted him. “I have none. You will beg nonetheless.”

I just may, in his dreams. And in my nightmares.

No one was ever born less suited to ruling than Rissa, the thorn of the seelie realm—a half-fae so wild she’s spent the better part of a hundred years in the woods.

For all her flaws, she’s the last of the high court bloodline, and the southern king seems to think that’s reason enough to slap a crown on her feathered head. He needs her to unify the seelie forces. She needs him to forget about that nonsense.

In an effort to aid her people without condemning herself to a lifetime of misery, she sets off on a journey to find the one person with a stronger claim to the throne than hers: the cursed prince.

Sealed in the mountains of the Wilderness, under many spells, the heir of the first seelie queen is the only royal strong enough to protect the fae lands from their immortal invaders.

Surviving the untamed tribes and awakening a thousand-year-old prince seem a lot easier than ruling an entire kingdom where everyone hates her very nature.

And her choices won’t come without consequences.

January

January 14, 2021

Denali Day’s Book 4 of Dokiri Brides releases January 14, 2021. It is a barbarian fantasy romance. You can check out her website here, and you can sign up for her newsletter here and get a free novella, Sven the Collector.

She’d willingly march into hell…just not with him.

Fiercely loyal to her country, Nadine will do whatever it takes to destroy the ancient evil threatening her world. Anything. Except allow a wild savage to put his mark on her.

Plagued by survivor’s guilt, Magnus the Vast vows to do whatever it takes to bring home the friend he left behind. Claiming the beautiful hellcat who wants his head is a convenient bonus. One he won’t let her get out of.

Bound together, Nadine and Magnus must rely on one another to complete their mission and save their people. Easier said than done for the woman-warrior who thinks her new husband a domineering brute, and the sly barbarian who is all too happy to play the part.

They’ll walk into the pit of the earth, and they’ll do it together—or they may never walk out.

The fourth in a sweeping new fantasy romance series. If you liked the world of Game of Thrones and the savagery of Conan the Barbarian, you’ll love Denali Day’s epic new series.

Buy Magnus the Vast to embark on your fantasy today!

January 26, 2021

Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Silver Flames releases January 26, 2021.

Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta.

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

January 31, 2021

Bec McMaster’s Book 5 of Legends of Storm releases January 31, 2021. It’s an enemies to lovers fantasy romance with dragon shifters.

The old eddas speak of dreki—fabled creatures who haunt the depths of Iceland’s volcanoes and steal away fair maidens.

Solveig wants none of such myths. Mated—and spurned—by the devilishly handsome Prince Marduk, the furious dreki princess refuses to be the laughingstock of her court. Marduk will beg for her forgiveness. Or he will die.

A political alliance that ended in ruins….

Marduk’s evil mother bound him to mate with one of the daughters of King Harald, but when Marduk chooses the fierce-tongued Solveig, even he is surprised. The princess is known for her ruthlessness—the son her father never had—and when he promises to be a mate in name only and leaves her alone and wanting in the mating bed, she swears revenge.

But there is something about Solveig’s wild nature that stirs the heart of his dreki. And with his court and family at the mercy of a powerful curse, he needs all the allies he can get. But can she forgive him for playing recklessly with her fate? And will two clashing hearts ever learn to yield to each other?

At Some Point in 2020

Of course, as much as we authors would love to have firm plans, some of us are just in process and have to be flexible with our release times. Especially since we don’t want to frustrate readers. This section of the list may change as dates are updated or authors may move their books from one part of the calendar to the next.

Miranda Honfleur’s Book 2 of The Dark Elves of Nightbloom is set to release in later 2020. It is a fantasy romance set in the world of Blade and Rose; each book in the series is a stand-alone. You can check out her website to learn more about her and her stories, and you can sign up for her newsletter here to receive a free copy of Winter Wren.

(There is currently no link to preorder, but the book will be up when it’s ready! Sign up for our mailing list to know the moment it’s available.)

Wrath consumes him as the dark does the night… Until she rises. But can she chase away his darkness?

Most would say the “sweet” and “quiet” Signorina Arabella Belmonte has lived a quiet life as a young noblewoman in her family’s castello. But little do they know she pens treatises criticizing the realm’s warmongers… and now there’s a price on her head. As she struggles to hide her seditious activities, a chance encounter with a unicorn leaves her with four hooves and a horn of her own–and a form she can’t control. The dark-elf queen has offered her a chance to acquire that control… if Bella can find the unicorn who turned her.

Prince Dhuro of Nightbloom has never met a problem he couldn’t solve with his fists–that is, until he fought his sister for a place in the army’s elite forces and lost. When the light-elves defeated them and his father was executed, Dhuro’s inner demons laid claim to the whole of him. Now Immortal beasts are growing in power and threatening his people.

Dhuro has a chance to help his people win, but his mother, the queen, sends him on a fool’s errand instead–helping a human newly turned unicorn find her sire, and asking the impossible: whether the Elder of the pacifistic unicorns will stand with them against the beasts ravaging his people. Making things worse, Bella challenges his every decision, argues with him, infuriates him… until beneath the full moon, she shifts to her human form… and enchants him.

A war is raging, Dhuro must marry for political advantage, and only Bella’s sire can help her… And when the bounty hunters hunting her find them, Dhuro and Bella’s worldviews collide like life and death. But can he be the answer to helping her control her form, and can she chase away his darkness? Can they find a way to be together and fight the war threatening to devour the land… or will it swallow them too?

Readers are saying if you like the fantasy and romance of Grace Draven’s Wraith Kings and a Swan Princess tale with unicorns, Bright of the Moon will lure you into its world and not let you go.


Miranda Honfleur’s Book 5 of the Blade and Rose series is set to release in later 2020. It is a romantic fantasy epic. You can check out her website to learn more about her and her stories, and you can sign up for her newsletter here to receive a free copy of Winter Wren.

Darkness stirs in the heart of Courdeval. And in the heart of its very king. But she’ll fight until her last breath to save them both.

After Jon’s near brush with death, Rielle couldn’t be happier when he awakens. As he resumes his duties and his normal life, however, it becomes clear he is changed–perhaps forever. There is a power in him, and a darkness, that threatens to consume him… for all time.

With the Order of Terra and the Tower of Magic now serving the Crown, Emaurria is stronger than ever, but the threats it now faces might lead to the kingdom’s undoing. Locked in open war against the Divinity of Magic, Emaurria is in grave danger and, worse, divided at its core. The Houses see opportunity in a withdrawn king, and Rielle, Brennan, and Olivia fight to keep stability as they try to reach Jon, while Leigh finds himself damned and looks for the strength to save himself before he can save the world from the Rift.

As the Houses and the war poke a sleeping dragon, they invite flames that could char Emaurria to mere glowing embers. Can Rielle and her friends reach Jon before it’s too late, or will he be lost to the darkness, and Emaurria to the flames of dragon fire?

If you like the fantasy romance of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the dark intrigue of the Black Jewels series, the epic adventure of Game of Thrones, and a heroine who never gives up, you’ll love this romantic epic fantasy series.

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…


Miranda Honfleur’s Book 1 of the Blooded series is set to release in early 2021. It is a romantic fantasy epic, connected to the world of Blade and Rose. You can check out her website to learn more about her and her stories, and you can sign up for her newsletter here to receive a free copy of Winter Wren.

The pack hunted down her family and left her for dead. She survived. And now she’s hunting them.

As a princess of Morwen, Melora has lived a sheltered life–her only escape hunting with her mother and her brother on royal lands, and the opulent Winter Palace where the court has moved for the season has long been a favorite of hers. But when a hunt goes horribly wrong, her mother and her brother disappear, and the Winter Palace becomes a bloodbath.

Injured and ill, Mel turns to her lady-in-waiting, Aislinn, for help and soon finds herself changed… and the court overrun. The royal family has vanished, the land is abandoned, and her people are hunted and forced into hiding. A darkness deepens and spreads from the Winter Palace as refugees spill over the borders. With only Aislinn and a small band of brave souls, Mel nevertheless pushes back against that darkness, for her people, for answers, and for herself. The Wolves of the Winter Palace wage a war that could kill her and everyone with her. No one else comes to her aid… until him.

The Black Wolf was a hushed whisper among hunters and wayfarers, a cautionary tale told to children and young lovers, but when Mel hunts him down, she finds him real. Very real. Enormous and menacing, with a strong werewolf pack behind him, he claims to be a friend, but can he be trusted? Or is he just another ravenous mouth eager to devour her land’s riches… and maybe even her?

Unsure of whom to trust and stripped of allies and resources, can Mel reclaim the Winter Palace, or will the wolves’ reign of blood run red forever?

Fans of Sarah J. Maas and Holly Black will love this dark and mesmerizing romantic fantasy, in which Red Riding Hood and the Wolf follow a different thread of fate.

Let Blooded take you deep into dark forests and windswept moors, where hope whispers through the leaves, love and death dance in shades, and werewolves lurk in the darkness…

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.  

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!