It’s that time of year again! The time when we celebrate all things romance for a full month in #Rombklove, a cooperative effort among a bunch of readers and bloggers headed up by Ana of Immersed in Books. I’m hosting today’s prompt which is Magic & Monsters, an effort to encompass all the paranormal, fantasy, futuristic, shifter love in the romance novel universe. Everyone knows about Immortals After Dark, Kate Daniels, Psy-Changeling and the other big names in the paranormal romance and urban fantasy spaces, but I thoughts I’d explore some of my lesser-known favorite books, series and sub-genres here. I’d love to hear yours too so leave me a comment!
The Glamour Thieves by Don Allmon is for those of you who love monsters. In the lesser known sub-genre of cyberpunk romance, this books is a stand-out. One of the heroes is an orc, though not quite the blood-thirsty creature of Tolkien. This one is a mechanical genius, particularly when it comes to machines that roll, fly, or presumably float, though that doesn’t come up in this particular book. Set in a magic-altered near future populated by nefarious criminal elements and the corporate power structure, which is worse, The Glamour Thieves sends our heroes (the aforementioned orc and his elvish ex-boyfriend) on a second chance romance/AI heist along with a cast of colorful characters where no one is sure who they can trust. I loved everything about this book and there’s also a sequel featuring another couple called Blue Unicorn. Allmon quickly became a favorite of mine after The Glamour Thieves and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. CW: violence, guns, explicit sexual content.
Next is The Twenty-Sided Sorceress by Annie Bellet. This is a series of nine short books featuring Jade Crow, a Native American woman whose magic powers are focused by her role-playing game experience with Dungeons & Dragons spells. It’s for sure a unique spin on a magic system. This one is urban fantasy: you could take the romance out of the story and still have a plot, but there’s definitely a romance of the HEA variety. If the explicit D&D reference didn’t get you, maybe Jade’s tiger shifter boyfriend will. The romance has a bodyguard/protectee vibe. The first book in series, Justice Calling, is free on Kindle if you want to try it out before committing. CW: violence, death of a prominent character.
Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs, the first book (prequel novella to the first novel in the series, Cry Wolf) in the Alpha & Omega series, which is connected to Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. I’d recommend that readers new to Briggs check out this timeline. It’s not totally necessary to read both series in the order suggested, but since there are overlapping plotlines, I found it less frustrating that way. Even though I enjoyed Mercy Thompson and her love interest, wolf shifter Adam, I LOVED Alpha & Omega. Charles, Native American and one of the most powerful shifters in North America, and Anna, the newly shifted omega wolf who is one of the few who can resist his power, have a much more interesting and subtle dynamic than Mercy & Adam. They also fight crime together as the series progresses. I also really enjoyed these in audio. While this series isn’t exactly lesser-known, I appreciate the unusual relationship presented in this one. CW: sexual assault (both detailed description of past and character recounts past), violence, explicit sexual content, domestic abuse in later books.
A different kind of monster, The Devil in Disguise by Cynthia Eden features a charming, urbane hero who is the actual, literal Satan, which was a new one for me. If you’ve seen the TV show Lucifer and ever gone in search of fanfic about it (hey, no judgment here), you’d probably enjoy this book. It’s got the same sort of morality chain vibe, that of a pretty bad guy who has done some pretty bad things directing his badness toward a shady government agent who seeks to harm the woman who has captured his attention. By the way, her conscience isn’t pristine either. I think Eden is better known for her contemporaries, but she’s got a firm hand on the paranormal, much like the next author I’m going feature. This book is free. CW: violence, explicit sexual content, stalking, kidnapping.
If you’ve paid any attention at all to my Twitter feed or YouTube channel lately (where I’m talking about my No Book Buying Year), you’ll know that I am absolutely, ridiculously, 100% obsessed with Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London paranormal historical romance series. Or call it steampunk if you’d rather. If I had to choose a weird, niche-y sub-genre to be my favorite, historical paranormal would be it–KJ Charles, Jordan L. Hawk, Isabel Cooper–they’re my true catnip. Add in Callihan’s humor, careful plotting and skillful application of some of my personal favorite tropes (marriage in trouble and enemies-to-lovers especially) and it’s like this series was made just for me. If you’ve enjoyed Callihan’s new adult romances, but you don’t consider yourself a paranormal reader, you might try these. She’s just as good with magicky steampunk as she is with college sports stars. The series starts with Firelight and is probably best read in order. It’s not important for all the books, but some have overlapping timelines. CW: violence, explicit sexual content, sexual assault (references to in past) in later books, kidnapping.
In Beastly Desires by Nikki Winter, the cat shifters actually act like cats. How many times have you read a shifter book where the characters have a kind of pack mentality, but other than that remain pretty much fully human? These ones have a predilection for random, non-malicious attacks on each other that, at least for me, came across as humorous. The hero and heroine work together to keep the heroine safe from a former associate of her father’s who is trying to kill her and her son. It’s kind of intense, but I read this first book in the Verochka Pride series in KU back at the beginning of the year and will definitely be reading more as Winter’s voice and world-building really worked for me, particularly the references to African folklore handed down from the African American heroine to her son. CW: stalking, violence, guns, explicit sexual content.
What are your favorite romances featuring magic and monsters, whatever the sub-genre? Let me know below or @ me on Twitter @elisabethjlane and don’t forget to hashtag your comment #Rombklove so we can all share the book love.