Romance novels

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, have a non-exhaustive list of romances that I have read recently and really enjoyed. It always surprises me that I can come up with titles, because if you asked me if I read romances, my response would be: only rarely.

Yet, when I stop to think about it, that’s just not true. It’s simply that the romances I read are masked in some way—either they have a large fantasy element and I think of them as SF/F, or they’re in a format that slips by labeling.

So, recent reads that I recommend.

Freya Marske’s A Restless Truth. F/F

Romantic and funny, plus with a locked-room murder mystery of sorts, in that the heroine’s companion is murdered on a ship and there’s nowhere for the murderer to escape to. Maud and Voilet are great characters, well-drawn, and believably suited to each other. This is book 2 in The Last Binding Trilogy, and it’s even better than the first, A Marvellous Light.

A J Lancaster’s A Rake of His Own. M/M

This is book 5 of the Stariel series, and although it features a separate couple than the previous four books do, I would hesitate to call it stand-alone. There’s just too much water under the bridge and too much world-building. That’s okay. While I loved this book, I loved the previous books too. This whole series is very satisfying.  Watching the faerie prince and uptight Marius Valstar, the botanical scholar interact is a delight. Also there’s a murder. (I like fantasy murder mysteries!) The whole series is one of my comfort reads.

Lana Harper’s Payback’s a Witch, and Back in a Spell. F/F & M/F respectively.

These are books 1 & 3 of the Thistle Grove Witch series. (See what I mean about fantasy? But no murders here.) These are pretty much stand alone; the set up is not particularly complex. The fun of these is in the characters! With witchy powers as well.

And, of course, the Olivia Atwater Regency Faerie Tale Series. Half a Soul, Ten Thousand Stitches, and Longshadow. Half a Soul is one of those books that I recommend any chance I get and would have to have it pried from my hands before I would give it up. I’ve reread it at least twice. Just excellent; her take on faeries makes them very strange and odd, and I love it.

So when it comes to contemporary romance, this is where I really usually double down and think, no I don’t read romance. Again, I’m wrong. Some of my favorite novellas of the past year are contemporary romance. They’re just on Archive of Our Own.

Copperbadge is a fandom stalwart for a reason. He’s prolific and good! But last year, he’s been giving his readers the super entertaining Shivadhverse, which as far as I can tell, began with the hallmark inspired prompt of what happens if a chef meets a prince and they fall in love, and that chef is inspired by Guy Fieri. Delightful things happen. Eddie Rambler and Crown Prince Gregory are adorable and sensible, and I loved them immensely. Apparently their author did too, because we’ve gotten a series of excellent spin-off novellas involving other characters in the world. The series starts with Fête for a King.  

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