There’s always that one book.
The book that started it all. The one you recommend to anyone who will listen, the one with incredible feels and heart-racing moments–the same one you reread every so often to experience its magic again for the umpteenth time.
For these ten Fantasy Romance authors, the following books sparked that magic and passion for them so strongly, they committed to writing books in the genre, helping to expand and diversify it for those of us who love the wonder of Fantasy alongside our Romance.
Let’s see if you recognize any of their favorites!
Award-winning author, Jeffe Kennedy, who has written dozens of Fantasy Romance works, found her love of the genre through Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey.
“I often say that my gateway drug to fantasy was Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, which I found on my elementary school library shelf,” she said. “But it was her book, Dragonflight, that sold me forever on fantasy romance! I found Dragonflight on the mass-market paperback rack at the mall bookstore and snapped it up. Another fantasy with a central heroine!”
“Then, to my utter delight, Lessa was gritty, intelligent, and determined. She executed a long, secret plan to revenge her slaughtered family. And the dragonrider, F’lar, who falls in love with her—be still my heart! He is also determined, sometimes hard, with a soft heart, especially where his dragon is concerned. Lessa was the first heroine I ever read who wasn’t nice. She was sometimes impatient and always strong-willed. The best part was, F’lar loved her for it—and Lessa doesn’t lose any of her spine. The book is truly Lessa’s journey, where she completes an astonishing act of heroism.
My tattered paperback is taped together, the pages yellowed and brittle, but I keep it beside my desk as the treasure it is.”
Author S. L. Prater, who writes gaslamp fantasy romance, loved Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
“Howl’s Moving Castle was my introduction to Fantasy Romance at a young age. It’s an adorable love story with complex characters, excellent dialogue, and great adventure. The characters come right off the page. They are so wonderfully flawed.”
Author Lisette Marshall, who writes steamy, historical, fantasy romance, was converted by The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
“I love that it’s so many things at the same time – fantasy, romance, fairytale, comedy, adventure novel… I was mostly reading fantasy without a strong romance element until that time, but Buttercup and Westley converted me. Also, Inigo Montoya is still one of my favourite characters of all time.”
Award-winning Fantasy Romance author, L Penelope, recalls what she loved about Master of Crows, the book that stood out to her.
“Master of Crows by Grace Draven is one of the early books that made me a fan of fantasy romance. My romance reading began with paranormal and YA fantasy, but Master of Crows is one of the first adult, second world fantasy novels I recall reading with a strong romance at its heart. I fell in love with the book, the characters, and Grace Draven’s writing.”
“It really showed how incredible fantasy worldbuilding, compelling characters, and a juicy love story could come together in one amazing package,” she said.
Author Vela Roth, who writes immersive fantasy and eternal romance, reveals Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith as the book that made an impact on her.
“Crown Duel is the novel that made me admit to myself that I didn’t just love fantasy, I also loved kissing books,” she said. “I read it as a young teen, engrossed in the epic worldbuilding, action, and political intrigue. I realized along the way that the relationship had stolen my heart and introduced me to some of the best tropes, like enemies to lovers and only one horse. After Crown Duel, I was hooked and started scouring the shelves for fantasy romance!”
Sara Sellers, author of sexy, action-packed fantasy romance recalls her search for a little more romance after reading Tamora Pierce.
“For me, it was Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series as a middle schooler,” she said. “Badass warrior women and their romantic lives. When Keladry of Mindelan didn’t get a romantic HEA, my little future romance reader heart couldn’t take it. I looked for Tamora Pierce but adult romance for ages, and eventually decided to write it since I couldn’t find it! Sometimes I describe my books as Tamora Pierce with more sex and violence.”
For Fantasy Romance author, Amanda V Shane, who became hooked on stories with magic, daring heroes, and desperate romance, it was Sir Malory’s rendition of King Arthur.
“The book that made me love fantasy and romance was King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Sir Thomas Malory and I loved reading about the medieval time period, all of the magic and the battles.”
For fantasy Romance author, Elsie Winters, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer made her reconsider how she saw romantic tension and heroes.
“I loved it because it was an exercise in longing, and it made me think a lot about what is a monster and how that affects how we see the villain/hero dynamic. Beauty and the Beast is another really good example of this.”
Author Jaycee Jarvis, who writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop, recalls her first experience with Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan.
“I read a bunch of Mercedes Lackey as a teen, and always wished there was even more romance in her books. Oathbreakers in particular made a huge impression on me because I loved all the relationship dynamics–the found family/sisterhood between Kethry and Tarma, and Jadrek as the slow burn romantic interest (I’m a sucker beta heroes, especially geeky guys).”
“The first book I ever read that had the balance of romance and fantasy that I really craved,” she continued, “was Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan–the romance was so delicious and angsty, and the worldbuilding just blew me away. It was really satisfying to finally find a book that checked all my boxes.”
“I read a lot of Wilbur Smith when I was younger, and fell in love with the mix of action and adventure, romance, and magic in his Ancient Egyptian series. Those representing Wilbur Smith would probably have heart failure at a fantasy romance categorization, but that’s exactly what that series is!”
“I also loved The Hunger Games and Divergent, for their plot, romance, pace, high stakes, and fantastical settings. But I wanted more of the romance. It was impossible to find books like that at the time (everything was YA), which is what inspired my first proper foray into writing.”
Can you relate to these experiences? Did any of these books make a magical impact on you or was there a different book that made you a fan of this genre?
If so, let us know in the comments!
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