While new releases in romance are never hard to find, cross-genre works are another story. Unless you are a fan of contemporary, historical or regency romance, you may struggle to find new releases or romance recommendations that cater toward your interests, especially if you are into fantasy, science fiction or paranormal romance.
If this sounds like you, rejoice! Spells, Swords & Hearts was created with the intention of offering fantasy and science fiction romance fans an outlet to discuss new releases and romance recommendations, in addition to other romance-related topics.
Looking for a new romance novel to binge, but want something catered to your specific tastes? Featuring works of different sub-genres and levels of romance, from novellas to new installments in established series, here are your fantasy and science fiction inspired romance recommendations for Fall 2018.
The Princess Must Die, Everly Frost & Jaymin Eve
Synopsis: In an Elven city beneath the streets of Chicago, the perfect storm rages, kept under control only by Marbella Mercy, the Storm Princess. Now she is of age, champions from each of the elven houses will play a game of wit and strength to fight for her hand – and for the chance to control the forces of nature.
Baelen Rath, a warrior and leader of the feared House of Rath, is the only male Marbella has ever trusted. He’ll risk everything to be her champion. But what he and the others don’t know? The princess is fighting too.
Because she’s discovered that the winner is cursed to kill her, not marry her, and the only way to save herself is to win.
But Marbella is fighting a power greater than herself, because someone believes that the perfect storm should be unleashed and for that to happen – the princess must die.
An ideal pick for: fantasy romance fans who are looking for a new series to binge read. Featuring a strong female lead, The Princess Must Die promises to be an action-packed saga that borders on high fantasy with a competition marriage plot, court politics, elves, and magic! In terms of romance, The Princess Must Die is slow-burning, but it has a fated, friends-to-lovers vibe that will please readers looking for a complex relationship dynamic. Best of all, the entire series – The Princess Must Die, The Princess Must Strike, and The Princess Must Reign – will be out before the year is over!
Maverick, Cheryl Brooks
Synopsis: Having the Zetithian feline gene gives Larry Tshevnoe awesome beauty, fearsome strength, sensuality and sexual prowess unmatched by any other males in the universe. But it can make the quest for true love…complicated.
Enter childhood friend and fellow Zetithian Althea Banadänsk. Her empathic powers make her the only one who can show Larry what he truly desires, and she’ll do anything to help…even if that means hiding her desperate craving for him.
But when a distress call sends them off course—and into danger—they find more than their hearts are at stake. Now it’s up to them to become the champions of truth and justice throughout the galaxy…or risk losing it all.
An ideal pick for: fans of steamy science fiction reads. Maverick is the perfect read for those who want to suspend reality, featuring aliens with feline characteristics (a surprising twist on its own), a vast setting, and clear, crisp details. Making use of common sci-fi romance tropes including a second generation focus and a friends-to-lovers romance, Maverick is a spin-off series of sorts that can be read as a standalone, which makes it a great general pick, keeping in mind that this is a sensual and erotic read that makes full use of the imagination. It’s also important to note that this one may be a bit controversial in that Larry, the male lead of the novel, is in a relationship with another woman when things begin to heat up with Althea.
Unexpected Hostage, Layla Stone
Synopsis: Everyone says he’s dangerous.
Everyone is wrong.
My new cabin-mate is a telepath and the whole ship’s scared of him. I was too, for about three seconds. He’s quiet, but once I get him talking he’s the most fascinating man I’ve ever known. He shouldn’t be in that cage. He didn’t do anything wrong. But good thing he is, because I would love to snuggle down for a long night with a body like his.
Everyone thinks they’re safe.
Everyone is wrong.
My race is known for being peaceful, and I was too…until I was electrocuted, kidnapped, sold, and then put in a cage. I’ll get out of here soon, but while I plot my escape, I’ll enjoy my cabin-mate’s attention. She thinks she has figured me out. She’s not even close.
The ship is being attacked, a perfect diversion. There is only one problem…I want to take my cabin-mate with me.
An ideal pick for: those who want to start a new series and experience a fresh author’s voice.
I had the pleasure of beta reading Unexpected Hostage earlier this year and was quite surprised to find it while searching for new cross-genre romance books releasing this fall. Layla Stone puts a twist on the abduction/hostage trope common in science fiction romance by offering a dual-perspective approach featuring a male hostage in the telepathic alien, Sci. Full of rich details and world-building, Unexpected Hostage is the perfect choice for sci-fi romance fans searching for a short, steamy read featuring a complex relationship dynamic.
The Boss, Abigail Owen
Synopsis: Finn Conleth leads his team of enforcer dragon shifters with an iron fist and a cold heart. Every dragon seeks his destined mate, but the process to turn the woman he once thought was his killed her and devastated him. He will never risk his heart again. His team is his family now. When his body eventually gives out, he’ll leave, living his last days alone.
Delaney Hamilton moved across the country to escape the freak fires that plague her. But when another suspicious fire erupts and rapidly escalates around her, her hopes for a new life go up in smoke. She has no choice but to turn to the mysterious men who come to her aid.
Finn knows the fire is dragon-caused, which puts Delaney’s problems directly in his jurisdiction. No matter how her wounded grey eyes call to every part of him, he refuses to risk her life in the mating process.
Until another dragon threatens to claim Delaney for his own, and Finn has to sacrifice everything to keep her alive…
An ideal pick for: erotic paranormal romance fans. The Boss combines romance tropes with fantasy and paranormal elements to create a gripping read for those who enjoy shifter fiction. From lore regarding dragon-shifters and action-packed scenes, to sensual and sexy romance, the first book in the Fire’s Edge series as it all. Featuring a team of dragon-shifters turned firefighters, The Boss is very much a shifter story featuring contemporary elements, making it the perfect read for all types of romance readers. Featuring dragons, complex characters and incredible sexual tension, The Boss is the perfect pick for readers searching for a steamy new romance series to enjoy.
Phoenix Unbound, Grace Draven
Synopsis: Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.
But this year is different.
Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.
To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.
An ideal pick for: fantasy romance fans. Phoenix Unbound is a true fantasy story, featuring a complex system of fire magic and rich world-building. Featuring a dark setting ruled from a brutal and unforgiving empire, the little details truly matter in this work. Harsh realities including trauma, sacrifice, and slavery shape the characters, who slowly fall in love as they fight for their freedom and their lives. Phoenix Unbound calls to mind Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles series in many ways, but the most important of which is the balance of fantasy to romance elements, making it the start of a must-read series for fans searching for a world rich in dark traditions that truly call to mind the terrors of a powerful fantasy setting.
The Arrows of the Heart, Jeffe Kennedy
Synopsis: As the Twelve Kingdoms and their allies are drawn toward war, a princess cast aside must discover a purpose she never dreamed of…
Karyn af Hardie behaved like a proper Dasnarian wife. She acquiesced, she accepted, she submitted. Until her husband gave her a choice: their loveless, unconsummated royal marriage—or her freedom. Karyn chose freedom. But with nowhere to run except into the arms of Dasnaria’s enemies, she wonders if she’s made a mistake. She wants love, security, a family. She can’t imagine finding any of it among the mercurial Tala.
Worst of all is Zyr. The uninhibited shapeshifter is everywhere she looks. He’s magnetic, relentless, teasing and tempting as if she’s free to take her pleasure where she wishes. As if there isn’t a war rising before them, against a vile and demanding force far stronger than they. But with Karyn’s loyalty far from certain, Zyr offers her only chance to aid the defense—a dangerous gambit to seek out a land not seen in centuries, using clues no one can decipher. Together, they’ll have every opportunity to fail—and one chance to steal something truly precious…
An ideal pick for: fantasy romance fans searching for an established series. In the same vein as Phoenix Unbound, Jeffe Kennedy’s latest release pulls the reader into a world rich in established traditions and lore. Featuring a playful shapeshifter with a twisted past and a woman forced to leave her conventional home, The Arrows of the Heart follows a budding relationship on the brink of war, where both characters are searching for a sense of self-empowerment. Although part of the Uncharted Realms series, this installment can be read as a standalone and features a charmingly sweet romance.
Shadow and Ice, Gena Showalter
Synopsis: Knox of Iviland has spent his life competing in the All Wars, where vicious warriors with supernatural powers fight to the death to claim new realms. One winner takes everything—and all losers die. Enslaved as a child for his ability to control shadows, the most ruthless champion in history will stop at nothing to kill his king. But first he must win the battle for Earth. When a fearsome weapon imprisons every combatant in ice, centuries pass without progress…until she walks in.
Vale London craves a fun arctic getaway with her foster sister before settling down to open a bakery. Street-tough but vulnerable, she is unprepared to find ancient gods escaping a frozen cave—merciless beings who target her when she inadvertently enters their war.
Though Vale is now his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can prove victorious, and he will have to choose: live for freedom, or die for love.
An ideal pick for: readers looking for a unique paranormal romance. Full of mythology, Shadow and Ice is the perfect pick for those searching for a contemporary-meets-mythological world. Packed full of humor and action, in an all-out war against immortals, an enemies-to-lovers, opposites attract romance unfolds that will keep you captivated from beginning to end. Complete with action and numerous sex scenes, Shadow and Ice marks the beginning of a series that will appeal to erotic romance fans.
Shades of Wicked, Jeaniene Frost
Synopsis: The Rule Breaker
Master vampire Ian is unrepentant, shameless…and every shade of wicked. He’s made one too many enemies in his two centuries of existence, including Dagon, a demon who now lays claim to his soul. Ian’s only chance to escape Dagon is to join forces with a Law Guardian, but he’s never been able to abide by the rules for long.
The Law Maker
Veritas’ normal role is police, judge and jury to reprobates like Ian. But she has her own ax to grind with Dagon, so if she can use Ian as bait…well, all’s fair in law and war. As they scour supernatural hotspots to perfect their trap, Veritas soon realizes Ian’s devil-may-care, roguish image hides something much more powerful. And Ian discovers that Veritas has shocking secrets of her own. As they’re drawn to each other with a passion as intense as their peril, either love or justice will prevail. But each will have devastating consequences…
An ideal pick for: paranormal romance fans, those who are potentially looking for a long series, and those who can’t get enough of those slow-burning relationships. The first installment in a spin-off to Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, Shades of Wicked employs a first-person approach and utilizes the enemies-to-lovers trope during a high stakes battle to uphold the law. Full of supernatural powers and vampires, Shades of Wicked just might be your gateway into a new series (though the novel can be read as a standalone – no background info required).
Archangel’s Prophecy, Nalini Singh
Synopsis: Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind…and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.
Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world.
In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.
This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.
An ideal pick for: romance readers in the market for a lengthy series featuring a unique twist on the paranormal – angels and demons. Archangel’s Prophecy is the eleventh installment in paranormal romance queen, Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunters series. Full of tension and suspense, Singh’s latest novel is a roller coaster of emotions and features a prominent couple from the series as they face a deadly new challenge – regression into mortality. Paranormal romance fans searching for a complex, deftly interwoven plot complete with twists, turns and heart-breaking conflicts across a vast story arc spanning eleven novels will want to pick this one up (or start from the beginning with Angels’ Blood). Readers who can’t stand the lengthy wait between books will want to be wary, however, as Archangel’s Prophecy ends on a cliffhanger.
Leopard’s Run, Christine Freehan
Synopsis: Timur Amurov has one purpose in life: protect his family at all costs. With lethal skills honed from a violent upbringing, Timur is a leopard shifter who sees any newcomers as possible threats–and the petite blond barista who his sister-in-law, Evangeline, has hired to work in her bakery is definitely hiding something. While Timur still needs to determine if Ashe is an enemy, he does know that she is the only woman whose presence has ever truly calmed the beast roaring inside of him.
Ashe Bronte is well aware she has a type: sexy, gorgeous and dangerous as hell. Despite the fact that Timur is all those things and more, Ashe is in San Antonio for reasons that do not involve getting wild with a ruthless leopard–and she cannot afford to make any mistakes. But Timur has ignited something deep within her, and even though she knows she should keep her distance, every move he makes has her craving a taste…
An ideal pick for: shifter romance readers looking for a new spin on the genre. If you enjoy reading paranormal shifter fiction, you’re already well aware that the majority of works out there are dedicated to the same old species – half-human, half-wolf (or bear, or dragon) – a fact that will make Christine Freehan’s long-running Leopard series appealing. As the name implies, Leopard’s Run follows a band of shifters with feline inner instincts and the ability to transform into deadly wild cats. Part of a series yet can be read as a standalone, Freehan’s latest features intense chemistry and sizzling romance between two fierce alpha characters – Timur and Ashe.
Diamond Fire, Illona Andrews
Synopsis: Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan’s extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.
To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for her sister’s happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.
An ideal pick for: fantasy romance fans looking for a series in progress that won’t require much catch-up. Just as you would be hard pressed to find a romance list without Nalini Singh included, the same goes for a husband-wife duo, Illona Andrews. In their latest novella, Diamond Fire, the couple weaves magic into the contemporary scene making this one an urban fantasy lover’s choice. Meant to be a transitional piece bridging the gap between Hidden Legacy books three and four, readers interested in this romance recommendation will want to start with the first book in the series, Burn for Me, and go from there.
Toxic, Lydia Kang
Synopsis: Cyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. A small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death of the ship, but the abandoned ship is anything but abandoned—one girl has been left behind.
Hana has known nothing but the isolation of a single room and the secret that has kept her there for seventeen years. When she meets Fennec, the boy assigned to watch her, she realizes that there is a world she has yet to experience but she is doomed to never meet.
When crew members begin mysteriously dying, Hana and Fenn realize that they are racing against the death of the ship to find a way to survive—unless someone kills them even before Hana’s truly had a chance to live.
An ideal pick for: young adult romance readers. Toxic is the perfect pick for readers that enjoy science fiction romance, but that may prefer their romance to be a little more innocent in terms of intimacy. Featuring a fast-paced plot tinged with horror, this young adult romance follows Fenn and Hana as their romance blossoms quickly during a life or death situation. Featuring creative world-building, a cute romance, and a tinge of an own voices story in the Korean AI Hana, Toxic is the perfect standalone for readers looking for a quick read with science fiction elements.
Seasons of Sorcery, Jeffe Kennedy, Jennifer Estep, Grace Draven & Amanda Bouchet
Synopsis: WINTER’S WEB BY JENNIFER ESTEP
An assassin at a renaissance faire. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, if you’re Gin Blanco. This Spider is trapped in someone else’s icy web—and it seems like they don’t want her to leave the faire alive . . .
A CURSE FOR SPRING BY AMANDA BOUCHET
A malevolent spell strangles the kingdom of Leathen in catastrophic drought. Prince Daric must break the curse before his people starve. A once-mighty goddess trapped in a human body might be the key—but saving his kingdom could mean losing all that he loves.
THE DRAGONS OF SUMMER BY JEFFE KENNEDY
As unofficial consort to the High Queen, former mercenary Harlan Konyngrr faces a challenge worse than looming war and fearsome dragons. His long-held secrets threaten what he loves most—and he must make a choice between vows to two women.
A WILDERNESS OF GLASS BY GRACE DRAVEN
The stretch of sea known as The Gray rules the lives of those in the village of Ancilar, including widow Brida Gazi. In the aftermath of an autumn storm, Brida discovers one of the sea’s secrets cast onto the shore—a discovery that will change her world, mend her soul, and put her in the greatest danger she’s ever faced.
An ideal pick for: fantasy romance fans searching for the perfect, season-inspired short stories. An anthology featuring some of the best voices currently in fantasy romance, Seasons of Sorcery is the perfect choice for readers who have time constraints, enjoy short, complete romance stories, or those who are looking to experience new authors. Featuring four short stories that deal with magic, mythology, dragons, and even assassins, Seasons of Sorcery is sure to cater to different reading tastes while touching on all of the wonderful aspects that make fantasy a diverse and well-loved genre.