Fantasy romances are a subgenre of both fantasy and romance books. While the best-known and most popular fantasy romance books are young adult books, many fantasy romance books will appeal to every demographic.
This article will list some of the best fantasy romance books that fans and new readers of the genre will surely enjoy. Whether you prefer a slow burn romance, romantic suspense, magical creatures in a fantastical world, a young adult, a series, or steamy fantasy romance, there will be something on this list for you.
Fantasy Romance Books
The following are some of the best fantasy romance books on the market. These are great books for the hardcore fan of fantasy romance, beginner fantasy fan looking to add a dose of love to their reading, or for the romance fan looking for a dash of fantasy. While most fans of romance books demand a happy ending, a bit of magic and adventure is always a perk.
1. An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaa Tahir)
One of the best slow-burn romances in the subgenre, this is a gripping story that sees the protagonist, Laia, willing to do anything to save her brother, who she suspects has been kidnapped and is being tortured by a secretive group known as the Masks.
Having to go undercover as an enslaved person to spy on the boss of this group, Laia meets the son of the Commandant, who wants nothing more than to escape the vicious group he has been forced to be a part of. The reluctant attraction between him and Laia begins. While the reader becomes invested in the budding romance of the story, they are also fascinated with the tough female protagonist, who must endure miseries to learn the truth about her missing brother. This is one of those fantasy books you cannot put down once you start reading.
2. The First Girl Child (Amy Harmon)
Known for her mastery of storytelling in the genre, Harmon brings us a dark and intriguing story that, at times, is bleak.
The day Bayr was born, a curse was laid on the people of a society. No more girls were born after this point. Fearing that their people would die out, they were overjoyed when Alba was born, the first girl after the curse was set. Optimism and hope spread until the people learned that the curse continued after her birth.
Responsible for her protection, Bayr will stop at no length to protect Alba, and the romance between the two is born. Full of hope, despair, and ever-growing romantic tension, this is one of those romance books with a fantasy twist that you will remember long after you finish reading.
3. Serpent and Dove (Shelby Mahurin)
Louise is a witch and a thief and is doing everything she can to avoid being caught, captured, and burned at stake, as is done to all performers of witchcraft. Reid is a huntsman for the church and is after her.
Forced to rethink his moves after Louise tricks him, they end up being husband and wife. An unlikely romance ensues until they both realize they do not hate each other but are drawn together just as much by their differences as by their few similarities.
Mahurin is charming and writes romance and fantasy superbly and fascinatingly. With her first book, Serpent and Dove, she was able to deliver a work that you will tell your friends all about upon reading.
Fantasy Romance Book Series
High fantasy is well known and loved for its enthusiastic effect. Full of complex characters and experts at world-building, an entire series can draw the reader in and make them feel as though the magical setting built by the author exists. In fantasy romance books that are a part of a series, the reader is attracted to world-building and relationship-building. The following are some of the best fantasy romance book series on the market.
1. A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas)
This first novel of the series also qualifies as young adult fiction, but it will go in the series category in this article. This is the story of Feyre, a woman who is in charge of taking care of her frail father and two obnoxious younger sisters.
Accidentally killing a faerie, Feyre’s punishment is to spend the rest of her life in the magical land of faeries, which is not the adorable home of Tinker Bell that you may suspect. Tamlin, the woman’s captor, is a very old and wise shapeshifter, and the two end up in a romance that sometimes gets pretty steamy.
This book, penned by a New York Times Bestselling author, is the first part of a series that spans three books, with more promised on the way—claimed by many to be a more adult version of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it is a fantasy romance favorite.
2. The Affiliate (K.A. Linde)
Forbidden lovers, political intrigue, mysterious letters, and books that make no sense—the Affiliate is the first of The Ascension Series, about seventeen-year-old Cyrene, who gets the honor of being appointed the Affiliate to the Queen.
Falling for King Edric but working for the Queen and discovering magic she does not understand, this first novel in this series is an excellent start to a fantasy romance series of epic proportions. This series spans five books, all of them following the story of Cyrene.
3. Rhapsodic (Laura Thalassa)
In this first book of The Bargainer series, we meet Callypso (Callie), an actual siren. She has been calling in favors and granting IOUs for years and occasionally having to repay, but none match the payment demanded by the Bargainer when he comes calling.
Once lovers, Callie feels more than just an obligation to repay her debt to him. He needs help defeating an enemy to prevent his people from slowly eradicating. Callie faces one major problem—the enemy of the Bargainer has a special and diabolical taste for exotic creatures like herself.
This series spans four fantasy romance novels and is a true delight to read.
4. Radiance (Grace Draven)
In this arranged marriage first book of a series, we meet an unlikely pair, Brishen, and Ildiko, who are supposed to marry to unite their kingdoms.
Finding each other physically unattractive on their wedding day, the pair find a connection in the new friendship they mold with each other and learn that looks are not nearly as important as learning and loving the true identity of someone.
With a slow build-up to the actual love story, this one is worth the wait because as the attraction grows, the reader is fully submerged deeper and deeper into the story. This three-part series has an epic scale of character growth and subplot within its pages.
5. The Awakening (Nora Roberts)
Nora Roberts writes some of the best-loved and favorite books in the fantasy romance genre. In this first tale of the Dragon Hearts Legacy series, we meet Breen, a seemingly ordinary young woman struggling, just like many young people, to get on top of her debt and largely failing.
When she discovers a secret account with more money than she can imagine having in her possession, she decides to use some of the money to go to Ireland to find her father. Upon arriving there, she finds herself in a land of magic and a new role to fulfill.
With a deep and rich world created by Roberts, we follow Breen through the series as she attempts to navigate her new role in life, decipher her feelings, and conquer love. According to many, this is one of the best books in fantasy romance.
6. Dragon Actually (G.A. Aiken)
Annwyl is a fierce warrior who is friends with her dragon and a few others. Known by “The Bloody,” she has difficulty connecting with people and has yet to solve the mystery of romance, although she has experienced attraction.
This strange tale is about love, judging, hate, family, and the charming friendships and confidantes that we develop throughout our lives.
Young Adult Fantasy Romance Books
Fantasy romance is a favorite genre for young adult readers. The love stories they crave as young people quickly discover the joy, passion, and pain of romance, coupled with the imaginative pull of the fantasy genre. The following are some of the best fantasy romance books geared towards young adults.
1. The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
This is the story of a circus that appears from out of nowhere and only at night. Spectators gather to watch this strange nocturnal circus under a black and white tent.
Marco and Celia are talented and highly trained magicians dueling fiercely, under the impression that it is all for entertainment or bragging rights. Little do they know that only one of them is allowed to leave the duel with their lives. To complicate it further, the two enemies fall madly in love and must figure out to escape the circus with each other and their lives.
2. The House in the Cerulean Sea (T.J. Klune)
This is the sweet tale of a social worker who cares deeply for children, transported to magic and the somewhat parallel world as ours. In awe of both this magical world and the love and romance he finds there, he is quickly dismayed to learn that the orphans he oversees are not ordinary children at all.
Children who have magic or supernatural talents are taken from their families and placed in orphanages run by a government entity and treated terribly. Being transferred to one such facility within the Cerulean Sea, the protagonist meets some of the most strange, talented, terrified children he has ever encountered, and he becomes determined to help them.
3. The Cruel Prince (Holly Black)
Seven-year-old Jude and her two sisters are taken to live in the land of Faerie after their parents’ deaths. Trying desperately to fit in, Jude understands that her life depends on staying out of the political debate and keeping the peace as an outsider.
The youngest son of the High King, Prince Cardan, is especially rude and cruel to Jude, although he shows that there is also an attraction there. However, each sign is countered by more cruelty, and Jude is forced to figure out her feelings while keeping herself and her sisters safe.
4. A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Brigid Kemmerer)
Prince Rhen of Emberfall is another Beauty and the Beast story re-imagined. Prince Rhen is cursed to repeat the 18th year of his life as a hideous beast-like creature until a girl falls in love with him for who he is.
Suffering from cerebral palsy, Harper is no stranger to facing difficulties and staggering odds in life. When she attempts to save someone’s life in Washington D.C., she ends up in a different world—the world of Emberfall, where she meets Prince Rhen, and an unlikely bond is formed.
Steamy Fantasy Romance Novels
If you prefer something more than a romance, erotic books are sure to give you all of the perks of good old romance coupled with fantasy and steamy love and sex scenes.
1. Kushiel’s Dart (Jacqueline Carey)
In this steamy and erotic book series of enormous length, Elua, the product of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, produces an angelic population. Phedre is an unlikely heroine who is sold into slavery at a young age. With a birthmark that sets her apart from the rest of the citizens, she is used as a courtesan and spy. She learns about the plot to kill her people, and she must escape slavery to warn her people of an imminent attack.
This series has many elements: religion, erotica, magic, creatures, feelings of pain, hope, despair, suffering, and love.
2. The Red (Tiffany Reisz)
This is more than the tale of two lovers in a world different from ours. This is the tale of a woman determined to keep the promise she made on her mother’s deathbed.
Mona makes a promise to her mother, an artist who is facing death, that she will do anything to save her mother’s art gallery, The Red. Due to financial challenges, the gallery is also on the brink of death. Then, an odd and mysterious character shows up and offers Mona a deal.
He will make sure that the gallery is saved if she agrees to sell herself to him completely and be his submissive sex slave for a year. Determined to do anything for her family, Mona agrees, and the rest of the novel is a story of lust, sex, kinks, and mysterious attractions by a dark man that Mona is convinced must be magical.