Tag Archives: Adult High Fantasy Romance

Release Day Review: Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep

Protect the Prince (A Crown of Shards book 2) by Jennifer Estep
Adult High Fantasy romance released by Harper Voyager on July 2, 2019

Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep book coverMagic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shardssaga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.

Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.

First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.

Dark forces are also at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, her immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes Evie wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s … well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

I loved Kill the Queen, book 1 in this series and Protect the Prince is more of the same. Jennifer Estep has created a great world and I love the tone and structure of these books. To me the pacing and content are like action movies in book form and I just want roll around in them for days. There’s two royal courts, a little road trip, political machinations abound, skulking through secret passage ways, sleuthing to find spies and assassins, magic battles, and romance?! The best things ever all in one package in my opinion! Perfect summer reading. Continue reading

Guest Author Anna Kashina on Romance in Blade Fights + An Exclusive Excerpt of Shadowblade AND a Giveaway!

Hi friends! You might know that [adult] high fantasy romance is totally “my thing.” So when Anna Kashina contacted me about reviewing her upcoming book I was first, pretty starstruck, then [pretty immediately] was like “DOES IT FEATURE ADULT CHARACTERS AND IS THERE ROMANCE?!” And when she answered “yes” I was like “WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO BE A GUEST AT ALBTALBS?!!?” And she said yes!!! So here we are! I’m so excited to welcome Anna Kashina today! Her newest book Shadowblade is out today!

Romance in blade fights

There are two things I find irresistible in fantasy novels. One is a good romantic subplot, well balanced and integral to the story. The other is a good blade fight – especially the kind with a lot of cool technique behind it. It’s an additional bonus – as well as a challenge – to make these fights emotionally gripping, as well as being technically cool. But if one manages to achieve all this, there is only one more step to the ultimate prize: to combine the two, using blade fights as a tool to advance the romance. It’s so rewarding when it’s done well.

I am a sucker for a dark and dangerous male lead with a morally complex character. A superb swordsman, trained to become an elite assassin, in my mind, cannot fail as a romantic hero. In my books, I love to match these kind of guys with strong women who can stand up to them, and have hidden strengths of their own. When developing these characters and their relationships, a sword fight can become more engaging than a love scene, and so much more effective in showing off their strengths and limitations, as well as their morally complex sides. Continue reading

Review: How to (Not) Train a Firecat by R. Cooper (Author), Erin Gamble (Illustrator)

How to (Not) Train a Firecat by R. Cooper (Author), Erin Gamble (Illustrator)
High fantasy M/M romance published by R. Cooper on December 26, 2018

How to (Not) Train a Firecat by R. Cooper book cover

The firecats of Dua are giant beasts with red-gold fur and lashing tails. They are also loving and loyal companions to the few they choose to serve. Every member of the royal House of Durii has a personal guard and a firecat to serve as a reminder of the greatness of their rule. After all, only the truly extraordinary would walk alongside a firecat. Only the truly extraordinary could.

Not River, obviously. River took the job of cleaning up after the noble beasts when he came to Dua years ago. He’s not any kind of soldier or guard, and he’s too mouthy to belong around royalty. All he wants to do is avoid some of the more resentful guard trainees, care for the very spoiled cats, and try not to get his heart broken by one maddeningly gentle apprentice wizard.

Apprentice Gavin is powerful, brilliant, and probably noble. He’s destined for greatness—and more than likely a guard and a firecat to protect him. He’s not meant for one insignificant little beastminder like River.

But firecats are not the only creatures who are fierce, loyal, and beautiful to behold. River is about to learn that the firecats and the guards who walk with them have more in common than he thought. And he will have to accept that he might be extraordinary as Gavin thinks he is.

I read this book because the cover is adorable, and also because I love a good “behind the scenes” book and a good magical creatures book, and this one combines both of those things.

River, who is the caretaker for the cats, is a scrappy fighter who’s not afraid to break a knee or two to defend himself. He’s very aware of being an outsider from a foreign culture and his low status and fully expects that Gavin, while currently his lover, will be expected to marry well and will eventually leave him. He’s also determined not to take any nonsense from any of the trainee cat wranglers / future guards of the nobility. River is also dealing with some culture shock, in the sense that he’s from a culture that doesn’t support same-sex relationships and still getting used to living in a society pairing off is required but the gender of one’s partner is not significant. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Kill the Queen (Crown of Shards #1) by Jennifer Estep
Fantasy published by Harper Voyager on October 2, 2018

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep Book CoverGladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Fan-freaking-tastic! I would have finished this in one day if I didn’t have to do grown up stuff after I started reading. Great characters, awesome world building. Jennifer Estep got me to care about gladiators when fighting is not my thing at all—no interest in WWE, MMA, UFC, etc. But I had a running montage in my head of the fight sequences while Evie, the main protagonist, and the troupe are training and during the gladiator shows (“Are you not entertained?!” Came to my mind several times). All the best elements of action movies—this book was like a summer blockbuster movie (think of Gladiator, the Thor: Ragnarok Thor versus Hulk battle) to me, only in book form. Shifters and magic abound in this world on top of traveling gladiator troupes putting on shows for the masses. If all this sounds appealing to you, this is the book for you. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
Adult high fantasy romance released by Penguin on September 25, 2018

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven Book CoverA woman with power over fire and illusion and the enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

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. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.

Fans of fantasy romance rejoice! Another great book (and new series) by Grace Draven is here! I was so excited for this book I begged for an ARC! This story has great world-building and a complex romance. I enjoyed the very slow burn romance with a great payoff at the end. Azarion and Gilene are multi-faceted characters who go through a lot and grow in this story. Azarion’s mother, Saruke, and sister, Tamura, are awesome secondary characters along with traders and other clan members. Continue reading

Desperately Seeking: Adult High Fantasy Romances

Hi friends! … I’m back! Yes, I’m looking for more book recommendations, and I’m hoping the hivemind can help me.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Box Set ImageI’ve read a lot of the “usual suspects” – or at least, I think I have? There are some that I know of but haven’t had a chance to read yet, but I’m always looking for more. (We’re voracious readers!)

High fantasy means that the setting is an imaginary World. An alternative/fictional world or universe. There might be magic, and such, and often an “epic quest.” What matters most to me though, is the non real world aspect, and the romance. Generally they don’t (dare I say … shouldn’t?) have modern technology either – no cars, planes, drones, etc.

Adult doesn’t mean omg sex all the time all the sex – it just means … I’d like to read about characters that are adults, or at least considered adults in their world. For example, the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy counts. (And in fact is a perfect example because I freaking loved it.) Yes, Feyre is relatively young – 19, buts she’s been the sole provider for her family for the past 5+ years. … And then most of the other main characters are literally hundreds of years old. I also recommend Grace Draven’s books.

Romance … I mean – it’s just that the romantic relationship is central to the storyline, and of course there’s a happy ending. I don’t want to read a high fantasy where everyone except for a protagonist dies at the end and it’s tragic and miserable. If I wanted that, I’d just watch more foreign films. I’ve also been using libraries for most of these books because … yo that was a lot of books and I am not rich.

I’ve already read a lot of [adult] high fantasy romances. I do want to note … I have a “quirk” where I don’t want to read a series unless it’s complete. I blow through fantasy series and have ~ADD so I don’t want to wait, and I’d forget details. I definitely want to know about series though, so I can start collecting books in anticipation of the completion. (Like the Sarah J. Maas Throne of Glass series.)

Here’s what I’ve read: Continue reading

Give Me Your Book Recommendations Please! Talking Adult High Fantasy Romances

Impossible ThingsHi friends! So I’m always looking for book recommendations, and this summer I’ve been on a massive adult high fantasy romance kick.

Do you know how difficult it is to find books in this particular subgenre?!!? [Very. Very, very very very very difficult.] There are a lot of YA fantasy stories… some are romance … but most “adult” high fantasy romances are more romantic elements than romances.

What is high fantasy? I took that definition from wikipedia.

High fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy, defined either by its setting or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, and plot. High fantasy is defined as fantasy set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than “the real”, or “primary” world. The secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world.

But yes – not set in the real world. It’s different from low fantasy, pararnormal, or magical elements. Although a lot of fantasy stories often have magical elements.

An example of high fantasy would be the A Song of Ice and Fire series, possibly better known as the Game of Thrones TV series. However, while it’s an adult high fantasy, it isn’t a romance.

I’ve read Grace Draven, Jeffe Kennedy, Elizabeth Hunter, Amanda Bouchet, C.L. Wilson, Elizabeth Vaughan, Maria V. Snyder, Kate Johnson, the ACOTAR trilogy by Sarah J. Maas, Lisa Blackwood, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Michelle Sagara West, Patricia Briggs, Robin McKinley, Anne Leonard, Tanith Lee, Amy Harmon, Jill Myles, and I’ve even gone so far as to read YA; Leigh Bardugo, Rae Carson, Robin LaFevers, as well as Erika Johansen – although this last was a mistake. I’ve linked each author to either the series I read or my favorite book/series by the author.

I’m currently reading Sharon Shinn, then I’m going to read book(s) by Melanie Rawn, and also have Sara Raasch on deck. There are a few more authors but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. Oh I’ve also read the Black Jewels books by Anne Bishop ages ago.

I’ve also read the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier – although I wouldn’t say those are high fantasy exactly, as the books are set in Ireland, although it’s an alternate reality “Erin with magical creatures” and more romantic elements stories than romance in my opinion. (I didn’t read book three.)

So! Does anyone have adult high fantasy romance recommendations for me? I’m willing to read series too but only if they’re complete. The way I read I blow through books and I not only hate waiting, I’ll forget things, so I need to be able to glom all at once. 😀 I do also love twisted fairy tales, so those I might make a special exception for – it’s what made me start the Sevenwaters books.

I know – I’m difficult. I’m not looking for paranormal romances, or time travels either.

However – if you’ve read a romance novel lately that is OH MY GOD SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS AMAZING … I’d like to hear that as well, because as of a month ago I’ve also started reading some other romance subgenres as well.

Thank youuuu!! (And if you’d like to discuss any of the books I’d mention I’d love to chat too!)