Last month we kicked off this column discussing Steampunk Romance. This month I’d like to take a small step back and discuss Fantasy Romance (Romantic Fantasy) which umbrellas several other sub-genres of romance including Steampunk. I have to admit, I’ve been enamored with this particular genre since I was a kid and first watched Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal. You remember that movie, the one with the pseudo-elf guy and those weird humming, ugly a$$ wizards.
This movie opened a whole new realm of imagination and adventure for me and when I got older and found my first fantasy romance I was in heaven. Adventure plus steamy smexy times? SOLD. Adventure plus steamy smexy times and dragon slayers? SQUEETASTIC!
A lot of readers tend to assume that Fantasy and Science Fiction are the same. They are not. Actually in a lot of ways Science Fiction would also fall under the Fantasy umbrella. But no worries I’m here to clear up the confusion.
WHAT IS FANTASY
Simply stated the fantasy genre in literature are stories that use magic, magical creatures and other supernatural phenomena as primary plot elements, themes, or settings. When most people think about fantasy they think of books like J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which is a perfect example of the genre. It contains all of the elements that are widely considered the chore characteristics of a fantasy novel. Even the immortal Shakespeare rocked out some fantasy with plays like A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Fantasy, in many ways, is one of the oldest form of storytelling. A good fantasy usually contains the following:
Fantastical Elements: Magic and the fantastic are common occurrences.
Fantastical Creatures: Magical and mystical creatures are the norm. It’s not unusual to see witches, elves, dragons, shapeshifters etc.
Mythical Roots: A lot of fantasy draws from fairy tales, mythology and old religions for inspiration.
Time Machine: Time as we know it doesn’t exist in fantasy stories. Don’t bother trying to figure out which era or time frame a story takes place in. It is either the near or far past, the present or the near or far future.
World Building: World building is key to a good fantasy story. Authors often clearly establish the rules, style of dress and society of the world their characters are in in greater detail than usually found in contemporary stories.
No Limits: Authors are free to let their imaginations go wild within the fantasy genre. There are no rules or limits to what the characters and world are capable of.
And if you want to sound super smart and explain this to your friends, you can quote Carl Jung:
“All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination?”
WHAT IS FANTASY ROMANCE
And now to the good stuff! Fantasy romance is of course all of the things listed above with the romance between two (or more) characters driving the plot along. But that’s not all. In recent years heroines in fantasy romances have stopped being the ones needing rescuing from the big mighty hero. These ladies are swinging swords, ruling worlds, riding dragons and doing some rescuing of their own. Do you remember the television series Xena? Just imagine that but a hundred times more fierce AND she actually gets to get laid (a lot) and fall in love.
Some Recommended Reads
Rumors of Wars by R.L. Craven
I mentioned this book a few weeks ago as a book I was currently reading. I finally worked up the ovaries to finish the last three chapters and O.M.G! I LOVED this book. So yeah I’m being biased by recommending it, but it really is a great representation of futuristic fantasy so I couldn’t resist the mention.
Bounty hunter Perish Blackburn has an unquenchable need to make money. The world is a dark, dangerous place in 2075, a place where only the strong and the wealthy survive. Perish is strong, but she wants to do more than just survive. And to do that, she needs money. Those without money are little better than slaves, a fate she is determined to avoid. Fortunately for her, in a world where paranormal beings are literally falling at her feet, she has a unique arsenal of skills.
Her talents are quite valuable, especially for someone who isn’t squeamish about putting those abilities to use, or particular about whom she uses them for. Things are going quite well and she’s on her way to accumulating another sizable sum of cash when she comes to the attention of the one organization that can totally derail her plans, end her life, and quite possibly, the world, in the process. They have need of a talent Perish has just discovered she has, and given that they’re not the kind of people you can just say no to, she has to figure out a way to say yes and live to tell about it. She’s pretty sure she can, even with the unwanted help of a werewolf with the disposition of an Old World gentleman, a housemate who can only be described as eccentric and a couple of relatives who have been dead for centuries.
Warrior by Violette Dubrinsky
Ms. Dubrinsky has made a name for herself when it comes to fantasy romances and this one is a stellar example. The title says it all and who can resist a Princess who can swing a sword?
Outspoken, loyal, and skilled with the sword, Princess Jaisyn St. Ives of Lytheria is no princess of fairytales. After the unexpected death of her father, Jaisyn takes control of the kingdom, expecting to be called upon to defend her claim to a throne previously held by men. What she does not expect is the arrival of Vulcan Mor’an, the High King of the Northlands and the one man she despises above all, who seems to believe he is now the rightful ruler of her kingdom. Even as he provides support for his claim, Jaisyn refuses to listen. She will meet Vulcan Mor’an on the battlefield before willingly handing her kingdom to a barbarian she blames for the death of a loved one!
Born to a ruthless warlord of a father, Vulcan Mor’an is powerful, fierce and quite deadly. His prowess is legendary, and those who don’t fear the Northern Wolf, respect his skill on the battlefield and his reach beyond it. Vulcan prides himself on his strength, and with it, his lack of weakness. That is, until he encounters a spitfire princess intent on murdering him in his sleep. Jaisyn of Lytheria is unlike any lady Vulcan has encountered. In her golden body is a fierce adversary, a woman who does not cower in his presence like most but fights his every step with a stubbornness that both irritates and captivates him. This princess may become the one person capable of bringing him to his knees.
Warrior is the tale of two feuding royals, their attraction despite their differences, and the consequences that come as a result of their union. With various obstacles threatening to tear them apart, Jaisyn St. Ives and Vulcan Mor’an struggle to keep their relationship afloat, and with it, their very lives.
The Emperor’s Treaty by Chacelyn Pierce
This book takes an interesting twist on dragon shifters. This is the first I’ve ever read where the heroine is the dragon. I read this book a while ago and when I was done wanted to stalk the author relentlessly for news on the sequel. The book is a standalone story, but by the end you want every delicious warrior’s story told as well. One of our reviewers gave it four stars, and the author is doing a stop on our blog as part of her virtual book tour. Def check it out!
Arryn, the newly crowned Emperor of New Phalba, must find a means to strengthen his kingdoms from impending foes. To end a blood war that has carried over millenniums, he petitions to marry one of his race’s mortal enemy—the Moekan dragons’ crowned princess. Even though the bond with the Moekan dragons will aid against a looming attack on his empire, Arryn can’t help his attraction to the dragon princess Shann living in his palace.
Eager to make the best of her situation and please her new husband, Shann is willing to face the challenges of a dragon ruling the Fae Empire. Winning his trust proves to be a tougher challenge with odds stacked against her. Will the lies about her cause Arryn to break the new peace treaty? And can she stop him from starting a war that will change everyone’s future?
Inescapable by Natalie G. Owens and Zee Monodee
This book is a collaboration between two authors who took great care to build a a very detailed world. The book is the first in a serial and is a really well woven story that contains all the classical elements of fantasy. If you’re looking for a shorter intro to the genre I highly recommend this book.
An immortal born from an unlikely alliance…
Beautiful mythic Greek heiress Adrasteia ‘Adri’ Dionysios has roamed the world for millennia, taking her pleasure where she wanted. Until one night, when Fate drops a baby wrapped in fire into her arms. Motherhood is a formidable challenge, but so is figuring out the identity of a mystery man who makes her pulse race.
A vampyre’s obsession…
Seraphine ‘Sera’ Dionysios’ origins are shrouded in mystery. Torn between a mother whose blood saved her life, and a man who now possesses her soul, the only thing Sera can still cling to is her heart.
One rule matters above all others: Always protect the portal…
When Evil comes to Adri and Sera’s hometown of Shadow Bridge, a place where the mortal human world ends and the supernatural realm starts, it’s up to them to stop a prophecy as old as time itself…or die trying.
So that’s it in a relatively concise nutshell. Are you a fan of fantasy romance? What about it appeals to you? And what reads would you recommend in the genre?
Laurel Cremant is an opinionated author and reader of romance with a wicked sense of humor. RNIC was smart (or crazy) to bring her on as a blogger. Come back on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month to get her romance industry news…with a colorful twist.