5 Books to Read if You Love Fantasy Romance

One of the fun things about reading is that once we discover a new genre we love we go on the hunt to find similar books. I love historical fiction, so it’s relatively easy to find more to read since I’m interested in most eras of history. I love novels set everywhere from Ancient Greece to the Jazz Age to World War II. As an author, I’ve written books set in Biblical Jerusalem, the American Civil War, World War I and the women’s suffrage movement, the Salem Witch Trials, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the Japanese-American internments during World War II, and the Victorian Era. It’s fair to say I have varied tastes as a reader and writer of historical fiction.

Fantasy romances were another matter. After I wrote the Loving Husband Trilogy I stayed away from other fantasy romances because I felt like I needed to extend my horizons as a reader and a writer. Then recently I discovered Outlander (novel and TV show), and I fell in love with the fantasy romance genre all over again. Like any other reader, I scrambled to find other books that gave me that same magical, historical, romantic feel.

Here are five books for lovers of fantasy romance:

  1. Outlander—As you probably already guessed, Outlander is at the top of my list. Outlander has everything I love—fascinating historical descriptions of 18th century Scotland, a fast-moving plot, a genuine love story, and a hunky male lead. There are eight books so far in the series, and as of this writing I’ve read the first two. All of the books are at the top of my TBR pile, and I’m looking forward to reading them all. Definitely start with Outlander. It really does set the tone for the overall story.
  2. A Discovery of Witches—This was published around the same time Her Dear and Loving Husband came out, and I think I was afraid to read it because it sounded similar in many ways to my own story of a vampire professor. I’m glad I finally picked it up. I’m nearly finished reading A Discovery of Witches, and I’m ready for Book Two. This first book in the All Souls Trilogy also talks about history (how can you have a conversation between a witch historian and a vampire professor without discussing the past?), but my understanding is that in Book Two there’s a time travel element where Matthew and Diana visit Matthew’s past. Like Outlander, there’s history, magic, and a great romance in A Discovery of Witches.
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife—Here’s another romance with the mystery of time travel. This is a story of a great love that continues despite the many obstacles in Henry and Clare’s way (it’s hard when the man you love suddenly disappears). But Henry and Clare are committed to each other, and in a way the problems associated with Henry’s time traveling only serve to strengthen their love.
  4. The Mists of Avalon—I read this last year, and I absolutely loved it. It’s a magical retelling of the story of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and it’s told from the women’s point of view. While there are romances (this is based on the legends of the Knights of the Rount Table after all), the emphasis here is on the magic of the faery world, the priestesses of Avalon, and the emergence of Christianity. This is part of a series, and though I’ve only read The Mists of Avalon, there are other books to enjoy if you love the first one.
  5. Her Dear & Loving Husband—You didn’t think I’d leave my own James and Sarah off this list, did you? The fantasy in this book, and in the whole Loving Husband Trilogy, comes from the magic of vampires, witches, werewolves, and ghosts. The romance, of course, is between vampire James Wentworth and human Sarah Alexander, and their love spans more than 300 years. There’s also history thrown in through accounts of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. I talked in this post about how I see my books as romantic rather than romances, but if you’re into heartwarming love stories, then Her Dear & Loving Husband may be right up your alley.

I said this was going to be a list of five books to read, but each of the novels on this list is part of a series, so there’s actually many books here to help you quench your thirst for more fantasy romance.

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Summer Reads—2017 Edition

It’s always a shock to my system when summer vacation ends and it’s time to head back to school. As a student and a teacher, I know how lucky I am to have summers off, so I’m always grateful for the time. Like so many of you, I read a lot during the summer, and this summer I read a variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction.

I realized in May that I was feeling stifled creatively. I wrote in this post about how I had been feeling disconnected from my writing self. I couldn’t settle my mind to any writing project. I was having trouble separating what I wanted to write from what I thought I should be writing, which led to a lot of creative dissatisfaction. I was drawn to rereading Natalie Goldberg, who always helps me find my writing center when I lose it, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I also reread The Artist’s Way, but instead of reading it cover to cover as I did the first time I’m going through the 12 weeks of lessons. Here are the books I read that helped me to get excited about writing again:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another nonfiction book I read was The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. I had seen the author, Charles Eisenstein, on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and I had a feeling I would enjoy the book. If you’re having trouble accepting the state of the world today, then you might get a lot out of this book, as I did. I love Anne Lamott’s books (see Bird by Bird above)—I love her humor, her insights, and her observations—and Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy was also an important book for me.

 

 

 

 

I read a lot of nonfiction, but the historical fiction I read was outstanding. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is simply great literary historical fiction. It’s a retelling of the story of Achilles from The Iliad, but it adds a twist, and Miller’s prose is simply gorgeous.

Finally, finally I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I wrote about my experience reading that book here. Now I could kick myself for waiting so long to read it. I had said that since I don’t get Starz I wouldn’t be able to watch, but then a few days later I discovered that Starz was having a free preview week so I got to watch Seasons 1 and 2, which were fantastic. I know Season 3 is coming up soon, but I’ll have to wait for the next free preview week to see that one. It’s okay. It will give me time to read more of the books. So far I’ve read Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber. I love what I’ve read in the Outlander books so far. Gabaldon is a great writer, which adds so much depth to the stories.

 

 

 

 

I’ve also been reading about the Salem Witch Trials as I’ve been writing Down Salem Way. The Marilynne K. Roach books are rereads for me since I used them as sources for Her Dear & Loving Husband, but The Devil in Massachusetts by Marion L. Starkey is a new find for me. I’m reading it now and I’m enjoying the way Starkey weaves together the events of the witch hunts into a narrative, so much so that it reads like a novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s how I kept busy this summer. Not one stinker in the bunch, which is a pretty neat trick when you’ve read a lot of books.

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Historical Fiction Review: The Song of Achilles

Are you looking for a great literary historical read this summer? Here’s my review of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller for The Copperfield Review

By the way, we’re looking for readers who love to review historical fiction (you know who you are). If you’re a fan of historical fiction, check out Copperfield’s Submission Guidelines for how to submit your historical novel reviews. We’ll even pay you a bit (yes, it’s a little bit but it’s still a bit) for your trouble.

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Written by Madeline Miller

Published by HarperCollins Publishers

Review by Meredith Allard

 

This is simply an outstanding piece of literature. Miller’s simple yet lyrical style pulls you effortlessly into the poetry of the Iliad. Here we focus on Achilles through the eyes of Patroclus, the young prince who is banished from his land for accidentally killing another boy and he is taken as a companion for Achilles. Patroclus and Achilles become partners in every way, and The Song of Achilles is really a love song between the two men. This isn’t simply an attraction between Patroclus and Achilles. This is a deep, abiding love that transcends death.

If you’re familiar with The Iliad (which you do not need to be to enjoy this book), then there are few surprises here except perhaps for the scope of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. There is no twist-filled ending: the fate of the two men has been sung about throughout the centuries. Still, Miller ends this tale in a way that is perfectly heartbreaking, bittersweet, and right. Despite war, broken promises, and the loss of all one holds most dear, there can still be peace in the end.

This is not a retelling of the entire story of The Iliad. This is one version of one story as told through the eyes of the man who knew Achilles best. I’m looking forward to reading more from Madeline Miller.

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