C.L. Wilson, Diana Palmer, fantasy, Grace Draven, historical, Isis Sousa, Juliet Marillier, Louisa Gallie, Meljean Brook, paranormal, Pauline Baird Jones, romance, scifi, Sharon Lynn Fisher, Sloane Killion, Sorchia DuBois, Steampunk, Susanna Kearsley, Tiffany Roberts
Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I found a link to an article called: Adult Romance: 10 Books that Broke the Cliché Mold.
Often I see these types of articles and I think, okay, but if I made my own list, it wouldn’t look at all like this one. So, I did. Make my own list. (Note: red highlighted titles and book covers are purchase links.)
First of all, I agree with the Talk nerdy to Me bloggers on their choice of Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson. The entire Tairen Soul series is fantasy wrapped around romance mixed with magic and war and hope and so many emotions. I. Loved. This Series!
The nerdy bloggers also picked a few others I have read: Kresley Cole, Maya Banks and Christine Feehan. I agree, that in their time they may have been mold-breaking. There are many other books that I would put higher on the list today. I admit, my romance memory may be a bit short. I fondly remember the last book I read much more than the book I read and adored 10 years ago. 10 years ago, I was reading J.R. Ward and Lara Adrian, but you will note that none of their books make today’s list.
So here are my choices (in no particular order):
1. Blackthorn & Grim series by Juliet Marillier. This is a fantasy series with a romance deeply imbedded in the story. So deep that you don’t always know that it is there, but when it happens you are absolutely swept away. Read all three books to fall in love with this romance.
2. The Kraken King by Meljean Brook . Any book in Brook’s Iron Seas series is fantastic, but as far as romance goes, the relationship drives and is intimately intertwined with the non-romantic aspects of the story. I listened to the audiobook and found I had to invent reasons to drive or go for a walk so that I could listen more. I think that means I could not put it down!
3 & 4 & 5. Master of Crows, Entreat Me, and Wraith Kings series by Grace Draven. Well, just about anything on her bibliography. The mentioned books feature unlikely duos who are brought together by fortune. At first they may seem to be opposites: young/old, rich/poor, magical/mundane, human/non-human, bossy/stubborn. Oh wait. That last pair may not truly be opposites. The protagonists are not young and beautiful/handsome. There is no love at first sight, which is my least favorite device anyway. In other words, affection, trust and love are things that are labored over and duly won, often with a healthy sense of humor.
NOTE: I love Ms. Draven’s stories and the cover artwork so much that I purchased prints of two of the book covers. They hang on the wall in my office. Today’s banner (above) is from the beautiful cover of Eidolon (Wraith Kings, #2), by Isis Sousa.
Top: Radiance by Isis Sousa. Bottom: Beyond Neith (Master of Crows cover) by Louisa Gallie, Night’s Plutonion Shore by Sloane Killion. The last one is not book cover, but fits in with the Crows cover.
6. Zoraida Grey series by Sorchia DuBois. First, who is Zoraida going to end up with? And when that is decided, are they truly on the same side? Attraction, smattraction. Put these characters through some serious peril and maybe, the truth will out. I’m waiting on the next installment to find out…..
7 & 8. The Winter Sea and The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley. Originally published in 2008, The Winter Sea was the first significant dual timeline novel I read. I embraced this storytelling mode. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I got two stories for the price of one. The slowly evolving timelines led to shock and surprise and tears. Dealing with ancestral memory in The Winter Sea, and psychometry in The Firebird, the paranormal elements enhance both timelines.
9. Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher. Relationships with ghosts are not unusual in fiction. But Fisher takes ghost stories to a whole new planet and redefines the species. The human/ghost relationship becomes so much more than a love story. Oops, no more. No spoilers…
10. The Morcai Battalion by Diana Palmer – this series starts out very strong and ends a little fizzly on the 5th book. But the first book is so worth it! It may seem like just another human/alien romance, but at the time it was published, it stood quietly out there on its own. It was originally published in 1980 under the name of Susan Kyle. At the time, scifi romance, as a genre, was unheard of. In its reissue, the story comments on war, race relations, bigotry, sexism and tolerance.
11. Dustwalker by Tiffany Roberts. My favorite Tiffany Roberts book! Subtle and loud, gritty and soft, this post-apocalyptic story of romance and survival for a human and a ‘bot is epic. The human/robot relationship is such a challenge to get right. It’s been done many times, but Roberts gives this theme teeth by creating human and ‘bot characters with a past, a present, and hope for the future.
12. Steamrolled by Pauline Baird Jones. Geeks have gone from being ignored to being popular in recent years. I think we have Big Bang Theory to thank for that, at least in part. I love geeks in my romance books! Few people can write geeks as well as Pauline Baird Jones. In Steamrolled, Robert Clementine is super intelligent and unceasingly curious. Robert and his nanites are like a superhero geek team when it comes to getting out of tight places. But not good with women. Emily Babcock – she who does not ever ask a question, who thinks Robert Oh My Darling Clementyne is a little dangerous and a lot geeky. She’s a geek too. The cutest couple in all of steampunk fictiondom.
Reviewing my list, I think my choices do not just break the cliché mold. They give a sparkly new form to the shape of romance!