When I first started Literary Escapism, I wrote up a list of recommendations based on what I had read up to that point. Two years later I updated that list; but as I was updating the About LE page, I realized it had been another two years. Seriously, where has the time flown? It’s been five years and I think it’s time for another update.
If you’ve read my previous two versions, then this may seem familiar. I’m not really going to change what I’ve said in the past because a lot of it still stands today; but there have been some changes. I’ve read a little more erotica and even more paranormal and fantasy. So while I still have my favorites, some novels that were on the list may not be any more to make room for some new additions.
The one thing that hasn’t changed, whatever your tastes, I could probably give you a good recommendation or at least lead you to a new author that might tickle your fancy. For instance, if you’re into the whole erotica paranormal genre, then you should probably check out Cheyenne McCray’s Magic series (Forbidden Magic [5*]). If you want just straight erotica, then definitely check out Lauren Dane Brown Siblings series (Laid Bare ) and Delicious (Tart [2+]) or Sylvia Day’s Crossfire (Bared to You ). For the historical fiction people, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (Outlander [7+]) is completely breathtaking (I actually can’t wait to get my hands on these books so I go straight for the hardcovers).
I used to read a lot of romance, so I could tell you to pick up a Nora Roberts, especially The Villa, as she’s good for a contemporary romance; but if you’re looking for something a little less mainstream, I would try Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights series (Hell on Wheels [3+]). If you want a really good historical romance, then I would check our either Amanda Quick (Lake & March series – Slightly Shady ) or Jane Feather (Matchmaking – The Bachelor List  or Kiss – Widow’s Kiss  ). They both tend to lean away from the whole simpering female and have more of an independent woman in the lead. If you’re looking for something quick and funny, then the Stephanie Plum series (One for the Dough [19+]) by Janet Evanovich is a good bet.
When it comes to fantasy, I’m still treading softly. I broke my teeth on RA Salvatore and Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman, but over the last couple of years, I’ve found a few solid reads that I would definitely recommend:
- Black Jewels by Anne Bishop – Daughter of the Blood [9+]
- Ephemera by Anne Bishop – Sebastian 
- Hunters Blades by RA Salvatore – The Thousand Orcs 
- Legend of Drizzt by RA Salvatore – Homeland 
- Study by Maria Snyder – Poison Study 
- Sword of Truth/Seeker by Terry Goodkind – Wizard’s First Rule [12+]
- Veil by Shiloh Walker – Through the Veil [1+]
- Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire – Wicked 
I’ve heard of a few takes on what the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance is. To me, urban fantasy is about the personal journey of one individual, whereas paranormal romance is about the chemistry of two individuals. Another way to think about it is like comparing movies to television. A paranormal romance can be told in two hours if need be (aka a movie), but a good urban fantasy takes times and multiple episodes (a television show). Regardless of the differences, urban fantasy and paranormal romance are definitely my favorite genres to read. While they tend to include all manners of supernaturals – vampires, witches, fae, shapeshifters, etc. – they don’t all gravitate around the same idea of what they should be like. I love how each story involves a world with its own unique qualities. Here are the stories I simply adore.
- Anita Blake by Laurell K Hamilton – Guilty Pleasures [21+]
- Cassandra Palmer by Karen Chance – Touch the Dark [5+]
- Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill – Some Girls Bite [6+]
- Dark Days by Jocelynn Drake – Nightwalker 
- Dorina Basarab by Karen Chance – Midnight’s Daughter [3+]
- Fever/MacKayla Lane by Karen Marie Moning – Darkfever 
- H&W Investigations by Jess Haines – Hunted by the Others [4+]
- Horngate Witches by Diana Pharaoh Francis – Bitter Night [3+]
- Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews – Magic Bites [5+]
- Kitty Norville by Carrie Vaughn – Kitty and the Midnight Hour [10+]
- Mercedes Thompson by Patricia Briggs – Moon Called [6+]
- Meredith Gentry by LK Hamilton – A Kiss of Shadows 
- Morgan Kingsley by Jenna Black – The Devil Inside 
- Night Huntress [and World] by Jeaniene Frost – Halfway to the Grave [6+]
- Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong – Bitten 
- Rachel Morgan/Hollows by Kim Harrison – Dead Witch Walking [11+]
- Riley Jensen by Keri Arthur – Full Moon Rising 
- Sabina Kane by Jaye Wells – Red-Headed Stepchild 
- Shifters by Rachel Vincent – Stray 
- Aisling Grey by Katie MacAlister – You Slay Me 
- Dark Magic by Anya Bast – Wicked Enchantment 
- Dark-Hunters by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Fantasy Lover [17+]
- Demonica by Larissa Ione – Pleasure Unbound [3+]
- Grimm’s Circle by Shiloh Walker – Candy Houses [7+]
- Guild Hunters by Nalini Singh – Angels’ Blood [5+]
- Psy-Changeling by Nalini Singh – Slave to Sensation [11+]
I’m not a huge fan of the Young Adult genre and I wouldn’t even begin to think I know everything there is to know. However, there are a few stories that I’ve come to enjoy, so these are the ones I would typically recommend to someone looking for a paranormal YA novel.
- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – Bloodlines [2+]
- Fae by Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely 
- Morgansville Vampires by Rachel Caine – Glass Houses [13+]
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – Twilight 
- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy 
- Federation/Phantom Corps by Lauren Dane – Undercover [3+]
- Katherine Katt by Gini Koch – Touched by an Alien [6+]
- Sirantha Jax by Ann Aguirre – Grimspace 
So these are my recommendations. I’ll be honest, I’ve actually come across a lot that I like, but if they didn’t make me rush out to get the next novel, then they are not ones that immediately come to mind when I start recommending books. So with that in mind, please understand that this is not a comprehensive list of urban fantasy or paranormal musts, because I’m not that big of an expert nor do I have that large of an ego. As I read more and more new authors, I’m sure this list will continue to grow (it already has since my first list) and more will surely get added.
* So this won’t be a long list, I’m only including the title to the first novel in each series and the number of books in the series. If there’s a plus sign after the number, that means there are more books planned or being released soon.