Romantic fantasy, sci-fi, and steampunk books just in time for Valentine’s Day!
It’s almost Valentine’s Day! And that means romantic dinners and flowers and chocolates. Unless of course you’re busy, your significant other is busy or you don’t have a significant other. Like me. This year I’m going to forgo my usual tradition of watching horror movies and dive into a horror book. Horror is not my normal genre so I thought there might be some people out there that might want to branch out into a new genre for a night (or weekend). Then if you regret it you can just say it was a Valentine’s Day mistake (and I’m sure we’ve all made at least one of those).
So, to help out, I decided to give you a glimpse into a few genres you might not normally read. Before you go any further just know that I’m not diving into Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. I’m going into epic Fantasy, alien Sci-fi, and Victorian Steampunk but rest assured all the books I mention have extraordinary romantic tales. I’ll be mentioning older books and hopefully bringing your attention to some newer ones you haven’t heard about.
We’ll start with fantasy and some of my old favorites. First up, The Princess Bride. I don’t know of another book that captures the essence of romance. Things are up and down and sometimes even sideways. No matter how many times I read about Wesley and Buttercup I fall in love with them all over again. And the humor! Few books have ever made me laugh like The Princess Bride, and none that make me laugh just as much the tenth time I’ve read it compared to the first.
Next on my list is Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey (the first in her Five Hundred Kingdom series). Fairy Godmother is the story of what happens when the world is ruled by fairy tale traditions. The heroine of our story should be following the Cinderella tradition, but unfortunately her prince is about 3 years old. Instead of staying and watching her chance at happiness go by, she sets out to make her own destiny. And if she happens to meet a prat of prince on the way to her happily ever after? Well, maybe that’ll make it even better. Fairy Godmother is such a great read. I stayed up until 3am to finish it…on a weekday! Trust me, you won’t regret any lost sleep that comes from picking up Fairy Godmother.
Still in the fantasy genre is Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon. If you’re looking for an epic fantasy tale, Rhapsody is the way to go. It’s the first in the Symphony of Ages series so my advice is to at least have the next two books on hand because I know from experience you’ll want to read them immediately after finishing. Rhapsody is a tale that spans centuries and continents. Our lovers are united then split apart and we get the see their journey as they make their way back to each other. And we don’t get to watch just Rhapsody’s story, we also get to see her companions’ journey to find where they belong in this new world. And there is even a hint of a love triangle, you know, just to keep things interesting. Rhapsody is one of my top five fantasy epics.
Some other fantasy books that are perfect for a romance fix are Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, Stardust by Neil Gaiman (you’ll need tissues, trust me), and The Hob’s Bargain by Patricia Briggs. All would be a great choice for Valentine’s Day.
Moving on to Sci-fi and I’m going to start off with Gini Koch’s Touched by an Alien. As the name implies this read is all about aliens. There are good aliens and bad aliens, and they are battling all over earth. Sometimes innocent humans get caught in the crossfire. And sometimes those humans manage to take care of the aliens on their own. Kind of like Katherine “Kitty” Katt. She ends up working with the good aliens. And maybe more than working with one alien, Jeff Martini, in particular. Touched by an Alien is a fun read and the beginning of Koch’s The Alien series. So far there are eight books that have been released with another to be released in May 2014. If you’re anything like me you’ll love Touched by an Alien and won’t be able to get your hands on the rest of the series fast enough.
Next up on the Sci-fi list is Grimspace by Ann Arguire (the first in her Sirantha Jax series). Grimspace is one of my favorite Sci-fi books of all time. Jax has the rare gene that allows her to jump ships through the grimspace which means she’s, more likely than not, going to die young but it does make her a wanted commodity. Until a ship she’s navigating crashes and everyone thinks she did it. Suddenly she’s in custody and slowly going crazy…until March shows up needing her help to stop the corrupt Corp monopoly of space travel. Jax takes up the challenge and we are treated to a fantastic story of love and rebellion which echoes through the stars.
The last Sci-fi spotlight goes to Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey. The earth has been invaded and millions of people have been rounded up as slaves and sent to the far corners of the universe, including Kristen Bjornsen who was shipped out to be a sex slave. Not exactly what she wants to be doing so she tries to escape and meets up with Zainal, a member of the alien race which conquered earth, a realizes he is trying to escape too. Both are recaptured and sent work on a Penal planet with a ship full of humans captured from Earth. But this penal planet is not uninhabited as believed and all the passengers on board must unite if they want to survive. Freedom’s Landing is a hard sci-fi novel, one of the first books I ever read by Anne McCaffrey, and still one of my favorites. Kris is an intelligent hero who is willing to work with others to ensure their survival. And she’s willing to look past Zainal’s alien-ness to realize they might just be perfect for one another. There are four books in McCaffrey’s Catteni series and I recommend them all if you want some romance thrown in with your space travel.
Some other good sci-fi reads for Valentine’s day would be Robin Owen’s Heart Mate (though it’s not hard sci-fi), Close Encounters by Katherine Allred, and Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair.
Finally, I’m moving on to steampunk. The first on my list is the very first book I reviewed on Literary Escapism, The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley. The Lazarus Machine is very heavy on steampunk elements and begins to set up a perfect romance between the two main characters, Sebastian Tweed and Octavia Nightingale. Tweed sets out to find his father who has been kidnapped by Moriarty (yes that Moriarty) and teams up with Nightingale, who seems to know more than most others about what is going on in London. The Lazarus Machine is sometimes labelled as a young adult novel but I don’t get that feeling from this book at all. Definitely a good pick for this Valentine’s Day (and the good news the sequel, The Osiris Curse is out!).
Next up is Gail Carriger’s Soulless, the first in her series Parasol Protectorate). Soulless has that old world charm that made me love steampunk in the first place. Alexis is the star of the series and she just happens to have no soul. Which would be bad enough except she’s also part Italian, something the high society circles in London look down on her for, and she’s a spinster. Actually, Alexis views her spinsterhood as a good thing because it means she has no husband to curtail her more outrageous behavior. Recently however, that outrageous behavior is causing her some problems since it sent her into the library, unescorted, to escape a party and there she was attacked by a vampire. Alexis, as a capable, woman is able to kill the vampire but the Queen of England sends Lord Maccon to investigate. If there’s one thing Alexis can’t stand more than being attacked by a rogue vampire, it’s having to work with the Alpha of the werewolf pack. Especially when he’s so gorgeous (and almost as outrageous as herself) to make her think that giving up the title of Spinster may be a good thing. Soulless is a perfect example of steampunk with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in. The characters are witty, the inventions are amazing and the adventure is extraordinary. And even with all that, the romance between Alexis and Lord Maccon is what had me picking up the next book in the Parasol Protectorate series.
I’m going to wrap up my post with Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel. Another book that I believe is steampunk at its finest. Phoenix Rising brings two very different people together; take charge, weapon happy Eliza D. Braun and quiet, research happy Wellington Books. These two new partners are off on an adventure to discover the reason behind all of the dead bodies that have been found by the Thames…even if their bosses want them out of the investigation. I love when the main character is a woman who loves her weapons and inventions. Especially when she’s paired with the quiet, geeky guy who doesn’t really know how things work outside of his library. Phoenix Rising has a fantastic adventure and a couple who don’t quite know what to do with each other.
If you’re looking for more romantic steampunk try The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook, Bec McMaster’s Kiss of Steel and Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson.
I hope I’ve encourage you to pick up a new genre (or even a new book) for Valentine’s Day. And now I’ll leave you to try and find a book for me to read this weekend.
I wish you all a happy (and hopefully steamy) Valentine’s Day.