Looking for Fantasy Romance Recommendations

I’m looking for recommendations for good fantasy romance novels.

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Okay, yes, I have a pile of Regency novels, but these aren’t my preferred genre. They are just easy to find.

I prefer high fantasy with elves, knights, dragons, wizards and the like. Though, at this point, I’ll take recommendations for anything.

Happily-ever-after is a must or it isn’t a romance novel.

I don’t care if it had graphic steamy scenes, but I’d prefer no graphic violence.

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This is fine. I mean, it is fantasy.

I’ll even take something that fits this as a beta-reader or advanced copy reader and give an honest review in return.

Elves?

As I mentioned in my post on dragons, the novels I write are in a fantasy world. While each novel is a standalone story, all of them take place in the same world.

So far, all four of my WIPs take place in the human country of Tamryn. I’ve established that magic is real. Vampires are real. Knights smite evil and liches haunt the living.

I have not yet brought it elves. But elves sorta have a but of a reputation…

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Given some of the writing I’ve seen, that reputation isn’t exactly unearned. And I’ve gotta admit, coming up with elven-sounding names is the bane of this fantasy romance writer.

I’ve mentioned them in passing in my work, but I haven’t yet written a story about them much less set one in their magical home of Tanalear.

Part of the lack of story writing is me trying to figure out how to add them to my world. Do I just jump right in and give readers a story in Tanalear? Or should I write a different story that brings an elf to the human city.

Bringing an elf into human lands creates all kinds of issues for me. See, I’m not entirely sure I buy into this half-elf business. If you aren’t the same species, you can’t procreate. There would be no half-elves.

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Nope, not buying it. Not even beer can change the fact species can’t procreate.

While I’m a romance writer, and I can imagine a scenario of an elf and human falling in love, I promise my reader a happily-ever-after (HEA) ending by virtue of writing a romance novel. So, I’m hard-pressed to view a HEA with a hero and heroine where one of them is going to die in seventy-five years, and the other is going to spend the next thousand mourning them.

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Basically, I’m considering if I need to craft some sort of adventure that features an elven protagonist before jumping into the elven world?

This is even harder than the challenges I face as a romance writer because the Tanalearian elves are isolationist and xenophobic, still turned inward even after their empire collapsed thousands of years ago in the Great Cataclysm.

The last remaining vestiges of their once-great empire are protected by ancient magics. Part of their story will be re-assimilating back into a world that now contains humans.

So, yeah, it sort of feels like the elves meeting the humans should be a big, climactic thing.

But I don’t want to confuse readers, either. Readers are smart, but if they’re expecting knights and dragons, I don’t want to disappoint with elves.

I also worry that lots has been written about elves. I sometimes wonder if your civilization collapsed, if the archaeologists piecing it back together would think elves were real.

Given that so much has already been written, I need to give it a fresh enough spin. I like to think I have this mapped out in my head. Besides, it’s not like many stories are truly unique. Amateurs borrow and professionals steal, as the saying goes.

I have given a lot of thought to their queen (Tanalearian elves have a matriarchal monarchy), her son, and some of the new mages. Even a major villain has been knocking around in there.

But none of them want to come to Tamryn. None of them see the point. They have yet to see beyond their crumbling cities.

Hmmm, perhaps we shall have to have an inciting incident…

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How about you? Do you like elves? Tolkien or otherwise? Read any stories that take place in an entirely elven world? Did you like it? What do you think of half-elves and half-orcs? Is my science brain thinking too much on this?

To Catch a Dragon (Part 4)

You can catch up on the story at Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

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To Catch a Dragon (Part 4)

They followed the shoreline not sure what they were looking for. Perhaps another footprint. A scale. Or even a dragon bathing in the lake.

Instead, they found a handful of deer, a couple of moose, and even a flock of sheep. All which should have been tasty morsels for a dragon, but no such creature was tempted from the sky.

“Any people missing?” Ndrek asked as he glanced over his shoulder at the sheep.

“No. Livestock seem to be accounted for as well.”

“What I felt may not have been a dragon, but whatever it was, it was far more powerful than the lich Sir Marcus destroyed.”

Knight Kailis frowned. “Maybe you just drank too much ale.”

“It takes far more than Tamarian ale to make me fall down drunk.”

“Maybe it was spiked with something.”

“Let’s say it wasn’t spiked ale that knocked him out,” Vaiya said. “And, for the sake of argument, let’s assume it wasn’t a long dead dragon or elven arch mage. What does that leave?”

Ndrek thought for several long moments, then ticked each off his fingers. “A supremely powerful but untrained and undiscovered sorcerer. A magical relic of immense power. A dragon. An elven arch mage.”

“An untrained sorcerer would be hard to hide,” Vaiya said. “They tend to set themselves and those they love on fire while still in the cradle.”

“That leaves a relic.” Kailis frowned. “I suppose it’s possible.”

“And if true, very dangerous,” Ndrek said.

“We’ll spend the next couple of days searching for any additional clues and following any leads the locals can give us. If you sense that kind of magic again, I’ll send an urgent request for back-up to the Dragon Church.”

“And if not?” Ndrek said.

“Then I make a full report and let the Dragon Church decide. Not sure how much manpower they want to spend on this when they’ve got undead walking the streets in the eastern provinces.”

“I would not wish to return to the eastern provinces. Hard to believe, but the food is better here. So is the smell,” Ndrek said.

Knight Kailis shook her head and led them back to town.

 

Curiosity burned. Ndrek knew something was out there, something of immense power, but not necessarily hostile. If it were, Kelleran would already be dust.

Church protocol bound Knight Kailis, but it didn’t bind him.

He watched the Knight of Valor conduct the investigation with by-the-book precision, but they knew nothing more when they retired for the day than they had at the beginning.

Ndrek lay in bed and studied the whitewashed ceiling. There was something out there. He could almost feel a whisper of its power. Almost.

Perhaps it was his desire to find the source of the magic that he felt rather than anything else, but he had to know.

His companions were asleep when he slipped out of the inn. He didn’t bother with the invisibility or silence spells. If he did find the presence, such magic would be of no consequence to it.

A sliver of a moon lit his path, and Ndrek augmented it with a faint light spell. No point tripping over a rock, and if this was a dragon, it already knew he was coming.

The familiar patter of his heart fueled him, and Ndrek felt himself come alive. His hearing was sharper, his eyes keener, even his sense of smell heightened.

A dragon. An elven arch mage. Something was out there. Waiting for him.

It would’ve been wiser to wake Kailis or Vaiya, but he didn’t want to endanger them. He had to find the truth, but he wouldn’t let anyone but himself die for it.

Ndrek crested the last hill and saw Lake Meade sparkling in the faint light. A man stood shirtless beside the water. His skin was pale as new fallen snow, and his hair shimmered as it reflected the faint moonlight.

“I knew you would come.”

Ndrek’s magelight spell evaporated as the words rumbled over his flesh. The wizard swallowed back the metallic taste of fear as his entire body trembled.

“You are not the one I seek.” The pale man continued to stare across the lake.

“Who is?”

“I don’t know. I thought I felt her, but I no longer do.”

Ndrek said nothing as the water lapped the shore. He could feel whispers of the same magic pressing against him, but this time, the magic was contained. Wrapped in strong wards that even now were weaving ever tighter and locking away the power.

The man turned to look at him, and Ndrek felt the weight of a thousand mountains in those violet eyes. Millennia of loneliness, isolation, and longing seared Ndrek’s mind in the time it took a firefly to blink. In the same moment, Ndrek’s soul was laid bare, exposing everything he was and all he wasn’t.

The man turned back to the lake, breaking the link.

Managing to stay on his feet, Ndrek forced himself to breathe.

“Go. You will find no dragon here.”

Ndrek nodded and fled to the inn, never looking back.

 

Ndrek accompanied Knight Kailis and Priestess Vaiya as they spent seven more suns following leads and looking for signs of a dragon, mage, or relic. They found none.

When Kailis asked him over and over about what he’d felt the night they’d found him on the road, Ndrek deflected, saying that perhaps the innkeeper had given him a stronger drink. Or perhaps he’d reacted poorly to something in the rocks or soil.

Kailis didn’t believe him, but she eventually stopped asking.

Three days after they returned home, Ndrek swore under his breath as Sir Leopold tromped into his bar and dropped payment onto the counter.

The Knight pinned him with his faded blue stare that always saw more than Ndrek wanted. “Knight Kailis thinks you found something but won’t tell her.”

Ndrek collected his payment and dropped it into the folds of his cloak. “You will not find a dragon in Kelleran.”

“Not what I asked.”

Ndrek closed his eyes as the memories flooded him, and even in the quiet warmth of his bar, he shivered.

“You look like you saw a ghost.”

“Those are easy to deal with.”

“What did you find?” Leopold folded his arms and waited.

“Doesn’t matter. It didn’t find what it’s looking for.”

“And what was it looking for?”

Ndrek paused a moment. “I think its mate.”

“Then it’s gone for good?”

“I hope so.” But the prickle down Ndrek’s back warned it was an empty hope.

To Catch a Dragon (Part 3)

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You can catch up on the story at Part 1 and Part 2.

To Catch a Dragon (Part 3)

He awoke to the warmth of a healing spell followed by a most un-Knightly curse.

Ndrek smiled up at Vaiya. “Thank you, though I think Knight Kailis would have preferred you to let me die.”

Knight Kailis balled her fists as she turned on her heel to face him. “What in the seven hells were you doing out here alone?”

A bit of the fire he’d seen in her once was peeking through her paladin veneer, and Ndrek couldn’t help but smile. “Looking for dragons. Alas, I fear they prefer beautiful young virgins. As I am none of those, I might have been more successful if you had joined me.”

“This isn’t funny.”

“I was not laughing.” Ndrek stood and waved his hand across his robes. The mud, sticks, and grass vanished. Though Vaiya’s healing spell had repaired the worst of his injuries, he still felt as if he’d spent the night drinking hellfires and black phoenixes.

“Who attacked you?” Vaiya asked.

He looked at the petite woman with russet hair and jade eyes who seemed all the smaller compared to the Valkyrie beside her. But Ndrek had learned long ago never to judge a person by their stature, especially when they channeled the power of the gods.

“I was not attacked. Not exactly,” Ndrek said.

“Then how’d you end up face down in the dirt?” Kailis asked.

“Some sort of magic force.” Ndrek waved his hand as he stumbled with the words. “Whatever it was, it knocked me aside.”

Kailis tightened a hand over the hilt of her sword. “Magic. But we didn’t feel anything, and none of the townspeople complained of it.”

“How many of them are wizards?” Vaiya said.

“You think it’s targeting magic users?”

“I do not think it cares about magic users,” Ndrek said. “If it did, it would have killed me. It had ample opportunity.”

“Then why attack you?” Kailis said.

“I believe I was an accidental casualty. If you had felt the power…” Ndrek shook his head. “I am not a threat to it. Not even a lich is a threat to it. I have never felt such immense power.”

Kailis frowned. “Do you think it was a dragon?”

“Perhaps. Or an elven arch mage.”

“Those don’t exist either,” Kailis said.

Ndrek shrugged, hiding his curiosity under a bland expression. For the first time since he’d joined Sir Marcus, he felt a prick of excitement. Danger, yes, but finally here was something unknown. Something new.

“What do we do now?” Viaya looked at the Knight.

Kailis fidgeted then looked down at the dragon on her shield. “We follow orders. We go to Kelleran and see if we can find evidence of a dragon.”

“And whatever it was that attacked Ndrek?”

“If it’s after magic users, he’s the only one in the area. It’ll be back, and we’ll be ready.”

Ndrek only smiled. The being may come back, but they would most assuredly not be ready.

 

Ndrek was rather disappointed when they arrived in Kelleran without coming across the source of the immense magic.

Unlike the other villages, Kelleran was quite crowded as people from the surrounding areas and as far away as Aerius had descended on the town in hopes of seeing a dragon. Kailis’s presence confirmed to those gathered that the dragon was, indeed, real.

Still, her popularity meant everyone was telling her what they knew. While the stories varied from improbable to impossible, the trio quickly learned that none of the stories matched. The only thing any of them could agree on was the dragon footprint they’d found near Lake Meade.

“Is the footprint still there?” Ndrek asked.

“Gone,” Kailis said. “Wiped away by rains.”

“Did you see it before it was destroyed?”

Kailis thought for a moment too long.

“You saw something. What was it?”

“Faint outline at best, and the locals had to point it out to us. If it was a footprint, the creature that left it had to be as big as the royal palace.”

“Hard for villagers to forge such a thing, yes?”

“Not saying they made it up, but they might have been seeing what they wanted to see.”

“The sun is still high. Let us investigate this lake.”

“Can’t take another night of weak ale and local gossip?” Vaiya asked.

“I would rather have hot coals placed on my back.”

“You might like that a little too much,” Vaiya said.

Ndrek grinned at her, and Kailis frowned at them both.

After packing a lunch of fresh bread, dried meat, and cheese, the trio followed a cow path to Lake Meade.

Ndrek sucked in a breath as he looked at the massive expanse of water. Lake did not convey the immensity of the body water that extended beyond the horizon. It reminded him of the ocean, but rather than the tang of salt and fish, it smelled like the morning after a rainstorm.

Watching the waves lap the shore and the sun illuminate the water, Ndrek eased his horse to the edge of the lake.

“How deep is this lake?”

Kailis shrugged. “Deeper than most. Mountains further south feed it with spring run-off, and there are several underground springs that empty into it as well.”

“Deep enough for a dragon the size of the royal palace to dive into for a snack?”

Kailis paused. “Yeah. I suppose it is.”

Ndrek nodded. “We should proceed with caution.”

 

Mysterious Fireball Streaks Across the Night Sky

A fireball in the night sky would at least draw me to my window, if not outside. I have a bit of self-preservation in me (some might call it cowardice).

But then I live in a world where fireballs at night are not the norm.

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But I’ve often wondered if people in a fantasy world where there’s magic would respond in the same way. Would they be startled and intrigued, or would they respond much as we do to an airplane passing overhead?

I suppose it would depend. Simply because magic is possible, doesn’t mean it’s everywhere. And it’s possible that some cultures would’ve adopted it more readily than others.

Long ago, back before I had kids, I played World if Warcraft for awhile. I remember when they first came out with Blood Elves and it was intriguing to play a character whose whole race depended on magic, especially after having played a Tauren in Thunder Bluff.

I imagine a fireball in Thunder Bluff would’ve been met with a lot more interest than one in Silvermoon City.

In the novels I’ve written or am working on so far, there is magic, but it’s the exception. While magic exists, it’s unusual for someone to know how to use it. It makes them special. Unique. Dangerous. So far, all of these works take place in roughly the same kingdom.

As I contemplate another story in the same world, I am considering setting it in a very different kingdom the revolves around the imperial elves of T’analear. This would involve creating a very different culture. One that not only has embraced magic, but takes it for granted.

Kinda like my kids do with iPads. Of course there are iPads and they have access to all of the information in all of the world. And cat memes. Those too.

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I imagine Prince Celadrius would be more annoyed than curious about a fireball streaking across the night sky, whereas Sir Marcus would be grabbing his sword and shield.

How about you? What’s your response to a mysterious fireball in the sky?

 

 

 

 

Loving a Mage Lord: 1

I received some feedback on the blog that people wanted to see little more of my fiction writing, so I thought I’d give it a try. This is supposed to be an author’s website, and I really do write. A lot, actually.

I figure I’ll post a little fiction on Fridays. Something fun before the weekend.

Let me kow what you think in the comments section. Figure if the experiment doesn’t work, it’s easy enough to return to my previous ramblings and ruminations.

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Loving a Mage Lord: 1

Aenwyn focused on her magical tome as a maid tugged on her hair. Wincing, Aenwyn tried to ignore the maid and concentrate on the arcane symbols. The young wizard didn’t much care what she looked like for the Oakenvale ball, but figuring out the nuanced spell dancing across the pages captured her complete attention as she tried to learn it.

Escadia closed Aenwyn’s book. “How do you expect to marry an earl when you won’t hold still to get your hair done?”

Aenwyn glanced up at the duchess. “I was studying that, Your Grace.”

“You’re getting ready for a ball.”

Sitting up straight, Aenwyn sucked in a breath and her lungs filled with the tang of magic and beeswax. She glanced up toward the towering ceiling with its swooping curves and large windows as massive crystal chandeliers illuminated the room with magelight so bright it made evening feel like afternoon.

Aenwyn grimaced as the maid coiled her hair. “I’m not interested in marrying an earl.”

“You should be,” Escadia said. “Then you wouldn’t have to hide from my mother.”

“Are the rumors true?”

“Don’t know, and I’m smart enough not to find out.”

Aenwyn stroked the cover of the tome. “I don’t want to marry. I want to study magic.”

Escadia took both of Aenwyn’s hands in her own, the duchess looked unusually serious. “The Empire needs more wizards like you, and I know you love spending time with those dusty old books. Caewyn Oakenvale can give you unimaginable opportunities, and his family has one of the best, one of the oldest, libraries in the Empire.”

“So do you.”

“Mine comes complete with my mother.”

Aenwyn pressed her lips together. “I don’t know him.”

“We’re going to fix that.”

“What if I don’t like him? What if I don’t fall in love with him?”

Escadia squeezed her fingers. “Marriage is not about love.”

“It should be.”

“Caewyn is smart, wealthy and capable,” Escadia said. “He’s also a decent elf, and there’s few enough of those.”

“If he’s all that, why would he want me?”

“Because you’re amazing, and you’re a mage. His family needs him to make a match with magic. That’ll smooth over any issues with you not being nobility.”

“You have a strong magical talent, Your Grace” Aenwyn said. “You’d be even better at magic if you tried a little more.”

“And you’d be better at dancing. Now stop all that ‘your grace’ nonsense. You only do it when you’re mad at me, and you should be happy I’m helping you.”

Aenwyn resisted rolling her eyes. “If Lord Caewyn is so wonderful, why don’t you marry him?”

“Because I would never give my mother the satisfaction of me making a suitable match, much less a desirable one.”

Aenwyn glanced up at her reflection as the maid twined her thick red hair into an elegant coif. She reached a hand toward a brilliant white orchid woven into a braid, but the maid stopped her.

“Miss mustn’t touch,” the maid said.

Aenwyn sighed and endured the rest of the torture the maid inflicted on her, including cinching her into one of Escadia’s silk gowns. The fine silk slid over Aenwyn’s lithe curves and made a soft shushing noise as she moved.

“How do you breathe in these?”

Escadia smiled and liked arms with Aenwyn then spun her around the room. While the duchess’s steps were graceful and fluid, Aenwyn stumbled after her. The wizard mumbled something about the cold marble floors on her slippered feet then yanked back her hands and let herself fall onto the over-stuffed silk cushions of a white chaise.

“Remember to let Caewyn lead,” Escadia said. “And ease into sitting. Think of yourself as a haughty cat rather than a farmer’s hound.”

Color crept over Aenwyn’s cheeks, and she pressed her lips together. Even after years of taking dance lessons with Escadia, Aenwyn moved like a human rather than one of her own kind. But then, she’d never much liked dancing and had only done the minimum the tutors required. Like Escadia and magic.

“You look stunning,” Escadia said as she pulled Aenwyn back to her feet and turned her towards a mirror.

Aenwyn smoothed out the emerald silk of her borrowed gown and peered into the silvered glass. While Escadia looked as stunning and regal as she always did, Aenwyn barely recognized the woman standing beside the duchess.

Her over-sized mage robes had been replaced by a gown of the latest fashion that bared her neck, shoulders, and a generous amount of décolletage. The dress made her eyes look greener, and the maid had tamed her unruly red hair into an elaborate and elegant coif.

Aenwyn could pass as one of the noble ladies that moved in Escadia’s rarified circles. As long as she remembered to say little, smile often, and ignore the servants.

Escadia dropped an ermine cloak over Aenwyn’s shoulders. “Caewyn is going to be smitten.”

“I think he already is.” Aenwyn raised a brow at the duchess.

“Stop being silly and come along. We’re already fashionably late.”

Aenwyn shook her head but followed Escadia down to the waiting carriage.