May 13, 2010

Rachel Needs Book Advice!

Reading: Zane, The Wild One, Bronwyn Jameson
ing to: The Swingle Sisters
g me smile: my fireplace

I’ve been reading historicals as my main genre of pleasure for a couple of years now. Thing was, I’d been resisting reading them because I was such a huge Jane Austen fan, and… well, I don’t know what I thought, but once I found them I was hooked and I realized I'd wasted heaps of years in not reading them!

Obviously I’ve been reading other genres in there as well, but more than 50% would have been historicals. I found some fabulous, fabulous authors who are now autobuys.

But I’m starting to get itchy feet.

I’m thinking the next genre I want to fall into will be romantic fantasy. Maybe with some romantic science fiction thrown in. I read a fair bit of fantasy and science fiction when I was a late-teen early-20’s gal—things like, Mists of Avalon (boy did I love that book at the time); Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (laugh? I *still* laugh at lines I read then); Unto Zeor Forever (the first book I remember being obsessed about, and then trying to glom the author, Jacqueline Lichtenberg); Dune (the whole series); plus a heap of Arthur C Clarke and other sci fi big names.

This was before I found romance. And looking back, the only one on the list that’s really a romance (and probably the only one of all the books I read at the time) is Unto Zeor Forever. Interesting that it was the romance that I obsessed abut the most, yes?

Anyway, onto more recent history. A gorgeous friend of mine recently gave me a copy of Finnikin of the Rock. I devoured it - fabulous. And about a year ago I read Thief With No Shadow which blew me away (no surprise that it had 2 Rita nominations, then).

So on the basis of two recent fantasy books that I loved, I think fantasy is my next reading genre. And what I need now are some recommendations!

It’s been so long since I was in this genre that I’m totally out of date. What I’m looking for: a book you loved (I’m looking for the best, people!), one where the romance is front and centre (or at least a big part) and a snappy pace (I’m not as patient as I used to be, and not sure I could handle the chapter’s-worth of explanations of the history / politics of the world).

Know any books that fit this description? *Please* share!!


  1. Hey Rachel - gotta love a woman who loves historicals :). Speaking of Austen, just been reading an article about Colm Toibin who taught a 3 hour workshop on Mansfield Park, focusing only on the writing skills and how Jane develops sympathy for Fanny through minute, acute observation. Made me want to read it all over again.

    And I agree with you. Thief with no Shadow rocks!

  2. Hey Rachel, gotta love a woman who loves historicals :). Speaking of Austen, just been reading an article about Colm Toibin who gave a 3 hour workshop on Mansfield Park, focusing only on the writing. He was showing students how Jane developed sympathy for Fanny through minute, acute observation. Makes me want to go read the book all over again.
    BTW, I agree Thief With No Shadow rocks.

  3. Oh my, dinosaur problems with technology again! Thought I'd lost it, now it's arrived twice. Virtual communication still trips me up

  4. Hey Zana (x3!), I adore Mansfield Park. It's one of my two favourite Austens (the other is Persuasion, and then closely followed by P&P at third). Was that article online by any chance?

  5. Okay, one of the best romantic fantasy novels EVER is Taming the Forest King, by Claudia J. Edwards. Which I've just reread. Again. You Have To Read This Book!

    Also, you must get a copy of Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan.

    And Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey. I loved that book!

    And Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier.

    My absolute favourite fantasy author is Diana Wynne Jones. Most of her books are for teens, though. Would that put you off? I LOVE The Magicians of Caprona and Howl's Moving Castle and The Lives of Christopher Chant, all of which are kind of romantic if you squint sideways at them.

    Never heard of Unto Zeor Forever. Must go look it up!

    And P.S. If you want to get started on Sci Fi romance, I can think of a few!

  6. Cool topic, Rachel! Not that I'm any help here but I'll be lurking to see what everyone else suggests! And look, Emily's come up with the goods! I can see I've got some books to hunt down!

    I loved Emily's Thief with No Shadow! And the Hitchhiker series is a classic, isn't it! 42 is such a handy answer and don't you love those little furry creatures from Alpha Centauri!

    Got our fireplace working down here too! A lovely chilly snap! Love winter and a chance to snuggle into the woollies!


  7. Emily, what a treasure trove of advice! I should have known you'd be the person to ask. =)

    Taming the Forest King. Roger. Warprize, Kushiel's Dart and Daughter of the Forest. Roger. I'll order them all from the library. When I'm experimenting, I like to use the library because I can go through so many more books. Then when I find an author / book I like, I buy up big. =)

    Re: Diana Wynne Jones and her books being aimed at teens, that's cool, Finnikin of the Rock is for teens too, and I loved it. I also love Buffy and Twilight. I figure good stories are good stories, regardless of where they were originally aimed.

    If you find Unto Zeor Forever, I'd be interested in what you think. The copy I have here is about to fall apart because it's old and been reread so many times. But I think I'll read it again now to see what I think and if my tastes have changed.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!

  8. Sharon, how cool that you have your fireplace going! But then if I have mine up here in the north, then guaranteed that you'd need yours down there in the south. =)

    Oh, 42, yes! What did we ever do before that? Lol.

  9. Hi Rachel,

    I second, third and fourth Emily's suggestion of Elizabeth Vaughn's WARPRIZE, WARSWORN and WARLORD ( - they're a great fantasy romance series.

    The Last T'En series by Aussie author (Rowena) Cory Daniells is more fantasy but has an element of romance (

    If you're looking for some good sf rom then try new author Joss Ware's Envy Chronicles ( - fantastic world building there, and she'll be a guest on my blog shortly if you'd like to find out more about the series.

    Eve Kenin/Eve Silver is a good sf rom read (

    I'd also recommend anything by Kylie Griffin, (once she gets published, that is, she writes great fantasy romance, too! :-) )

  10. Elizabeth Vaughn's series is wonderful! And I loved the Kushiel series, though you might want to ease yourself into that when you've got a bit more patience, LOL. And I loved Emily's Thief with no shadows. So big SNAP!

    And on to some other recommendations *VBG*

    I def recommend you check out Robin D. Owens's "Heart" series, starting with Heart Mate-- gorgeous romantic fantasies with a different hero and heroine each time, but all intertwining. You could easily read them out of order, but I'd try to get Heart Mate first as it sets up the world and the heart mate concept beautifully.

    And Marie Brennan's Doppelganger is fab-- not so much centered around the romance, though. Almost more of an urban fantasy feel.

    Another amazing series is Gail Dayton's "Rose" trilogy, starting with "The Compass Rose". OMG, must re-read it again soon.

    And finally, Michelle Sagara's series beginning with "Cast in Shadow."

    Enjoy! (I kinda wish I was reading these for the first time, too!!!)

  11. Kylie - you're the perfect person to be getting advice from! Thanks for dropping in!

    I've ordered most of the books Emily suggested from the library this morning. Excited!!

    Oh, of course, Cory Daniells. And she has a new series coming out too! I remember seeing the covers and thinking about how fabulous they were. Good suggestion.

    And a couple of SF-rom suggestions too - I *knew* this would be the place to find out. =)

    And anything by Kylie Griffin? That goes without saying!!

  12. Ooooh, Maree, more temptations! Thank you!

    That Heart Mate concept sounds fascinating. Might try that one first and then come back to your list of others.

    Woohoo! =)

  13. Oh, lots of great suggestions here Rachel for me to check out too! I have the Heart Mate, will have to read that one too =)

  14. Heart Mate is one of the books I ordered from the library, Mel, so after I read it and you read your copy, we'll have to compare notes! I have a feeling I'm going to love it and have to buy the entire series. =)

  15. Ooh, fab discussion, Rach. I'm going to print this all out once the discussion is over -- fab sounding books I've never heard of. I loved fantasy as a teenager, but it's not something I've picked up in a while (ahem, read years and years).

    I'm another historical fan. Austen is to die for (sorry, but I'd have to say P&P first, followed by S&S :-)). But I recently re-read Jane Eyre and LOVED it.

    Are you up for a paranormal romance? It's not a genre I delve into all that often but THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS by Kelly Gay was fab (and it's up for 2 Ritas so I'm not the only one who thinks so).

  16. Miss Michelle Douglas! Thanks for dropping by. You put S&S second? Really? Lol.

    I read some paranormal romance and have a bit of a feel for the genre -- I was asking about fantasy because I have *no* idea. So a paranormal recommendation wouldn't go astray, especially from someone with such similar reading tastes. Will order it from the library.


  17. I was so tickled to find you remembered UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER that I posted this blog entry to my facebook page.

    There should be copies available on Amazon.

    I think you'll find many ways to enter the PNR and SFR fields at where I post on Tuesdays.

  18. Did you read the rest of the Sime~Gen series? We're in Brisbane, and we share your interest. I remember how frustrating it was trying to find the rest of the series in Australia back then, before the internet.

  19. If you like Unto, then you will love the rest. Also there are stories from the fans on the main site and a few others as well. I know what you mean about the book falling apart, I actually lost the front and back cover off one of them on the last reread.

  20. Jacqueline Lichtenberg just visited our blog?

    [rachel has a fan-girl moment and faints]

    Hi, Jacqueline! Not only do I remember it, but I *clearly* remember it and the obsession I had afterwards.

    Thanks for the tip about Amazon, but I still have my original copies (a little worse for wear), of that, House of Zeor, Mahogany Trinrose, etc. Also Molt Brother, that I loved too. Though if anyone else is thinking of reading them, that's a good place to start. Or perhaps the publisher could reprint them again? =)

    Thanks for the tip about your blog too - will go check it out!

  21. Hi Eliza, you're in Brisbane? Wow, as a teenager I lived in Brisbane, and when I was reading those books, I never would have suspected there were other obsessive fans in my own city! How cool.

    I didn't read the complete series, because as you mentioned, it was hard to get them in Australia. I still have UZF, House of Zeor and Mahogany Trinrose. I think they're the only ones I found. I also devoured Molt Brother.

    But since this discussion, I'm getting itchy to read the rest. Will see what I can track down. Will also pop over to the Sime-Gen site. :-)

    Thanks for visiting!

  22. Hi Zoe,

    How awful that your covers came off on the last read! I really think the publisher should re-release them so we can buy shiny new versions. =)

  23. Hi, all,
    Ringing in as another Sime~Gen fan! Check out also the books in the universe by Jacqueline and her writing partner, Jean Lorrah -- First Channel and Channel's Destiny, and Zelerod's Doom, and by Jean alone -- Unto Zeor, Forever.

    For another author you might enjoy, though her approach is very different, try the following by Lois McMaster Bujold: Komarr, A Civil Campaign, The Curse of Challion. The first two are part of a long, long series, but the books can be read in any order, and these are the two that are specifically romances. Expect a lot of humor and a blazingly fast story.

  24. Hi Jaye, nice to meet another Sime-Gen fan!

    What a great bunch of recommendations - I like the sound of romance, humour and a blazingly fast story! Will definitely look for those ones.

    Funny you should mention First Channel and Channel's Destiny - they're two that I didn't read when I was a teen and I was looking at them on Amazon the other day when I was finding pictures for this post. I think I'll just have to read them now!

  25. *genuflects before the goddess Jacqueline Lichtenberg* (from whom I learned about your post).

    Here are some science fiction romance recommendations in random order:


    CONTACT & MOONSTRUCK - Susan Grant

    SUNRISE ALLEY & ALPHA - Catherine Asaro

    CORDELIA'S HONOR - Lois McMaster Bujold

    UNMASKED - C.J. Barry

    DRIVEN - Eve Kenin

    GRIMSPACE - Ann Aguirre

    BEYOND THE RAIN - Jess Granger

    CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: An Alien Affair Novel - Katherine Allred


    STARJACKED - Karin Shah

    DARKSHIP THIEVES - Sarah A. Hoyt

    THE OUTBACK STARS - Sandra McDonald

    And there's lots more where that came from if you care to visit my blog The Galaxy Express: Adventures in science fiction romance.

    Happy reading!

  26. Gosh, Heather - that's a veritable treasure trove of recommendations! I can see I'm going to be very busy. =)

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  27. Rachel:
    I can see I stirred up some action for this blog and I'm glad to find you're still adding Romance titles!

    In 2011 we've had the re-release of brand new paper and ebook editions of the original 8 Sime~Gen Novels, plus 3 new ones and a 4th in the hopper getting a cover.

    You can get everything on Kindle or Nook, instantly even in Australia, and now thanks to Zoe who chimed in above, we have a SIMEGEN Group on Facebook where news of the forthcoming novels The Farris Channel and an audiobook version of House of Zeor will be posted first. (The Farris Channel has some love story in it, but isn't "Romance." It's about the founding of the House of Zeor.)

    Jean Lorrah's newest Sime~Gen title, TO KISS OR TO KILL is much more of a genuine Romance than Unto Zeor, Forever. It's available in ebook and paper. It's made the finalist list for the Eppie award.

    Molt Brother is now out in audiobook too -- all at Amazon. Here's a handy "store" where we've indexed Sime~Gen plus Jean Lorrah's other titles and my other titles.

    Heather Massey (who also gave you some clues above) is working on a whole blog entry about how Unto Zeor, Forever pioneered the blend of Science Fiction into Romance for the site (yeah, the publisher Tor).

    I dropped into this blog today because I'm working on a blog-post for January 2012 at which will compare Unto Zeor, Forever (a researched doctor novel) with a Historical Romance Trilogy that doesn't quite make it as historical or romance because of the feminist slant that doesn't belong in France at the time of the Crusades.

    The problem is that the author didn't use Fantasy writing techniques to cause suspension of disbelief.

    That will be a series of posts on advanced writing techniques titled Research-Plot Integration.

    In the third post of that series of posts I've put a link to this blog entry of yours, with a snatch of a quote from you - as I did in a previous post.

    Isn't it fascinating how this new world of social networking is bringing these diverse topics together?

  28. I just recommended this post (and blog) to a Romance writer I met on Google+ who was talking to another Romance writer there.

  29. Hello Rachel, Just to let you know that The Farris Channel by Jacqueline Lichtenberg is now on Kindle, and other sources. I hope yo uget to read it, it is a good book. I am going to have a few re-reads to get it all in.


  30. You gots to have Bujold, the rest of Lichtenberg, Linnea Sinclair, and Kris deLake (SF romance/mystery which is not for the prudish, but nothing kinky either)

  31. Rachel:

    Hunted up this post of yours again when a discussion of Science Fiction Romance and Sime~Gen's place in that spectrum erupted again.

    Your readers may be interested in the way Romance will be threaded into the Sime~Gen VIDEOGAME (yeah, videogame!).

    Sime~Gen has licensed 150 years of the several thousand year timeline to a Game Company, Loreful, to take Sime~Gen into the Space Age.

    This will be a FIRST CONTACT situation, and be developed by fans of STAR TREK and STAR WARS (and they're trying to get a writer onboard who has written games in such venues (and fantasy venues).

    Sime~Gen wildly mixes Hard Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction and outright FANTASY all in one universe (like our real universe does). And this company gets that mix and is planning to use it.

    You might want to read a comment on a Facebook post -- the comment is by Aharon Cagle who heads Loreful. And it's on a post he made. He says Sime~Gen wouldn't be Sime~Gen without Romance.

    Cagle's post is about the very well known Game writer, Jennifer Brandes Hepler who has lightly laced some of her previous game work with Romance while yearning to put in more Relationship. Now Aharon intends to turn her loose to rip-roar the Romance element with at least one thread of this game called AMBROV X. (the X is a Simelan symbol, not the English letter.)

    I know Romance readers think gaming is repulsive (which it has been). That may be about to change since there is now a huge and growing Science Fiction Romance readership, and some of them are creating this Game -- but they are creating it for people who abhor Romance! It will be VERY interesting to all the readers of this blog. Very. Even if you don't game, you'll want to know what they're doing.

    You can look at what Loreful is doing in three place (free of charge):

    Or check the SimeGen Group on Facebook. I put a very long comment on the post (currently) pinned at the top announcing the KICKSTARTER -- that post will disappear the first week in October, 2013.

    Also, if you're interested in the connections between Darkover, Sime~Gen and Star Trek, you'll find lots in my essay in the following anthology of non-fic essays on FAN FICTION. It's titled FIC or WHY FAN FICTION IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD. It's now available on Amazon (pre-order until Dec 2013). Click the "more" link under the intro for a list of contributors. Amber Benson and Rachel Caine are there, too.

    Meanwhile, Jean Lorrah is working on another Sime~Gen NOVEL.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg