Why include a romantic subplot in your Epic Fantasy novel?

Romance adds emotional depth. It can allow Fantasy writers to make their books more character-driven. It can make the central conflict more intense, raise the stakes, and allow the readers to see your main characters as fully rounded characters.

Romance can also add a lighter element to your story – for although you might make your characters suffer for love and put them through the emotional wringer, you will need to give them a HEA (Happy Ever After) or at the very least a HFN (Happy for Now) ending. If you don’t, it isn’t a romance but a love story. Love stories often end tragically – thank Gone with the Wind and Titanic.

Do you actually need romance?

Some stories just don’t need luuve. 😉

If your novel features a really young protagonist who comes of age during the story, then the focus is more likely to be on their maturation and development. Romance would only muddy the waters. Seriously flawed protagonists can also make romance a challenge. If ‘love’ is part of their redemption then it can work, but if it isn’t then once again adding romance might just confuse or irritate your readers.

Of course, my personal opinion is that just about any story can be improved with a touch of romance. Before I started writing romance I noticed that the Epic Fantasy and Historical Adventure stories I liked to read all had a strong romantic element that enriched the plot for me. My first attempts at writing Epic Fantasy were very traditional, but somehow romance still crept it there.

My path to Epic Fantasy Romance

I’ve made my name as an author if Historical Romance set back in the mists of time. As a self-published author I was able to set my books in a non-traditional time period for Historical Romance: 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England, and 4th Century Scotland. Although I used what historical evidence I could find for my novels, writing this far back (especially for the Pictish novels) allows me to enter the realms of fantasy.

These books, especially The Warrior Brothers of Skye series, have done well for me, but my heart always returns to Epic Fantasy Romance. In my opinion, Fantasy is more difficult to right than Historical. You have to build an entirely new world rather than research an existing one, and the plot tends to be more complex.

The two novels I’ve published so far in the Light and Darkness series are both romances, although I approached each one differently. In the first, Ruled by Shadows, romance is a strong subplot, integral to the story but slightly overshadowed by the main action. In my second novel, The Lost Swallow, the romance holds equal weight to the action. Both are high-octane stories, but I handle the romance differently in each. I’m now 30% into Book #3 in the series and am letting the romance drive this story as well.

Final thoughts: confidence, respect, and a little knowledge

Handling romance well in a story requires confidence, respect for the genre – and a little knowledge. People who don’t read romance often think it’s formulaic and cheesy. If you believe this, you might find it hard to incorporate a successful romantic subplot into your story.

You can’t fake romance. You either feel it or you don’t.

I’ve been writing romance for the past seven years and with each passing year I love it more. I was never a ‘romance’ reader in the past but I love how romance allows a writer to add emotional depth and conflict to a story. Sure a good romance has to have certain elements to work properly but that doesn’t make it formulaic – and if you write from the heart your romantic subplot won’t be cheesy.

In the coming posts I’ll be covering how to set up your romantic subplot, how to approach emotion and sex scenes, how to structure the romance arc in your story, and how to achieve a satisfying emotional confusion to your romantic subplot.

We’re going to dive into what makes romance work, and how to blend it with Epic Fantasy.

Any questions or comment about this post? Please feel free to comment below!

How to include a romantic subplot in an Epic Fantasy novel: blog series

I’ve embarked on this five-post blog series to help Epic Fantasy authors who are interested in adding a bit of romance into their stories, but aren’t sure how to approach it. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, as I’ve had a few Epic Fantasy writers contact me via this blog asking for advice.

Anyone who has never written romance before and then tries to incorporate it in a story often gets a shock (as I did initially) about just how hard it is to get right. Actually … it’s only hard if you’re fumbling blindly ahead of you. Once you know how romance works, and what the key ingredients are to making it shine, it’s a lot easier.

Of course there are lots of sub-genres within Epic Fantasy (grim-dark, high, Arthurian, heroic, sword and sorcery just to name a few). Most of these can benefit from having a romantic subplot added to the story. The romance can be very slight, to the point where the attraction is barely hinted at and the characters don’t even kiss, to being a fully fleshed out romance that runs alongside (but is still secondary to) the main story.

So …. to start this series off let’s take a look at why you should include a romantic subplot at all? Do you actually need one.

Blog post #1: Why include a romantic subplot in your Epic Fantasy novel?

Update on THE LOST SWALLOW

THE LOST SWALLOW launched on August 14th and the novel has had a good response to far. Reviewers have enjoyed the book too, which is always a bonus!

Here’s what one reviewer had to say about the novel:

TLS_review1

If you’re keen to know more about the story, you can watch me talking about THE LOST SWALLOW prior to its launch.

Work has now begun on Book #3 in the series, PATH OF THE DARK—and I’m really excited to get stuck into it. Things get really dark in this novel (as the title suggests!). The romance focuses on Ryana (an enchanter) and Elias (the prince of Anthor) as two kingdoms clash.

More updates on Book #3 coming soon!

Release day tomorrow!

THE LOST SWALLOW (Book #2: Light and Darkness) is about to leave the nest! Until then … here’s another excerpt to enjoy!


Eventually, sure both Asher and Ninia now slept deeply, the copse silent around them, Mira stood up.

She’d always been quick on her feet as a mudlark; it was the only way she’d survived in a city full of dangers. Her Swallow training had also taught her how to move noiselessly. The life of one of the members of the royal family might have depended on her ability to sneak up behind an assassin.

She moved quietly now, padding across the damp ground and out of the clearing. Mira took care to keep her breathing slow and steady, her senses straining.

Just a few more yards, and she’d be out of earshot. Then she would lengthen her stride.

Mira walked on, the darkness enclosing her in a shroud that turned her blind on this moonless night. She reached out a hand before her, feeling her way so that she didn’t collide with the trees.

The glade where Asher and Ninia slept now lay behind her. Mira smiled into the night and quickened her pace.

Almost there.

She’d only traveled a yard or two farther when a man’s voice split the silence behind her.

“Where are you going?”

Mira whipped around, reaching for her sword. Her fingers tightened around the hilt, as her gaze alighted upon a tall, broad shouldered figure following her. Even in the darkness she could see the long pale hair spilling over his shoulders.

Curse him. Asher had followed her.


 

Get your copy now!
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D7JGT92
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07D7JGT92
AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07D7JGT92

TLS_FB_COVER2

Book Review: Blade and Rose by Miranda Honfleur

515gDyrTZ8L._SY346_Blade and Rose (Blade and Rose series, Book 1) by Miranda Honfleur

An excellent start to an exciting Epic Fantasy Romance series. It’s often hard to find good Fantasy Romances which aren’t Young Adult or Paranormal. But there’s nothing better than a sword and sorcery adventure with an emotional love story woven through it!

Definitely a five-star read. Here’s what I loved about it:

Blade and Rose is an epic novel – both in size (it’s over 700 pages long!) and in scope. Miranda Honfleur builds a credible world built on European civilisations and an exciting magic system. The characters are well-drawn and with enough flaws to make them seem real. Rielle is a complicated heroine, a mix of strong kick-ass sorceress and painful insecurity. She doesn’t have any trouble attracting men into her life, only she has been terribly hurt by them. When she meets Jon, a man she has sworn to protect, she struggles between her attraction to someone she can’t have, and her own fears of being hurt or hurting those she loves.

My favourite character in the book though (and I’m not sure if the author intended this) is the werewolf, Brennan. He’s a really mixed-up guy, and does some dispicable things during the story, yet we never totally lose sympathy for him. He is conflicted and as the story progresses starts to gain a little self-knowledge. As the series progresses, I imagine he will have a pivotal role … well, I hope so.

The writing flows smoothly and is highly readable. The author doesn’t get bogged down in lengthy description but at the same time manages to create a richly-drawn world that fantasy readers expect!

Any niggles? Only a couple of tiny ones that didn’t detract from my rating. The book was very long … and could have been trimmed in a couple of places without affecting the story. Rielle and Jon’s relationship sometimes felt a little bit like ‘instalove’. I would have liked to have seen a bit more angst and conflict between them in the beginning. However, their emotional journey was depicted well and leaves plenty of scope for the next book in the series.

An engrossing Epic Fantasy Romance read!

Check out this book on Amazon.com.

Exciting Epic Fantasy Romance authors to watch

A few years ago fantasy romance was dominated by vampires, werewolves, and shifters—and that’s fine if you’re into that. However, for readers who want an Epic Fantasy tale, with a strong romance element, there just wasn’t anything out there. That’s changing … fast.

Just over the last year they’ve been popping up like mushrooms! High Fantasy, rollicking Epic Fantasy adventures, with a fully developed romance plots. There are now many novels to try. Some of them cross over into the Young Adult/New Adult domain, as the protagonists are often in their late teens to mid-twenties, but most of them are written for adults as well.

At the moment Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance is huge, and fantasy romance with fae heroes isn’t showing any sign of slowing in popularity. But if neither of these sub-genres interest you don’t despair … there are plenty of sword and sorcery fantasy romances out there. As for what’s trending in the Epic Fantasy Romance genre—it appears that witches and wizards are really hot at the moment.

Here’s a list (not exhaustive) of exciting new Epic Fantasy Romance authors to watch, with links to their Amazon author pages:

51zhRaQ0woL
Amber Argyle
5199TDhbKLL
Shannon Meyer
515gDyrTZ8L._SY346_
Miranda Honfleur
Ruled_by_Shadows_COVER4
Jayne Castel
51QsKafXVZL
Emily R. King
517GPpv94VL
G. Bailey
51zNGvS6vKL
Sara C. Roethe

 

510l7244KaL
Claire Merle
51GgZD8zJCL
Frost Kay
51rXu4OFykL
Kelly St. Clare
51I3NJQ6j1L
Helen Scheuerer

Do you have an author you’d like added to this list? Please get in touch!

 

Excerpt from THE LOST SWALLOW

THE LOST SWALLOW will be released on August 14 … in the meantime here’s a short preview of the novel. It’s the scene where the two main characters—Asher and Mira—meet.

The Lost Swallow_Cover5Excerpt from THE LOST SWALLOW:

Where did she go?

Asher turned around, planning to retrace his steps, and found himself facing a cloaked and hooded figure.

It took barely an instant to realize that she’d somehow managed to get behind him. Then she struck out, hitting him hard in the solar plexus.

The force of her punch knocked Asher back against the wall. A heartbeat later she had a cold blade pressed to his throat.

The woman was shorter than him, and had to look up to meet his gaze, but she didn’t appear remotely cowed by his greater size or strength. She pressed the blade close to his windpipe. Her hood had fallen back, her dark hair whipping around her, and her eyes were narrowed and dangerous.

“What do you want?” she asked, her voice a low growl.

Asher held her gaze and inhaled slowly and carefully. She had a murderous glint in her eye.

“To speak to you,” he wheezed, still recovering from her punch. “I’m a friend.”

Liar. If the woman knew what was good for her she’d end him now.

Her mouth twisted and the pressure on his throat increased. Asher felt a sting as the tip of the blade dug into his flesh.

“Try another answer,” she growled.

THE LOST SWALLOW is available on preorder!

Woop woop!

The Lost Swallow_Cover5THE LOST SWALLOW (Book #2: Light and Darkness) is available on pre-order! Release date: August 14th!

All her life she’s trusted her instincts—but now she must follow her heart.

Mira belongs to The Swallow Guard—an elite all-female bodyguard who protect the royal family. She resents her role, and has been planning her escape for years. But when her city comes under attack she finds herself on the run, and the unlikely protector of a spoiled and wilful princess. Despite her desire to look after herself, she finds she can’t abandon the girl.

Meanwhile, far to the north, an enchanter receives a chilling mission.

Asher belongs to the Order of Light and Darkness and spends his days healing the sick and injured. Yet when the head of his order commands him to track down the last survivor of a slaughtered royal family—and kill the girl and the woman protecting her—he finds himself in the role of assassin.

In an epic journey through the heart of occupied territory, Mira struggles between her instinct to flee, her urge to protect the gifted young woman who has come to depend on her—and her attraction to an enigmatic stranger who says he’s been sent to help them. Asher must also make a choice. Does he trust his instincts, follow his heart, and bring wrath down upon him … or does he follow orders and risk losing his soul.

If you like the fantasy romance of Radiance, the thrills of the Throne of Glass series, the epic adventure of Game of Thrones, and a fierce heroine, you’ll love Book #2 of the Light and Darkness series.

Preorder your copy of THE LOST SWALLOW and dive into an action-packed, emotion-filled Epic Fantasy Romance about how the most important choices are never easy.

Preorder your copy here:

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D7JGT92
UK: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D7JGT92
AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07D7JGT92

More Epic Fantasy Romance novels to try

Why oh why is good Epic Fantasy Romance so hard to find?

51MtqQ9qn4L._SX303_BO1204203200_
Haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my TBR list. Love the cover!

Personally, I’ve had enough of reading about fae/human romances—it’s been done to death, and I’m looking for something different. I’d like to read more fantasy adventure stories that have emotional love-stories. I’ve got Sarah J Maas’ latest novel on my Kindle ready to enjoy, have pre-ordered Grace Draven’s upcoming release, and have also downloaded Kushiel’s Dart—so I’ll be posting some reviews on this blog as I chew through my TBR pile.

In the meantime, here are some great blog posts to help you discover your next Epic Fantasy Romance read. There aren’t many I’ve read on these lists, so it looks like I’ve got some discovery to do.

Three Fantasy Romance Series to sweep you away!

Recommended reads: Fantasy Romance

The Epic World of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Romance

8 Fantasy Romance novels that are sure to satisfy


 Happy reading everyone!

THE LOST SWALLOW is finished!

Well the first draft is! It’s now with my editor.

I’m really excited about THE LOST SWALLOW (I know … I say that about all my books. But I really am). It’s got a lot of romance, loads of action, and is a massively character-driven story. It’s the sequel to RULED BY SHADOWS, so there’s an overarching plot which continues through the trilogy (Book #3 is already planned out). However, it’s also a romance, so there’s a stand-alone love-story.

What’s changed from Book #1?

  • Lilia and Dain (our hero and heroine from RULED BY SHADOWS) don’t appear in this story. Instead Book #2 focuses on Asher (who we meet in the first story) and Mira.
  • RULED BY SHADOWS was a coming of age story, whereas THE LOST SWALLOW is about two individuals with opposing goals, forced to work together for survival.
  • RULED BY SHADOWS is a quest story, where our heroes work toward preventing disaster (the release of a terrible dictator from an enchanted prison), whereas THE LOST SWALLOW takes place in a kingdom that has just recently fallen to the enemy. Our heroes are focused on escaping danger and fleeing to safety before it’s too late.

Introducing The Four Kingdoms of Serran

My story world is The Four Kingdoms of Serran. The kingdoms—Rithmar, Thun, Anthor and Farras—have a bloody history. We’re introduced to the conflict between Thun and Anthor in Book #1 but RULED BY SHADOWS focused more on another, darker, threat. By the time THE LOST SWALLOW begins, the situation has worsened. Thun has fallen and our characters are trapped in occupied territory.

the-four-kingdoms-of-serran

TheLostSwallow_COVER4What’s THE LOST SWALLOW about?

She’s entrusted with protecting a princess … but he’s been sent to kill them both.

Mira belongs to The Swallow Guard—an elite all-female bodyguard who protect the royal family. She hates her role, and has been planning her escape for years—only when her city comes under attack she finds herself on the run, and the unlikely protector of a spoiled and wilful princess.

Asher belongs to the Order of Light and Darkness. He’s an enchanter who spends his days healing the sick and injured. But when the head of his order commands him to track down the last survivor of a slaughtered royal family—and kill the girl and the woman protecting her—he finds himself in the role of assassin.

In an epic journey through the heart of occupied territory, Mira struggles between her desire to flee and start afresh, and her need to protect the gifted young woman who has come to depend on her. Asher must also make a choice. Does he trust his instincts, follow his heart, and bring wrath down upon him—or does he follow orders and risk losing his soul.

Epic adventure and romance collide in this emotional romantic fantasy. Book #2 of the Light and Darkness series, THE LOST SWALLOW is for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Grace Draven and Leigh Bardugo. If you like vibrant world-building, edge of your seat adventure, and a powerful love story, this Epic Fantasy Romance is for you.


I’ll be putting the novel on pre-order with Amazon in the next few days—so watch this space. Release date coming soon!