Jeffe Kennedy’s The Fiery Crown continues the love story of Queen Lia and Prince Conrí, two former rivals who have recently married in order to form an alliance against an evil emperor. In this guest post, Kennedy recommends six other fantasy romances, all of which are (bonus!) enemies-to-lovers.
One of the reasons I love fantasy romance is that the fantasy setting allows for wonderful enemies-to-lovers romances. What makes a good enemies-to-lovers scenario for me is if the couple are poised against each other for political reasons. This increases the stakes—because the couple’s enmity affects far more than just themselves—and gives a believable grounding to their being in opposition. The story isn’t about one person bullying the other or being cruel for no good reason. In a good fantasy arc, the lives of many people and the safety of entire realms can ride on the same reasons the two are enemies.
Then, I love the delicious coming together of enemies who find the commonality in each other—and learn not only to respect their differences but also love each other for them.
Plus, you get royalty in hiding, tortured sorcerers and fantastic beasts! What more could a reader want?
Here are some of my all-time favorite fantasy romances (by my own definition), including some that were formative for me.
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
This story features a princess and heir to the throne hiding from her horrible family as a carnival fortune teller. A would-be king, believing she is a kingmaker, kidnaps her to take advantage of her powers. The pair attempting to outwit each other—plus sizzling chemistry—makes this a delightful read.
Master of Crows by Grace Draven
Still my favorite of Grace Draven’s books, this story finds a repressed sorceress sold as a bonded servant to—and planted to spy on—a grumpy and tormented sorcerer. He is not gentle with her as he attempts to free her magic, and their path is not a magically easy one. The moment she realizes he actually cares about her is as surprising as it is heart-melting.
Winds of Change by Mercedes Lackey
The untrained mage, princess and heir to the throne travels to a foreign land to learn to use her powers. While they’re not political enemies, her relationship with the adept who agrees to teach her is adversarial and fraught with cultural misunderstanding. They come together as lovers, but finding a way to reconcile their worlds is much more difficult.
Reluctant Concubine by Dana Marton
The title says it all here: A healer is kidnapped by a warrior race and the enemy of her people. She ends up as one of the High Lord’s concubines—and their journey toward mutual understanding and reconciliation of the chasm between their peoples is surprisingly tender.
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Nearly as old as I am, this seminal story can be prickly for the modern reader. Nevertheless, I have an abiding love for this tale of an orphan in hiding, last surviving member of a ruling family, and the dragonrider who finds her and is determined to make her their next queen. The pair are fierce, hot-tempered and still one of my all-time favorite couples.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
This is another iconic book for me, though it’s a bit outside the stamp of a romance. Still, the tale of a solitary wizard woman who reluctantly accepts an infant heir from a warrior still bloody from the battlefield and their unlikely love affair is an enduring favorite. The battles for a throne and the families caught in an endless cycle of vengeance create a backdrop for the kind of personal growth required to value love above all.