As the divine Benedict Cumberbatch would say: Shall we begin?
INDEXING by Seanan McGuire
Indexing is about a crack government team that runs around our modern world trying to stop “mimetic incursions”; that is, they’re trying to stop fairy tales from manifesting in the real world. But I’m not talking about the Disney versions of fairy tales--nope these fairy tales are the full-on Grimm. Grimm-er even than the Grimms. And sometimes the fairy tales fight back. McGuire does humor and team dynamics really well. They banter, they bicker, sometimes the team is about ten seconds away from killing each other (and that’s literally…) and yet in the end they are family. They will fight for each other. This one is a bit more of an ensemble piece, and the romances don’t really get going until the end. But once they do there are not one but TWO romantic subplots. With KISSING. So I feel just fine including this story on my list. ^_^
SUNDIAL by Carrie Lofty
This one is a time travel novella, but the interesting twist here is that the hero and heroine are both out of their time. She’s an Australian from 2007, and he’s a New Yorker from 1987. Yet they’re both stuck together in Italy in 1958! I really enjoy the way Lofty plays with time travel in this story. She said she was inspired by the Terminator movies in that time travel is not some fun jaunt back to the past: time travel is scary and difficult and you probably won’t come out entirely intact even if you do make it back to your own time. The romance in this one is also deeply passionate and wonderful. And Lofty makes excellent use of the glamour of 1950s Italy as a setting. I drool when I read descriptions of the heroine’s 1950s wardrobe. It’s also a younger man/older woman story which is, I must admit, one of my favorite tropes.
PSYCOP SERIES (starting with "Criss Cross") by Jordan Castillo Price
This series of books revolves around a cop, Vic, who’s also a medium. He sees dead people. Lots of dead people. This series is M/M romance and Vic’s love interest Jacob is very dreamy. These books are sort of paranormal police procedurals and they are addictive! I burned through the first 8 stories (they are a mix of novels, novellas and short stories) in a few weeks. These books get a little gory for my taste, but the hero is so likeable in that Sherlockian, head down, oh my God you’re a hot mess kind of way. The world building of the ghosts and other supernatural nasties is also wonderful and really nuanced. And the romance is super sweet with really hot love scenes.
DRAGON BOUND by Thea Harrison
This whole series (Elder Races) is really excellent, and one of my favorite parts is how Harrison continually uses unusual mythological creatures as her main characters and then she writes them wonderfully. In this, the first book in the series, the hero is a dragon-shifter. (The heroine is also a shifter, but that’s a spoiler so I can’t tell you what kind. Sorry! ;P) And what I really love about the hero is that he actually feels like a dragon. He admits he used to eat people. He has the dragon hoarding tendencies. He’s strong, arrogant, fierce. He feels otherworldly, definitely not a human in dragon-shifter drag, and I love that. The whole series is really wonderful and different, including the novellas that are released from Samhain. But Dragon Bound is still my favorite.
TITHE by Holly Black
Last but certainly not least, one of the first books to get me hooked on paranormal romances. The “paranormal” in this book are fairies, and what I love is that these are evil, scary fairies. Even the “good” fairies are…not so good. The details and world-building in this are also really intricate and evocative, and Black’s writing is lyrical and delicious to read. The hero, Roiben, is also quite, quite yummy. Another fun thing about this book is the power play between the heroine, Kaye, and Roiben. Early in the book Kaye learns Roiben’s true name, which means that when she uses his true name, he has to do what she says. But sometimes he obeys her in a way she doesn’t expect. The interplay between them is wonderful, and the romance is very intense but lovely.
So those are some of my favorites. What are yours? :)