While some fans debate the direction of the latest books in the series, the first four novels of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward are pure, undiluted vampire romance crack. The Brotherhood is an order of vampire warriors in a battle with evil slayers, and the relationships within the Brotherhood are part of the truly irresistible quality of the series, to say nothing of the inner workings of a luxury-obsessed warrior class of vampires told in a breakneck and campy writing style. The first one, Dark Lover should only be attempted when you know you have at least a few hours to read.
The same is true of Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series, which is also paranormal, and features an entire population of otherworldly creatures, from werewolves, valkyries and witches to elves and demons. Combining fantasy, romance, and adventure with savvy contemporary references, Cole's books, starting with A Hunger Like No Other, are not like any fey-filled fantasy book you've read before, and each one features strong, confident warriors –and that's just the women. They're alluring, clever and utterly fun.
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Speaking of action, and the future, Ann Aguirre is a new author whose debut novel Grimspace introduced a heroine who rocks and rocks hard. Affected by a rare gene, Sirantha Jax can navigate space ships through an alternative universe, allowing her and her crew to bend time, and set some fine speed records in the process. When she's the lone survivor of a horrific crash, of which she has no memory, she's vulnerable and alone until a rebel group rescues her –for a rather sinister reason.
Past-Perfect: Historical Romantic Fiction
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Now, if you're like me, romantic tales set a good two hundred years in the past really rock your petticoats.