As a kid, I always loved the idea of a fantasy story. I liked the imagination of a world with elves and faeries where magic was possible. One would think that with this kind of an interest there would have been more than enough to keep me reading. There was the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Chronicles of Narnia. Those stories with their mythical beasts and a battle between good and evil should have been right up my alley. But no matter how hard I tried, I never enjoyed them. I could never get past the first book in each series. For a while, I figured the books were just too mature for me. I assumed that it was me who was in the wrong and that in a few years I would change, and the books would work. These books had an honored place on my bookshelves for many years just waiting for the time to be right, but all that they did was gather dust.
Eventually, in my twenties, I gave it another try. I even found some more books to add to the collection. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series held my interest for a while and I actually got past the first book, but still there was something missing from these fantasy tales that seemed so right for my interests. What I finally realized was missing was the romance. There wasn’t any. In the Wheel of Time books, the lead character bounced around between three or four women, each his soul mate (huh?), and I just couldn’t find that appealing. That was why I eventually gave up on it. But the lure of fantasy still remained. Even though none of the books I had found were able to scratch that itch, I knew that was where my true interest was. So I just assumed that what I wanted wasn’t out there. A fantasy story with the right amount of romance.
So I turned to romance novels. As a history teacher, historical romance seemed to fill the gap. Regency romances, Tudor dramas, dashing tales of chivalrous knights fighting for their lady fair. I devoured them all and just assumed that I was the only one who felt as I did about fantasy, and that the other types of books that I had found would just have to do.
Then, this year, something magical happened. I knew that one of my favorite authors had a fantasy series in addition to the historical/time-travel romances that I loved, but having been burned before, I wasn’t willing to take that leap again. I was sure it would be like before. Lots of the fantasy, but none of the romance to keep my interest. Finally, a friend talked me into it. “Give it a try,” she said, “you’ll be surprised.” And so, with little hope of really finding what I was looking for, I took a leap of faith and read Lynn Kurland’s Star of the Morning. It was perfect! All the fantasy that I always craved mixed together with all the romance that had been missing in the past. Once I found the Nine Kingdoms series (and devoured it) I started to follow the Amazon links to other similar books. The Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson that starts with Lord of the Fading Lands was another great find. I even started to look into some series that are classified as Urban Fantasy, such as the Elder Races series by Thea Harrison (which starts with Dragon Bound) and the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward (first one, Dark Lover). All of these were there waiting for me, but I just never knew it.
So the moral of the story is that the books are out there. It may have taken me a couple of decades to find them, but they do exist. Since I am sure that these aren’t the only ones, now I have a whole new world of reading to explore. I am like a kid on Christmas morning! Of course with a Kindle making it so easy, it is a little dangerous on the pocketbook, but after twenty years of waiting, I figure I deserve it! It isn’t every day that you find exactly what you’ve always been looking for!
So, what kinds of books have you been hunting for and hoping to find?
- Louise VanderVliet