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Romance Unbound: Romantic Novels in Other Genres

romancebutton_01Some great love stories may not be classified as romances, even though they richly convey the same appeal. What’s more, many romantic novels in other genres are series, so readers are privy not only to the courtship and wedding, but also to the pleasures of living out the happily ever. These titles will get you started—and likely remind you of many, many others.

Love in space? Look no further than Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. In Shards of Honor, the first in the long-running series, Cordelia Naismith, Betan Survey Captain, meets Barrayaran Lord Aral Vorkosigan and falls in love amidst galactic warfare and near disaster. Later, their only son finds his own partner in the Regency-romance-in-space, A Civil Campaign, and the widowed Cordelia finds love once again in Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

crosstalkSF writer Connie Willis offers similar satisfaction in two smart romantic comedies firmly set in the SF genre: Bellwether (chaos theory leads appropriately to romance) and Crosstalk (social media gone awry). Witty repartee, satire, and trivia enrich these witty farces.

Love among Egyptian sarcophagi? Victorian-era Egypt provides the perfect, though perhaps unexpected, backdrop for a banter-filled but enduring romance between archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson and spinster Amelia Peabody. (Crocodile on the Sandbank starts the series.) Eventually their son Ramses, early 20th century spy and archaeologist, finds his own mate among the relics.

The mystery genre offers myriad series, beloved of fans who relish the romantic lives of their detectives. Golden Age writers Dorothy L. Sayers with Lord Peter Wimsey and Harried Vane (Wimsey saves her from a murder conviction in Strong Poison) and Ngaio Marsh with Roderick Alleyn and Agatha Troy (Artists in Crime chronicles their first meeting) led the way with their popular series couples. More recent series that will please fans of romantic mysteries include Deborah Crombie’s pairing of Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, English police officers (A Share in Death); Susan Wittig Albert’s series featuring herb-shop proprietor China Bayles and her husband McQuaid (Thyme of Death); and Marcia Muller’s satisfying romance, marriage, and now jointly owned P.I. business with Sharon McCone and Hy Ripinsky, who first appears in Where Echoes Live. Anne Perry’s mismatched marriage between Victorian lady Charlotte Ellison and policeman Thomas Pitt highlights the pleasures of a marriage fueled by affection and banter. They meet when he investigates her sister’s murder in The Cater Street Hangman.

dead-irishWhile the mystery genre may boast the most romantic entanglements, there’s even time for romance among the protagonists of Thrillers. John T. Lescroart’s ex-cop, then bar owner and San Francisco lawyer Dismas Hardy, woos and wins the hand of widow Frannie for the start of a long running romance. We meet both in Dead Irish. Hardy’s close friend and ally in the police department, widower Abe Glitsky, also finds love and marriage with Treva Ghent in this series; they meet in The Hearing. In Florida, on the other coast, James Grippando’s lawyer, Jack Swyteck, estranged son of the ex-governor, finds himself entangled with a very competent FBI agent in his fifth outing, Got the Look. He and Andie Henning are like oil and water, and romance readers can see the happy-ever-after early on, although it takes several more adventures before they tie the knot in Black Horizon.

Finally, don’t miss these historical fiction series. Dorothy Dunnett wrote six chess-titled novels following the escapades of Scottish second son, Francis Crawford of Lymond, who seeks his fortune in dangerous adventures across Europe. While he meets his future wife in the first novel, The Game of Kings, he doesn’t win her hand until the last, Checkmate. In Diana Gabaldon’s ongoing Outlander series, twentieth century time traveler Claire Randall meets and marries seventeenth century Scotsman Jamie Fraser in the first novel, Outlander, and readers share their abiding devotion throughout the series.



About the Author:

Joyce Saricks is Booklist's Audio Editor. In addition to overseeing audiobook coverage, she writes the column "At Leisure with Joyce Saricks." While listening to audiobooks, she enjoys her hobbies—cooking, walking, and traveling. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Joyce.

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