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Romantasy Recs with Author C. W. Rose

Welcome back to the blog as we wrap up Romantasy month, witches! Today, we're welcoming author C. W. Rose to talk about her favorite romantasy books and movies that inspired her upcoming novel Oceansong.



Romantasy Recs with Author C. W. Rose Coffee, Book, and Candle


Hi Kori and Jordan, and happy romantasy month! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today. I’m excited to be here and to talk about all things fantasy romance, my upcoming debut OCEANSONG, and my writing journey. I love visuals, so prepare for beautiful book covers and movie posters!


This will be in two parts. Part one will be all about romantasy books and recommendations, and part two will be all about my writing process.


The Start of my Love Affair with Romantasy

Where do I start? I’ve loved aspects of both fantasy and romance since I was a teenager. I love escapism; learning about different worlds, systems, and cultures; and oh, romance. I love love—love that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, that couples have to fight for to get their HEA, and even tragic love (though I still much prefer HEAs). Basically, if a book had a strong romance thread, I went grabby hands over it.


My first foray into romance was the contemporary MG and YA Sweet Valley series, where I was most invested in the characters’ romantic relationships. I also grew up on role-playing fantasy and sci-fi games like the Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect series.

I was the person looking up romance options before starting the game and planning my playthroughs around them. I downloaded mods to expand on the in-game relationships and definitely had my share of video game boyfriends. I also enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies when they came out (I adored the romance between Aragorn and Arwen, and I was a total Legolas fangirl), and though I knew it was an epic fantasy, I craved more romance.

Around my later teen and young adult years, I realized I loved a strong romance subplot or main plot wrapped in a compelling, well-written fantasy storyline.





And so, my love affair with the romantasy genre began, even if I didn’t call it that at the time. Sadly, in the country I grew up in, they didn’t have many fantasy romance books available. At least, not to my knowledge. And I hung out at Borders and my local bookstores weekly. Looking back, it might have been because that genre blend wasn’t popular in the 90s (I know I’m giving away my age here) and especially not in a different country.

So I settled for watching romantasy movies and writing fanfic of videogame and movie characters that I shipped. Some of my favorites included Ella Enchanted, Howl’s Moving Castle, Stardust, The Princess Bride, and pretty much all the Disney princess movies.

Because I couldn’t find the books I wanted to read, I started writing. I wrote my first 30k-long novella when I was sixteen, a contemporary fantasy with elements of romance (I didn’t know romantasy was a thing back then, but that’s certainly what this was) called Nightsworn. I expanded this into a full-length novel, then a series over the next decade. It became the first book I queried, for five years, with no luck landing an agent or publisher. Sometime within those years, I wrote the first version of Oceansong (at the time called Kiss of the Mermaid) in my early twenties.



My First Romantasy Books

My entire reading life changed when I started my second job after graduate school. I met a colleague who was a fellow reader, and she liked this genre called fantasy romance! This was actually a genre? It was news to me.

Intrigued, I asked for book recommendations. She enthusiastically suggested The Fallen series by Kristina Douglas. It was paranormal romance and not fantasy, but it had fantastical elements, an interesting twist on classic angel tropes, a hidden world, and (most importantly) a central romance plot, so it intrigued me enough to take a look.



Romantasy Books Fallen series Coffee, Book, and Candle



And I fell in love. At its core, the series focuses on fallen angels (who also happen to be blood-drinkers) in the throes of rebellion against Archangel Uriel, now a tyrant seeking to destroy humanity and the angels. I read all four books, each featuring a different couple, one after the other. I couldn’t get enough.

Then in 2016, I heard about the high fantasy romance Radiance by Grace Draven. This was a slow-burn, marriage of convenience romance between a human woman and a Kai man—a fantasy race with gray skin, claws, and sharp yellow teeth. The mix of plot, action, and romance drew me in. I went on to read the sequel, Eidolon, and I recently finished the trilogy with The Ippos King. Eidolon is a continuation of Radiance with the same couple, and The Ippos King follows Eidolon with a different couple (a Kai woman and human man).



Wraith Kings Romantasy Books Coffee, Book, and Candle



Grace Draven became my first auto-buy author because she wrote the kinds of relationships I liked to read about: slow-burn, loving and respectful, with characters I cared about and rooted for. I eagerly devoured her other books and anthologies while keeping an eye out for new ones.

Next, I read Master of Crows, a romance between a bondwoman and a sorcerer, and its sequel novella Brush of Black Wings. Entreat Me is another book of hers I loved, a Beauty and the Beast retelling (did I mention I also love fairytale retellings? Because I do. Very much.) Brishen and Silhara became my first book boyfriends.






My obsession with reading as many of her books and novellas as I could carried on. I learned about other fantasy romance authors, such as Jeffe Kennedy and Elizabeth Hunter, through Draven’s anthologies with them. I could spend an entire blog post talking about her books, but here’s a final selection of her shorter stories and anthologies that I devoured:






Moving on to other fantasy romance authors that inspired (or should I say, fed into) my love of the genre, I discovered Laura Thalassa’s Rhapsodic (part of The Bargainer series), a romance between a siren FMC and a winged MMC.




Bargainer series Romantasy Recs Coffee, Book, and Candle



I was so excited to find another author I liked, and I went on to read her Four Horsemen series. I won’t lie, the idea of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as sexy love interests really intrigued me. I never made it to the last two books, but I plan on reading them this year. Below are the recently revamped covers for the books, as gorgeous as the stories and romances themselves.




Four Horsemen Romantasy Rec Coffee, Book, and Candle


Finally, the last books that cemented my love for the genre was Amanda Bouchet’s A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles), the story of a soothsayer with hidden powers and the warlord who captures but falls in love with her. While I didn’t get to read the rest of the books, I remember the addition of Greek mythology (mythology of all cultures has captured my interest for as long as I can remember), wonderful worldbuilding, and the complex characterization. Which reminds me to add the future books to my TBR!




Kingmaker Chronicles Romantasy Recs Coffee, Book, and Candle


I learned what I liked in my romantasies: heroines who could hold their own and heroes who were sexy and tough, yet kind and caring with their women. A strong plot is a must, and slow-burn romances are a favorite trope of mine. I want to be chomping at the bit for our couple to finally kiss and confess their love.

The Books & Movies that Inspired Oceansong

There were so many books and movies that inspired me along the way, and I’ve used the majority of these as comp titles. You already know about The Little Mermaid and Splash. Other inspirations include the star-crossed lovers and family feud aspects of Romeo + Juliet and West Side Story. And of course, there was The Shape of Water with a human woman + amphibian man romance; one scene in Oceansong is inspired by the movie poster (and the final scene of the movie)!

If you’re curious and can’t find it in the book, please send me an email or DM on my socials, and I’m happy to point it out.




There were also several book inspirations that went into Oceansong.


First, the small town setting and tender yet passionate human-merfolk romance of Desiree M. Niccoli’s Haven Cove series about a young woman, Lorelei, who finds herself stranded at sea and rescued by handsome fishing boat captain Killian. Lorelei discovers she’s a flesh-eating siren and battles her growing hunger and desire for Killian, creating plenty of tension. I hear there’s a third book on the way, at the time of writing this post, which I’m certainly keeping an eye out for!



Haven Cove Romantasy Recs Coffee, Book, and Candle


Next up is the contemporary fantasy romance Bitter Medicine by Mia Tsai. I loved the multicultural cast, Asian main character, and complex characterization. This xianxia-inspired story has a romance between male half-elf spy Luc and a female immortal, Elle, who’s the descendant of the God of Medicine. But when Elle helps Luc with a job that involves hunting down her younger brother, they need to make sacrifices involving Elle’s family ties and Luc’s true name if they want to stay together.


For anyone unfamiliar with xianxia, at its simplest, it’s a genre of Chinese fantasy in which the main character seeks immortality.



Bitter Medicine Romantasy Recs Coffee, Book, and Candle


Third is a You’ve Got Mail with zombies story, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen. It features grumpy x sunshine enemies-to-lovers tropes and a snarky, dark, hopeful tone that I took with me into Oceansong. Let me tell you, I flew through this book. Hart is a half-God marshal, and Mercy is an undertaker. They’ve never liked each other but unknowingly correspond through letters, where they form a friendship.


As trouble brews in their world, so do their feelings for each other. But what will happen when they discover they’ve been baring their souls for the person they hate most? At the time of this post, there’s a second book in the works, which I am so excited for.



Undertaking of Heart and Mercy Romantasy Recs Coffee, Book, and Candle


Fourth is the magical realism novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. Oceansong has similar themes of feminism, loss, family, and environmentalism and sustainability. At its core, it’s a story of one woman’s struggle to escape her curse (of being a lonely mermaid hunted by humans) and live in an unfamiliar world (on land). She falls in love with a fisherman, David, who is kind and takes care of her, but with the threat of her turning back into a mermaid hanging over their heads, can their love survive?



Mermaid of Black Conch Romantasy Recs Coffee, Book, and Candle



I’ve always loved reading and hearing about authors’ inspirations for their stories. Even if I love their book already and am invested in their worlds, knowing their inspiration adds a personal touch and can be the difference between simply loving their book and wanting to know everything about their characters and worlds. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about mine!



Have you read any of the books above? What did you think?


If you’re enjoying this blog post so far, come back and check out part 2 later this week. I’m so excited to share my process of writing Oceansong with all of you, and how it came to be (including how it started as a romantic tragedy)!


 

Thank you for joining us! If you're interested in learning more about C. W. Rose and her work, you can visit her author site or find all of her links through her linktree!



Author C. W. Rose Romantasy Recs with Coffee, Book, and Candle


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