Ilona wrote to me recently, looking for a specific type of book: adventure romance.
I was looking at my bookcase today (I'm a student who is moving out again soon so my books are all in a messed up order) And saw Scoundrel by Zoe Archer and remembered how much fun it was to be reading an adventure romance with an adventure in different places. I really loved having obvious bad guys who always lost, heroes and heroines who kick ass and the level of fun they had even when getting shot at and the whole treasure hunt in new and interesting places was something I really enjoyed.
So I was wondering if you knew of any other books like that, fun adventure romances in 'exotic' locations. Especially ones without the alphahole hero. I really liked the steampunk bits but I think that was more the historical time frame adding to the adventure because they couldn't just get on a commercial flight and had to actually travel huge distances by alternate means.
If you can find a good historical, adventure, lesbian romance in some interesting location I will owe you a pack of Tim Tams.
Dude. You don't even have to offer the Tim Tams. I love adventure romances, especially ones that are both rich in plot and character development – and Zoe Archer's Blades of the Rose series is an excellent example ( A | BN | K | ARe).
Most of Archer's books feature adventure plots, whether it's the Rose series which is a mix of supernatural and steampunk, or the Revenge Unlimited series, starting with Sweet Revenge (B+), which is all about vengeance plots and subterfuge.
As for lesbian adventure, my first thought was Cathy Pegau's series, which is science fiction set in space, and features both adventure and romance – and one that features a lesbian relationship. Deep Deception (B+) ( A | BN | K | ARe) was reviewed by Carrie, who said,
There's so much to like about this book. The main characters are exasperating and likeable at the same time. They keep huge secrets from each other and yet they have an underlying straightforwardness that anchors their relationship. Their attraction is immediate, but it's not the kind of insta-lust that drives a lot of other stories. Their relationship contains lust, but it's not driven by lust. It's driven by mutual admiration and a slowly growing sense of trust. By the end of the book there is no doubt that they can totally count on each other regardless of what is going on in their lives or with their relationship.
Plus they are fun together – they seem to enjoy each other's company. They are at ease with each other as much as two people can be who have huge secrets and who are trying to keep from making out.
I'm not entirely sure that this counts as adventure, but The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer (B+)( A | BN | K ) is a myth retelling, and while there isn't outright swashbuckling, the heroine, Persephone, does have a journey to fulfill.
Another book that might appeal is Tropical Storm by Melissa Good ( A | BN), which, I believe, is Xena/Gabrielle fanfic. I have it lodged in my memory as “the Xena fanfic in a hurricane.” I haven't read it, but I have read a few threads about it, and readers who love it really really love it. But since the adventure isn't a thread throughout the plot of that one, I may have strayed too far off topic for your request.
As for other adventure romances, I have a few varied recommendations as well.
Hero is a more straightforward fairytale, but it's action-packed and satisfying with some refreshing twists on gender roles. It also has a very satisfying romance – in fact, although this book is not a romance novel specifically, the romance ends up being the most satisfying part of the book.
Scarlet Devices is a fun steampunk romance road trip, in which contestants drive and fly in steam-powered contraptions across the Continental US for a cash prize and heaps of glory. It has moments of brilliance and although I didn’t swoon over it, I sure did have a good time.
You might also really like some of the books of Cherry Adair ( A | BN | K), who has more adventure than serial-killer suspense in her stories, especially the Cutter Cay series ( A | BN | K), which follows undersea treasure hunters out on the ocean.
The trick with identifying adventure romance is to differentiate it from romantic suspense, or road trip stories. I think of adventure romances as a bit of a blend of suspense and road trip/journey stories, because part of the adventure is the quest for an object or goal (or Macguffin), and the adventure itself brings the romance into prominence in the characters' lives. But what form that adventure takes can vary widely.
What about you: how do you define or identify adventure romances? Do you have any adventure romances you adore? Are there any you'd recommend to Ilona?