The Rec League: Adventure Romance!

The Rec LeagueIlona 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.


Book Blades of the Rose Bundle - four books, $10 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.

Book Tropical Storm 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 by Alethea Kontis (B+) ( A | BN | K | iB) is a YA fantasy, but Carrie really enjoyed the adventure and gender subversion in that story, writing in her review:

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 by Delphine Dryden (B-) (A | BN| K | ARe) is steampunk, also reviewed by Carrie, who wrote:

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? 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Kael says:

    The Nightkeeper books, by Jessica Andersen are pretty adventure-y and deal with Mayan/Aztec mythology which is awesome (except for the last book, the last book is just totally WTF?)


    Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase is full of good-ol’ fashioned Egypt fun, of the Victorian era variety. If you loved The Mummy you’ll love this.

  2. 2
    Jessica says:

    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorite adventure romances. I consider it more of an adventure novel with a heavy romance element, but it’s a great book.

  3. 3
    Miranda says:

    Sarah Dreher writes a good lesbian mystery/romance/paranormal series about a woman named Stoner McTavish.

  4. 4
    Lynnd says:

    I love adventure romances and the Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook is excellent.  for your criteria, I particularly would recommend Riveted.  It is a steampunk set in Iceland.  This was an “A” read for me.  The writing and world-building are superb and the characters are all just so wonderful.  There is loads of adventure.


    While the primary romance isn’t lesbian, there are a couple of secondary lesbian romances.

  5. 5
    Hannah says:

    The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin by Colette Moody is an historical pirate lesbian romance—not too many other books like this one, I think!

  6. 6
    Judy W says:

      OK, These are not Lesbian romances but I remember the adventure part was compelling and impossible to put down.  Just HOW were they going to get out of This mess(?) stuff. It was Patricia Veryan “The Golden Chronicles”. Each book was stand alone with an overall story arc that was propelled along by each book.  The Kate Daniels series reminds me of this type of story (another good action packed series in urban fantasy). Veryan might be hard to find since her backlist isn’t available in digital yet (YES PLEASE).  If you like fantasy at all I remember recently reading The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes that was a heist caper in a Game of Thrones type setting.  Also, Meljean Brooks series The Iron Seas is fast paced adventure like with a steampunk setting that you know you like already.  Good luck.

  7. 7
    SB Sarah says:


    I think “Stoner McTavish” may be one of the most fabulous character names I’ve ever heard.

  8. 8
    Miranda says:

    She’s named after Lucy B. Stone :D

  9. 9
    CarrieS says:

    Not a lesbian romance, but for historical adventure of course there’s The Windflower.  Pirates!  Dennis the pig!  Tropical islands!  I don’t think you could beat that for purely fun, sort of historical, exotic romantic adventure. 

    One of the first romances I read was “What a Scoundrel Wants” by Carrie Lofty – again, it’s a m/f, but high on adventure.  It’s about Will Scarlet, the pal of Robin Hood.  No Steampunk, lots of medieval hijiks and a great heroine.  Also, re steampunk adventure, I highly recommend “The Friday Society” which I reviewed here

    I second the recommendation of Riveted.  The first book, Iron Duke, is also fantastic but it has a very alpha hero, so for this reader Riveted would prob be a better fit, also the characters travel a lot and end up in Iceland so…exotic locale FTW!

    ‘I’m another person who loves adventure but can’t handle romantic suspense – I think maybe suspense has a realistic element to it that freaks me out in a way adventure doesn’t.

  10. 10

    This post reminded me of a couple of 1990s Silhouette Desire titles by Laura Leone, who publishes SF/F under her own name these days as Laura Resnick—not lesbian titles, obviously, but definitely adventures with a strong sense of humor.  Untouched By Man is literally a treasure hunt, and gets points for featuring a plot in which the villain is, in fact, the hero’s Evil Twin Skippy.  (I promise, I am not making this up!)  Under The Voodoo Moon is a caper adventure involving a classic amnesia plot, a stuffed pink bunny, and a heroine named Cherish Love; there is a family connection to the prior book, but I will refrain from spoiling that too specifically here.  I also have the vague memory that there was a third book in which Evil Twin Skippy managed to redeem himself, but I somehow don’t have a copy of that one.

    And it would be remiss of us not to mention Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss novels in this context, as Vicky and John are certainly among the all-time stars of the treasure-hunt caper adventure genre.

  11. 11
    Leslieknits says:

    First to Burn by Anna Richland is another adventure romance that fits the bill! Italy, USA, Afghanistan, Scandinavia- ancient immortal hero and fetching, smart heroine! Excellent contemporary romance with a supernatural bent. Couldn’t put it down!

  12. 12
    chacha1 says:

    +1 to Elizabeth Peters, she’s the first to come to mind for me.  Vicky Bliss OR Amelia Peabody; Peabody brings the history, and both series have fun/sexy but not explicit romance elements.  The romances are all ‘straight’ but if that’s not a deal-breaker there are a lot of these to indulge in if you like them.

    Also +1 to Patricia Veryan, who has cropped up here a couple of times recently and obviously I need to mow through them again once I finish my current TBR pile.  :-)

    Is anybody writing lesbian fanfic about Lara Croft?  Because now that I think of it, if nobody else is, I might start.  Heh.

  13. 13

    I enjoyed Jae’s Backwards to Oregon (historical, Oregon Trail) and Andi Marquette’s Some Kind of River (kayaking, contemp). Both lesbian romances with strong settings and journey/adventure themes.

  14. 14
    traveller says:

    First to Burn by Anna Richland- I loved it, too! And especially because it was a rollicking adventure story with a strong romance. And it was hard not to love Sgt. Wulf Wardsen and Capt. Theresa Chiesa. Both trying to do the right thing and protect each other, and just live their lives honorably. Even if Wulf has been leading his life as an Immortal Viking! They get swept up in international heroin smuggling ring—adventures, chases and explosions that lead them all over the globe.

  15. 15
    Julie Brannagh says:

    +1 for Leslieknits and Anna Richland’s FIRST TO BURN. Besides being action-packed, the writing is gorgeous, and you’ll be enthralled with a hero that makes THOR pale in comparison!

  16. 16
    Cordy says:

    Seconding Mr. Impossible: it’s a historical adventure set in Egypt, the heroine is an undercover genius, and the hero is a big jockish type who is delighted that the heroine is so much smarter than him. I really, really liked their dynamic. It’s entirely charming!

  17. 17
    Kris Bock says:

    My romantic adventure Rattled has some of the factors you mentioned:

    A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic—and deadly—New Mexico desert….

    The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider.

    When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

    Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of?

    “The story has it all—action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship….” – reader review

    Read the first three chapters at

    On Amazon:

    Now I’m going to go look up some of the other titles mentioned here!

  18. 18
    Ilona says:

    Hey guys, loving all the recommendations. I’m definitely going to be broke this week with all the books I’ll buy.

    Note, they do not need to be lesbian romances I just tend to switch to them whenever I get over reading story after story featuring some alpha hero who doesn’t tell the heroine anything ‘for her own good’ and then it backfires horribly and he’s all ‘I was protecting you’ and thinks that makes it all okay. Sometimes I’m all fine with that but once I’ve read five in a row I tend to get a twitch and start throwing books.

  19. 19
    dg33-2014 says:

    Love Love Love First to Burn.  Surprising twists – amazing plot – and wonderfully real character development

  20. 20
    Malin says:

    I see that several people have already recommended Meljean Brook’s Riveted, which is indeed great. My favourite in the series is Heart of Steel, though, which is action packed, full of adventure, with a tremendously kick-ass and capable heroine, and a roguish explorer hero who has no problem with the woman he loves being an airship captain and probably a lot more deadly and dangerous than him. I adore that book, and the follow-up novella.

  21. 21
    Michelle says:

    Judy: I agree with you – I love Patricia Veryan’s Golden Chronicles and wish they were available in digital format

  22. 22
    Jen says:

    Yes, definitely anything by Zoe Archer! I’m still working my way through her backlist but based on the 6 or so I’ve read so far, she is awesome at adventure. I love romantic adventure too but not I can’t exactly think of any besides what’s already been mentioned that knocked my socks off. But I’m going to be following up on a whole bunch of these names and titles…

  23. 23
    G says:

    You might like Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi – lesbian romance space opera.

  24. 24

    Some of my favorite adventure romances are the books by Madeleine Brent from the late 70s-early 80s. They’re probably best described as “adventure gothic” because, like the classic gothics, they usually involve the heroine being stuck in a house, surrounded by secrets and people she isn’t sure she can trust, but these heroines are no wilting flowers or damsels in distress. The standard plot was that there was an orphan raised in some exotic place, where she learned all kinds of mad skills, then her true identity was discovered and she turned out to be a British heiress and had to go back to Victorian England, where she did NOT fit in. But then it turns out that the people who’d been enjoying her inheritance before she was found weren’t all that happy about her being found and might be trying to do away with her, so she uses her mad skills to get out of the jam and rescue the hero. There’s always a romance, but the focus is on the adventure, so there aren’t any sex scenes, and the romantic heroes tend to be refreshingly beta, although extremely competent (lots and lots of competence porn in these books). “Madeleine Brent” is actually a pseudonym for Peter O’Donnell, who wrote the Modesty Blaise books, so, yeah, kickass heroines.

    One of my favorites is Stranger at Wildings, in which the heroine ran away to join the circus and as a result has all kinds of climbing and balance skills. Then there’s Stormswift, in which the heroine was the daughter of a British official in Afghanistan, left behind after a massacre and forced to marry a local warlord, from whom she eventually escapes, only to get back to England and find that someone stole her identity in her absence. I’ve reread these all dozens of times, going back to my early teens, and I wish there were more like these (I have Grand Plans to try writing something like it, but with magic, of course, because that’s how I roll).

  25. 25
    Terri says:

    Blades of the Rose was a great series, though anything by Zoe Archer has my vote.  I just finished reading The Book of True Desires, by Betina Krahn that was an adventure in search of Mayan gold.  Really witty, creepy bad guy, perfect strong, stubborn romance couple…really good read.

  26. 26
    jelly_Ace says:

    I really really love Zoe Archer’s Warrior and Meljean Brooks’s The Iron Duke. And great ways to get into these authors’ works.

  27. 27
    Heather Rose Jones says:

    If you can find a good historical, adventure, lesbian romance in some interesting location I will owe you a pack of Tim Tams.

    Is it allowed to note that my own novel Daughter of Mystery (Bella Books) meets these criteria on the nose? Ruritanian Regency-era romantic adventure with magic and swashbuckling. (I may be biased, but you can always check the amazon reviews for folks who aren’t.)

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