Dear Bitches, Smart Authors Podcast

59. Reader Recommendations: Paranormal Romance and Historical Mysteries

Time for listener mail! Jane and Sarah answer two email messages from listeners, one from a reader who is looking for paranormal recommendations, and another who is looking for historical mysteries with perhaps some romance. If you have suggestions as to which titles we totally forgot to mention, please email us!

Here are the books we talk about during this episode:

Book Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs Book Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter Book Must Love Fangs

Book Beauty Dates the Beast Book Caris Roane -  Ascension Book The Mane Event- Shelley Laurenston

Book Pack Challenge  - Shelley Laurenston Book Dragon, Actually GA Aiken Book Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs

Book How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf Book  Eileen Wilks - Tempting Danger Eileen Wilks Book Fury - Laurann Dohner

Book Pride Mates - Jennifer Ashley Book Darynda Jones - First Grave on the Right Book Single White Vampire

Book The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova Book The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield Book The Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries - Ashley Gardner

Book Cocaine Blues - Phryne Fisher



Book Possession

This podcast is brought to you by New American Library, publisher of Possession.

#1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward explores what really happens when good and evil toy with humanity in her new novel of the Fallen Angels….

When Cait Douglass resolves to get over her broken heart, throw off her inhibitions, and start really living, she’s unprepared for the two sensual men who cross her path. Torn between them, she doesn’t know which to choose–or what kind of dire consequences could follow.

Jim Heron, fallen angel and reluctant savior, is ahead in the war, but he puts everything at risk when he seeks to make a deal with the devil–literally. As yet another soul is unwittingly caught in the battle between him and the demon Devina, his fixation on an innocent trapped in Hell threatens to sidetrack him from his sacred duty…

Can good still prevail if true love makes a savior weak? And will a woman’s future be the key, or the curse, for all of humanity? Only time, and hearts, will tell.

Pick up your copy of Possession wherever books are sold!







This week's music was provided by Sassy Outwater, and this track is called Martha Stuart by Enter the Haggis. You can find them on their website and you can find them on iTunes as well.

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  1. 1
    Heather S says:

    Susanna Kearsley! Her books have historical, suspense, paranormal, with a dash of romance. I thought “Mariana” was very good. “The Winter Sea” was practically perfect in every way, of course.

  2. 2
    Jo says:

    Historical mysteries with a dash of romance:

    My very favorite – Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series by C S Harris

    Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn

    Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig

    Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander

  3. 3
    ladybookworm61882 says:

    Kresley Cole books are good.

  4. 4
    sandyl says:

    I second the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries. And for paranormal romance, I very much recommend the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire.

    And the Cadfael series by Ellis Peters is excellent. Each book is centered around a couple. The writing is beautiful.

  5. 5
    Mary Beth says:

    To historical mysteries with a touch of romance, I would add:  P.B. Ryan’s Gilded Age series, Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series, and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisy Dobbs series – they are all GREAT books.  I also agree with the above recommendations made by Jo.

  6. 6
    Connie says:

    I definitely second the P.B. Ryan’s Gilded Age series and in addition to Jo’s recommendations I am really enjoying the Captain Lacy series by Ashley Gardner (a.k.a. Jennifer Ashley).I love all of Susanna Kearsley!

  7. 7
    Laura says:

    Kresley Cole (for paranormal) for sure!

  8. 8
    Karen D says:

    Kate Ross’s Julian Kestrel books are a great historical mystery set with a touch of romance. Alas, Ms. Ross passed away after completing just 4 books so it is an unfinished series. Still well worth reading though!

  9. 9
    PamG says:

    My favorite historical mysteries w/touch of romance:

    Sarah Smith’s wonderful trilogy that includes The Vanished Child, The Knowledge of Water, & A Citizen of the Country may be my all time favorites.  These take place in the early 20th century and feature lushly atmospheric settings, intricately detailed characters, escalating suspense, and a wonderfully complicated romance arc.

    Also Imogene Robertson has a superbly written series featuring Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther and starting with Instruments of Darkness.  These are set in the 19th century and share many sterling qualities with Smith’s series but have much less of a romance arc.  Secondary characters fall in love and perhaps there is a tiny bit of potential for the main characters at this point but who knows?

    Finally, I second Arianna Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series, but—be ye warned—the fourth book features the worst kind of cliffhanger and then the author died….

  10. 10

    At the risk of being an obnoxious self-promoter, I have a historical series out that is a combination of romance, mystery and adventure.  Tainted Angel, and soon-to-published Daughter of the God-King.

  11. 11
    Anne says:

    I highly recommend (in the historical mystery with a dash of romance category):

    The Nell Sweeney Mystery Series by P.B. Ryan—
    Still Life with Murder
    Murder in a Mill Town
    Death on Beacon Hill
    Murder on Black Friday
    Murder in the North End
    A Bucket of Ashes

    They are set in post-Civil War Boston. Fantastic!

  12. 12
    Miranda says:

    Historical mysteries with romance: Barbara Hambly’s Ben January series. Book 1, A Free Man of Color doesn’t have any romance, that gets started in Book 2.

    Paranormal: The Blood books by Tanya Huff

  13. 13
    Lisa Jo says:

    Hey SB Sarah!

    I want to let anyone know who is into sci-fi erotica romance to read “The Last Hour of Gann” by R. Lee Smith!  I know it might not be a romance reader’s cup of tea but it is sooo worth reading for readers who have a love of sci-fi with a bit of horror-kink.  ;)

    Think Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, John Varley…

    It’s a journey, WOW!

  14. 14
    Beth Yarnall says:

    I was going to recommend your book Tainted Angel @Anne Cleeland! It was advertised right here on SB, too!

  15. 15
    library addict says:

    I enjoyed the first Rebecca Zanetti Sin Brothers book, but it was rather angsty.

    For paranormal-lite, I would recommend Jayne Castle’s Psynergy Inc books (Amaryllis, Zinnia, Orchid).  I also like her World of Harmony/GhostHunters books. Each book is one romance, but the series is still going so it doesn’t satisfy the non-ongoing saga criteria.

  16. 16
    kate Pearce says:

    Ooh I have a new Regency historical mystery series coming out in November under my alter-ego Catherine Lloyd name. It’s Regency cozy so romantic subplot and it’s called Death Comes to the Village.
    And others I love are Susanna Kearsley, the Sebastian St.Cyr series and Captain Gabriel Lacey. and Anne Cleeland’s which are awesome. also Deanna Raybourne.

  17. 17
    Kaetrin says:

    Re the paranormal romances.  I’ve listened to all of Molly Harper’s PNR books. The Jane Jameson books are a series but each has a HEA, with Jane and Gabriel (that is to say that after book 1, they start off together, their relationship is threatened somehow, hijinks ensue with various other problems/characters and in the end, the problems are solved and Jane and Gabriel are happy again).  There are other books in the series which are “Half Moon Hollow” books each with a new hero and heroine and they are stand alone but in the Jane Jameson universe.  There are 4 full length books for Jane/Gabriel (plus one novella).  They are funny and light and great on audio as well. I think it’s easier to appreciate the spin off books (Driving Mr. Dead, The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires, A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses etc) if one has read the JJ books first because there are recurring characters but it’s not essential.

    There are her Naked Werewolf books too and they are loosely related but each has it’s own main couple who get a HEA at the end.  They are a different series to the JJ series – apart from a sly wink here and there, there isn’t any crossover.

  18. 18
    Gwen says:

    Pat McIntosh’s Gil Cunningham murder mysteries are set in medieval Scotland. First book is The Harper’s Quine. The ongoing relationship of Gil and Alys is an important element of the srory arc.

  19. 19
    MaryC says:

    Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight series

  20. 20
    Anne says:

    If you like lighter paranormals with shapeshifters, try Vivian Arend’s books.  There is a series of 6 novellas and then 3 related (same world) books.  I think that a fourth book is planned. 

    I agree with the recs for Arianna Franklin and Susanna Kearsley for historical mysteries.  If you like regency and spy centric books, there are Joanna Bourne’s books (Black Hawk is my favorite) and Tracy/Teresa Grant’s books (start with Secrets of a Lady).  I’ve also just begun a 5 book series by Nita Abrams set during the Napoleonic War, which is more mystery/thriller than romance.  The main characters are an Anglo-Jewish family—which I’m finding quite intriguing.

  21. 21
    Sarah says:

    A recommendation for the paranormal romance is author Kira Brady.  She only has two books (so far) in the Deadglass series. But each one while taking place in the same world, focuses on different characters, which I think is key in avoiding the ennui of the same things happening to the same characters.  I heartily agree with the Jessica Sims recommendation, love that series.

  22. 22
    Jo says:

    One more to add to my historical mystery/romance list is the fantastic Discreet Gentleman series by Kris Tualla. These books have a nice balance between mystery and romance. The secondary characters add real depth to the story, as does the setting – Norway. The thing that really sets this book apart is the hero, Brander Hansen, has been deaf since the age of seven.

    Discreet Gentleman of Discovery, …of Matrimony, …of Consequence, …of Intrigue (due out this month) and …of Mystery (due out on December).

  23. 23
    xixi says:

    Agh, I knew I forgot something! Miriam Grace Monfredo’s Seneca Falls Inheritance/Glynis Tryon series. Set in the 19th century in Seneca Falls.

  24. 24
    Melanie says:

    The Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn, who has also written many wonderful traditional Regencies.  The first book is “Death at Wentwater Court.”  It’s set in 1920s England.  Daisy is from a titled family, but in the aftermath of the First World War, she’s earning her living as a journalist.  She and Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard meet in the course of the murder investigation, and the romance develops in the subsequent books.

  25. 25

    For paranormals, I second Vivian Arend’s wolfies and throw in Dana Marie Bell’s THE WALLFLOWER. (You can go from there.)

  26. 26
    Philippa B says:

    Cocaine Blues is a lot of fun, but some of the later Phryne Fisher books are better.  The first one is mostly about establishing character (and for those who have only seen the tv show, the books are much much better)

  27. 27
    Elise says:

    My autobuy paranormals, besides Nalini Singh (whose writing I adore), are Meljean Brook’s Guardian’s and Ilona Andrews’ Edge books, which each have a stand alone couple with over arching storyline and conclusion. The Guardians can be a bit tough to get into but Meljean has a bunch of info on her website to help jumpstart the series. Her steampunk is amazing as well.

  28. 28

    Three more historical mystery series worth mentioning:

    The Sister Frevisse mysteries by Margaret Frazer, set in late Chaucerian England: these begin as a more or less straight variation on the “Brother Cadfael” series, but the series evolves to include a good deal of political intrigue, and the murder plots are considerably twistier.

    The Gil Cunningham mysteries by Pat McIntosh, set in 15th century Scotland: the protagonist is a young lawyer in Glasgow, the plotting is often even twistier than Frazer’s—and though the dialogue can get a trifle dense at times, these books do the best job of any fiction I’ve ever read of actually rendering medieval Scots dialect so that it sounds historically authentic.  (It’s undoubtedly helpful that the author is herself a native Scotswoman.)

    The Simon of Girona mysteries by Caroline Roe, set in 14th century Spain: the protagonist is the (blind!) Jewish physician to the Bishop of Girona, who solves mysteries with the aid of his family, some of whom are more enthusiastic than others about his ongoing involvement with ecclesiastical and royal intrigue.  These are fascinating for their cross-cultural elements and the early medical lore, as well as for the engaging characters.

    The Frevisse and Cunningham series are, I think, either mostly in print or not too hard to find.  The Simon of Girona books may be trickier, as it’s been some years since the last book appeared and I believe it’s gone entirely OP.

  29. 29
    Kris Bock says:

    I agree with the Nell Sweeney Mystery Series by P.B. Ryan. Also Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery, by M. Louisa Locke.

  30. 30
    cleo says:

    PNR recommendations:

    Blades of the Rose series by Zoe Archer – think Victorian Indiana Jones, in a world where magic exists, with battling secret societies. 

    Second the Jayne Castle recommendation – her world building can be a bit silly, but her heroines are smart and quirky, and her heroes are strong but not assholes.  I think the Harmony books might work – the series is ongoing, but the stories are pretty self contained and there’s a resolution at the end of each book.

    Also Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk series

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