I love fantasy in all its forms, which I’ve broken down into various subgenres in a past Book Riot post. I also love romance, with its delicious tropes, yearning, and emotional breakthroughs. When you put them together in high fantasy romance books, it makes for a unique, high-stakes, romping good time.
In my subgenre article, I describe high fantasy as the following:
Now, take all that and add a core romance between main characters, and what culminates is one of my favorite story recipes. With high fantasy romance books, not only are we gifted a love story between main characters, but we also get to experience this dynamic in a new world full of creatures, epic quests and/or battles, magic systems, all in societies both similarly to and uniquely from our own.
In truth, many high fantasy books have romance, either as a dominant factor or as a subplot. With this list, I’m focusing on books that are the former, with romance being at the forefront, and said romance influences the stakes of the story. Some of my recommendations are slow burn (Hurricane Wars), a lot are enemies-to-lovers, where there is tension—and even hatred—between characters before they fall hard (The Wolf and the Woodsman), and all set in a secondary world. A few of these books are stand-alones, and a few are set in a series that either has a direct sequel or is set in the same world as other books in the series.
Whichever high fantasy romance books you dive into, take comfort in that you will be stunned and impressed by these high fantasy romance worlds with their own politics and mythos, along with smoldering love stories.
8 High Fantasy Romance Books
Radiance (Wraith Kings #1) by Grace Draven
One cannot talk about high fantasy romance without mentioning the great Grace Draven. There are many books from her body of work that can make this list, but I find Radiance absolutely timeless. It’s a story where a human woman weds a Kai prince. Brishen Khaskem of the Kai finds the human Ildiko as ugly as he feared, and the feeling is honestly mutual. But, as both were used by their relatives for political gain, they find strength, comfort, and a deep abiding love in each other.
The Hurricane Wars (The Hurricane Wars #1) by Thea Guanzon
This breathtaking debut is taking the world by storm, and for good reason! It’s a brilliant enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn romance, and whew is it an exquisite slow burn. Talasyn is the last lightweaver with the ability to wield light magic, though she still has much to learn about her powers and her past. Growing up an orphan, she now fights against the tyrannical Night Empire’s rule. Prince Alaric, son of the Night Emperor and adept at shadow magic, finds Talaysn on the battlefield. They always survive each other’s wrath, and that wrath gives way to curiosity, especially with how their powers react to each other. As the Hurricane Wars wage on, with its mounting death toll and political machinations, Alaric and Talasyn must contend with the growing tension between them, both on and off the battlefield.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
This is one of my favorite fantasy books of all time, gorgeous and all-encompassing. Based on Polish folklore, it follows Agnieszka, who is unexpectedly selected by the local wizard, the Dragon, for her magical powers. Together, they try to find a way to battle the Wood, where darkness lurks and seeks to take over the land. This isn’t so much enemies-to-lovers as being supremely annoyed at first with each other. The Dragon is less than impressed with what powers she has, and Agnieszka obviously blames him for upending her entire life. As they get to know each other while also battling the mysteries and secrets of the Wood, their affection slowly blooms. Agnieszka must figure out how to keep her family and best friend safe while also discovering how to wield her magic.
Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle #1) by C.L. Polk
This is a case where I wanted to include everything C.L. Polk writes because every book is amazing. Witchmark was my first foray into Polk’s writing, so I will always have a fondness for it. This heart-wrenching queer love story follows Miles Singer, who faked his own death at the warfront so he could escape his destiny. Miles is marked by magic, either to be enslaved by his family or committed to a witch’s asylum. Now, Miles hides in plain sight as a doctor helping other soldiers cope with their physical and emotional war scars. There, Miles meets the most beautiful man he’s ever met, Tristan, and together, they have to solve the murder of one of Mile’s patients. It is a tender love story, full of kindness, which feels so right in a world haunted by a global war, not unlike our own.
The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid
Oh my gosh, this book. A *chef’s kiss* tale of enemies to lovers. This is a book of overcoming oppression, of healing and growing in the face of tyranny, and the love we find during the darkest of times. Évike is the only woman in her village without powers and is therefore an outcast. When the Holy Order of Woodsmen comes to claim a blood sacrifice for the king, Évike is betrayed by her village and surrenders. Gáspár, a woodsman, is no ordinary woodsman but a disgraced prince, the son of a foreign queen. Together, Évike and Gáspár must decide whose side they’re on despite their growing affection and whether they should save a nation that has always shunned them.
Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri
Any time “high fantasy romance” is in my head, voilà, there’s Empire of Sand. In this Mughal India-inspired fantasy, Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman; her mother was Amrithi, nomads descended from desert spirits, who are both shunned and coveted for the power in their blood. Mehr is given to Amun in an arranged marriage, and Mehr is brought to the Emperor so he can utilize her powers for his own plans. Amun is the perfect brooding yet tender-hearted hero, and their love amidst magic and tyranny is such a beautiful thing to behold. This is a book I wish I could read again for the first time.
The Jasmine Throne (The Burning Kingdoms #1) by Tasha Suri
Did I include Tasha Suri twice because I believe she’s a savant of high fantasy romance? You betcha! The Jasmine Throne is a brilliant start to an epic tale of resistance and queer romance. Princess Malini is imprisoned at the Hirana temple at the order of her despotic brother. The Hirana is a ruin but also a place of immense power, where Priya, a priestess, is able to tap into its potential. Priya and Princess Malini see a future with each other’s help, but resisting an empire is fraught with danger, including the temptation they have for one another.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Celestial Kingdom #1) by Sue Lynn Tan
This is such a gorgeous book. Xingyin grew up on the moon, unaware that she is in hiding and that her mother is in exile after stealing from the Celestial Emperor. When Xingyin comes into her powers, she has to leave her mother behind and run. She disguises herself after she reaches the Celestial Kingdom and finds herself learning about archery and her magic alongside the Celestial Emperor’s son. Needless to say—because this is also one of my favorite setups—romance ensues between Xingyin and the prince!
I hope these are a good jumping-off point for your high fantasy romance adventures! There are so many high fantasy romance books in the world to enjoy, and many of the above are the first in a series, with the sequels either already out or forthcoming. Additionally, there are authors on the list who have an ample backlist of books for you to dig into (especially if you’re waiting for any new works). If you’re looking for more romance and/or fantasy reads, check out the following: