What is Fantasy Romance?

Thursday’s Bite

a fantasy romance blog

prince by blood and bone by jessica aspenBefore we dive into the blog, I have to share.  Prince by Blood and Bone, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court, received FIVE STARS from Night Owl Reviews. 


“As a huge fan of fairy tales, I had no doubt that I would simply adore this series. What makes them even better and much more intriguing is the darkness that is woven so skillfully throughout them. Prince by Blood and Bone is the second novel in the ever so thrilling Tales of the Black Court trilogy by author Jessica Aspen, and let me say, this novel is awesome!”  night owl reviews top pick

Now on to the topic for today: What is “fantasy romance”?  Isn’t there romance in all fantasy novels? And why is or isn’t it paranormal romance? How did it get it’s own label?


When I started writing The Dark Huntsman there was fantasy and there was romance. Paranormal romance had just become something that might be a genre, and very soon it exploded into a genre packed with werewolves and vampires, and a smattering of elves and fairy tales, but on the whole, there wasn’t much fantasy in the romance genre. Now, fantasy romance is it’s own genre, but it’s still a tiny slice of the romance pie. When you search for it, very little actually comes up, and you end up with fantasy stories that have some romance in them being mixed in with mid-evil romances and Gothic romances.

Despite all of that, fantasy romance is a genre. Look, it even has a definition on Wikipedia!

Romantic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy fiction, describing a fantasy story using many of the elements and conventions of the romance genre.[1]

One of the key features of romantic fantasy involves the focus on relationships, social, political, and romantic.[2] Romantic fantasy has been published by both fantasy lines and romance lines.

Some publishers distinguish between “romantic fantasy” where the romance is most important and “fantasy romance” where the fantasy elements are most important.[1] Others say that “the borderline between fantasy romance and romantic fantasy has essentially ceased to exist, or if it’s still there, it’s moving back and forth constantly”.[3]  From Wikipedia, romantic fantasy

Even by the time I published The Dark Huntsman I ran into some hurdles with calling it a fantasy romance. Entering it in contests, fantasy romance wasn’t always listed. I had to enter it in competition with other types of paranormal romance and sci-fi romance. That works for me, because I feel like fantasy romance is a sub-genre of paranormal romance.

Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of both romantic fiction and speculative fiction. Paranormal romance focuses on romantic love and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the speculative fiction genres of fantasyscience fiction, and horror. Paranormal romance may range from traditional category romances, such as those published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, with a paranormal setting to stories where the main emphasis is on a science fiction or fantasy based plot with a romantic subplot included. Common hallmarks are romantic relationships between humans and vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other entities of a fantastic or otherworldly nature. From Wikipedia, paranormal romance

That’s great, because I’ve defined myself as a paranormal romance writer. I twist fairy tales, but I also write about werewolves, shapeshifters, and witches. With a few elves thrown in for good measure. Keeping my writing in the realm of paranormal keeps me within a genre that I’m hoping will encourage my readers from one series to stretch to reading the next series. In other words, if you like paranormal romance, you should like the fantasy romances.

See how that works?

Keeping the romance the strong part of my author brand lets me stretch my fairy tale twists from Radon, Colorado all the way to Underhill. And that’s fun for me, and (hopefully!) fun for the reader. Have you read fantasy romances? What authors or series to you like? What did you like about them? Were they heavy on the romance, or were they heavy on the fantasy?

Want to find out when my latest fantasy romance is coming out? Subscribe to my new release only mailing list. Only new release information and special sales will be sent out so you don’t have to worry about me clogging up your inbox.




Filed under Fantasy Romance, Prince by Blood and Bone, Tales of the Black Court, Thursdays Bite, Writer's Journey

7 responses to “What is Fantasy Romance?

  1. Wow. That review is awesome!!

  2. Great review, Jessica! I also chuckled in my English teacher head at your definition of yourself: paranormal fantasy writer. Just a tiny bit of my brain wants to say you are not paranormal but wonderfully normal. Of course the rest of it says you are just wonderful! 🙂

  3. Pingback: [Cover Reveal] Being, by Mechelle Morrison | iequalsAlissa

  4. Jessica, I have often pondered this line. My publisher originally designated my books paranormal, but then offered us authors a choice of sub-paranormals, like fantasy, time-travel etc. I put my books under fantasy because they don’t have typical paranormal elements (vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, demons, fallen angels). But the focus is always on the relationship. It could probably go either way by the sounds of it.

    • Because of the elf element I think yours would fall under the fantasy category. Elves definitely are fantasy creatures, but you are right. Your books take place mostly in our world, and don’t have much of the typical high fantasy world building so if you chose simply paranormal, I think you would be right on. When I first started writing The Tales of The Black Court, there really wasn’t a fantasy/paranormal genre. I’m so glad it’s there now!

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