Will Forte in Parks and Rec holding Photoshopped Fourth Wing books.

Craving Some Spicy Escapism? These Are the 10 Best Fantasy Romance Books for Adult Readers

You’re never too old to play pretend. Especially not sexy pretend—i.e. role-play. It’s just R-rated imagination games! Here are the best fantasy romance books for adults, ranked. With an emphasis on adult.

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10.Paladin’s Grace

The novel Paladin's Grace
(Red Wombat)

He’s the holy servant of a dead god, she’s a perfumer with a nose for uncovering intrigue. It’s a match made in high fantasy heaven. After a meet-cute involving fleeing from highway brigands, this adorable pair must put their heads together to solve a mystery in the court of their kingdom! It’s a total comfort read, like eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s with your eyeballs and heart. It doesn’t matter that the plot can get a little bit messy at times. Love is the messiest thing of all, right? That sounded wrong.

9. Kushiel’s Dart

Cover of "Kushiel's Dart"
(Tor Books)

Phèdre nó Delaunay is sort of a ninja courtesan. She was trained by a secret order to be a highly skilled spy and an even better seducer. She’s also blessed by an angel. Or cursed, depending on the way you look at it. The angel Kushiel gave her a mote in her eye that makes her unable to distinguish between pleasure and pain. It’s a good bad or bad good thing? Nothing that her protector and love interest Joscelin Verreuil won’t be able to figure out with her while the pair simultaneously navigate political intrigue in their homeland and webs of subterfuge!

8. The House in the Cerulean Sea

"The House in the Cerulean Sea" book cover
(Tor Books)

The House in the Cerulean Sea is a warm blanket of a novel. A slow hug for your soul. It’s about a mild-mannered caseworker for a government organization that handles magical children. Because in this world, there are magical children. He is called to leave his humdrum city life behind and write a report on a beautiful house on the sea, and the magical children who live in it with their (totally hot and charming) guardian. The disgruntled caseworker is soon given a new lease on life and goes from detached observer to part of the adorable family.

7. Howl’s Moving Castle

Cover art for "Howl's Moving Castle" the novel
(Greenwillow Books)

Before it was a breathtaking Studio Ghibli film, Howl’s Moving Castle was one of the finest fantasy romance novels on the shelves. The story centers around Sophie Hatter, a young woman who is cursed to have an old lady’s body after she runs afoul of a nasty witch. Sophie decides to seek out the only person who can potentially help her lift the curse, the wizard Howl who lives in a castle that walks on mechanical feet. Upon arriving at Howl’s moving castle, she discovers the wizard isn’t some old gray-bearded Gandalf type but a total hottie. Sure he hangs out with a semi-malevolent fire demon quite a bit, but no one is perfect.

6. Fourth Wing

Fourth Wing
(Red Tower Books)

Violet Sorrengail was never supposed to be a dragon rider. She’s little. She’s got a small frame and joint pain. But instead of joining a safe detachment of the kingdom’s military, she is forced by her mother to join the most dangerous one. The one where you have to pilot magical flying reptiles in combat. To make things worse she faces cutthroat competition from her peers and the scrutiny of her commanding officer. At least he’s hot though. Like, real hot.

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses

Cover art for A Court of Thorns and Roses in black and white, with the covers for A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.
(Bloomsbury Publishing/Edited by El Kuiper)

If you’re going to kill a wolf in the woods with your bow and arrow, make sure that wolf isn’t under the protection of magical beings. Otherwise you might get kidnapped by a hot beast faerie man and taken to his magical fae kingdom to atone for your crimes… by having a lot of sex. On second thought, that might be exactly the kind of life you’re seeking out. In your downtime from stalking through the forest, let A Court of Thorns and Roses inspire you when you start to run out of stamina. This is just book one of a whole series. Pace yourself.

4. Daughter of the Forest

Cover art for "Daughter of the Forest"
(Pan Macmillan Australia)

The first book in the Sevenwaters trilogy, the titular Daughter in this series has it rough. 13-year-old Sorcha has six brothers, and somehow they all managed to get turned into swans by a nasty witch. How can she break the curse? By sewing six shirts of really painful nettles in total silence. Poor thing has to live in the woods and touch bad grass without making a sound or else she’ll never be able to break the spell. It’s a tough break, the only silver lining is that she has some help from a totally charming foreign man nicknamed Red. There’s always a bright side, even when dealing with curses.

3. The Priory of the Orange Tree

Cover art for "The Priory of the Orange Tree"
(Bloomsbury Publishing)

Thousands of years before The Priory of the Orange Tree an ancient dragon called The Nameless One made the world a pretty sucky place. Old no name spread a nasty plague and demanded daily human sacrifice not to destroy everyone. Eventually, the beast’s bad vibes were ended by a hero of old, and the world was peaceful once again. Now the monster threatens to rear its ugly head once more, and if that wasn’t bad enough for the kingdom of Inys’ Queen Sabran, she also has to produce an heir in order to stop the thing. Thankfully she has her lady-in-waiting Ead to confide in … romantically, that is.

2. Outlander

Outlander book 1 by Diana Galaldon

World War II nurse Claire Randall touched the wrong rock. While on vacation with her husband in the Scottish highlands, she came into contact with one of the Standing Stones and was transported back in time to the 18th century. Thankfully there were some burly Scottish clansmen there to receive her, and they could really use her medical expertise. Highland warrior Jamie Fraser certainly needs some patching up … especially when the wounds are on his heart. Only Claire’s love can help.

1. Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is in a league of its own. Painstakingly written and rewritten for over a decade, the novel reads more like a long-form poem than prose. Song of Achilles reimagines the romance between Achilles and his lover Patroclus, focusing on their friendship as two young boys which soon blossoms into an achingly beautiful romance that defies kings, gods, and fate. The pair are doomed to die in the Trojan War. They know this. We know this. But they go anyway. We keep reading anyway. Reading this novel is like watching a car crash between two Ferraris in slow motion. It’s beautiful. It’s violent. It’s tragic. You can’t look away. You will sob through the last 50 pages. You will love every brutal minute of it.

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.