What would February be without Valentine’s Day? It’s the month of love and chocolate hearts, dates with your sweetheart, red and pink flowers, and cards full of endearing messages. It is the kind of holiday that people tend to love or hate though. Not everyone is a romantic I suppose. I’m not a romantic at heart, but I certainly don’t mind a little romance in my novels as long as the story has adventure, magic, and fearless women doing daring things too. Luckily, I have read some great novels that marry supernatural adventure, thrills, fearless heroines, and a bit of romance, even if that romance isn’t perfect. So whether you love Valentine’s Day or are all about an anti-Valentine’s Day but love a good adventure tale, these books should cover all the bases
Some say you can get to a man’s heart through his stomach, but in The Paper Magician by Charlie M. Holmberg, a young apprentice will skip the stomach and find herself trapped inside a man’s heart. This imaginative story has all the elements that I love. Adversity, resilience, danger, and courage. At the start, Ceony Twill, a recent graduate of the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, a school she almost wasn’t able to attend due to nefarious circumstances, arrives at Magician Emery Thane’s cottage to begin her internship. Ceony lives in a world where magicians command man-made materials such as metal, paper, plastic, and glass. As Ceony begins her internship, she’s heartbroken. Her dream of enchanting metal has been crushed by a shortage of paper magicians. She has been assigned to paper as her material. Ceony resigns herself to an uneventful life as a paper magician until she begins her studies under the careful tutelage of Thane, a strange, reserved, and kind magician.
Much to Ceony’s surprise she learns that paper magic is much more exciting than she had thought. She learns how to create moving images from reading words on paper and how to fold paper animals and animate them. Surprisingly, Ceony warms not only to paper magic but to Thane. Tragedy strikes one evening when an outlaw from Thane’s past, Lira, attacks him and steals his heart, literally. In desperation, Ceony crafts a paper heart to magically replace Thane’s stolen one. The paper heart will only save Thane for a short time so Ceony sets out to find Lira. When she confronts Lira she is magically cast into Thane’s heart. Ceony passes through the chambers of Thane’s heart trying to find a way out while avoiding the lethal Lira who is on her trail. Ceony will learn of Thanes most heartfelt memories, his hopes, and his regrets bringing her ever closer to the man. Will she get free? Will she save Thane? You’ll have to read it to find out.
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. Nix has a problem. She’s grown up on father’s ship, The Temptation, as he has navigated to the past, the present, and to mythical places such as the land of One Thousand and One Nights. Nix collects mythical creatures from Scandinavian sky herrings to caladrius birds and her mother’s shoulder-riding dragon, Swag. Her father, Slate, can travel to anywhere, real and fictional, as long as he has an accurate map. The catch is that the trip cannot be repeated. For all of Nix’s sixteen years the only place and time Slate has wanted to reach is Honolulu in 1868 for a second chance to be with Nix’s mother, Lin, before she dies. This presents a real problem for Nix because she wonders if she can exist in the same place and time as her historical self or if changing the past will endanger her very existence.
Finding their way to 1800s Hawaii, Nix, Slate, and the rest of the crew get swept up in intrigue, a criminal plot against the monarchy, and Hawaiian mythology. Nix is caught in a love triangle between Blake, the son of a wealthy businessman involved in a deal with Slate, and Kashmir, a Persian thief and crew member who helps Nix out of dangerous situations, flirts with her often, and calls her “amira.” meaning princess. Dodging bullets and the Hu’akai Po, the deadly Night Marchers, they try to steal a fortune in order to obtain a newly drawn map. Will they get away with the map? Will Nix have to find a way to escape her father’s world in order to survive? Read The Girl from Everywhere to find out Nix's fate.
Ghosts, mystery, family roots, and romance. The Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens has it all. I love this series because the main character, Amelia Gray, is an anthropologist and graveyard restorer. She also has a supernatural talent, she can see and communicate with ghosts. In the first novel, The Restorer, a dead body is found in the old southern cemetery Amelia is restoring. The crime brings Charleston detective, John Devlin into Amelia’s orbit. She’s instantly attracted but cannot spend too much time with Devlin. You see, he’s haunted by a woman and child. The dead are attracted to warmth and will siphon your energy to help them stay in the physical world.
Her father warned her of this when he taught her four rules to keep her safe.
Amelia tries to keep her distance from Devlin but as the investigation into the murder continues, she finds herself more and more inside his orbit. Although Devlin seems afflicted and at times weary, he and Amelia continue to become closer although a relationship doesn’t quite materialize.
The other elements of this story that are interesting are the history of Charleston, the definitions of cemetery symbolism, and the descriptions of ways in which to go about restoring neglected cemeteries. The introduction of a secret and very old school society draws Amelia into the murder and into a dangerous situation in the cemetery. She is a little unnerved to learn later that Devlin is a member of the society. Great fun in a creepy, atmospheric mystery with a touch of romance, history, and lost spirits. There are four other books in the series with one more on the way at the end of the month.
These are my favorites for magically supernatural adventure stories. They may not be full of romance but they are full of interesting characters, suspenseful adventures, and a little bit of flirting and chemistry between love interests along the way. Happy Valentine’s or anti-Valentine’s Day. Now grab yourself a book and some chocolate and enjoy!