Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and if you’re anything like me – a fan of free chocolate and a bit obsessed with fictional villains – you might be looking for some romance recs to help you weather the winter holiday. There’s a lot of lists out there for mainstream romance, but if you’re looking for fantasy or sci-fi – if you’re looking for more uhh, niche stuff, inside of that – then I might have a couple things up my sleeve.
As always, my recs come with a list of tropes and content warnings so you can tailor your reading/watching preferences even further. Hope you enjoy, and happy Galentine’s Day!
1. Blood In Roses+ (Otome Game)
Genres: Fantasy Romance / Gothic Romance
Play it if you like: Paranormal shifter romance, harem romance, vampires, werewolves, monster husbands, captive scenarios, mild damsel in distress tropes, gothic fashion
Content warnings: None
First on the list, I want to rec Blood In Roses+ for iOS and Android. It’s an otome game produced by NTT Solmare that’s free to play but contains in-app purchases.
The set up for the story is pretty simple. You play a witch or a vampire hunter who lives next to the haunted Idra Forest – an area that has been controlled by supernatural creatures for centuries. After being lured into the forest by a strange song, you find yourself kidnapped and trapped in a castle. From there, you have to escape and make your way to the hotel Libra Sincera. Once you’re safely at the hotel, you’re asked by its proprietor to solve the mystery surrounding a vampire faction while also wooing the supernatural guy of your choice.
There’s a lot of romance options in this game, ranging from vampires to werewolves to wizards and reapers, so if you’re really picky or niche in your tastes, have no fear. Also, the secondary mystery plot is really good. I was not expecting to get as invested as I did but I’m hooked.
2. Ikemen Sengoku (Otome Game)
Genres: Historical Fantasy Romance
Play it if you like: Harem romance, time travel romance, a-historical retellings of historical events, villain ships, captive scenarios, damsel in distress tropes, fashion, dress-up games
Content warnings: None
Another game I’ve been getting into is Ikemen Sengoku by CYBIRD Co. for iOS and Android. Like Blood in Roses+, it’s an otome game that’s free-to-play but contains in-app purchases.
The setup for the story is the stuff of dreams (literally). Your heroine has just scored an exclusive job as a Tokyo-based fashion designer when she’s sent hurtling back in time to the Sengoku Era. After saving the warlord Oda Nobunaga, your character must then survive three months in the past before she can be sent back to the present-day – if she doesn’t end up falling in love first.
The main story is lots of fun, but the mini-events and fashion quests that are held on a monthly basis are really enjoyable as well. Also, the game is pretty as hell to look at. The aesthetic is *chef’s kiss.*
3. Lips Like Ice, by Peggy Barnett (Book)
Genres: Sci-fi Romance / Erotica
Read it if you like: Gender-fluidity, captive scenarios, enemies-to-lovers, full-on alien erotica
Content warnings: Very explicit. Definitely NSFW
So this is an older book and I rec’d it on Metamashina, but if you haven’t listened to our more recent episodes I figured there would be no harm in rec’ing it again.
A sci-fi erotica set in an undetermined area of space, Lydia (our protagonist) wakes up on a spaceship to realize that she’s been kidnapped by an alien prince to be kept as his pet. Humanoid in appearance, intensely curiously, and accustomed to getting what he wants, the Prince is dismissive of Lydia and the two of them get off to a very rocky start. Soon, however, he learns to feel compassion for her, and she learns that he is as much a prisoner of his own society as she is – leading the two of them to a greater understanding and a deep, all-consuming lust.
Heed that explicit warning folks, and know that this one is pretty out there.
4. Ashes of Love (Cdrama TV Series)
Genres: Historical Fantasy Romance
Watch it if you like: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, immortal love interests, enemies-to-lovers, love triangles, beautiful set pieces, reincarnation, inter-generational stories, family dynamics, Hades and Persephone vibes
Content warnings: Can get very dark in parts. Abuse and implied sexual assault (not towards the main character, nor is it explicit)
Disclaimer: I’m still watching this one because it is long (over 60 episodes!) but I’m far enough into it that I feel that I can rec it. It feels so much like Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms in the best way, and is based on the novel Heavy Sweetness, Ash-Like Frost by Dian Xian.
Ashes of Love centers around a girl name Jin Mi. She’s the daughter of a flower goddess, and was born under tragic circumstances. When Jin Mi was born her mother prophesied that she would suffer a great ‘love trial’ that would destroy her when she came of age, and to prevent this from happening she hid her daughter away from the world in a fairy bubble. But fate cannot be thwarted, and when Jin Mi is older she meets the phoenix god Xu Feng and his brother Run Yu, both of whom fall in love with her. This is a problem, of course, as their parents were mortal enemies and Xu Feng’s mother was directly responsible for the death of Jin Mi’s.
It’s a really in-depth series, full of angst and surprising amounts of well-timed comedy.
5. The Queen’s Gambit, by Jessie Mihalik (Book)
Genres: Sci-fi Romance / Action-Adventure
Read it if you like: Soft boys, mercenary queens, anything reminiscent of Mass Effect, and enemies-to-lovers in space
Content warnings: None. It gets pretty violent in parts but not gratuitously so
If you’ve been following me on Twitter you know I’ve been screaming about this book non-stop, but if you haven’t, guess what. I’m going to scream about it again.
Originally a serial and now the first book in a series, The Queen’s Gambit follows Samara: mercenary queen of the Rogue Coalition, a political faction that is trying to stay out of an ongoing turf war between the Quint Confederacy and the Kos Empire. Unfortunately this neutrality gets Samara’s ships embargoed, and her people end up starving as a result.
When the Kos Emperor (Valentin) is kidnapped, Samara decides to save him for a price. After all, what else is a girl to do when she needs a lot of cash? But when her plans go sideways and the Quint Confederacy spring their own trap, she soon realizes that the ridiculously beautiful Emperor is not the villain that she’s pegged him to be. Heavy sexual tension ensues.
This is genuinely a fantastic book, and while it’s a bit on the short side and veers more towards action, the action itself is amazing and so is the characterization. The book also has a ton of tropes to keep us simple-to-please folks happy.