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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

Five books that will fill the A Court of Thorns and Roses-sized void in your soul


For many, “A Court of Thorns and Roses” (ACOTAR) by Sarah J. Maas was a gilded doorway to the harrowing world of romantasy, AKA romance fantasy. You might be lured in by the promise of sexy scenes and something called a “bat boy,” but you end up staying for the adventure, epic tales of true love and the promise of a story that will sweep you away into another realm. Now that you’ve finished the series, you might ask yourself, Why has my life felt so empty and sad since I flipped that last juicy page? Why am I so horny without an outlet to release it? Well, welcome to the party. Many of us who finished the ACOTAR series are in this exact predicament. Like me, maybe you loved the adventure but have already read “Throne of Glass” by Sarah J Maas or wanted something on the spicier side but have already read “Fourth Wing” by Rebecca Yarros. For that, I say this list is for you. Here are some of my favorite books that have emotionally dragged me through the mud, washed me off and pulled me right back through the muck again.


  1. “Bride” by Ali Hazelwood 

If you’ve read any of Ali Hazelwood’s “STEMinist” novellas, have a penchant for the paranormal or love a good shifter romance, then this book is for you. “Bride” follows the main character, Misery Lark, the daughter of the head vampyr on the vampyric council, into the taboo sector of werewolf territory to be married off to the alpha of the pack. This isn’t your typical grumpy/ sunshine romance. The political rivalry and twist ending will leave you wanting more and more after each chapter. Even if you’ve never read an omegaverse tale, why “knot” try it out? (If you know what I mean.) You may be pleasantly surprised. 



  1. “Zodiac Academy” by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti 

DO NOT start these books until you have finished your homework, I’m warning you. After reading “Zodiac Academy”, you are hooked on these authors for life. This eight, soon to be nine, book series, not including the novellas and prequel series, will fulfill absolutely every desire you have to be emotionally yanked around by a good book. There’s a reason this writer duo is known as the twisted sisters. The smut is good but the story is excellent, and you’ll fall in love with the characters, especially after each horrifying and heartbreaking thing that happens to them. The story starts in Chicago with twin sisters Darcy and Tory Vega. The girls grew up in the foster system in the human world until, one day, they get whisked away by a dashing professor named Orion, who teleports them to a magical academy in the fae world of Solaria. There, the twins’ powers get awakened. If they thought their lives were complicated before, it is no comparison to what they will face at the hands of the devastatingly handsome and horrifyingly cruel four heirs to the celestial council. You had better toast up some buttery bagels and get out your box of tissues because these books, in addition to being super hot and addictive, are tear-jerkers. You will cry tears of sadness and laughter as these books are some of the funniest I have ever read. 



  1. “Divine Rivals” by Rebecca Ross

Those who have read this book may say it does not fit on this list because it is not spicy, but that is why this story fits perfectly. If you are missing a whirlwind love like in ACOTAR, Iris Winnow and Roman Kitt’s beautiful war-torn, magic-fueled adventure is not one to pass up on. From warring gods to whispered sweet nothings, this book has it all, and by the end, you will be on your knees begging for more. This book combines a dark academic rivalry with the story of a ferocious female journalist searching for lost family and a foolproof way to heal a broken heart. Reading this book is the perfect way to spend a rainy day indoors, and it is a literary treasure I wish I could experience for the first time, again and again. 



  1. “From Blood and Ash” by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books are nostalgic because she is one of the authors who first got me into romance. I read her “Lux” series in middle school, which is something of an alien “Twilight” retelling. Luckily, this series blows that one out of the water entirely. This series is five books and counting, containing stories of vampires, werewolves, gods, monsters, assassins, evil monarchy, immortality and magic. (Similar enough to ACOTAR for you yet?) In addition to all of these things, these books contain slow-burn, fated-mates and enemies-to-lovers tropes. Penellaphe “Poppy” Balfour’s story will take you for the ride of a lifetime, starting with her locked in a castle as “the maiden” where no one is to touch, speak to or look at her. Outside of the castle walls is the Kingdom of Solis, a world filled with death and fear, but Poppy doesn’t let the world tell her who she can and can not be, especially when seemingly random murders take place within manor killing one of her most trusted guards and replacing him with a mysterious soldier named Hawke. The best way to read these books is to read them in tandem with the “Flesh and Fire” series, which is the prequel series to “Blood and Ash”, in order of release. These books will quickly fill that dark void inside of you where Rhysand’s inner circle is currently eating your heart out. 



  1. “Twisted Love” by Ana Huang

Last but not least is “Twisted Love” by Ana Huang. I don’t even know how to explain to you how much I love the “Twisted” series. There is no magic, but these books don’t need it. The books are technically stand-alone, but you won’t want to stop after the first one. They are spicy and burn you slowly and torturously the whole way through. The first book is a brother’s best friend, grumpy/ sunshine romance starting with Ava Chen, a photography student who attends Thayer University in Washington D.C. When Ava’s older brother Josh, a med student about to embark on a trip to South America for a year, appoints his best friend Alex Volkov to look after her, things do not go as planned. Slowly, Ava thaws Alex’s icy exterior, warming his seemingly evil, frozen heart, turning both of their worlds on end for an intensely passionate story filled with murder, millions, betrayal and, best of all, tons of smut, all while keeping the plot’s integrity. 



If you want more recommendations or to connect over our favorite books feel free to add me on Goodreads!

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