Multi-book series with slow burn B-plot romances, in any genre
February 29, 2016 3:47 PM   Subscribe

I've read a couple book series lately that I've really enjoyed, and I realized that the common theme between them is that they both have very strong/swoon-worthy romantic subplots that span multiple novels, showing a slow progression in the relationship between two leads, while other stuff happens around them. Like: 75% interesting and exciting plot/some other genre, 25% romance. I'd love to find more book series like this.

The series I read are:

+ Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming (mystery)
+ Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy)

I'm not interested in love triangles, but rather two people who have to overcome issues/get to know each other better as they become more attracted to each other, all while doing Exciting Other Things!(tm). I'm also interested in series where the relationship actually changes and grows over time.

Would love any genre! Historical, mysteries, fantasy/sci fi, you name it.
posted by warble to Writing & Language (35 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've really enjoyed Lady Darby mystery series that starts with The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber for that very reason.
posted by ilovewinter at 3:58 PM on February 29, 2016

Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series semi-frequently shows couples who are building up in the background before they finally get together. This series also has plenty of people getting to know each other while doing Exciting Other Things! There is the occasional love triangle (ugh, sorry), but overall you could give it a try.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:58 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you like Kate Daniels, you might also like JD Robb's In Death series, a police-procedural detective series set in the future. There's a similar slow-burn romance between the lead and her romantic interest. The series has been going on for a while -- so long that some of the future-tech she initially had has been jossed by reality! -- so there are a ton of books to read.

Also, you might enjoy the Liaden novels by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller -- science fiction, exciting. There's an arc with the same couple (the three book set starting with Agent of Change) and then there are a bunch of stand-alones with various characters reprising.

Ilona Andrews also has another series with this setup, too -- it started with Burn for Me -- but they are relaunching in 2017, so the next two books in the series won't be out until then. (Their other books have romance, but the romances are contained in each volume.)
posted by pie ninja at 4:00 PM on February 29, 2016

Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mysteries
Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series
J.D. Robb's In Death series
posted by BoscosMom at 4:00 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

The hollows series by Kim Harrison
posted by pyro979 at 4:02 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dorothy mother-fricking Dunnet's two historical series, the lymond chronicles and the house of niccolo are exactly like this.

Be warned, these books are endlessly entertaining and very exciting, but they are nonetheless quite literary. But amazing.
posted by smoke at 4:14 PM on February 29, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The Fox & O'Hare series by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg is my favorite series with my favorite characters! It has mystery! It has romance! Slooooooww burning romance. I LOVE it!
posted by TurquoiseZebra at 4:23 PM on February 29, 2016

Best answer: Jilly Coppercorn's arc in Charles De Lint's Newford books - she pops in and out of most of the books, but is a primary character (and her relationship figures heavily) in Onion Girl and - most especially - Widdershins.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:28 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Karen Marie Moning's FEVER series (book one is DARKFEVER) is exactly -- EXACTLY -- what you're describing. It will knock your damn socks off. Also, don't be afraid if you see that this is a series beloved by romance fans. It has that very slow progression you're talking about, over multiple books.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:32 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by Ideefixe at 4:37 PM on February 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

The Harriet Vane/Lord Peter Whimsy subplot runs across several Dorothy Sayers mysteries and is really a delight. Start with Strong Poison.
posted by matematichica at 4:55 PM on February 29, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Seanan McGuire's October Daye series is good for this.
posted by Adridne at 4:56 PM on February 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: this is an old one but your description makes me think of Joanna & Llewelyn's relationship across Sharon Kay Penman's Welsh Princes Trilogy

well researched medieval historical fiction with all the trimmings, at the heart of which is a love story very much like what you describe.
posted by supermedusa at 5:15 PM on February 29, 2016

Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series. It's a mystery series about a husband-and-wife archaeologist team excavating in Egypt from 1880 - 1920. They get together in the first book, but their relationship remains central and grows and changes over the books.
posted by raeka at 5:45 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Was coming in to recommend both JD Robb and Kim Harrison, but have been beat to it. Definitely worth checking these out for strong story telling on both the action and romance fronts.
posted by MandaSayGrr at 6:07 PM on February 29, 2016

The Greywalker series by Kat Richardson - supernatural PI with a ferret and an evolving relationship. I liked these enough to read the whole series.

Call of the Wilde mysteries by Laura Morrigan - animal behaviorist who can talk to animals solves mysteries with a handsome detective. These are cute.

Melanie Travis mysteries by Laurien Berenson - single mom starts investigating murders in the dog show world. I read the first 4.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:23 PM on February 29, 2016

Best answer: I love the In Death series but the romance isn't slow burn in any way; they're sheet-sharing soulmates by the end of book one, and there's fifty books out or more.

I'd recommend the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. It's urban fantasy about (simplified very much) a coyote spirit shifter VW mechanic who lives next door to a werewolf named Adam. The romance between them takes several books to even physically manifest. They start out at the "fuck you" stage and stay there for a while. The author does a good job of showing the changes in thinking Mercy goes through as she learns more about Adam and why he's there. Not all the things she learns makes her more inclined to like him, either.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:26 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Tess Monaghan mystery series by Laura Lippman has a non-traditional female-male romance that develops slowly over multiple books and goes through many realistic challenges.
posted by matildaben at 6:30 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

JK Rowling (writing under the pen name Robert Galbraith)'s Cormoran Strike series: Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil... verrry slow-burning romance / complicated relationship among two of the main characters, but it's not the main focus of the stories. Strike is a private investigator and he has a major mystery to solve in each book. Very well-written and fun books to boot.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:51 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Cormoran Strike mysteries by J. K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, include a repressed but developing relationship, personal and professional, between Strike and his assistant Robin.
posted by Snerd at 7:54 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Sharing Knife series (fantasy) by Lois McMaster Bujold is delicious - the characters get together in the first book but the relationship continues to grow a lot over the next three. Very swoon-worthy. The first one is Beguilement.

The Codex Alera series (also fantasy) by Jim Butcher is also fantastic. Multiple (different, non-competing) couples, various speeds of get-together-ness, and a delightful plot going on in the meantime. The first one is The Furies of Calderon.

Nthing Outlander and the Liaden Universe.

And, if you haven't already, you should watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It takes slow burn to a whole new level, plus great murder mystery mayhem in the background. The TV series is based on books, but I've only seen the show. You must you must you must!
posted by bananacabana at 8:07 PM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Lauren Willig's series about espionage and romance during Napoleonic times, starting with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (they're best read in order).
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:26 PM on February 29, 2016

Denise Swanson's Scumble River Mystery series.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:41 PM on February 29, 2016

Seconding bananacabana on Bujold. The Sharing Knife series has maybe more than 25% romance but (except for maybe the last book) is still primarily genre fantasy.

Her long and ongoing Vorkosigan series that starts with Shards of Honor ends up covering two generations and includes romance elements as well--getting stronger in the later books, some of which read more like a comedy of manners than military sci-fi.

I'll also vouch for the printed version of Phryne Fisher .
posted by mark k at 10:20 PM on February 29, 2016

The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is great! Seconding Sternmeyer.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:50 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whelan Turner.
posted by Aravis76 at 11:32 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave series. Seconding Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series (the first book was not to my liking, but from the second book on I was hooked).
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 2:51 AM on March 1, 2016

Best answer: The Others series by Anne Bishop. I devoured the first three books over a weekend, and the fourth one is coming out next week!
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can at 4:52 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis fits this really well!
posted by cooker girl at 6:10 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

A Million Open Doors and its sequels by John Barnes.

MeFi's own, Charlie Stross's Eschaton series.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:33 AM on March 1, 2016

Forgive a tv recommendation but whoa shit this is exactly Veronica Mars. Veronica Mars, if you've never seen it, is really interesting for its take on outsiders -- class, race, sexual orientation, etc. -- but there's also a HAWT boy that she has a push/pull relationship with. S1 and S2 are awesome. S3 falls flat but watch it anyway.
posted by janey47 at 11:24 AM on March 1, 2016

Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Series. First one is My Brilliant Friend. There is a slight triangle at points.
posted by balmore at 3:52 PM on March 1, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you so much! All of these look fantastic - I've marked as best answers the series or books that particularly caught my eye, for one reason or another.

I've actually read a couple of the suggested series, that I wholeheartedly second: Outlander, Lord Peter Wimsey, Amelia Peabody, Cormoran Strike, and the Queen's Thief.

I'll keep checking this thread, if anybody else has any recommendations!
posted by warble at 10:54 AM on March 2, 2016

Another vote for anything by Bujold.
posted by gakiko at 2:44 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're still tracking this thread, Andre Norton sounds like she's right up your alley. She wrote a lot of excellent fantasy epics with slow-burn romances. My recommendations for you in order are:

Witch World and Web of the Witch World - 75% epic fantasy, 25% epic romance, very well done, too long to summarize
The Gryphon trilogy (The Crystal Gryphon, Gryphon in Glory, Gryphon's Eyrie) - ditto, but very different characters and plot
Mirror of Destiny - magical world is messed up, girl makes the best of it, leads a rebellion and also finds love
Scent of Magic - girl escapes drudgery, meets interesting guy, becomes powerful magically and politically, realizes she's in love
Key of the Keplian - girl flees imprisonment, falls through magical portal, becomes a major land owner, rescues dude as a favor for a friend and falls in love
Year of the Unicorn - couple draws together through adversity, takes on powerful interests and win
posted by Ahniya at 9:29 PM on July 6, 2016

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