Urban Fantasy Series Recommendations and the Difference Between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Genres

by Maryse on November 7, 2011 · 39 comments

in Book Recommendations, Editorial, My Book Reviews

I’ve recently been asked a question (thank you, Jennie!!):

“Are any of the other series you have mentioned in this list similar to the Fever series, in that it is a continuous story? Not like, say, the BDB or the Midnight Breed series which follows a different character each book. I do love those series, but I found I really liked the long story and progression of the Fever series. Any suggestions?”

Ahhhhh Jennie is an Urban Fantasy fan!

Which made me realize I had not yet dedicated a post to the Urban Fantasy Genre. Since I frequently switch between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy (and love both almost equally), I’ve mixed the two genres throughout my blog.

But when I first started these “paranormal” books, I admit I specifically looked for longer series that followed the lives of a specific set of characters throughout. I liked that their was always romantic tension, and even full-on relationships, but that romance never came easy. It allowed us to yearn with them. What made these books so tantalizing, was that during the story progression (the action, the danger, the twists and turns… the discoveries), their was always something lurking… that kept the main love interests on their toes. Break-ups and make-ups, jealousy issues, power struggles, other love interests… always threatening that comfort zone.

I remember when I first heard the term Urban Fantasy, it was at the Romantic Times Convention, where I sat in on a panel entitled “The Good, The Bad and the Paranormal: Heroines Kicking-Ass Across Urban Fantasy Worlds”. Jeaniene Frost was on that panel, and that was all I needed to know (Cat and Bones ruled my world at that time). And that is when the difference between the two genres was explained.

So the difference? Well from what I’ve gathered in my reading experience…

Paranormal Romance focuses on a new couple for each book (even if it is a series with a repeating cast of characters). Each new installment revolves around a new couple finding each other amongst paranormal chaos (or comedy), and pretty much, they always get a HEA (Happily Ever After). Love and romance is the driving force here (and making the reader *swoon* seems to be the goal), despite the dramas and dilemmas that stalk them.

Urban Fantasy is an ongoing saga that focuses on one or two specific characters (usually at some point romantically linked), and specifically featuring a no-nonsense kick ass chick. Their story evolves throughout the course of a series, while fighting bad guys, and trying to make their “paranormal world” a better place. Scary, exciting, adrenaline inducing and most often dark and gritty. The kicker is that the end of a book does not necessarily guarantee a love match, even if there is a love connection established in the process. Love is not the main focus, but that building romantic tension is often what addicts us to these unresolved courtships.  Never fear, though, as the end of a series usually does leave us satisfied in that respect.

Here are some of my favorite Urban Fantasy series (and included are some that I haven’t read yet, but that are frequently recommended to me by fellow avid readers):

I’m sure I’m missing many awesome ones, so feel free to add your favorites to the comments, and I’ll add them to this main list :)

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

susan November 7, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Thanks for the post! I never really stopped to differentiate the two genres although I read them constantly. Love the urban fantasy list also – now I have some more to add to my TBR list!

Maryse November 7, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Hi Susan! Glad to help! There are even more I need to add to this list, so check it often. I’m sticking it in the “Recommendations” category :)

Tori November 7, 2011 at 10:38 PM

Thanks so much for this, Maryse. I, too, enjoy my BDB and Midnight Breed, but really like the continuing relationship of Cat and Bones throughout the series. Though not paranormal, that’s what I really loved about Thoughtless and Effortless (and upcoming book no. 3). Don’t get me wrong, I live for the HEA, but often wish the book didn’t end there, ’cause I know there’s got to be more great stuff between the characters. I’m so excited to know that Urban Fantasy might be more my thing, and can’t wait to read through your recommendations!

Callie November 8, 2011 at 12:07 AM

Maryse – I am new to your site and already grateful for finding it!!! I can’t wait to get started on your recommendations. I <3 a good HEA just as much as the next girl – but nothing captivates me like a good Urban Fantasy. As an addition to your list, perhaps you'd consider The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. In my opinion, it's less "paranormal" (with it's lack of vamps or weres) than most "paranormal romances" – but the story line is amazing!! The series consists of 7 books (#8 is to be released next year) all following the main characters, Jamie and Claire through what could definitely be described as "scary, exciting, adrenaline inducing and most often dark and gritty."

Thanks again!
Best wishes and good reads :)

lisa November 8, 2011 at 5:10 AM

always more to read…love it! thanks

Jackie November 8, 2011 at 7:55 AM

Hey maryse,
I haven’t read all the Psy Changeling series, but those that I have read were about different characters and each had their own HEA.

My personal faves — nothing bar nothing comes close to fever, VA was superb and Mortal Instruments is a great series.

Oh and by the way, you forgot the one that started it all for most of us~~~ Twilight!

Anissa November 8, 2011 at 9:36 AM

I agree with the post above; the Psy-Chageling Series should be classified as paranormal romance based on the articles definition. Each book is about a new couple and have a HEA ending.

Maryse November 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Thanks for the update. I haven’t read it yet, but that’s good info! How about her Guild Hunters series?

Jennie November 30, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Hi Maryse! Well, imagine my surprise when, while doing an unrelated search, this post popped up! I didn’t even know it existed, and I must admit, I got waay too happy to see my name in one of your posts, but that’s just because I love your site so much :) Anyways… thank you for the explanation between the two genres… yes, I must be an Urban Fantasy fan! Since I asked my question, I have read, and fallen in love with, the Cat & Bones series. And I am going to make my way down your recommended list. Should keep me busy for a while!

cher December 31, 2011 at 10:11 PM

I had a series to add that I thought was amazing.”Dark Days”series by Jocelynn Drake. It’s UF with a love/hate relationship.Great list

Kathy January 18, 2012 at 1:17 AM

Just came across your blog and have to give you kudos! It’s great! Found so much mire to read <3! Glad to know that I am not the only person on the planet who will stay up literally all night to finish a good book! I have an Urban Fantasy series to add to your list…Kelly Gay's Charlie Madigan series. Three out now fourth due this summer. It is killer. Charlie kicks butt and oh what a hero. Male sirens, yes those from Greek mythology. Totally rocked my world. Just when I thought no one could knock Kisten off my pedestal.

heather March 17, 2012 at 8:15 AM

The house of night series is a great UF series by p.c. and kristen cast. They even have a series of novellas that they are developing to bring u up to speed on side characters. I love this series but hate that feeling like they write from the middle of one book to the next. At the end of every book its the middle of madness and then u gotta wait 8 or 9 months for the next one. I keep telling myself I’m going to buy em and let them sit on the shelf til I have amassed a few to read back to back but I haven’t managed to do it yet. They call to me so I end up sitting down with it and being “lost” as my friends and family say until I have finished it. Its a great series even tho its a teen reader.

nina May 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM

I would HIGHLY suggest to you Maryse and everyone who loves a good UF series to read the Hollows. It does have some romance in it, but that is NOT what this series is about! Bounty Hunter Rachel Morgan is a witch! And a young woman with a hot head, quick witted mouth, who makes bad decisions without thinking them through first, which get her in a LOT of trouble. Luckily, she has two best friends who not only does she live with, she works with in their independent runner service they run out of the Church they live in. Ivy Tamwood (her co-worker and house mate) is a living vampire, infected with the vampire virus while she was in the womb, therefore she has many of the advantages of her dead brethren, but none of the drawbacks-well except for her craving for blood. Then there is Jenks. A pixy with 54 kids and a beautiful wife. Together, these three take on demons, witches, banshees, werewolves, and more. Kim Harrison is the author of this series and her world building and characterization is phenomenal! I’ve stayed up countless nights just to finish a book! We currently have 10 books so far in this series, with three more to come, to round out the series, which has also spawned 2 graphic novels with new stories told from a different POV. And the Hollows Insider a world book for the series. The dialogue is clever. The stories are fantastic! The characters, well you can’t help but love them-even the bad guys. These are books one can read over and over again! One word of caution though! The first book, Dead Witch Walking is a little slow. But by the end, you have so many unanswered questions that you have to read on (well, I did and everyone I know has) but it’s sooo worth it. If the first one is slow, the rest of the series makes up for it in spades! I cannot recommend this series enough! It’s my favorite and I’m sad to see that it will be coming to a close soon. I give this series 10 stars out of a 5 star system! Go read!

Cher May 14, 2012 at 2:22 PM

I have to agree with the Hollows recommend. When I first started the series,I thought it was good but by book 5, I was hooked. Very addicting. For myself, this is the only series that I buy in hardcover and on release day and don’t feel guilty about the cost. Another great series is Jocelynn Drakes’s “Dark Days” series. Another amazing find and the series is done, so no waiting for the next book.

Maryse May 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Thanks Cher!! I love series that get better as they go.

Maryse May 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Nina… 10 stars on a 5-star system? I must read it!!! Thank you so much for the detailed synopsis and recommendation.

Christina May 15, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Have you tried the Dreg City series by Kelly Meding? I have only read the first book, Three Days to Dead, but the story really worked for me! :) Evy Stone wakes up in the morgue in a stranger’s body and can’t remember how she died. She has only three days to solve her own murder before she dies pemanently. The book is fast-paced and has a lot of action. You meet vampires, trolls, gnomes, elvs and human bounty hunters who fight the rough ones. I really think that you should give it a try!! :)
AND I think Guild Hunter by Nalini Singh is good btw. Elena is a lovable character with pride and stubborness :) I think it started as a UF but the last book that came out, book 4, was from a side characters POV and the next to come out is from yet another side characters POV. Both side characters find love, but the author has stated that Elena’s story is not yet finished. So I think it’s a mix.
Other urban fantasy series I thought were good enought that I eagerly await the next books are; Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennett, the Anna Strong Chronicles by Jeanne C Stein and Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter!
I hope at least one of these appeals to you :)

Nicole June 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM

I have bookmarked you website…
I never knew the difference even though I have read many of the same books as you and the books many of your followers have.


Carolyn September 27, 2012 at 11:02 PM

World of the Lupi by Eileen Wilks is a favorite of mine. And Arcadia Bell by Jenn Bennett is good too, two books so far.

Carolynn Padgett December 25, 2012 at 2:33 AM

Charles deLint has written some excellent urban fantasy, dealing with faeries, giants, brownies, and the like in urban Toronto. Tanya Huff has written a series about a detective in Toronto who deals with a vampire friend who is a king’s son, and who helps her solve cases. Ms. Huff has a spinoff series from this one about the vampire’s assistant who later becomes involved in the movie industry and solves mysteries in those books. There is a very well-written series with the main character named Diane Tregarde (I think), a witch who fight evil and cleans up nasty situations in the city where she lives. There are about four or five books in that series (I think). I haven’t been able to find very many of them yet. It’s not exactly urban, but there is a series about a Navaho vampire police officer or FBI agent (I don’t remember which), written by the Thurlos, a husband and wife team. They write many good Native American stories.

Carolynn Padgett December 25, 2012 at 3:06 AM

I mentioned Diana Tregarde as a witch in an urban fantasy (which she is), but she is also a Guardian, who protects humans and there are seven novels that I’ve learned of at Good Reads.com. I didn’t know of your urban-fantasy site until just a few moments ago, and I am delighted to have discovered it. I like both paranormal romance and urban fantasy and my main criteria for any genre is good writing, with humor as icing on the cake. I have found the goodreads.com site to be very helpful in tracking down authors’ booklists in order and helping me choose which books to attack next. I am so grateful for your site, as it is the only one I have seen that deals with urban fantasy. Yes, goodreads.com deals with paranormal, but I don’t think they even separate out the romance from the rest of the stuff, let alone the UF stuff. Thank you!

Donna January 3, 2013 at 10:13 PM

A couple of urban fantasy series that you might be interested in are:

Kalayna Price -Alex Craft series
Diana Rowland – Kara Gillian series

I love both of these series. Happy reading :)

PS Love your website

Anya January 18, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine series is one of the best Urban Fantasy stories out there… I go back to re-read them again and again!

Charmaine February 12, 2013 at 8:35 AM

My favourites that was already mentioned here:
* Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
* Dante Valentine by Lilith Saintcrow
* Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

and then the following not mentioned here but VERY VERY GOOD:
* Jill Kismet series by Lilith Saintcrow
* Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones (AWESOME!-just finished all 4 books and the next one only due July!!!)
* Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (2 books out, a third due in March 2013)
* Black Swan Trilogy by Lee Carrol – The Watchtower (book 1), Black Swan Rising (book 2), and the third book out in March: The Shape Stealer.
* Penryn & The End of Days series by Susan Ee of which Angelfall is the first (only one book out so far, but the next one due in the fall). Please don’t mistake this series with the Angelfall series by SE Foulk as it is NOT THE SAME and you will be disappointed.
All these books have 2 things in common: strong female lead, and a BAD BAD boy as the strong male lead.

Marie March 15, 2013 at 9:55 AM

What about Christine Feehan the dark series these are just the best paranormal romance stories

Lindsey March 27, 2013 at 1:01 PM

I love to read and I have found works in just about every genre that I’ve really liked – but most of the ones I have LOVED have come from the urban fantasy genre. And just to be clear – I consider urban fantasy and paranormal romance to be two completely different things. I’ll give just about any urban fantasy book/series a try and these are my absolute favorites:
1. the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning – this series is dark, violent and offers some of the most powerful and witty writing I’ve ever seen. I have yet to find anything that really compares to this series…but I have high hopes that my #2 below might offer some competition…
2. Angelfall – Pennryn and the end of days series by Susan Ee – so far only the first book has been published, but it was phenomenal and I can’t wait to see more…
3. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews
4. Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
5. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
6. Night Huntress by Jeaniene Frost
7. Covenant series by Jennifer Armentrout
8. The Hollows by Kim Harrison
9. Anita Blake by Laurell Hamilton – know people hate it because it gets raunchy, but this author excels at capturing emotion in her writing in a way that not many others can…
10. Georgia Kincaid by Richelle Mead – this series does what Anita Blake couldn’t – the main character owns her flaws and how it affects her relationships without trying to force the reader to accept and like her – or to be OK with her lifestyle.

Others I liked:
- Mercy Thompson by Patricia Biggs
- Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill
- Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
- Guild Hunter by Nalini Singh

Angela April 4, 2013 at 9:19 PM

Rose Wynters has recently released a new book called Rubenesque Rapture. The heroine is on the run from demons, and an immortal Endurer named Shayne rescues her. It’s very, very steamy!

Jasmine August 21, 2013 at 7:17 AM

Thank you for this amazing site!
I hate it when I finish a really good series and then have to find another one to start.
I see everyone has mentioned a zillion books for you to try but I do have to let you know about the “Otherworld Series” by Yasmine Galenorn. its about 3 sisters half human half fae (one is a witch, one is a werecat and the other has been turned vampire) basically they need to save 2 realms (earthside and otherworld) from a demon invasion. it does contain explicit sex scenes.
book 14 is out in september 2013, book 15 jan 2014 and tentative release dates have been set for books 16, 17 & 18.
books a read in first person and it rotates through… each book is from a different sisters point of view so you get to know the characters a bit more intimately, its really clever writing.
i probably havent done the series justice but i do recommend you give it a go.
Yasmine Galenorn has some other urban fantasy series’ as well.

=) Website in the Favourites! thank you!

Erin Fisher January 14, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Ohmygosh! Kendall Grey’s urban fantasy series Just Breathe should be on this list! Who doesn’t love a sexy rock star with elementals thrown in the mix! Maryse or any of you fellow lovers of UF MUST read this series! It’s sooooo good! It was amazing!

Ana March 5, 2014 at 6:39 PM

I can’t belive no one mentioned The Renegades angels series from aly vía Day. Because I think that fits in the Urban Fantasy categoría. Or am I wrong? It’s about fallen angels, vampires and lycans and is great! I loved it. the only downside is it is not finished yet and there is not a release date yet for the 3rd. Book.

Beth Emery-Stanley April 9, 2014 at 5:21 AM

OMG! I just stumbled upon this website & I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read! It’s funny because I started off by reading the books after Twilight section, and everything you listed are exactly the same that I read too. They are all my favorites! Great minds think alike, right?! :) I’ve read all the books everyone’s mentioned, some I’ve read & some I haven’t. However, no ones mentioned The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelly Armstrong. There’s about 13, maybe 14 books in her series, & a few anthologies as well: Men of the Otherworld was one. This series is AWESOME! You should check it out!! She has a few YA books too, I know there’s 1 YA paranormal series, there may be 2?! Anyways, Thank You so much for this Blog. I’ve never read the BD Brotherhood, & plan on making that my next series!! :)

Debbie August 12, 2015 at 11:20 AM

Do you have a suggestion for writers that are like other writers – like for instance, I enjoy Jayne Ann Krenz (and her alter egos) and Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn, Joanna Lindsey, Susan Mallery – I just like the way they pull a story together. Are there other writers that you have read that are like these. I enjoy a story that keeps moving but is relaxing enough that I can enjoy it and has a happy ending hopefully. I don’t get much time to read but would appreciate your suggestions.


Denise (Ducky) Matthews September 14, 2015 at 12:10 AM

I know that this post was originally written a few years ago, but I hope you see my comment and suggestion. My all-time favorite series in the urban fantasy genre is…The Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. This series is a must. The first book is Skinwalker. It can be dark at times, but Jane/Beast can get into funny situations. The story is about a 6ft tall Cherokee women who can change into a mountain lion named Beast and when Jane is Beast, Beast talks in her head. It’s like 2 separate entities who share one body. Jane rides a Harley made from 2 different bikes that she has named “Bitsa”. Oh…and Jane is a leather wearing, gun, knife, and stake toting rogue vampire (Mithrin) hunter, (Beast has her killing claws and killing teeth and at times the comic relief). The books are set in (an alternate world) New Orleans where vamps have been “out of the coffin”, so to speak, for quite a while.
This series is also on Audible and Whispersync on Amazon. For those who don’t know what Whispersync is, you buy the Kindle book for whatever price is listed, and you can get the audio at a discount. I bought Skinwalker for $7.99 and got the audio from Audible for $3.49. The narrator for the series is the awesome Khristine Hvam. In book one she seems to me like she is trying to find the best voice for Beast, but by book 2 she has it. Her switch from voice to voice, character to character seems effortless. I get the most out of books if I read along as I listen. Try it out, and check put Faith Hunter’s books. She is the best!

Maryse September 14, 2015 at 3:28 PM

Wow Denise!!! Thank you SO much for this awesome recommendation. I will be featuring it on a few different areas on the blog to make sure many get to see it. Especially on the “favorite audiobook recommendations” post. :D

Hafsa March 19, 2016 at 9:55 AM

Thank You Maryse. I never really new the difference between Paranormal And Urban Fantasy Romance. Thx for clearing that up for me.

Julie December 9, 2016 at 2:32 PM

I just wanted to tell u about the “new species” series and also laurrell k Hamilton has a ton of vamp/were/fae books.

Amanda Ruane May 9, 2017 at 11:48 PM

My goodness, I have so much to catch up. I noticed that one person mentioned Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. She just came out with the last book for this series (12th) and I am so sad. I am a picky reader and this series make me laugh and keeps me hot!!! You must give this book a try, Maryse.

Linda Lou July 27, 2017 at 8:03 AM

Love this site!!! I love Urban Fantasy with a witty female main character and have seen many that i just love! I don’t like the ones that are more sex than story nor do i need each lurid exact detail. I guess I’m a little past the need ( soory a short rany

Amanda Ruane July 27, 2017 at 9:42 AM

I re-read my comment and I am so embarrassed with all the grammar mistakes. My apologies but in my defense English is my second language and no matter how hard I try there are some mistakes.

I am reading Chicagoland Vampire and Guild Hunter. I am enjoying both series very much.

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