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BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS > Looking for Recs: Female Leads that focus on plot not romance

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message 1: by Limejuize (last edited Dec 17, 2012 10:49PM) (new)

Limejuize | 3 comments I am looking for books that the main character is a strong female character, but I want plot over sex/romance. I have read plenty of UF and PNR with strong female leads but I do get tired of all the romance/sex and I find myself skimming those scenes to get back to the plot.

I guess what I am looking for would be a female version of the Dresden Files or something like the very beginning of the Anita Blake series. I am also not a fan on YA books unless the characters are not in highschool.


message 2: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah You would probably like the Jane Yellowrock series; it has a strong female character, lots of action and little romance. the first 3 are: Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, #1) by Faith Hunter Blood Cross (Jane Yellowrock, #2) by Faith Hunter Mercy Blade (Jane Yellowrock, #3) by Faith Hunter


message 3: by Christal (last edited Dec 18, 2012 08:02AM) (new)

Christal | 28 comments I would definitely start with the Kate Daniels series. It has some romance, but just like the Dresden series, it's mostly about Kate kicking butt and taking names.
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) by Ilona Andrews Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2) by Ilona Andrews Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3) by Ilona Andrews Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4) by Ilona Andrews Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5) by Ilona Andrews Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World, #1) by Ilona Andrews

Also, try the Greywalker series. It has a very noir feel and very little romance.
Greywalker (Greywalker, #1) by Kat Richardson Poltergeist (Greywalker, #2) by Kat Richardson Underground (Greywalker, #3) by Kat Richardson Vanished (Greywalker, #4) by Kat Richardson Labyrinth (Greywalker, #5) by Kat Richardson Downpour (Greywalker, #6) by Kat Richardson Seawitch (Greywalker, #7) by Kat Richardson Possession (Greywalker, #8) by Kat Richardson

The October Daye series has a little romance, but it is mostly focused on the intrigue within the faerie courts. This would be on the opposite end of the Merry Gentry smut scale.
Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1) by Seanan McGuire A Local Habitation (October Daye, #2) by Seanan McGuire An Artificial Night (October Daye, #3) by Seanan McGuire Late Eclipses (October Daye, #4) by Seanan McGuire One Salt Sea (October Daye, #5) by Seanan McGuire Ashes of Honor (October Daye, #6) by Seanan McGuire

I really liked the Sabina Kane series, but it did have some relationship issues between Sabina and Adam (a la Harry and Susan). They weren't the main plot though; that was all about Sabina trying to save the world from Cain.
Red-Headed Stepchild (Sabina Kane, #1) by Jaye Wells The Mage in Black (Sabina Kane, #2) by Jaye Wells Green-Eyed Demon (Sabina Kane, #3) by Jaye Wells Silver-Tongued Devil (Sabina Kane, #4) by Jaye Wells Blue-Blooded Vamp (Sabina Kane, #5) by Jaye Wells

Not a female protag, but if you like Harry Dresden, try the Iron Druid Chronicles. Atticus is the last remaining druid and a strong female chacater, Granuaile, does come into the story and becomes pretty much the secondary lead.
Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1) by Kevin Hearne Hexed (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #2) by Kevin Hearne Hammered (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #3) by Kevin Hearne Tricked (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #4) by Kevin Hearne Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #5) by Kevin Hearne

If you like Steampunk, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences as a kick-butt female lead. Her name is even Braun, Eliza Braun.
Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1) by Philippa Ballantine The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #2) by Philippa Ballantine

The Rook is a really interesting paranormal standalone and has no romance in sight.
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

The Downside Ghosts series is gritty and dark; the lead character is a drug addict. She does have a relationship throughout the books but it has a lot of angst and depth to it, not just sexathons.
Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1) by Stacia Kane Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, #2) by Stacia Kane City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #3) by Stacia Kane Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4) by Stacia Kane Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts, #5) by Stacia Kane

The Horngate Witches series has just a little romance but almost no sex. It's a really cool take on witches and the people they have protecting them.
Bitter Night (Horngate Witches, #1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis Crimson Wind (Horngate Witches, #2) by Diana Pharaoh Francis Shadow City (Horngate Witches, #3) by Diana Pharaoh Francis Blood Winter (Horngate Witches, #4) by Diana Pharaoh Francis

The Arcadia Bell series has a long-term relationship, but the lovey dovey stuff takes a backseat to the magic and intrigue. This one has a very unique take on demons living among us.
Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell, #1) by Jenn Bennett Summoning the Night (Arcadia Bell, #2) by Jenn Bennett Leashing the Tempest (Arcadia Bell, #2.5) by Jenn Bennett Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell, #3) by Jenn Bennett

I save Mercy Thompson for last because it does have a little more romance, but it by no means dominates the plot. This story follows Mercy, a mechanic and the last living skinwalker aka coyote shifter, as she tries to find her place in a world populated by vampires, werewolves, witches, and fae... among other things.
Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1) by Patricia Briggs Blood Bound (Mercedes Thompson, #2) by Patricia Briggs Iron Kissed (Mercedes Thompson, #3) by Patricia Briggs Bone Crossed (Mercedes Thompson, #4) by Patricia Briggs Silver Borne (Mercedes Thompson, #5) by Patricia Briggs River Marked (Mercedes Thompson, #6) by Patricia Briggs Frost Burned (Mercedes Thompson, #7) by Patricia Briggs


message 4: by Tracy T. (last edited Dec 18, 2012 08:12AM) (new)

Tracy T. All these series have some romance, but most of the time its secondary to the plot:



Dying Bites (The Bloodhound Files, #1) by D.D. Barant Death Blows (The Bloodhound Files #2) by D.D. Barant Killing Rocks (The Bloodhound Files #3) by D.D. Barant Better Off Undead (The Bloodhound Files, #4) by D.D. Barant Back from the Undead (The Bloodhound Files #5) by D.D. Barant Undead to the World (The Bloodhound Files, #6) by D.D. Barant

Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom, #1) by Devon Monk Magic In the Blood (Allie Beckstrom, #2) by Devon Monk Magic in the Shadows (Allie Beckstrom, #3) by Devon Monk Magic on the Storm (Allie Beckstrom, #4) by Devon Monk Magic at the Gate (Allie Beckstrom, #5) by Devon Monk Magic on the Hunt (Allie Beckstrom, #6) by Devon Monk Magic on the Line (Allie Beckstrom, #7) by Devon Monk Magic Without Mercy (Allie Beckstrom, #8) by Devon Monk Magic For A Price (Allie Beckstrom, #9) by Devon Monk

Tempest Rising (Jane True, #1) by Nicole Peeler Tracking the Tempest (Jane True, #2) by Nicole Peeler Tempest's Legacy (Jane True, #3) by Nicole Peeler Eye of the Tempest (Jane True, #4) by Nicole Peeler Tempest’s Fury (Jane True, #5) by Nicole Peeler


message 5: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 122 comments I'd recommend Lilith SaintCrow's Jill Kismet books. The first is Night Shift (Jill Kismet, #1) by Lilith Saintcrow


message 6: by Limejuize (new)

Limejuize | 3 comments Yayy so many new books to look into thank you guys so much. A few I have on my to read list. It is good to know what to expect from them.

I don't mind some romance but alot of the series I have been reading with female leads were all sex, and it was getting boring.


Kathy (Kindle-aholic) (kindleaholic) | 192 comments Blood Engines (Marla Mason, #1) by Tim Pratt Marla Mason series by TA Pratt

Second The Rook and Kate Daniels and the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Limejuize wrote: "Yayy so many new books to look into thank you guys so much. A few I have on my to read list. It is good to know what to expect from them.

I don't mind some romance but alot of the series I have be..."


Also the Hollows series. There's a little bit of sex at times but most of the books have no sex scenes. It's not focused on the romance angle. There is an annoying situation with a vamp for a few (Ivy) but that fixes itself and can be ignored too


message 9: by Limejuize (new)

Limejuize | 3 comments Erin wrote: There is an annoying situation with a vamp for a few (Ivy) but that fixes itself and can be ignored too..."

I started reading that one. The last one I read was For A Few Demons More(it had just come out), but the situation with Ivy kinda drove me away from the series. But if you say it fixes itself I may have to pick back up the series again.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Limejuize wrote: "Erin wrote: There is an annoying situation with a vamp for a few (Ivy) but that fixes itself and can be ignored too..."

I started reading that one. The last one I read was For A Few Demons More(it..."


It's my favorite series but I agree that was a big turn off. It was really annoying and was a sore point for a few books. But it doesn't stick around at all and gets completely better on that front. I just ignored that part of those earlier books.


message 11: by Oleander (new)

Oleander | 18 comments Vampire Babylon is an excellent UF series with a strong plot.
Night Rising (Vampire Babylon, #1) by Chris Marie Green Midnight Reign (Vampire Babylon, #2) by Chris Marie Green Break of Dawn (Vampire Babylon, #3) by Chris Marie Green A Drop of Red (Vampire Babylon, #4) by Chris Marie Green

The Kitty Norville series focuses on her development as a person.
Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville, #1) by Carrie Vaughn Kitty Goes to Washington (Kitty Norville, #2) by Carrie Vaughn Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville, #3) by Carrie Vaughn Kitty and the Silver Bullet (Kitty Norville, #4) by Carrie Vaughn


message 12: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Scott (michellescottfiction) | 721 comments Mod
I'm starting on the Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1) by Jeaniene Frost series and am loving it! To me, it has the feel of Mercy Thompson, but with a little more spice. (Not much more, just a little.) I'm hoping the rest of the book is as good as the first 1/3.


message 14: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (sunnytat462) | 822 comments Another good one is The Walker Papers

Urban Shaman (Walker Papers, #1) by C.E. Murphy Thunderbird Falls (Walker Papers, #2) by C.E. Murphy Coyote Dreams (Walker Papers, #3) by C.E. Murphy Walking Dead (Walker Papers, #4) by C.E. Murphy Demon Hunts (Walker Papers, #5) by C.E. Murphy Spirit Dances (Walker Papers, #6) by C.E. Murphy Raven Calls (Walker Papers, #7) by C.E. Murphy Mountain Echoes (Walker Papers, #8) by C.E. Murphy


message 16: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah Darcy wrote: "Another good one is The Walker Papers

Urban Shaman (Walker Papers, #1) by C.E. MurphyThunderbird Falls (Walker Papers, #2) by C.E. MurphyCoyote Dreams (Walker Papers, #3) by C.E. MurphyWalking Dead (Walker Papers, #4) by C.E. Murphy[bookcover:Demon Hunts|74670..."


The librarian just recommended this series to me because I enjoy Jane Yellowrock!


message 17: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (sunnytat462) | 822 comments Jalilah wrote: "Darcy wrote: "Another good one is The Walker Papers

Urban Shaman (Walker Papers, #1) by C.E. MurphyThunderbird Falls (Walker Papers, #2) by C.E. MurphyCoyote Dreams (Walker Papers, #3) by C.E. MurphyWalking Dead (Walker Papers, #4) by C.E. Murphy[bookcover:Dem..."


I hope you like it.


message 18: by Helene (new)

Helene I started the Kate Daniels series, but thought the frist book to be a bit slow. It picks up in the second one though - just thought to let you know. The other series they have written however was great from the very first book - on the edge, and that series have quickly become one of my favourites :)


message 19: by Patrick (new)

Patrick LeClerc (patrickleclerc) | 16 comments Charles Stross' series begining with "The Family Trade" has a female lead, is pretty low magic urban fantasy (humans with special powers, no monsters) and while there are relationships, they are not the focus of the stories.

Being a Luddite, I don't know how to put nifty thumbnails in here, but they're easy enough to find.


message 20: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Scott (michellescottfiction) | 721 comments Mod
Patrick wrote: "Being a Luddite, I don't know how to put nifty thumbnails in here, but they're easy enough to find. "

Lol. I understand the Luddite thing. If you ever want to add a book to your post, click the 'add book/author' link above the comment box (it is in gold-colored type). Then you would type the name of the book you want to appear in your post (in your case, The Family Trade), and click the 'search' button. When your book pops up, you select either 'link' to get the link like so:
The Family Trade

or 'cover' to have the cover appear. The Family Trade (The Merchant Princes, #1) by Charles Stross


message 21: by Rechan (new)

Rechan | 2 comments I'd recommend the Walker Papers (starting with Urban Shaman). The characters feel very real, less "Kicks ass in leather pants", and from what I understand, the romance doesn't even start until book 6.


message 22: by Carly (new)

Carly (dawnsio_ar_y_dibyn) | 29 comments I loved This Case Is Gonna Kill Me. The protagonist has a couple of romantic entanglements, but they are definitely subordinate to the plot. The love interest also isn't an alpha male--a refreshing change.


message 23: by Temeritous (last edited Jul 08, 2013 04:34PM) (new)

Temeritous Awesome new series I recently ran across by chance and cannot recommend highly enough to UF lovers! Is now one of my ultimate favorites right up there with Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels, Stacia Kane's City of Ghosts (Downside) series, Faith Hill's Jane Yellowrock, and Seanan McGuire's October Daye series! Superbly well-done, kick-ass heroine (and written by a man, no less!) with just a little romance that does not in any way take over the action-packed and intriguing plot. Sleight of Hand (Bite Back, #1) by Mark Henwick
Hidden Trump (Bite Back 2) by Mark Henwick

And the prequel novella was just released and is free on Amazon: Raw Deal (Bite Back prequel) by Mark Henwick


message 24: by Marianne (new)

Marianne I cannot recommend enough the Jill Kismet series by Lilith Saintcrow. Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow She does have a relationship, but it far from being the center of the books. Jill Kismet is really tough, and the books are dark and gritty.


Jean ~ Kindle Queen (jkat9) | 208 comments Tomina wrote: "Awesome new series I recently ran across by chance and cannot recommend highly enough to UF lovers! Is now one of my ultimate favorites right up there with Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels, Stacia Kane..."

Ooh! I haven't heard of this series. Thanks! And you have to love a freebie prequel. :)


message 26: by C.E. (new)

C.E. Martin (cemartin2) Legacy Forgotten Son (Book 1) by Warren Murphy

The new Destroyer spin off series by Jerry Welch and Warren Murphy features a 16 yr old co-lead who is a bad ass martial artist. I know that technically she fits the femme fatale mold, but the way i read it, she's more a gal than an object. And being that the character is 16, we shouldn't see her put in any sexual situations.


message 27: by Miranda (new)

Miranda | 1 comments I just want to say thank you for this post! I loved the early Anita Blake books, and I've been trying to find something more in that vein that wasn't young adult. I'm definitely going to use this topic as a reference guide.


message 28: by AggieBookLover (new)

AggieBookLover | 8 comments This is a great topic. I would add "World of the Lupi" books by Eileen Wilks.
It starts with Tempting Danger (World of the Lupi, #1) by Eileen Wilks

There is romance but it is not the main focus of the series.


message 29: by Doug (last edited Jul 16, 2013 05:10PM) (new)

Doug Jamha (jamha) | 4 comments Agreed, Aggie. Thanks, Limejuize for starting it.
I wish that book sites would allow me to enter " focus on plot not romance" as a refinement of searches. And not just romance. Angst, clothing, physical attributes, dreams etc. all have a habit of taking away from the story. The best writers are ruthless in editing out anything that doesn't help to illuminate the illusive but critical meaning, or core of the book. The heart of it . Briggs, Butcher, Bull, Andrews, DeLint, Ashwood, Wilks, Mcguire etc know when description is necessary and when it is not. I am sure that their studio floors are full of lovely bits of writing that just didn't help make the book better. And I for one, thank them for not sticking them in anyways.


message 30: by Michael (new)

Michael Leffel (FB-AvidReader) | 28 comments plot not romance, have you read "Child of the Ghost"?


message 31: by Doug (new)

Doug Jamha (jamha) | 4 comments I haven't, but I just put it on my to read list. Thanks.


message 32: by Michael (new)

Michael Leffel (FB-AvidReader) | 28 comments the first one was well written, the ending was predictable. but the series is very good, I am only about three books in.


message 33: by C (new)

C (cboggs) | 10 comments The first series that I thought of is Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series (Spider's Revenge, Web of Lies, etc.). Although there is some romance, the main focus is Gin Blanco's life as the assassin called Spider and her family, friends and enemies. I love the series. Gets better with each new release.


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