I am pleased to share eight more Asian romantic fantasy books set in Japanese-inspired worlds. Each story has a varying level of spice and the stories span several subgenres of fantasy romance, so there is something for all tastes. I hope you enjoy these wonderful reads inspired by Japan!
1. Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
YA romantic fantasy. On the way to meet her betrothed, Mariko escapes an assassination attempt by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan. As the only survivor, she disguises herself as a boy in order to seek revenge. Yet once she’s among their ranks, love blooms in the most unexpected of places, altering everything she’s ever believed and known. FLAME IN THE MIST is set in a world reminiscent of feudal Japan with a slight nod to the tale of Mulan. With hints of a love triangle and a lighter steam level, this is a perfect read for those craving a well-rounded fantasy full of action, secrets, betrayal, and intrigue.
2. The Priestess and the Dragon by Nicolette Andrews (Dragon Saga, Book 1)
Romantic fantasy. Priestess-in-training Suzume awakens a dragon sealed in stone. Not only does an unexplained power awaken within her, but the dragon Kaito wants revenge on the one who betrayed and trapped him five hundred years ago. Only problem: Suzume is the reincarnation of said person. In this slow burn, enemies-to-lovers romance drawing inspiration from the anime and manga series Inuyasha, Suzume must come to terms with her fated bond with the insufferable Kaito…before history repeats itself once more.
3. The Fate in the Flames by Sierra Knoxly (Legend of the Kitsune Pearl, Book 1)
Dark fantasy reverse harem. Sakura escapes through an ancestral portal after her family is betrayed and executed by the shogun. Finding herself in a war-torn world of demons and strange magic, she is captured by a cruel slave lord. Rivaan is drawn to her and takes her under his protection. Yet Sakura is strong and determined to survive, trapped as she is amidst the horrors of the warring clans, in order to avenge her family. THE FATE IN THE FLAMES is a very steamy read with a slow build harem and darker themes, taking inspiration from Japanese history and mythology and blending it into a unique world brimming with action, danger, and passion.
4. A Magical Imperative by Edith Pawlicki (The Unseen, Book 1)
Romantic urban fantasy. History professor Aurelie is an Unseen, a race hiding among humans for so long that their existence is on the path to extinction. After accepting a teaching position in Nara, Japan, she meets another Unseen — Kazuko — and they are instantly bonded. But there’s a reason the Unseen have kept a low profile, one that Aurelie and Kazuko together will uncover. A MAGICAL IMPERATIVE features an immersive world of modern Japan combined with the supernatural, along with suspense and a satisfying slow-burn romance.
5. Moonburner by Claire Luana (Moonburner Cycle, Book 1)
YA romantic fantasy. Tough but tenderhearted Kai has lived as a boy to hide a deadly secret — she is a Moonburner, reviled by the very people she lives among. When the truth is revealed, Kai flees death and, along with a snarky fox companion and a handsome but dangerous ally, seeks out the truth of her origin. In this fast-paced, coming of age story full of magic, danger, and a touch of romance, Kai may be the final hope in preventing the destruction of her people. MOONBURNER is set in a Japanese-inspired world with touches of Chinese folklore, including the tale of Mulan.
6. Reverence of a Ronin by Bree M. Lewandowski
Historical romantic fantasy. In the midst of the Meiji Restoration, determined geisha-in-training Ono Aia aspires to become a person of importance. Instead she faces ridicule for her rounder, “less-than-ideal” body, toiling against the narrow expectations of her small world. Aia finally gets her chance to shine and catches the eye of Nen, a mysterious swordsman accompanying the dignitaries she serves. When the revolution descends and violence erupts, Nen whisks her away to safety — and to another realm entirely. Beautifully written with immersive historical details, Aia must navigate the line between the mortal and immortal worlds and discover where her heart truly lies.
7. Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
YA romantic fantasy. EMPRESS OF ALL SEASONS is a mashup of Japanese folklore and a magical version of Hunger Games. Mari has spent her entire life training to be the next empress. To achieve this, she must win a competition by conquering the palace’s four enchanted seasonal rooms. Yet she hides a deadly secret of her yokai heritage — after all, yokai are dangerous monsters that must be destroyed. Mari seeks to change the fate of her country along with the disillusioned prince Taro and a half-human/half-yokai outcast Akira. This wonderfully written standalone story features lush worldbuilding, female empowerment, weather magic, a love triangle, and rich folklore penned by a Japanese-American author.
8. Wind Across the Silver Blade by Catharine Glen (Yokai Bonds, Book 1)
Fantasy romance. The final entry in this wonderful list is a tale of forbidden love and a bond forged across time. Exiled noblewoman Yumi carries an heirloom sword passed down twelve generations, only to discover its twin belongs to Touma — the tengu demon she accidentally awakens. Worse, she discovers that she harbors an ancient power tied to a vengeful god. Yumi and Touma’s soulbond may be the only thing standing in his way — or the very thing that releases him. Set in a world of dangerous yokai, old betrayals, and treacherous time magic, WIND ACROSS THE SILVER BLADE is perfect for readers seeking steamier stories based in Japanese folklore.
Want more? Check out my previous list “8 Asian Romantic Fantasy Stories Inspired by Japan“!