A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For starters, I don't really consider myself a fan of the paranormal romance genre. That said, I think this has got to be about as good as the genre gets.
Why? It's smart. The male romantic lead is not some sparkly tween who pouts his way around high school. Instead, he's an incredibly well-educated scientist who has used his centuries on Earth to accumulate a vast store of knowledge, and it was this character that made me realize how little I've appreciated the usefulness of a vampire character in historical fiction. He didn't study the Crusades, he was actually a part of them. He has a book personally dedicated to him by Christopher Marlowe. He owns old manuscripts that no modern historian has seen.
And so, I totally get why a witch-historian who specializes in alchemical texts would find him irresistible. This is an academics' romance, for people who find libraries sexy and would prefer their men's secrets involve ancient texts and wax seals instead of grey silk ties and BDSM-lite fetishes.
I would describe this book as having strong overtones of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon-- except the magical world is a little more magical (not just witches, but vampires and daemons to boot)-- with a healthy dose of The Da Vinci Code-esque literary mystery. In short, it's well-researched historical fiction with an imaginative plot and a dash of romance. Frankly, the actual romance was my least favorite part of this book, but it didn't distract much from my bibliophilic excitement. You can tell the author is a professor, but I like that. If people were reading this kind of stuff instead of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey pablum, I would be much less ashamed of the New York Times bestseller list.