If, like me, your first encounter with an orc was in in the movie version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, you may have trouble visualizing them as romantic heroes. Sure they were big and strong, and fantastic warriors but I have to say the human heroes captured my attention. Authors with more imagination in the fantasy realms than I have seized upon the orcs as a new romance hero trope and orc romances have exploded as a subgenre. They appear in scifi romance (alien orc species) and of course in fantasy and paranormal.
I’m going to say this strongly up front, always check the trigger warnings on dark romance, which many of these books are. Grim, unpleasant things can and do happen, which is part of why the subgenre is known as ‘dark romance’.
If you’d like to ease into orc romance, try Trick or Orc by S. J. Sanders. This is a charming tale where a divorcee moves to a new town and falls in love with the owner of the local bakery, Garval Ironclaw. Who happens to be an orc. The story has tender moments, funny moments and passion. It’s not as dark as some of the others.
Upping the intensity a bit, Finley Fenn has a six book series Orc Sworn with titles like The Lady and the Orc, the Midwife and the Orc, The Librarian and the Orc and so forth. I liked the latter (all can be read as standalones) because I’m always drawn to heroines who love books and in this case the orc in question does as well. He’s huge and dangerous of course, and he whisks her off to Orc Mountain. Reviews were a bit mixed on the series but overall favorable.
Author Amanda Milo takes a different tack in Sister Wives for the Orc, which is somewhat reminiscent of Jumanji, in that the heroine plays an old arcade game and finds herself inside the game’s world, married to an orc who has three other wives. Although it is a classic harem situation (not a reverse harem or ‘RH’ where the woman has multiple male partners), which gave some readers pause, overall the book has good reviews.
Sam Hall takes on the RH situation with Orc-Ward Encounters and a curvy woman who “stumbles through a portal into another dimension and falls into the arms” of three orcs. They think she’s a gift from their goddess and she really appreciates them and the way they cherish her. She has to make difficult decisions about remaining with her orcs or getting home to her actual life. I have not read this (I have a long, intimidating To Be Read list) but the reviews indicate most readers were content with the eventual ending.
The Orc Prince Trilogy is a M/M fantasy romance by Lionel Hart about an Elven prince and the son of an orc warlord from warring kingdoms who marry in book one to bring peace between their nations after hundreds of years of war. Of course nothing is that easy and forces are at work in both countries to tear the peace apart. Over the three book arc the relationship between the two main characters is put to the test and there’s adventure aplenty along with the romance.
The Half-Orc’s Maiden Bride is a fun romp from Ruby Dixon (taking a break from her famous Ice Planet Barbarians). The heroine is human, tall, poor and “on the shelf” as far as her marital prospects are concerned but her father finds her a suitor. Greenish with tusks and dimples…yes, a half-orc. There are multiple weddings, all kinds of machinations and complications but a happy ending.
Stick an Orc In It (Monster Orcs of Protheka Book One) by Milly Taiden and Celeste King occurs in a post-apocalyptic world where orcs came through a portal to Earth and the world as we know it was over. But now one of the orc leaders needs a doctor and the only available one is a human woman. Of course one of the ruler’s warriors falls for her…and events transpire from there. Celeste King has written a number of other orc romances in the Protheka series so if you like the world building and the concept, there’s a lot of good romance reading to be had.
The Silver Fury series by Layla Fae again has the orcs versus the humans and a heroine who is determined in the first book to bring an end to the orcs’ rule. But there’s one orc who seems different and…well, you can guess they fall in love. The first two books each end in a cliffhanger and at one point all the orcs and the half orcs disappear from Earth, which must be resolved in the third volume, The Orc’s Empress. The series is complete now.
Planet of the Orcs (Mates for Intergalactic Monsters Book One) by Athena Storm and Tara Starr is the start of a new series and plays it a bit cagy as to what planet the action really occurs on. The heroine is supposed to be a tribute to the evil son of an orc chieftan but the hero orc rescues her and they go on the run. Lots of adventure and romance ensue.
Heart of An Orc: A SciFi Monster Romance (Monster Hearts) by Cara Wylde gives us a captured alien orc and a young scientist assigned to collect samples from the prisoner. Romance is inevitable, right? The female main character has quite a growth arc throughout the book and readers love the very dissimilar main characters together.
Honey Phillips has a much anticipated scifi romance coming at the end of May: Olivia and the Orc (Alien Abduction Book 15) which I have pre-ordered. The hero is an orc, the heroine and her friends have been abducted by other aliens and he’s the only one who can help. Can’t wait to read this!
There are many other orc romances out there for your reading pleasure if you decide to dip into this romance subgenre but I’ve tried to present a good overview today. Going back to Tolkien, I’d still give the cold shoulder to his orcs in favor of Aragorn or Eomer, but I might be tempted by some of the big green orc heroes in the books I’ve mentioned above.