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A Year of Bramble

Monique Patterson
Monique Patterson

By Monique Patterson

I can hardly believe it’s already been a year since we announced the launch of Tor Publishing Group’s newest imprint, Bramble.

Let me take you back…way back in time. Ok, I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect.

In 2022, my friend and long time colleague, Devi Pillai, whom you all know as the Dark Lord and Emperor of the Tor Publishing Group approached me with the idea for a romance imprint. Tor has made itself the home for every other genrefrom horror to SFF to mystery and women’s fiction—and she felt it was high time for Tor to add romance to its stellar line up. 

I had spent 25 years publishing romance novels (and snatching SFF ARCs—with permission!—whenever I could), so this seemed like a perfect challenge. We pulled everything together behind the scenes and announced Bramble on Valentine’s Day 2023.

Since then, what’s happened?

I’m far from the only editor at Tor in love with romance, and Ali Fisher’s New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer Armentrout, has been writing romantasy before romantasy was a thing. We announced Bramble with Fall of Ruin and Wrath. Fall of Ruin and Wrath, an Indie Next Pick, is full of breathtaking suspense, scorching romance, and twisty court politics, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas… and to our extreme delight, but not surprise, it became a New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller (Run, don’t walk to get this book).

Then the immensely talented Constance Fay joined the Bramble line up. Constance writes space opera romances that read like Becky Chambers with the heat turned up, and all the riotous adventure of Firefly. She’s just sent us book 3 in her Uncharted Hearts series and I’m blown away by how every book is more amazing than the last. Constance describes Calamity,—another Indie Next Pick!—the first Uncharted Hearts book, as “sex, love, and hijinks.”

Then, right on time for Christmas, there was Carissa Broadbent and The Serpent & the Wings of Night which reads like a Court of Thorns and Roses with vampires. New fans clamored on board the Carissa Broadbent train and Serpent was an instant New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller. Carissa is an author to watch, and we’re publishing the next chapter of Oraya and Raihn’s story in The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King in June 2024.

And I’m sure many of you have heard about this intriguing author and her simply iconic novel (with those deep purple edges!), because RuNyx is like no one else, and Gothikana is like nothing else. Even though it’s ceaselessly modern, don’t think this dark academia romance is anything less than the real, original Gothic-with-a-big-G deal. RuNyx absolutely knows her chops, and you will be utterly immersed in the dark romance between Corvina and Vad and the mysterious world of Verenmore University riddled with secrets and danger. At Bramble, we’ve been obsessed with Gothikana since last May, but it only published three weeks ago, to become an instant New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller. One early reviewer said this book “changed [her] brain chemistry.” Join the cult.

Melissa Marr’s delightful lesbian witch romance is publishing next week (only six days!!!) and it was top of mind throughout last spring, because Melissa and I were in the thick of editing Remedial Magic. The incomparable Melissa first made her mark in 2007 with the iconic Wicked Lovely and has been publishing lovely contemporary fantasy ever since. I knew from the start that Remedial Magic would be perfect for Bramble, not the least because of Tor’s famously lesbian-rich catalog. Remedial Magic has the charming magic school dynamics of The Magicians and the magical lesbian romance of One Last Stop. The Terry Pratchett fans in the audience will adore Prospero, who reads as a sort of hot young Granny Weatherwax—the same talent for “headology,” the same resistance to change, the same terrifying determination to do what’s right, no matter what the cost.

New York Times bestseller, Lora Leigh is literally blazing back onto the scene with hard-bodied, steely eyed Navy SEALs with Play Dirty. I’ve been working with Lora Leigh since Dangerous Games and it’s been a wild ride ever since. With Play Dirty you get everything that your dark romance heart desires. A four on the heat scale!

Similarly, last summer we co-acquired Rebecca Thorne’s charming Tomes and Tea quartet with Tor UK. Rebecca is a delight, with an amazing TikTok presence, who writes coffee shop AUs of fantasy tropes, and of course, they’re all lesbians (see, I told you!). Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea and its sequel A Pirate’s Life for Tea follow Kianthe and Reyna as they nope out of the violence and politics of high court life to run away and open a bookstore (!) that sells tea (!!), where readers of Legends & Lattes (!!!) will feel right at home. Because these were initially self-published, they’re available as ebooks now, though we’re releasing trade paperback editions with gorgeous stained edges and a bonus short story in May (for Treason) and August (for Pirates). Check them out—you won’t regret it.

All you cozy fantasy romance fans will continue to rejoice with Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst, also coming this summer, about a librarian and her assistant, Caz the sentient spider plant, as Kiela navigates the low stakes market of illegal spellmaking and the high risk business of starting over both in life and love. For this one, we wanted you to feel like you had entered this special world the moment you looked at the cover. Those lavender sprayed edges are the bonus!

The business of starting a new imprint is always a whirlwind and there are constantly consequential decisions to make that will hopefully lead to the book and the author’s success. One of the many things that is key to a book knocking it out of the park is for the cover to be just as stunning as the story itself. Our art department, working with highly talented artists, has produced one amazing cover after another, but I want to call out The Friend Zone Experiment by Zen Cho, because it came out perfect, pretty much on the first try. We knew from day one that the artist needed to be Bo Feng Lin, and he absolutely hit it out of the park. The Friend Zone Experiment is the product of author Zen Cho’s covid k-drama obsession, combined with her other job as a high-powered London lawyer. It combines the ritzy family politics of Crazy Rich Asians with a charming second-chance love story, Zen’s amazing prose, and an energetic, snappy plot about misbehavior amongst the most powerful businessmen in Malaysia.

The other was Curvy Girl Summer by Danielle Allen, a sexy, fantastically funny novel about the perils of online dating (who doesn’t have a story or two that they can tell?). It’s also a story where Danielle Allen explores the dating scene for a big, beautiful Black woman and everything that brings. I absolutely adore the cover by Keo Majoy who knocked it out of the park. 

But that’s not all, we also signed The Coven and The Cursed by Harper L. Woods. These were originally indie published and took TikTok by storm with their combination of unspeakably spicy romance, dark academia, magic schools, and demonic lover to seal the deal. These are getting the kind of stenciled edges the readers have been begging for. Brace yourself for The Coven. It’s so steamy we had trouble even finding an excerpt for the back cover that didn’t set off the fire alarm.

There are icons, and then there’s J.T. Geissinger. J.T. writes the sort of deep, dark romance with a twist that will leave you breathless, stunned…and wanting more. And it just gets wilder and steamier from there, with the standalone Pen Pal, reading like It Ends With Us meets Momento. No spoilers…but whatever you’re expecting, you’re going to be fabulously wrong and left asking “what just happened?” in the best way possible. Soon after in a back-to-back extravaganza J. T. kicks off her Queens and Monsters series –no holds barred mafia romance–with Ruthless Creatures, where a woman realizes the debt this mysterious stranger has come to collect…is her. And yes, you’ll want to collect all four books in the series with their amazing packaging and beautiful sprayed edges.

The nature of publishing timelines means that we’re working on several years worth of books on any given day. Today, I was looking at the paperback edition of a book that was published last year while planning the announcements of incredibly exciting new projects and authors. Don’t worry. These delicious secrets will be revealed soon!

So, what’s a year of Bramble been? We started with a name and a vision and now we have a star-studded, BookTok buzzy list of superstars and potential superstars. More importantly, we have authors we hope will give you all the feels and keep you wide awake into the small hours of the morning as you joyfully turn the pages, falling in love every step of the way. We hope your list of Bramble book boyfriends and book girlfriends is long by the end of 2024. 

Sometimes I feel like I’ve stumbled into fairyland and a century passed in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I feel like I’m still dreaming—certainly, it’s not possible that all three hardcover books we’ve published hit the Times? Certainly, the cover and edges for The Stars are Dying by USA Today bestseller Chloe C. Peñaranda, aren’t that beautiful? Certainly The Nightmare Before Kissmas by YA rockstar, Sara Raasch, isn’t the cutest thing I’ve ever read? We definitely don’t have my favorite Australian (well, not named Hemsworth), Freya Marske writing, Swordcrossed, the most perfect fencing love story for us?

No one wake me up.

Monique Patterson is vice president and editorial director of Bramble. The quote “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town,” by Leo Tolstoy is one of her favorites, because it immediately sets to mind all the possibilities of a fantastic story. Finding books and authors that reach across the breadth of our experiences as humans is important to her. Publishing a wide array of romance, commercial women’s fiction, and a select amount of nonfiction allows Monique to explore all of those experiences. Some of her upcoming titles are The Ashes & the Star-Cursed Kingby Carissa Broadbent, Remedial Magicby Melissa Marr, Pen Pal by J.T. Geissinger, and The Coven and The Cursed by Harper L. Woods.


Love The Classics? Try These New Stories!

Classics—we know them, we’ve read them. Basically, we’ve all heard of them. And that is why we put this list together. Fan of Classic A? Check out New Story B. We’ve got a hot list of fantastic new title / classic pairs primed for your perusal 😎

Check it out! 

Poster Placeholder of - 71The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Count of Monte Cristo is a much-lauded and time-honored adventure tale of revenge, and an adventure of vengeance is something author Sara A. Mueller delivers in spades with her novel, The Bone Orchard. 

When prisoner, survivor, necromancer, and mistress Charm is summoned to the deathbed of her conquering, now dying emperor, she is charged with determining the fate of the empire by discovering which of his terrible sons has killed him. To do so will deliver her from captivity, but betray the ghosts of her past that still whisper, leaving her with this choice: Justice, or revenge? 

The Bone Orchard is on sale 3/22/22!

Image Place holder  of - 23The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

The Legend of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong is a classic tale of adventure, betrayal, and wuxia martial arts. Plots will be hatched, and secrets shared, and pacts broken. 

And for modern fans of the vibrancy of old school martial arts, we have to recommend The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho. It’s a wuxia story about found family, as a bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. 

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is available now!

Place holder  of - 94The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

This brilliant epic fantasy from A. K. Larkwood is perfect for fans of Ursula K. Le Guin’s celebrated A Wizard of Earthsea. Fans of Le Guin’s book will remember young wizard Sparrowhawk’s education and coming of age, as well as the devouring shadow that followed him. 

In The Unspoken Name, young orcish death priestess Csorwe’s is haunted by her betrothed: a nameless death god older than the world. But when she receives an unexpected offer of employment from a traveling wizard, she leaves death hanging at the alter* to launch into an incredible and world-spanning adventure of mistakes, love, action, and growth. 

The Unspoken Name is available in paperback now!

ominous mountain shrine filled with many, many bones

Placeholder of  -30What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Scary good and scary scary, that’s Edgar Allen Poe’s famed tale of isolation, madness, and the disintegration of the line that separates the known and concrete from everything else. You guessed it: The Fall of the House of Usher

In What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher, the old story is given a grippingly atmospheric and fungus-filled retelling. Yes, fungal. Poe’s work isn’t the only classic that pairs with this suspenseful new book. What Moves the Dead is also perfect for anyone who still can’t get this unforgettable Tumblr post out of their head. Read this if you cannot be killed in a way that matters. 

What Moves the Dead is available on 7/12/22!

Image Placeholder of - 12The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

There’s a lot to love about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The opulence. The pining. The emptiness of wild parties and vacuity of the lavish. 

Nghi Vo’s The Chosen and the Beautiful retells the story from the perspective of Jordan Baker, who navigates her identity as a queer Vietnamese adoptee and practitioner of magic. Enter demonic pacts, elemental mysteries, and dazzling illusion into the classic we all know as Vo transforms it into something wholly new and absolutely enchanting. 

The Chosen and the Beautiful is available in paperback now!

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