A long, dark January night is the perfect time for a romance novel. I just had the pleasure of catching up with a backlist title: Kresley Cole’s A Hunger Like No Other (2006), the first in her Immortals After Dark series. I don’t think I’ve read a paranormal romance since The Vampire Lestat (does that count?), but I was prompted by a delightful new podcast called Fated Mates, put out by romance author Sarah MacLean and Kirkus reviewer Jen Prokop, in which they’re planning to discuss each installment of Cole’s series, episode by episode.

Fated Mates Immortals After Dark is over-the-top fun, creating a world where every kind of creature co-exists: There are vampires, werewolves, Valkyries, sirens, furies, and more living peacefully (more or less) until, every 500 years, the Accession occurs, when they go to war in “a kind of mystical checks-and-balances system for an ever growing population of immortals,” as Cole explains it. A Hunger Like No Other features Emmaline Troy, half-vampire and half-Valkyrie, who’s shocked to learn she’s the fated mate of Lachlain MacRieve, the king of the werewolves (who turns out to be Scottish—who’d have thought?). After reading the book, it was fascinating to hear Sarah and Jen talk about it on the podcast, bringing their wealth of insight to a discussion of the book’s strengths and weaknesses, how it might have been different if it had been written today, and, as they put it in their podcast description, “feminism, patriarchy, modernity, and Moonstruck. Yes, the one with Cher.” If you want to dig deeper in the world of romance, this podcast is a great place to start.

Or you could start with one of two January romances that earned starred reviews from Kirkus: The One You Fight For by Roni Loren or Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet (both published on Jan. 1). Happy reading!

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.