For Urban Fantasy, my choices are:
Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
Death's Mistress by Karen Chance
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
For Ms Briggs, I decided to choose between her Alpha & Omega and Mercy Thompson series. Obviously, I would recommend both, but for a starter kit, I wanted to stick to one book per author and also, add a bit of variety. I went with Alpha & Omega because the romance was more prominent. It also got me hooked on the Alpha & Omega series faster than the Mercy Thompson's :) This is my pick if someone would ask me for werewolves.
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong was a no-brainer. This is one of the first series I've read and one that is complete-ish :) The situation the H/H find themselves in at the beginning of Bitten is also quite unique and brings complexity to the romance. What I liked about this series is that we do change narrators and the evolution of the characters. Also, it's a well-rounded world. This is my pick for someone who wants a bit of everything: werewolves, witches, necromancers, demons, etc.
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews is the third book of the series, but it's the one that really got me hooked and it's in this one that the romance really solidifies and becomes really important in the series. I feel the author was finding her voice and world in the first two, but with Magic Strikes, she really hit her stride and gained a fan forever :) Also interesting is the world the story is set - different than ours. This is my pick for someone who wants a kick-ass heroine with lethal sword abilities and magical powers.
I hesitated a bit with Death's Mistress because the romance in this one isn't as strong as in the other books... However, for the humor and action, I had to add it. The story is a bit dizzying, but a lot of fun. This is my pick for someone who wants vampires... or actually, dhampirs.
Finally, Rosemary and Rue. It's not my favorite urban fantasy series; however, it's very solid. What I like about this series is the story moves swiftly and we're starting to get answers! This is my pick for someone who wants fairies.
Books/Authors I considered:
Written in Red by Anne Bishop - There is sort of a romance thread, but so far, it's been more about the world building and how it's changing.
Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep - It kind of takes a while for the romance in this series to really start and by the time the heroine makes a choice, I feel the books have become a tad too predictable. Good books, but the 5 above are better...
For Fantasy, my recommendations are the following:
Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
I would consider these two books/series to be fantasy romance. The romance is crucial and takes place in a fantasy worlds, hence fantasy romance. I absolutely love these two books for their uniqueness and the epic love stories!
Books/Authors I considered:
Captain's Fury by Jim Butcher - I love this book as well, but while it does have some romance threads, that's not what I loved about it... and therefore I left it out.
The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop - This book is part of Ms Bishop's Black Jewels series. I did enjoy that series a lot and yes, there is a romance in the first three books... but once again, the romance is not why I enjoyed the series as much. Also, it was kind of a weird romance. Anyway, if I had to choose a book from this series to recommend, it would be The Shadow Queen where the love story is a bit more traditional and more vital to the story. However, it's hard to read The Shadow Queen as a stand-alone and that's why I left it out.
So, your picks?