The bully romance sub-genre is a required taste . . . you either love it, hate it or have mixed feelings.
So, what are bully romance books? Similar to the enemies-to-lovers trope, you typically have a dark and brooding hero who has it out to make the heroine’s life miserable. However, certain bully romance books are not for everyone due to the sensitivity of the subject matter.
Personally, there have only been a couple bully romance books that left me feeling uncomfortable which usually happens when the hero takes it too far or the heroine doesn’t stand up for herself.
If you have yet to jump on the bully romance bandwagon, you should check out these book recommendations below and dive into the grey area that are bully love stories.
For some more grey areas in the romance genre, check out this list of forbidden romances in books.
Bully by Penelope Douglas
Jared Trent and Tatum Brandt were best friends until the day Jared became Tate’s worst tormentor.
On the eve of her departure to study abroad for a year, Tate attends a party only to find herself the target of a prank that leaves her feeling more relieved than ever to be heading off the next day. Fast forward a year later and Tate’s back, more confident than ever. With her newfound maturity and Jared’s decision to end his bullying ways, they are left to sort through their sordid past and address the bullying Tate went through.
For high school bully romance books where the main characters go from best friends to enemies to lovers, you should check out Penelope Douglas’s Bully. An added plus is the slow-burn romance. No insta love here.
Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas
From the outside, future prom queen and captain of the lacrosse team Clay Collins has it all: popularity, a charming boyfriend, and a picture-perfect family. Except it’s all a facade. The popularity is stifling, the not-so-charming boyfriend is an asshole, and her family is shattered beyond repair. But the one person who helps her escape her demons is the one person she can never have: her enemy, Olivia Jaeger.
All Olivia Jaeger wants is to survive her senior year and get a one-way ticket out of her small-minded town and away from her greatest tormentor: Clay Collins. But Clay has other plans. And they do not involve Olivia leaving her in the dust.
Beautiful, emotional, and steamy, Tryst Six Venom is an unputdownable FF enemies-to-lovers bully romance overflowing with twists and turns. Prepare to be up well past your bedtime when you crack open this intense high school bully romance.
Vicious by L.J. Shen
Love the villain? Then you’ll love Vicious.
Vicious is one of the most ruthless fictional assholes out there. He has a heart of stone and basically treats everyone like dirt; a real winner over here. The person who is on the receiving end of his taunts and ridicule the most is Emilia LeBlanc, the daughter of the hired help living on the grounds of his father’s estate. He treats her like utter crap and eventually runs her out of town. Ten years pass and they meet again. Vicious wants her back and won’t stop until he wins her over.
For a bully love story where the hero has a huge chip on his shoulder and takes it out on the daughter of the hired help, take a peek at Vicious . . . there’s a thin line between love and hate.
Shunned by Steffanie Holmes
Hazel’s entire life went up in flames when a fire took the lives of her parents and best friend. Barely getting by, she is given a second chance when she is offered a scholarship to an elite academy. Her plan is to coast by, get good grades, graduate and get the hell out of there. Hazel does not count on Ayaz, Trey, and Quinn: the three guys who practically run the school and who also want her gone. However, what they don’t realize is that it will take more than a few insults and pranks to run Hazel out of town.
Read Shunned if you like reverse harem bully romance books where the girl is bullied by a few guys who all (typically) end up being love interests.
Manhattan Tormentor by V. Theia
If there is one thing high school quarterback Finn Maverick learned from his father, it is the importance of upholding the Maverick legacy, both on and off the field. Cruel and cutthroat, Maverick would be the perfect prodigal heir if not for his inexplicable attraction to the pretentious resident school nerd.
Sage Fierro never understood what he did to land into his tormentor’s crosshairs. If not for his baffling interest in the heartless bully, Sage would have written him off long ago. But when he realizes that the disgust lurking behind Finn’s eyes is all a facade for his lust, their nonexistent relationship evolves into something they never saw coming.
If you are looking for an MM bully romance brimming with heat, passion, and angst, I recommend cracking open V. Theia’s memorable standalone Manhattan Tormentor.
Cruel Prince by Ashley Jade
Four years ago, Dylan and Jace were best friends. Then tragedy struck, pushing Dylan and her family to move away. By the time Dylan returns to her hometown, everything has changed which she realizes on the first day of school when Jace makes it known that she is persona non grata.
Confused by Jace’s intense hatred, Dylan tries giving him the benefit of the doubt. Once she realizes that Jace’s cruel new attitude is here to stay, Dylan finds her spine and gives it right back.
If you like the friends-to-enemies-to-lovers trope in bully romance books, you should Cruel Prince a go.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Jude was seven-years-old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were whisked away by the murderer to live in Faerie. Ten years pass and all Jude wants is to fit in despite her own mortality. Swept into a deadly game of politics, Jude must stay on top of her game when things take a turn for the worst. With lives on the line and cunning faeries, Jude will have to stay one step ahead to come out victorious.
Prince Cardan is the youngest son of the High King: Cunning, charming, cruel and wicked, Cardan has a real mean streak when it comes to Jude. But the tides are changing. All it takes is one slip up to shift the balance.
The Cruel Prince is perfect for everyone out there who loves their bully romance books centered around cutthroat fae, scheming royals and a slow burn romance (of epic proportions).
Tough Sh*t by Sheridan Anne
Oceania Munroe’s entire world comes crashing down the day her mother announces they’re moving from the gang-ridden streets of Breakers Flats to the swanky paradise that is Bellevue Springs. Saying goodbye to her crew is hard as it is without the added stress that comes with moving into an extravagant mansion littered with wealth. And nothing could have prepared Ocean for Colton Carrington, the son of her mother’s boss. But when Colton throws down a gauntlet, Ocean refuses to back down. And once the games begin, all bets are off.
If you love high-school bully romance books with badass heroines and rich assholes, I recommend checking out Tough Sh*t. Ocean has a backbone of steel and gives as good as she gets.
Dirty Girls by Lily White
A few years back, tragedy hit a small town in Washington when a local girl was found dead. Charged with murder, then high school student Soren Callahan was placed behind bars. It is only when Soren is released that the murders start up again, each one more gruesome than the last.
Olive Reid is a senior at Winter Ridge Prep. Back when Soren and his circle ruled the school, she refused to take part in their games, yet found herself attracted to Soren, the King of Winter Ridge Prep. Now that Soren’s back, Olive’s life takes a sharp turn into dangerville when she realizes Soren has his sights set on her . . . the question is, will she come out of it alive.
If you want a whodunit mystery bully romance book, Dirty Girls is your book soulmate because it has all of that and more!
Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas
Misha Lare and Ryen Trevarrow have been pen-pals since fifth grade for a school project when their teachers paired them together, mistakenly assuming they were the same gender. They have kept in touch ever since and have gone on to become best friends despite never meeting in person. That all changes in high school when Misha suddenly goes radio silent.
Unbeknownst to Ryen, she met Misha a few weeks back at a fundraising scavenger hunt for his band. Completely different from the girl he knows from the letters, Misha is shocked and disgusted by this stranger.
When new boy Masen Laurent *Misha* shows up in one of Ryen’s classes and stands up for a boy who’s being bullied by one of Ryen’s friends, she’s intrigued. That is, until she finds herself at the receiving end of his anger and blatant disapproval. Confused as to why his opinions matter so much to her, she finds herself taking the bait and adding fuel to the fire.
If you’re in the mood for a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers bully romance book where the guy pretends to be someone else, you’ll love Punk 57.
Untouchable by Sam Mariano
Sam Mariano brings uncomfortable experiences to an entirely new level with her dark romance novel Untouchable.
Zoey never expected her senior year to start with lube in her locker, but after getting a football player suspended for harassment, she has become a social pariah. One day, Zoey finds that she’s attracted the attention of the all-star quarterback Carter Mahoney. That’s when things go too far and Zoey finds herself caught in the snare of a devil lurking beneath the golden boy facade.
If you love dark bully romance books, I think you should give Untouchable a go, but tread carefully, especially during the beginning of the book. It’s not for everyone.
The Secret Girl by C.M. Stunich
Charlotte Carson is forced to move to Connecticut when her father receives a position as headmaster of Adamson All-Boys Academy. The board plans to modernize the academy by allowing girls in and they want to use Charlotte as the guinea pig. However, who wants to be the only girl at an all-boys school? Well, I guess some people would like that, but Charlotte would prefer not to be the only girl. We can all guess what that means.
Enter Charlie “Chuck” Carson (aka Charlotte). Chuck is the new guy at Adamson All-Boys Academy and quickly becomes a social pariah. The question is, how quickly will it be before someone realizes Chuck is actually Charlotte? Well, not too long. In fact, there’s a killer on the loose and he (or she) is not happy about a girl enrolled at Adamson All-Boys Academy. Plus, add in some suspicious members of the student council–Church, Ranger, Spencer, Micah, andTobias–and she has herself one hectic semester ahead.
If you like reverse harem bully romance books that are light on the bullying aspect and put the slow in slow burn, then you should check out C.M. Stunich’s The Secret Girl.
Angry God by L.J. Shen
Vaughn Spencer is the brooding artist: ruthless, arrogant and untouchable, no one gets past his defenses . . . well, except for Lenora. Vaughn and Lenny have a history and when Lenny enrolls in Todos Santos for her senior year, Vaughn makes it his mission to make her life hell.
Lenny is his opposite in every way. She stands her ground, matching him step for step. The only thing getting her through her senior year is the chance at winning a prestigious art internship with her biggest competition being Vaughn.
When Lenny learns they will both be interning in London, she finds herself questioning whether she should go. But Lenny has never been one to back down during a fight and she refuses to let Vaughn win this round.
If you love gritty love stories that don’t hold back, Angry God is one of the best bully romance books you should get your hands on.
Corrupt by Penelope Douglas
Erika “Rika” Fane is exasperated with everything and everyone. Hoping to get a fresh start, Rika heads off to college in a new city. Those dreams are destroyed when she realizes her ex’s older brother Michael Crist, now a professional basketball player, is practically her neighbor.
When Michael realizes that Rika is in his city, he decides it’s time to serve up some justice for what Rika did three years prior. A decision that led to the imprisonment of his three best friends. With vengeance on his brain, Rika has no clue what she’s in for when Michael and his friends come for her.
If you’re in the mood for some intense, dark bully romance books, Penelope Douglas’s Corrupt is the perfect fit. Get ready for a tumultuous ride that will have you questioning your morals.
Deviant King by Rina Kent
“I will destroy you.”
With those four words, the King of Royal Elite Academy declares war on Elsa Quinn and, for the next two years, his subjects ensure her life becomes a living purgatory. Everything comes to a head their senior year when Elsa reaches her breaking point and issues a direct challenge that the deviant king can’t ignore. But nothing could have ever prepared her for Aiden’s chillingly calculated mind and disturbingly twisted thoughts. And unfortunately for her, he’s infatuated.
Controversial, intense and deliciously twisted, Deviant King is a dark bully romance you don’t want to miss. Rina Kent’s trilogy is perfect for anyone who loves possessive alphaholes, heroines who give as good as they get and intense romances with loads of steam. Proceed with caution and make sure to read the warning.
The Help by Callie Rose
Lincoln, River, Dax and Chase are the Kings of Linwood Academy and Harlow–she’s just the help.
When Harlow Thomas’s mom is offered a position as an Executive Housekeeper in a prestigious home in Connecticut, she takes the offer. Harlow has no idea what to expect, but when she meets the son of her mom’s new employer, Lincoln, she comes to her own conclusions. What Lincoln does not realize is that Harlow is not the type to bend under pressure and the Kings of Linwood better watch themselves because they’re in for some serious changes.
Read The Help if you’re in the mood for a high school reverse harem bully romance.
Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward
High school senior Greta Hansen has no idea what to expect from her new year long roommate, Elec O’Rourke, a stepbrother she’s never met until now. Broody and arrogant, Elec sends mixed signals from the moment he moves in to the moment he abruptly leaves. Fast forward seven years and they meet once again. This time, they’re not letting go…
If you enjoy bully romance books with a taboo premise (step-sibling romance), then you should take a look at Stepbrother Dearest.
The Peer and the Puppet by B.B. Reid
After a job goes wrong, Four Archer is forced out of her comfort zone when she and her mom are shipped off to Blackwood Keep, her mother’s new lover’s mansion. There she meets her future step-brother Ever McNamara. To say that they got off on the wrong foot would be an understatement.
Ever sees Four and her mother as gold diggers and makes Four’s life a living hell. When an opportunity arises to get rid of Four, Ever takes it. What he never expected was for Four to come back with vengeance on her mind.
If you’re in the mood for a bully love story with a step-sibling romance, The Peer and the Puppet is the perfect option.
Orientation Week by Ruby Vincent
When Zela sets her sights on Breakbattle Academy, nothing will stop her from earning an elusive spot at the prestigious academy that happens to segregate the girls from the guys. Except she has no plans of attending as herself. When she steps onto that extravagant campus, it will be as Zeke Manning, a freshman boy with high hopes of snatching a coveted spot among the elite.
Determined to prove that she can hold her own among the male population, Zela quickly realizes that it won’t be as simple as she initially thought. Because at Breakbattle, students have no quandaries with fighting for their place at the cutthroat academy. But Zela has other plans that involve a certain boy in her year, something that he’ll never see coming.
Read Orientation Week if you’re in the mood for a slow-burn high school bully reverse harem romance where the girl pretends to be a guy. You won’t be disappointed by this series.
I Dare You by Shantel Tessier
Austin is the new girl in town. Trying to escape from her deadbeat mom and her abusive boyfriend, Austin moves in with her dad. Hoping to keep a low profile, Austin’s plans are shattered when she witnesses something she should have never seen. Caught by the perps of the crime, she is coerced into joining a group of dangerous men who live life on the edge. As the dares spin out of control, lines are blurred and the games turn deadly. The question is, will Austin and Cole make it out with their hearts?
For a game of crazy dares and some insane sexual tension, I Dare You brings all of that in this bully love story that will keep you reading till the very end.
Filthy Rich Boys by C.M. Stunich
Alright, imagine you’re in this scenario. You won the scholarship to attend one of the most elite private schools in the United States. On your first day, almost everyone seems to already know who you are and your tour guide ditches you after implying that you don’t belong there. A friendly face ends up helping you around campus and gives you the low-down of course the school’s social structure. This new friend then explains how the idols (the elites) are at the top of the food chain and they have set their sights on you (like a bounty, not ooh la la). What else is there to do except survive.
If you’re in the mood for a reverse-harem high school bully romance novel, you should definitely give Filthy Rich Boys a try.
Pretty Reckless by LJ Shen
All it takes is one decision to irrevocably change the future.
Four years ago, Daria Followhill took fate into her own hands when she destroyed a fellow dancer’s chance at achieving her dreams and, in doing so, destroyed a relationship with the guy who wanted all her firsts. Now, he’s back. Except, this time, he’s her foster brother.
Penn Scully adored Daria until he didn’t. When she shattered the only good thing in his life, everything changed. He still wants her, but not in the same way. This time, the roles are switched and he’ll become the guy who destroys her.
Read Pretty Reckless if you’re looking for high school bully romance books with misunderstood characters who toe the line between love and hate.