38 Best Dark Romance Books That Take Twisted To A New Level

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If you’re sick of the traditional contemporary romance, it may be time to move onto dark romances. Depraved, twisted and gritty, dark romance books takes readers out of their comfort zones in the best of ways. However, since these stories have dark themes and mature content, they often come with content and trigger warnings.

So what exactly are dark romances about? They can delve into many taboo and problematic situations including kidnapping, moments of dubious or non consent, abduction, murder, captivity, and stalking.

Featuring over thirty of the best dark romance books out there, you’ll have no shortage of books to read in the upcoming months. And if you prefer fantasy, here is a curated list of dark fantasy romances. It’s time to sweeten up your weekend with these twisted dark romances!

Also, quick side note, if your book addiction is making quite a dent in your wallet, you should think about getting a Kindle Unlimited Membership Plan. It’ll save you money in the long run and support your reading addiction. It’s a win-win.

Butcher and Blackbird by Brynne Weaver

When fate sends rival serial killers Sloane and Rowan on a collision path, they find something rare in each other: friendship. With a mutual passion for murder, the two agree to an annual competition that ends in the death of their chosen victim. As the months go by, sparks fly, but in this game of murder and mayhem, there can only be one winner—right? 

Butcher and Blackbird is an enthralling story of forbidden love, suspense, and wicked comedy, mixed with a twisted medley of gruesome murders, killer competitions, and spicy thrills.

Little Bird Lost by Jessie Walker

Deep in the North American wilderness lies a remote estate, the home of the Fowler and his Aviary. When a perverse individual known as the Fowler kidnaps a young girl, she is swept into a world of nightmares, monsters, and mind games.

To survive, she must fight her way past the Fowler and his three depraved sons—Corvin, Ezio, and Aquillus—and say goodbye to the girl she was before the Fowler clipped her wings.  

With a litany of trigger warnings, this is a dark book that only grows darker and darker. For the full list of triggers, you can find them on Jessie Walker’s site.

Little Bird Lost is an extraordinary dark romantic thriller that will leave an unforgettable impression. Spanning over 800 pages, this nightmarish and disturbingly twisted story races along as readers are drawn ever closer to its sinister secrets. It is unlike anything I have ever read and stands out as one of the year’s top dark romantic thrillers of 2023.

The Monster of Hotel No. 7 by K.V. Rose

Karia Ven is the princess of the notorious secret society Writhe, a place wrought with evil, and has everything right at her fingertips. But one thing remains out of her reach: Sullen Rule, the son of the former leader of Writhe. Scarred by a lifetime of suffering at the hands of his father, Sullen prefers to linger in the shadows. That is until Karia brings him into the light.  

From K.V. Rose comes The Monster of Hotel No. 7, a dark gothic romance like no other. Take a thrilling ride through the darkness of society’s underbelly, with a hint of Frankenstein, scattered horror elements, and passionate, tortured love interests. Spice, tension, and the macabre are all waiting to be discovered.

Pennies by Pepper Winters

At eighteen, college student Tasmin has led a life of privilege. While attending one of her mother’s formal functions, she’s stolen and sold into sexual slavery.

Purchased by Aldrik, a sadistic and vicious man, she lives in constant fear of the atrocities she’ll be forced to endure at the hands of her greatest tormentor and his friends.

It’s at her lowest point when Elder Prest walks into her life. There for business, Prest had no plans to complicate matters. That is until he sets eyes on the girl who refuses to speak.

But if Prest steals her away, will Pimlico find freedom. Or will she simply be exchanging one cage for another?

Disturbing, depraved and dark, Pennies will sweep you out of your comfort zone and decimate every one of your boundaries. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Does It Hurt? by H.D. Carlton

Sawyer Bennett is a girl on the run. With a long string of faceless marks with fat pockets, Sawyer has been able to keep herself afloat financially until she makes the mistake of crossing the wrong person: Enzo Vitale, a man seeking more than vengeance. 

H.D. Carlton upped her game with her 2022 bestseller. With off-the-charts spice, heart-pounding thrills, and harrowing situations, Does it Hurt? is one of the best dark romances of the year.

Fragments by Nyla K.

Nyla K. returns to the dark and seedy world of Alabaster Penitentiary, home to the worst of the criminals. In Fragments, Warren Xavier, notorious fire-starter and habitual liar, sets his eyes on resident hacker Lex “Luthor” Deon, the one person who rejects his advances at every turn. 

Nyla K. is a master at weaving dark tales packed with twisted romances, morally gray heroes, and panty-melting spice. Fragments, the latest installment to her Alabaster Penitentiary series, is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a dark MM romance book.  

The Ritual by Shantel Tessier

When Blakely enters the dark world of Barrington University, she catches the attention of Ryat Alexander Archer, a Lord of the college’s secret society. With promises of freedom from her pre-ordained life, Blakely accepts Ryat’s proposal and becomes his chosen one, the person promised to him during his senior year. 

But in the sin-ridden world of the Lords, promises are broken and words become twisted. And now that Blakely has promised herself to Ryat, she will find that she traded one prison for another.

Fans of dark romance books that live within shades of gray and are peppered with twisted acts of depravity will love The Ritual. One thing you will want to do is check the trigger warnings beforehand because Shantel Tessier does not hold back on the dark-o-meter.

These Monstrous Ties by K.V. Rose

These Monstrous Ties follows the wicked lives of Lilith and Lucifer, two people ruled by questionable morals and a secret underground society. A year ago, Lucifer made a mistake—one that Lilith plans to make him pay dearly for after breaking her heart.

It should come as no surprise that K.V. Rose’s Unsainted series has made it on the dark romance list. With its dark themes, morally gray heroes, and super steamy scenes, These Monstrous Ties is a textbook dark romance that needs to be added to your list.

Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton

When Adeline Reilly inherits her late grandmother’s Gothic cliffside manor, she discovers that her great-grandmother’s death was no accident. Exploring the mysteries of Parson’s Manor, Adeline unknowingly catches the eye of notorious vigilante, Zane, and is soon the object of his sinister obsession. 

Fans of dark romances might want to check out Haunting Adeline. The TikTok sensation comes with a plethora of trigger warnings and promises a disturbing and twisted journey into a world of depravity and sin. Step into Adeline’s shoes and prepare for spine-tingling suspense and forbidden desire.

In Peace Lies Havoc by Amo Jones

Dove Hendry is no stranger to tragedy. Orphaned at a young age, Dove jumped from foster home to foster and is now making ends meet working as a stripper.

Dance is the only thing that keeps the darkness at bay. That is until the shadows she dreamed up as a kid step into the light, forcing her to acknowledge that the intriguing figments of her imagination are real.

Thrust headfirst into the mysterious world of Midnight Mayhem, Dove finds herself at center stage next to the four enigmatic Brothers of Kiznitch. But there’s only one that makes her pulse flutter and that’s Kingston Axton, the handsome devil with a darkness that speaks to her own.

Dark, gritty and addictive, In Peace Lies Havoc is a dark romance that will keep you guessing till the end. Trust me when I say you won’t be able to put this one down. 

Debt by Nina G. Jones

Many people would say Mia Tibbett has it all: the job of her dreams, financial security and a best friend that always has her back. If you asked Mia, she’d say her life has grown monotonous and her sex life? Well, that’s nonexistent.

So when her best friend Tiff tells her that the most thrilling and animalistic sex she ever experienced came from a service that specializes in recreating people’s rape fantasies, she knows she should feel disgusted with herself for actually considering it.

But when curiosity wins out, nothing could have ever prepared her for the man that attacks her. 

Edgy, engaging and downright dirty, Debt is anything but sweet. Nothing could have ever prepared you for this controversial dark and twisted romance.

Rough Edge by C.D. Reiss

Army Major and psychiatrist Greyson Frazier has returned home from her final deployment, eager to reunite with her husband Caden St. John. But upon her arrival, Greyson discovers things have changed – Caden is no longer the man she married. To help him recover from this inner turmoil, Greyson must summon all of her strength, cunning and love.

Rough Edge is a riveting dark romance series with a twisty plot. Pick up this masterpiece and immerse yourself in a world of forbidden desires and tender moments. You won’t want to put it down until the stunning conclusion.

Untouchable by Sam Mariano

The darkest depths of romance come alive in Sam Mariano’s dark romance novel, Untouchable. Zoey never expected to start her senior year with lube in her locker, but after calling out a football player for harassment, she has become a social outcast and a target for all-star quarterback Carter Mahoney.

Untouchable pushes limits. If you’re looking for an unrelenting romance novel with a darkly captivating story, don’t miss Sam Mariano’s novel! Just be sure to read the author’s warning first.

Deviant King by Rina Kent

“I will destroy you.” 

With 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. 

Still Beating by Jennifer Hartmann

When a late night out partying ends with Corabelle chained in a basement alongside her sister’s fiancee and her long-time arch-nemesis, she finds herself plunged into an endless nightmare

Still Beating is a disturbing and heartbreaking tale that is practically pitch-black at times. Be sure to read the content warnings and prepare for a sleepless night with this unputdownable dark romance.

Raphael by Tillie Cole

While on a mission to murder a renowned sex trafficker, Raphael, the dark fallen angel with an appetite for strangling his victims, is consumed with lust when he spots the kill of his dreams.

Struck with unimaginable hunger, Raphael is unable to stop himself from breaking the cardinal law of the Fallen: Thou shalt not bring prey back to Eden Manor. And once he has her, he’ll break all the rules for his “little rose.” 

As Eden Manor’s newest guest, death is on Sister Maria Agnes’ doorstep and though her days may be numbered, Maria plans to do the impossible and bring her dark angel back to life. 

Heartbreaking, dark and tragic, Raphael is a dark romance centered around two broken souls who will either find solace in each other’s arms or the cold embrace of death. For a better understanding of the characters, I recommend reading the prequel, The Fallen: Genesis.

The Bandit by B.B. Reid

Nineteen-year-old single mother Mian Ross has faced more misfortune than most. After her father’s reckless decisions left her on the brink of financial ruin, she had to rely on herself to get by. But when Mian finds herself jobless, desperation leads her to break into mob boss Angeles “Angel” Knight’s home. 

In response to the burglary, Angel kidnaps Mian’s son and takes her hostage. With the two now residing in his home, Angel holds the upper hand. With her child at stake, Mian must do whatever it takes to protect him.

If you’re looking for a thrilling dark romance novel involving a heroine who’s been taken hostage, The Bandit is for you!

Born, Darkly by Trisha Wolfe

London Noble, a renowned criminal psychologist, has her work cut out for her when she is assigned her newest patient: the notorious, Angel of Maine, serial killer Grayson Pierce Sullivan. As London digs deeper into Grayson’s past, she finds herself getting more and more invested in her patient. But, with his brilliant intellect and utmost determination, it won’t take him long to create a plan to exploit London and escape.

If you have ever been obsessed with Harley Quinn and the Joker, Born, Darkly will be right up your alley. So, buckle up and get ready for an insane ride along the dark side of the romance genre.

The Risk by S.T. Abby

As an FBI criminal profiler, Logan Bennet has no time for relationships, especially not while tracking down a devious serial killer. That is until he meets Lana Myers, his complete opposite. 

After experiencing a tragic encounter and watching her brother fall at death’s gates, Lana decides to take justice into her own hands. As Logan gets closer and closer to tracking down the murderer, he and Lana must fight an intense battle of wills.

The Risk has a killer premise with a deadly love story. S.T. Abby’s dark romance is about to leave you with a wicked book hangover, desperate for more.  

Periculum by Natalie Bennett

On the last night of their weeklong getaway, Liliana and her two best friends down one too many Tequila shots as a last hurrah before they’re expected to return home to stuffy societal debuts and uppity snobs.

Dragging their drunk selves onto the shuttle the morning after is an accomplishment within itself. Things take a turn for the worse when the driver takes a detour that leaves them stranded.

With only riddled clues to guide them, the passengers are thrust into a deadly game that will sooner snuff their spark than see them out alive.

Welcome to the Devil’s Playground. Enter at your own risk.

Saw meets The Purge in this insane roller coaster ride. Buckle up buttercup because you’re about to take a wild ride on the dark side. Periculum is not for the faint of heart.

Ecstasy by K.V. Rose

Zara, Alex, and Eli are three college students who know the dark side of life all too well; Zara copes with her unhappiness with substances, Alex tries to outrun his anger issues, and Eli hides a dark secret beneath his football star facade. As their senior year looms, Zara and Alex’s toxic, volatile relationship spirals out of control faster than the two of them can comprehend. But when Zara catches Alex with another girl, the changes that follow unleash the ultimate destruction.

For fans of dark romance books, Ecstasy is a must-read. With intoxicating and dangerous themes of murder, violence, drug use, and self-sabotage, this unpredictable novel will leave readers enthralled. So go ahead, add this page-turner to your TBR shelf.

The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori

Elena Abelli’s reputation is in ruins after a night of scandalous indiscretions lands her under house arrest. When her father arranges her sister’s marriage to the notorious King of the Cosa Nostra, Elena finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. Fate entangles them in an intricate web of forbidden love, secrets, and betrayal. Filled with antiheroes, sexual tension, and arranged marriages, this series will have you hooked from the first page.

Crow by A. Zavarelli

Mackenzie’s mission is to infiltrate the Irish mafia and find her missing best friend Talia. But not everything goes as planned—wrangling a job is one thing, but capturing the eye of the mobster who stands to inherit the throne? That wasn’t part of the plan.

Lachlan Crow doesn’t believe Mackenzie’s story, and suspects she has something to hide. As they get closer, Mackenzie must figure out if Lachlan is connected to Talia’s disappearance, or risk losing her heart to the future head of the Irish mafia.

Fans of dark romance won’t want to miss out on Crow, a thrilling story with a forbidden love affair, high stakes, and a hint of mystery.

King by T.M. Frazier

Doe wakes up with no memories, and her desperate circumstances lead her to the welcome home party of infamous career criminal King. But when a friend uses the money stolen from King to pay for a fix, Doe finds herself in a dangerous situation. 

If you’re a fan of dark erotic romance, King is a must-read. It’s the perfect battle between morality and redemption.

Sparrow by L.J. Shen

For fans of dark romance, Sparrow is the perfect enemies-to-lovers story of heated passion and forbidden desire. When Sparrow, a free-spirited young woman, finds herself walking down the aisle to Irish mob boss, The Fixer, she stands tall in the face of his icy stare. 

Troy, determined to fulfill his promise, will do anything to tame Sparrow and curb her wild spirit – even if that means clipping her wings. Satisfy all your illicit cravings with this thrilling tale of love and loyalty in the gritty underworld.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Seventeen-year-old Lachlan and sixteen-year-old Maya never expected their bond to reach deeper depths than a sibling bond. Forced to take care of their three younger siblings due to their flighty alcoholic mother, they had to grow up fast and rely on each other. 

Then comes the realization of true feelings for one another – a discovery that puts everything they know to the test. 

Forbidden will push your boundaries and reveal a new side of dark romance. With a compelling story that crosses lines and evokes an utterly tragic emotion, this book is at the top of the must-read list for fans of this genre.

Nocticadia by Keri Lake

At twenty, Lilia is overwhelmed: juggling a full-time job, college classes, paying her sister’s tuition, and helping with rent, she desperately needs a break.

When Lilia lands a scholarship from the exclusive university, Dracadia, she hopes she’ll finally get her wish. But the island holds a sinister secret that Lilia soon discovers, which leads back to her enigmatic new professor, Devryck Bramwell. 

Readers looking for thrilling, romantic suspense won’t want to miss Nocticadia from Keri Lake. It perfectly blends dark academia, atmospheric chills, and forbidden love. Fans of dark romance books will find plenty of excitement in this sinister tale of deadly secrets, forbidden love, and thrilling danger.

Dark Notes by Pam Godwin

Ivory Westbrook is a gifted pianist who dreams of a better life. And with her spot in a prestigious academy, she has the chance to turn those dreams into her reality. But in a world where nepotism gets you everywhere, Ivory is at a disadvantage, especially when she returns her senior year to news of her biggest supporter’s retirement.

Fearing all her hard work has been for nothing, Ivory has a stroke of luck whe Emeric Marceaux takes on the role as her new instructor. 

Dark Notes is a dark teacher-student romance that is perfect for fans of spice, age gaps, BDSM, and complex characters.

Lunamare by Pepper Winters

As sixteen-year-old Aslan Avci and his family attempt to flee their native country, his life takes a harrowing turn when he becomes the sole survivor of the journey. Rescued from the choppy ocean waters by a family of marine biologists, the Taylor family takes Aslan in to protect him from deportation. There is only one unbreakable rule he must adhere to—never lay a hand on their daughter Nerida. But as the years pass, it quickly becomes clear the power of love is impossible to deny.

Pepper Winters, best known for crafting forbidden romances, has woven an unforgettable duet in Lunamare. Teeming with heartache, betrayal, and raw emotion, Winters explores the power of soulmates and how love can conquer all. Prepare to be devastated and captivated in equal measure—this is one forbidden romance that you won’t soon forget.

The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

Layla Robinson is in desperate need of a distraction which comes in the form of the pompous and brooding artist, Thomas Abrams. There are two problems with this: one, he’s her professor and two, he’s married.

Thomas is completely off limits, but the question remains: Will that stop Layla?

Read The Unrequited if you’re in the mood for a dark romance that centers around a teacher-student relationship between two broken souls that are seemingly beyond repair.

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. 

Kill Switch by Penelope Douglas

Speaking of Devil’s NightKill Switch is the third novel in this dark and twisted series, centered on a seemingly unredeemable villain and a fierce heroine who is not afraid to meet the hero head-on.

In true Penelope Douglas fashion, you go from loathing Damon with a fiery passion to rooting him on over the span of three books. Fresh out of jail, Damon Torrance is ready to get revenge on the girl who put him there: Winter Ashby.

Overflowing with angst, steam and twists, Penelope Douglas weaves a dark complex web that will keep you intrigued and hoping to see more of Damon. The cherry on top? It’s one of her best dark romance books to date.

Until I Get You by Claire Contreras

While in college, rising hockey star Lachlan meets Lyla James Marichal and falls head over heels. However, when she vanishes from his life without a trace, fear turns into anger. So when she reappears three years later without an explanation, he plans to make her regret ever leaving him.

What do you get when you mix hockey with dark romance? Until I Get You by Claire Contreras. The dark hockey romance comes with trigger warnings, a morally gray anti-hero, and chemistry that will practically light your kindle on fire.

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.

Angry God is one of the best dark bully romance books for readers who can’t get enough of gritty love stories that don’t hold back.  

Resurrection by Siobhan Davis

In the wake of Harlow Westbrook’s father’s death, Low is determined to drown out her feelings with alcohol and sex. Finding her boyfriend trading spit with another girl is the cherry on top of the worst day of her life and the reason behind Low’s involvement with the junior chapter of the Sainthood, a powerful gang. 

Saint, Galen, Caz and Theo are rumored to never go back for seconds. When they step through the doors of Low’s new school, that rumor quickly becomes a thing of the past as they lay “claim” on Low.

From there, Low’s life takes a sharp u-turn into uncharted territories as she grapples with four complicated guys, buried secrets that were never supposed to be unearthed and a new “dad” who is the epitome of the devil.

Read Resurrection if you love dark reverse-harem bully romances where the heroine has no problem giving it right back. The smut scale is off the charts and when I say off the charts, I mean off the charts. Strap yourself in because you’re for the ride of your life with this enemies-to-lovers romance.

Whispers and the Roars by K. Webster

Kady and Yeo were childhood sweethearts until Yeo left, at her insistence, to go to college.

After completing medical school, he returns to his hometown, determined to win back his girl no matter how hard she resists.

Thought-provoking, addictive and unconventional, Whispers and the Roars is a page-turner brimming with epic plot twists and beautiful prose. I recommend going into this one blind. 

Bitter Heat by Mia Knight

A chance encounter brings together Jasmine Hennessy and her ex-husband James Roth after five years of radio silence. When Roth finds Jasmine visiting his mom, he decides it’s time to bring Jasmine back into the fold as he exacts his revenge on the people who ruined his life seven years prior.

Looking for an angsty second chance love story with a dark and steamy romance that will knock your socks off? If yes, check out Bitter Heat

I Dare You by Shantel Tessier

Austin is the new girl in town trying to escape from her deadbeat mom and her abusive boyfriend. Hoping to keep a low profile, Austin’s plans fall apart when she is a witness to a crime. Caught by the perps, she is coerced into joining a group of dangerous men who live life on the edge.

As the dares spin out of control, lines blur 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.