If you’re sick of the traditional contemporary romance, it may be time to move onto dark romances. Depraved, addictive and gritty, dark romances are bound to take you out of your comfort zone.
Featuring over twenty of the best dark romance books out there, you’ll have no shortage of books to read in the upcoming months. It’s time to sweeten up your weekend with these twisted dark romances!
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Still Beating by Jennifer Hartmann
After a late-night out celebrating her sister’s birthday, Corabelle is more than ready to ditch the slimy sleazeballs prowling the bar for the adorable fluff-ball waiting for her back home.
Those plans come to a screeching halt when she learns her wallet’s been stolen, leaving her stranded and dependent on her arch-nemesis Dean.
A nightmare in the making.
The nightmare only worsens when she wakes up in chains in a monster’s basement. And the cherry on top?
Dean shares the same fate.
Beautiful, tragic, and powerful, Still Beating is a heart-wrenching tale that will hold you captive from the first opening sentence till the last. Prepare for a sleepless night with this unputdownable dark romance.
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.
Jessie Walker’s 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. Little Bird Lost is sure to make a lasting impression and have readers eagerly awaiting more from Jessie Walker.
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. But as one of the best dark romance books, I suggest adding it to your TBR shelf.
Ecstasy by K.V. Rose
Zara, Alex and Eli are three college students who are tired of life.
Zara leans on substances to feel normal, Alex refuses to acknowledge his anger issues, and Eli is the star athlete with a dark secret.
It’s their senior year and, for the last six months, party-girl Zara and the popular quarterback Alex have been in a volatile, toxic relationship.
Everything changes the moment Zara walks in on him kissing another girl. After that, things quickly spiral out of control and when those three crash, ruins are left in their wake.
If you’re searching for an insane dark romance filled with toxic relationships, self-sabotage, murder, violence and drug use, Ecstasy will undoubtedly be your cuppa tea. As one of the best dark romance books, I suggest you add this to your TBR shelf.
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.
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 Night, Kill 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.
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.
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.
Looking for dark and twisted romance books with depraved heroes and resilient heroines? Look no further than Sam Mariano’s Untouchable. Your comfort levels will be tested within the first couple scenes between the hero and the heroine, so tread carefully and make sure to read the author’s warning.
Does It Hurt? by H.D. Carlton
Sawyer Bennett is on the run.
For six years, men have been nothing but a means to an end for the 27-year-old fugitive. They get a night of mind-blowing sex, and she gets a new identity in conjunction with extra funds. Despite the inherent danger of her lifestyle, nothing could have prepared her for the disastrous outcomes of her last-minute decision to book a flight to Australia.
When fate bestows her with a panty-melting male specimen that exudes danger, she knows a tumble between the sheets with the sexy devil is the last thing she should do. Because if there is anyone who could shatter Sawyer’s defenses, it is the man who swims with sharks: Enzo Vitale.
H.D. Carlton did not pull any punches with her 2022 bestseller Does it Hurt? Teeming with off-the-charts steam, heart-pounding suspense, and endless emotion, Does it Hurt? is undoubtedly one of the best dark romance books of the year.
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.
Vicious by L.J. Shen
Love the villain? Then you’ll love Vicious.
For a dark bully romance the centers around a seemingly irredeemable hero with a chip that size of Mount Everest on his shoulder and a strong heroine who feels an inexplicable pull towards said hothole, take a peek at Vicious.
There is a thin line between love and hate.
Born, Darkly by Trisha Wolfe
As a top criminal psychologist in her field, London Noble has no time for another patient until she learns who it is, the infamous serial killer Grayson Pierce Sullivan (aka the Angel of Maine).
With each session, London learns more about Grayson’s past and becomes increasingly invested in him as a patient. Their days are numbered though and with Grayson’s high IQ, it will take him little time to devise a plan to do what he wants with London… and maybe even escape.
Read Born, Darkly if you’re on the hunt for a dark romance between a criminal psychiatrist and an infamous serial killer who is always one step ahead.
Crow by A. Zavarelli
When Mackenzie sets out to infiltrate the Irish mafia in an attempt to find her missing best friend Talia, things do not go as planned. Wrangling herself a job is one thing, but capturing the eye of the mobster destined to take the throne? That was not in the plans.
Lachlan Crow doesn’t buy Mackenzie’s sob story about needing a job and suspects she’s hiding something. But as the two grow closer, Mackenzie must figure out if he’s behind her friend’s disappearance before she loses her heart to the next head of the Irish mafia.
As one of the best dark mafia romance books, I recommend adding Crow to your must-reads list.
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 Risk by S.T. Abby
Following a grizzly string of murders, the FBI’s resident golden boy Logan Bennet is placed on the case and finds himself thrust into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a bloodthirsty serial killer who is always one step ahead.
With all his time devoted to the investigation, Logan has no time for relationships, especially not with Lana Myers, his complete polar opposite.
After a tragic encounter left her at death’s gates and her brother dead, Lana’s view of the world became forever jaded.
Determined to hand out her own form of justice, Lana refuses to allow anyone to disrupt her reign of vengeance, not even the enigmatic criminal profiler sniffing out her trail.
Between The Risk’s killer premise and deadly love story, S.T. Abby delivers a phenomenal dark romance that bewitches its readers and leaves them with a wicked book hangover, desperate for more.
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.
Rough Edge by C.D. Reiss
Rough Edge opens up to army major and psychiatrist Greyson Frazier retiring and returning home to her husband Caden St. John.
With no further deployments on the horizon, the two lost souls who found each other during the throes of war are having trouble adjusting to civilian life.
But when Greyson returns home to a different version of the man she married, it will take everything to mend the pieces of Caden’s mind back together.
Captivating, enchanting and twisted, Rough Edge is an unputdownable series that will keep you up well past your bedtime. For an unconventional dark romance featuring BDSM, I recommend picking up this brilliant work of art.
The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori
After a scandalous rendezvous leaves Elena Abelli’s reputation in tatters, the once favored mafia principessa is stripped of her halo and placed on house arrest.
When her father announces her sister’s upcoming nuptials to the notorious King of the Cosa Nostra, the last thing she expects to feel is an inexplicable pull to her future brother-in-law.
But with each passing glance and heated altercation, fate weaves an intricate web that spells their ultimate doom.
Gritty, captivating and unputdownable, The Sweetest Oblivion is one of the best dark mafia romance books out there. If you’re a sucker for allusive antiheroes, buckets of sexual tension and arranged marriages, you’ll love Danielle Lori’s sweet series.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Lowen Ashleigh is on the brink of financial ruin when she gets the chance of a lifetime.
Hired by Jeremy Crawford to complete the final books to his injured wife Verity’s successful series, Lowen uproots her life and travels to the Crawford home.
While sifting through mountains of chapter outlines and notes, she discovers something unexpected: an unfinished autobiography penned by Verity.
Within the pages of Verity’s most personal work yet, Lowen uncovers disturbing admissions and unsettling thoughts that force her to question Verity and whether she is truly injured or if it is all an act.
Disturbing, sinister and twisted, Verity is an unputdownable dark romance overflowing with wicked twists and turns that will make your head spin. As one of the best dark romance books from Colleen Hoover, I suggest adding this masterpiece to your TBR list.
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.
The Bandit by B.B. Reid
At nineteen, single mother Mian Ross has had more than her fair share of bad luck. After her father’s actions left her destitute and homeless, she only had herself to rely on. But when Mian finds herself unemployed, desperation pushes her to break into Angeles “Angel” Knight’s home.
When the ruthless mob boss learns of the burglary, he returns the favor by kidnapping Mian’s baby and taking her hostage. With the two now residing under his roof, Angel has Mian right where he wants her. After all, she’ll do anything for her son.
If you’ve been on the lookout for some dark erotic romance books where the heroine is kidnapped, look no further than The Bandit.
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.
Dark Notes by Pam Godwin
At seventeen, Ivory Westbrook is a survivor with dreams of a better life. And as one of the most gifted pianists that have graced the halls of her prestigious academy, she has a chance at turning those dreams into her reality. But in a world where money and nepotism reign, Ivory is at a clear disadvantage.
When she returns for her senior year to news of her biggest supporter’s retirement, Ivory fears all her hard work has been for nothing. And if anyone other than Emeric Marceaux took on the role as her new instructor, she’d be right.
Heartbreaking, sexy and gritty, Dark Notes is one of the best dark teacher-student romances to date. If you can’t get enough of age gaps, BDSM and complex characters, you’ll love this dark romance.
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.
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 filled with epic plot twists and beautiful prose. I recommend going into this one blind.
King by T.M. Frazier
Ever since waking up with no memories of who she was or where she came from, Doe has resorted to living on the streets.
It’s at one of her lowest points when she stumbles upon King in a compromising position at his welcome home party from prison. But when her friend steals 6k from the infamous career criminal to pay for her next fix, Doe finds herself caught in the crosshairs.
And King demands repayment.
Whether you can’t get enough of MC romances, forced arrangements, anti-heroes, heroines with amnesia or the mob, T.M. Frazier’s popular dark romance has it all. And as one of the best dark erotic romance books, I recommend picking up King.
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.
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Seventeen-year-old Lachlan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings; especially since they had to step up and raise their three younger siblings in place of their flighty alcoholic mother.
Becoming de facto guardians to their siblings pushed them to grow up fast and become closer than normal siblings should ever be.
What happens when they realize their true feelings for each other.
If you’re looking for the pinnacle of success in terms of taboo love stories, Forbidden is one of the best dark romance books to get your hands on. It will obliterate your comfort zone and cross every line imaginable in an utterly tragic fashion.
Sparrow by L.J. Shen
When the free-spirited Sparrow finds herself walking down the aisle to Boston’s infamous Irish mob boss known as The Fixer, she refuses to shrink away from his icy stare or allow his ruthless reputation to send her running. Determined to fulfill his promise, Troy will do whatever it takes… even if that means clipping Sparrow’s wings.
For readers obsessed with the mob, Sparrow is the perfect enemies-to-lovers romance to satisfy all your dark and twisted underground needs.
Suit by Jettie Woodruff
Imagine waking up one day with no recollection of your past or your identity only to learn that the handsome devil with the sharp tongue is your husband and with him you had two daughters. That’s what happens to Gabriella Pierce. And nothing could have ever prepared her for the life she chose with Paxton.
For a dark romance that revolves around a tortured hero and a heroine suffering from amnesia, I recommend checking out Suit. If you’re obsessed with BDSM and erotica, you’ll love Jettie Woodruff’s dark romance.
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.
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