The 20 Best Dark Romance Books – Ultimate Guide

Dark romance books are romance books that explore darker themes, characters, and dangerous situations with a lot of action. These books have mature content and are for adult readers. They often come with content warnings because they explore dark themes and tropes. If you’re a reader who is looking for steamy romance with a bit of emotional catharsis, dark romances will deliver.  

The 20 Best Dark Romance Books - Ultimate Guide

The Best Dark Romance Books

All right, let’s jump right in and take a look at the top dark romance novels to add to your reading list.

The Siren By Tiffany Reisz

The Siren (The Original Sinners Book 1)

Nora Sutherlin is a popular erotica writer who is pushing the limits with her latest manuscript because it’s more personal and serious than previous ones. Zachary Easton is her firm’s newest editor, and he holds the fate of the book in his hands. He demands complete creative control, and he is determined to bend Nora to his will. Nora finds the writing sessions with Zach draining and strangely arousing. 

You can get The Siren by Tiffany Reisz here

Still Beating by Jennifer Harmann 

Still Beating

Cora attends her sister’s birthday party, and the most she expects to endure is a hangover or a walk of shame. She doesn’t expect to have her wallet stolen and end up shackled in a madman’s basement with her arch-nemesis Dean. The madman has plans for Cora and Dean, and the line between hate and love starts to blur. 

You can get Still Beating by Jennifer Harmann here

Captive In The Dark (The Dark Duet Book 1) By C.J. Roberts

Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet Book 1)

Caleb was kidnapped as a young boy and has thought of nothing but getting revenge on the man who did this to him. After 12 years of searching, he found his prey, who had a new identity but not a new nature. If Caleb is going to get close to him, he’s got to become the one thing he doesn’t want to be, just like the man he abhors. 

You can get Captive In The Dark (The Dark Duet 1) here

Tears Of Tess (Monsters in the Dark, #1) By Pepper Winters

Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark Book 1)

Tess had it all. Her life was complete – she had a career in property development and a loving and caring boyfriend, and then it all changed. She was sold. For their two-year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a trip for two to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and mind-blowing sex, what could be better? 

The thought of paradise is shattered when Tess is kidnapped, drugged, and stolen. Tess is forced into a world of darkness and terror. With no one to save her, Tess changes from a fearful girl to a fierce fighter, but no matter what, she can’t save herself from being sold. Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

You can get Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1) here

Crow (Boston Underworld) By A. Zavaerlli

CROW (Boston Underworld Book 1)

An Irish mobster. A missing friend. Two loyalties, which will I choose? I had a plan, get in, get my information, and get out. Sounds easy, right? Well, infiltrating the Irish mafia isn’t all that simple, especially when the next in line for leadership Lachian Crow notices me and tells me I am his. 

You can get Crow (Boston Underworld) here.

Twist Me By Anna Zaires

Twist Me

Nora Leston is abducted on the night of her eighteenth birthday and taken to a private island. Julian is her captor and a man who is as ruthless as he is beautiful. She doesn’t know who he is or why he kidnapped her all she knows is she finds him as terrorizing as she does as alluring. 

You can get Twist Me here

The Sweetest Oblivion (Made Book 1) by Danielle Lori

The Sweetest Oblivion (Made Book 1)

Elena is nicknamed Sweet Abeli for her sweet, docile nature. She smiles on cue and has a charming response to everything. She’s the favorite daughter and the perfect maria principessa. Or she was. Now she finds herself drawn to her future brother-in-law. She finds that who she is on the outside isn’t who she is on the inside. She’s beginning to learn she’s got a taste for darkness. 

You can get The Sweetest Oblivion (Made Book 1) here

Ruthless People By J.J. McAvoy

Ruthless People

One Marriage + Two Bosses = 3X the Chaos. 

Melody Giovanni and Liam Callahan are rivaled by blood and leaders through fear. Their marriage was arranged in order to end years of bloodshed between the Irish and Italians. Liam assumes he’s getting a simple-minded wife who will go along with whatever he says. 

Melody knows the type of man she’s getting, and she refuses to bow down to him or give up the power she’s spent her life earning. With the rival bosses gunning for their family Melody and Liam will have to learn to work as one to take down those that stand in their way. 

You can get Ruthless People here

Monster in His Eyes by J.M. Darhower

Monster in His Eyes

From the first time I saw him, I knew Ignazio Vitale was not a good man. He has an air of danger that surrounds him; he commands attention, takes control, and even seems to know what I’m doing before I do. He’s everything I want in a man and the last thing I need. It’s not long before I’m caught in his web, charming me into his bed and trapping me in a life I know nothing about. When I find out the truth about him, I want to hate him, but I just can’t. 

You can get Monster in His Eyes here.

Born Sinner (Se7en Sinners) by S. L. Jennings

Born Sinner (Se7en Sinners Book 1)

Eden was born into the filth and poverty of Chicago’s concrete arms. She shouldn’t have survived past the age of eighteen, but here she is twenty-two. She was bred for one purpose only. To unleash death and destruction on her world. Her thoughts have power; her words are her weapons. Evil created her, and grace tried to save her, but first, they tried to kill her. They are called the Se7en. They are sin and salvation and everything we’ve feared from the beginning of time. 

You can get Born Sinner here.

Asking For It by Lilah Pace

Nuits blanches (Tome 1) - Malgré nous (French Edition)

Vivienne Charles is a graduate student who is afraid of her own desires and ashamed to admit she fantasizes about being taken by force by a man who will claim her completely.  When mystery man Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. 

To remain near-strangers to each other and meet in secret so he can fulfill her fantasy. This twisted arrangement is everything Vivienne wanted, and the sex is incredible, but secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker. 

You can get Asking For It here.  

Killing Sarai by J.A. Redmerski

Killing Sarai (In the Company of Killers Book 1)

At the young age of fourteen, Sarai’s mother uprooted her to live in Mexico with a notorious drug lord. As time passes, she forgets what it’s like to have a normal life, but she never lets go of her hope of escaping. Victor is a cold-blooded assassin who has only known death and violence, but Sarai sees him as her opportunity for freedom. But things don’t go as planned, and instead, Sarai finds herself out of one dangerous man’s clutches and into another’s.  

You can get Killing Sarai here.

Buttons & Lace By Penelope Sky

Buttons and Lace: A Dark Mafia Romance (Barsetti Crime Family Book 1)

Pearl owes Crow a big debt, and he doesn’t want money or favors. He only wants her. Every action gets a reward. A button. Once she fills his jar with three hundred and sixty-five buttons, he’ll let her go and walk away forever. But she has to submit to his darkest desires. 

You can get Buttons & Lace here

Corrupt (Devil’s Night, 1) by Penelope Douglas

Corrupt (Devil's Night Book 1)

Erika can’t keep her eyes off her boyfriend’s older brother Michael, and he’s trouble with a capital T. For years she’s watched him she knows what he’s done and what he hides. But he doesn’t know she exists until he does. Now that he knows she’s alone in his city, he’s ready to mess with her mind, and he does. 

You can get Corrupt (Devil’s Night 1) here.

Pennies (Dollar Book 1) by Pepper Winters

Pennies (Dollar Book 1)

Tasmin was an eighteen-year-old college student until one night at her mother’s banquet, she was killed and then woke up a captive sold to the highest bidder. Now she’s a man’s property. Stolen and sold, decorated in bruises since the day her world changed forever. 

You can get Pennies (Dollar Book 1) here

Kill Switch (Devil’s Night Book 3) by Penelope Douglas

Kill Switch (Devil's Night Book 3)

Winter sent Damon to prison, and now he’s out married to her sister, and he’ll do anything to get even with Winter for sending him away. He’s not just out to hurt her, he’s out to make everything hurt. He wants her to be so scared that she won’t even feel safe in her own head when he’s done with her. 

You can get Kill Switch (Devil’s Night Book 3) here

First Debt (Indebted #2) by Pepper Winters

First Debt (Indebted Book 2)

Nila’s family was taken and bound by an agreement written over six hundred years ago and she has no way out. She belongs to Jethro no matter how much she denies it or tries to escape from it. Jetro Hawk is getting tired of waiting for Nila to come around. His inheritance tests, challenges, and surprises him, and not in good ways. He hasn’t found a way to leash Nila yet, but he thinks he’s found a way to bind her to him forever. 

You can get First Debt (Indebted #2) here

Consequences (Consequences #1) by Aleatha Romig

Consequences: Book 1 of the Consequences Series

Clare is abducted and held prisoner in a luxurious suite by Anthony, a powerful businessman. She wakes up battered, bruised, and beaten without a clue where she is. All she wants is to be released, and they can forget this ever happened. All he wants is her. He expects perfection, and if she’s not perfect, her actions will have severe consequences.  

You can buy Consequences (Consequences #1) here

King (The King Series Book 1) by T.M. Frazier

King (The King Series Book 1)

King is a notorious career criminal who was just released from prison and is someone you don’t want to cross. Doe is a woman with no memories of who she is or where she came from, and she needs his help figuring out who she is. When they come crashing together, they will have to learn that sometimes in order to hold on, you have to let go. 

You can buy King (The King Series Book 1) here

Raw (Raw Family #1) by Belle Aurora


Mrs. Alejandra Gambino had it all. The perfect marriage, the perfect life. Then she met him. Julis Carter, he saved her, and she screwed him over. Now everyone is out for her blood. She’s a dead woman walking, the only question is who will get to her first.

You can read Raw (Raw Family #1) here

Final Thoughts 

We hope you’ve found The 20 Best Dark Romance Books informative and added a few to your wish list. Keep scrolling for answers to your top questions about Dark Romance Books.


What is considered dark romance?

Dark romance is a subgenre of romance novels with darker themes and mature content. These stories will typically come with content warnings, characters with iffy morals, and plots with trauma and violence.

What makes a story a dark romantic?

A dark romantic story is characterized by its focus on the darker aspects of human nature, such as obsession, madness, and death. It often features characters who are tormented by their passions and desires and who struggle with existential questions about the meaning of life and the nature of reality.

What tropes are in dark romance?

Dark romance is a genre that often incorporates elements of gothic fiction, horror, and psychological thrillers, and it features themes of obsession, desire, and danger. Here are some common tropes that are frequently found in dark romance stories:

Forbidden love: The romance in a dark romance story often involves a taboo or forbidden element, such as a relationship between two people who are not supposed to be together.
Dark, brooding hero: The hero in a dark romance story is often characterized as brooding, mysterious, and dangerous. He may have a troubled past or be struggling with inner demons.
Tortured heroine: The heroine in a dark romance story is often portrayed as a victim, with a troubled past or emotional scars that make her vulnerable.
Power dynamics: Dark romance often features power dynamics between the hero and heroine, with the hero in a dominant role.
Sexual tension: Dark romance stories often have a high degree of sexual tension and explore themes of desire and temptation.
Gothic setting: The setting of a dark romance story is often gothic in nature, with dark, moody atmospheres and eerie or ominous surroundings.
Psychological manipulation: The hero in a dark romance story may use psychological manipulation to control or influence the heroine, often leading to a dangerous and obsessive relationship.
Tragic ending: Dark romance stories often have a tragic or bittersweet ending, with the hero and heroine unable to be together in the end.

What is light romance versus dark romance?

Light romance and dark romance are two subgenres of romance that differ in their tone, themes, and subject matter.

Light romance is typically characterized by its upbeat, optimistic tone, and its focus on themes such as love, friendship, and personal growth. These stories often feature happy endings and are intended to leave the reader feeling hopeful and optimistic about the power of love.

Dark romance, on the other hand, is characterized by its darker tone and its exploration of more complex and often troubling themes, such as obsession, betrayal, and even taboo subjects like violence and abuse. These stories often feature flawed and morally ambiguous characters, and may not have the same happy endings as light romance stories.

In essence, light romance is a more lighthearted and feel-good form of romance, while dark romance is a more complex and emotionally challenging form of romance that may not be for everyone.

What are the three sub-genres of romance?

Romance is a genre of fiction that focuses on the development of a romantic relationship between two or more characters. Romance stories are usually love stories, but not always. There are three sub-genres of romance:

1) Contemporary Romance: Set in current times, these stories can include any setting (urban or rural) and any kind of conflict (social, political, economic).

2) Historical Romance: Set in the past, these stories typically feature a hero who struggles against societal norms to win over his lady love.

3) Paranormal Romance: These tales have elements of fantasy or science fiction and involve characters with special powers or abilities who find love despite their differences.

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Mary Foster