Forbidden love is a very popular romance genre, but if you’re unfamiliar with this trope, it’s basically exactly what it sounds like: Two people are in love despite the fact that it is seen as forbidden. Usually their love will go against societal norms or betray the people who they care about, but they do it anyway.
Forbidden love stories give readers a chance to experience all of the drama and excitement without actually having to get their hands dirty, so it makes sense that it’s such a popular genre.
Furthermore, these taboo relationships have been written about since the beginning of romance novels. Some of the most iconic novels by Jane Austin and Leah Garriott feature forbidden relationships, and they shaped the way that this genre is written about today.
Now, there are so many more options than there were back when romance was first starting out. Let’s dive into some of the best forbidden romance novels so that you can get to reading in no time.
Credence by Penelope Douglas
Tiernan is an only child who is used to feeling lonely. Though she grew up very wealthy, her parents never spent much time with her and she was always getting sent away to boarding schools. So when her parents suddenly die when she is just about to turn 18, Tiernan knows she should be feeling lonely, but it kind of just feels like it always has.
Jake is her father’s stepbrother and Tiernan’s only living relative, so she goes to live with him and his two sons, Noah and Kaleb, in the mountains. As she spends time with the 3 of them, Tiernan slowly finds her place among the bunch. But things soon become messy and lines blur as she tries to decipher her relationships with all of them.
You can find Credence by Penelope Douglas here.
Swoon by Lauren Rowe
Amy has always had a secret crush on her brother’s best friend, Colin. But she knows that Colin only thinks of her as a little sister and would never go for her.
But that was before the wedding.
All these years later, Amy and Colin are both guests at Amy’s brother’s wedding. And when they share a passionate kiss, Amy is suddenly rethinking everything she once believed. The next morning Colin blames it on the alcohol, but Amy knows that it was more than that.
Now, Amy is going to work for Colin and stay at his place while she finds somewhere else, and she’s determined to make him want her like she’s always wanted him.
You can read Swoon by Lauren Rowe here.
Slammed by Colleen Hoover
After the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken moves to Michigan with her mom and younger brother. They are grieving the sudden loss, and Layken is the anchor holding the family down.
When she meets her 21-year-old neighbor Will, she is immediately interested in him. But after their first date, they make a shocking discovery that changes everything and affects their relationship. The two struggle as they try to sort out their feelings for each other without ignoring what is keeping them apart.
You can find Slammed by Colleen Hoover here.
Break the Rules by Roxie Noir
Levi is a Forest Ranger who enjoys living a quiet life of solitude, away from people and the city. But when he meets June, the peaceful order of his life is suddenly changed. June is unpredictable and exciting, and Levi can’t help himself as he starts to fall for her.
But there is one problem: Levi’s best friend from childhood, Silas, who has been there with him through everything, is June’s older brother. And as June and Levi sneak out and lie to Silas about what they are doing, Levi starts to feel more and more guilty about the betrayal.
Break the Rules by Roxie Noir can be found here.
A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles
Silas is a revolutionary bookseller and pamphleteer who knows that he is obnoxious and unlikeable. But every week on Wednesday, he meets with the same man anonymously. They share a deep connection, one that neither of them wants to let go of.
Dominic Frey is a gentleman official, and he doesn’t understand why he is so intoxicated by Silas. Yet he still finds himself coming back, week after week, to meet with him.
When Silas gets a death sentence because of his politics, Dominic knows he has to adhere to his duty. But he also can’t bear to see Silas dead, so he tries everything he can to stop the hanging without risking too much.
A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles can be purchased here.
Twisted Games by Ana Huang
Rhys Larsen is a serious and arrogant bodyguard who knows he has to protect his clients with his life. And Rhys has made a rule to never, ever become emotionally involved, because that will always end badly.
But when he becomes a bodyguard for a Princess named Bridget, he finds himself becoming too invested. She’s not at all what he expected, and her fiery attitude leaves him wanting more.
Bridget is about to gain a loveless marriage and a throne that she doesn’t even want, so she has to hide her feelings for her bodyguard, the man she can’t have. Yet it’s hard to deny their love for each other, and soon the two are risking destroying the kingdom just to be together.
You can read Twisted Games by Ana Huang here.
The Unrequited by Saffron Kent
Layla Robinson is in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way, and she knows it’s time to let go. So she looks for a distraction, desperate to forget about the other person. She becomes interested in her new poetry professor Thomas Abrams, who is blue-eyed and handsome but also happens to be married.
Thomas is an arrogant artist, but this doesn’t stop Layla from getting obsessed. She can tell that he’s lonely, and she wants to understand why. One night changes everything when Layla kisses her professor and he kisses her back.
You can find The Unrequited by Saffron Kent here.
Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
Bennett is a blunt and inconsiderate man who has just started working in Chicago at his family’s business. When he meets Chloe, his new assistant, he can’t seem to take his eyes off her. He’s never been the type of person to get with people at work, but something about Chloe is making him change his mind.
The tension is palpable, and it finally comes to an end when Chloe and Bennett get together for real. But now they have to decide what they are willing to risk if they want to keep seeing each other.
Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren can be found here.
Group Therapy by B.B. Easton
Lou dreams of becoming a psychologist, and she is currently working a postdoc job giving therapy to millionaires and celebrities. All she needs is a letter of recommendation from her supervisor if she wants to become the real deal. But to do that, she needs to cure her new client’s writer’s block before his extremely unrealistic deadline.
Lou’s new client is none other than Thomas O’Reardon, an extremely handsome and brilliant author who Lou has had a crush on for quite a while. So it’s safe to say that the therapy sessions aren’t the easiest thing for her.
When Thomas asks Lou out, she has to decide between risking her job or missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. So she comes up with a different option in order to keep seeing Thomas after hours without jeopardizing her position: Group therapy. Sure, she’s never done group therapy before, but how hard could it be?
You can read Group Therapy by B.B. Easton here.
Priest by Sierra Simone
Tyler Anselm Bell is a 29-year-old priest, and he has always followed the rules. No getting married, no abandoning God, and no straying away from his community. But 6 months ago, he broke his vow of celibacy right in the middle of his church.
When Poppy keeps coming back, it’s impossible for Tyler to get her out of his head. And despite the wrongness of it all, Tyler can’t help but think that he would do it all again in a heartbeat.
You can find Priest by Sierra Simone here.
Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy Cherry
Ashlyn Jennings had just moved to Wisconsin when she wound up in a bar, watching live music. The man on stage brought up all kinds of emotions in Ashlyn, and she forgot her sorrow for a moment when she heard his voice.
When she started at her new school senior year, Ashyln didn’t expect to see the man from the bar again, but there he was, standing at the front of the class. He introduced himself as Mr. Daniels, and he was going to be her teacher for the year.
The connection they shared was undeniable, and even though it wasn’t conventional, Ashley knew that they were soulmates. This is their story.
Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy Cherry can be purchased here.
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have helped each other through the hardest of times growing up. They’ve practically raised their 3 younger siblings, taking the place of their alcoholic mom. They’ve had to grow up quickly, and because of it, the two are much closer than ordinary siblings.
Maya and Lochan have fallen in love, and they know that it’s wrong and has to stop. They know that there is no way that their love could have a happy ending, and what happens at the end of their story is shocking and completely unexpected.
You can read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma here.
Praise by Sara Cate
Charlotte has just left a relationship that went wrong. She doesn’t know exactly what happened, just that she isn’t with him anymore. Her ex was neglectful and didn’t care about her emotions, and Charlotte just wants to be told that she is good enough.
When she starts a job at the Salacious Player’s Club, Charlotte meets her new boss, Emerson, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s dad. There are a lot of reasons why Charlotte shouldn’t be with Emerson, but he just feels like the right choice. He adores Charlotte and tells her that she’s worthy, and they can’t seem to stay away from each other.
You can find Praise by Sara Cate here.
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean
Juliana Fiori is bold and passionate, refusing to play by the rules. She doesn’t care what other people think and lives for herself. This means that she is one of the most gossiped-about people in London, and everyone knows who she is.
Simon Pearson, the Duke of Leighton, is all about reputation and knows to avoid any scandal-worthy behavior. When he finds Juliana in his carriage one night, the Duke decides to teach her how to act civil. But trouble seems to follow Juliana wherever she goes, and she is determined to prove that the Duke can be passionate too.
You can find Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean here.
The Boy and His Ribbon by Pepper Winters
When Ren was 8, his mother sold him and he felt completely betrayed. He ended up getting bought for cheap by another family and forced to do labor for them. When the family has a daughter named Della, Ren doesn’t like her at first.
But soon he is doing everything for her, taking care of Della when she needs help. As they grow up together, Ren and Della form a close relationship and connection. When Della is older, she starts to fall in love with Ren, but Ren doesn’t know if he can reciprocate it. Ren’s never had real love, and he was so betrayed from a young age that he doesn’t know if he ever will.
The Boy and His Ribbon by Pepper Winters can be found here.
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Livvy and Nicholas know that the last thing they should be doing is seeing each other. Their family history is too extensive and they should be sworn enemies. But every year, on Livvy’s birthday, the two meet up for one more night together.
Eventually, Nicholas ends their strange relationship. But when Livvy comes home to help her family, Nicholas is constantly around, and Livvy wants to find out his secret. Fate has brought them together again and reminded them of their past, and it’s only a matter of time before the two can’t stay away from each other.
You can find Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai here.
Torn by Carian Cole
Kenzie has known since she was little that she’s in love with Toren Grace, a biker who is 15 years older than her. Toren is Kenzie’s father’s best friend, and both of them know that being together is wrong.
But Kenzie and Toren can’t forget their feelings for one another, despite the betrayal that it would be to her father. They are struggling, trying to figure out what is right and how they could possibly stay together when it could cause so much hurt.
You can read Torn by Carian Cole here.
Your Dad Will Do by Katee Robert
Ever since she met him two years ago, Lily has been extremely attracted to her now fiancé’s father, Shane. Because she is devoted and loyal, Lily has always kept this a secret and never acted on it. But when she catches her fiancé cheating on her, Lily knows it’s time to get revenge.
She sets up a plan to seduce Shane, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.
Your Dad Will Do by Katee Robert can be read here.
The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori
Elena was sweet and charming, the best mafia Principessa and the favorite daughter. But that was before she did something unforgettable, and now she has changed her once-perfect reputation forever.
Elena’s sister is in line to get married to Nicholas Russo, a man with a strong reputation. Nicholas is handsome yet completely rude and arrogant, but when Elena meets him she can’t stop her heart from gravitating toward him.
Despite the fact that Nicholas is getting ready to marry Elena’s sister, Elena and Nicholas can’t seem to stay away from each other.
The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Loria can be purchased here.
Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens
Kiera has been with her boyfriend Denny for almost two years, and they are perfect together. He is reliable, caring, and devoted, and Kiera knows that Denny will always be there for her. They’ve just gone to a new city and are on the path to a very successful life together.
When something changes and the two have to start doing long distance, Kiera finds comfort in Kellan Kyle, a local rock star. He is a great friend to her, but eventually their relationship turns into something more. When Denny comes back, Kiera is left wondering what to do and who to be with.
You can find Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens here.
Crossed Lines by Lana Sky
Seventeen-year-old Maryanne has just been expelled from her 12th boarding school, and she ends up living with her aunt Elaine and Elaine’s husband, James. Maryanne knows that she is on thin ice, and she has to tread carefully if she doesn’t want to end up underwater.
James is a successful author, and Maryanne has plans to destroy his career with a mischievous scheme. But as their relationship grows, the two suddenly end up crossing a line that they never expected.
Crossed Lines by Lana Sky can be purchased here.
Tempting by Crystal Kaswell
Brendon is a tattoo artist, and he can’t seem to get over the crush he has on his little sister’s best friend, Kaylee. In an effort to at least keep his crush under control, Brendon draws sketches of Kaylee to let out his emotions in a different way.
But when Kaylee needs a place to stay and Brendon offers her his guest room, it suddenly becomes a lot harder for him to stay away. The two immediately form a special connection, and it’s clear that they both want each other equally.
You can read Tempting by Crystal Kaswell here.
It Ain’t Me, Babe by Tillie Cole
Salome lives in a commune, kept strictly under Prophet David’s rule and away from the outside world. She is miserable there, but one day a horrible event sets her free.
Salome is brought back together with Styx, a biker who she shares a past with. Styx is bad news, living in a world of violence and drugs, but Salmone is intrigued by him. And although Styx usually stays emotionally detached from the people he meets, there is something about Salmone that he doesn’t want to let go of.
It Ain’t Me, Babe by Tillie Cole can be found here.
Sweet Dandelion by Micalea Smeltzer
Dandelion is eighteen, starting her senior year at a new school after being the victim of a school shooting. Her days and nights are plagued with worry, and her life is extremely affected by what happened. Dandelion is forced to meet with the school counselor, but as she spends more time with him, she finds herself opening up and breaking down the walls she’s built around herself.
The school counselor, Lachlan Taylor, doesn’t exactly know if he will be able to help Dandelion, but he is determined to try. As they spend more time together, the two start to develop a bond that seems wrong but feels right.
Sweet Dandelion by Micalea Smeltzer can be purchased here.
Our Way by T.L. Swan
Nathan and Eliza were new to San Francisco and had both recently started at the same job, so it made sense when they became friends. Now, Nathan is at a different job and Eliza is at the same one, but they are still best friends, sharing everything together.
Eliza was initially attracted to Nathan, but when she found out he was gay, she put all of those feelings to the side and was happy to remain friends. Though recently, Nathan has been acting differently, and he is trying to figure out why he’s suddenly interested in Eliza in ways he never expected.
You can read Our Way by T.L. Swan here.
Defy by L.J. Shen
Jamie is a senior in high school and Melody Greene is his teacher. They can’t deny their attraction to each other, and once they admit it to one another, they can’t stop themselves from being together.
Eventually the school finds out, and Melody is fired from her teaching job. But despite all of this, neither of them regrets what happened because it made them feel alive.
Defy by L.J. Shen can be read here.
Unconditional by Q.B. Tyler
When Madeline lost her parents, a police officer named Cal became her guardian and took care of her. Cal has watched Madeline grow up, and now that she is older, she’s fallen in love with him. He can’t help but notice his love for her, and it’s hard for them to resist each other.
Cal and Madeline want to have a relationship, but they also recognize the unconventional nature of it all. They want to be together, but they have to navigate how to do that when other people are involved.
You can find Unconditional by Q.B. Tyler here.
Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey
Kinsley Bryant is dreaming of getting into the Olympics for soccer, and with tryouts coming up, now’s not the time to get distracted. But Kinsley can’t seem to get Liam, AKA Coach Wilder, out of her mind. He is a professional soccer player who is confident and sexy but also forbidden. If any of the girls on her team are caught being with him, they will be kicked out.
But Kinsley has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and she’s determined to get Coach Wilder. She doesn’t care about the consequences, because she knows it won’t be too hard to hide. At least, she doesn’t think so.
Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey can be purchased here.
Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas
Jordan is 19 and works as a bartender in a small town. She and her boyfriend are broke and have just been evicted, so they move in with Pike, Jordan’s boyfriend’s dad. Pike sees it as an opportunity to fix his relationship with his son, and it seems like an easy enough arrangement.
But there is tension between Jordan and Pike, and they both recognize this. Jordan knows that Pike makes her feel safe and protected, and he listens to what she has to say. It might be wrong to be together because it would be a betrayal of her boyfriend and his son, but all they can think about is how right it feels when they are with each other.
Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas can be read here.
Manhattan Secret by V. Theia
Lachlan Fierro is the smart guy at his school. He’s not a bad person, but he does what he wants and believes that rules don’t apply to him. So when Lachlan develops an interest in his teacher, he pursues her and won’t give up until he can have her.
Delaney knows that it’s wrong to be with a student, but something about Lachlan’s persuasiveness gets to her. Soon they can’t stay away from each other, but they know that doing so risks everything they have. And it’s only a matter of time before their secret comes out.
You can find Manhattan Secret by V. Theia here.
What is forbidden love?
Forbidden love is when two people are in love when they shouldn’t be together. This can be because of a standard set by society or because of something in their personal lives, but usually the two people being together would be considered “wrong” or “taboo” and they do it anyway.
What are some examples of forbidden love?
Here are some common examples of forbidden love:
Large age gaps
When being with someone betrays another person (eg. sleeping with your boyfriend’s dad, dating your best friend’s sibling)
Coworker relationships, boss and employee
Any relationship that betrays others or people would deem “wrong” is considered forbidden love.
There is no “most successful” romance author because success can be measured in several ways. That being said, if we’re looking at it specifically from a numbers point of view, Barbara Cartland (1901-2000) sold the most romance books in her lifetime. She is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling millions of copies of her books and publishing the most books in one year (191). So if you’re judging by numbers, Barbara Cartland could safely be deemed one of the most successful romance authors out there.
Why are forbidden love stories so popular?
It’s hard to say why so many people enjoy forbidden love, but one possibility is all of the drama that it creates. When two people love each other despite people telling them they can’t, it will cause a lot of drama, and people enjoy seeing that unfold. Doing something that is deemed wrong can also give people a rush of excitement, like when you break a rule in real life. Readers might feel exhilarated when they read forbidden love stories, which could be another reason that they are so popular.
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