Classic romance novels aren’t for everyone, so if you’re interested in something grittier, you should consider trying dark romance novels. Books from this genre are full of twisted plots, interesting characters, and addictive plots. They can all differ widely too – some may be romantic novels with depraved elements, or horror stories with a romantic undercurrent.
It’s hard to define such a broad genre, but dark romance novels can involve a few themes, like traditional romance, thriller, erotica, and horror. If you’re interested in giving the genre a go, keep reading – we’ve listed nine of the most seductive, depraved, and compelling dark romance novels below. TW: Some of the stories below will feature themes that involve abduction, BDSM, non-consent, and sex trafficking.
Rika Fane, short for Erika, is bored and tired of her life. With the hopes of starting anew, she leaves for college in a completely different city. Unfortunately for Rika, her hopes of a clean slate are ruined when the older brother of her ex, Michael Crist, lives in town. Now an expert basketball player, Michael wants to get revenge on Rika when he finds out she’s close by.
Three years ago, Rika’s actions caused the incarceration of his closest friends. Now, with nothing but hunger and retaliation driving Michael’s actions, Rika has no idea what’s in store.
The first novel in this book series, Corrupt by Penelope Douglas is a great novel for anyone interested in thrilling and intimidating romance stories. It’s sure to have you hooked and doubting your morality in a matter of minutes!
Tamsin, an eighteen-year-old college student, has lived a sheltered life so far. While she’s taking part in her mother’s dignified events, Tamsin is kidnapped and sold as a sex slave. She’s bought by Aldrik, a cruel, savage, and sadistic man. After being sold, Tamsin then becomes Pim, her slave name. She is continuously afraid of the things Aldrik and his brutal friends will make her do.
Once she’s at rock bottom, businessman Elder Prest enters her world. Prest didn’t intend to make things complicated, but his world is turned upside down when he catches sight of Pim, the girl who won’t say a word. Pim wonders if Prest can save her, will she finally be free, or will she remain trapped, just in a different world, once more?
Pennies is definitely a dark book, but it’s a great story to have you questioning your beliefs and out of your comfort zone. This novel isn’t for everyone, but if you’re up for a truly disturbing dark romance novel, it’s certainly worth trying out.
This novel centers on three college students, Eli, Zara, and Alex, who are all bored with their current lifestyle. All three of the students are dealing with issues. Alex won’t come to terms with his temper problem, Zara abuses substances to get through the day, and Eli is an amazing sportsman with a harrowing past.
During senior year, typical jock Alex and pleasure seeker Zara have been involved in a tumultuous relationship. Things change once Zara finds Alex kissing someone else. Everything rapidly turns upside down and once the three clash heads, devastation is left behind.
Ecstasy is perfect for those looking for a wild romance novel. This book is full of toxicity, violence, substance abuse, and murder. If this sounds like it will be to your taste, you won’t regret adding Ecstasy to your dark novel list.
With spooky angels, a romantic heart, and steadfast enemies, Born Sinner cannot be left off this roundup! Complex character Eden was created to release evil and annihilation. Her wishes, wants, and words dictate reality, which can have devastating consequences for humanity. This is why a group called the Se7en capture her and attempt to take her life.
As the Se7en’s leader imprisons her, he tells her that their actions are for the greater good. Killing one girl could preserve the life of millions. However, this is easier said than done, as he cannot find the will to end her life. Eden starts to become enamored with the person who should have killed her, but ends up fighting for her instead.
This book blurs the lines between right and wrong, but bear in mind that it’s incredibly sexual. If you’re after a novel that’s dripping with sensuality, waywardness, and questionable ethics, add Born Sinner to your bookshelf!
Raw is an incredibly alienating novel. As is the case with several dark romances, you’ll either love it or hate it. The novel starts with Lexi, a character who has had a tough upbringing, but has managed to get her life together. Lexi has worked hard to get an education, a decent career, and understanding friends who know what it’s like to have a hard start in life.
Then Lexi realizes that she has a stalker. He’s watching her all the time, but instead of making her feel uneasy or scared, she feels alive. From growing up unloved to being the center of someone’s life, Raw tells the controversial tale of falling in love with your stalker.
If you’re interested in this book, keep in mind that Raw is part of a series, so Lexi doesn’t find her resolution until the third book. However, book number two centers on a completely different couple, so you could move on to book three to stick with the same story.
This is a book that will keep you guessing until its resolution. Dove Hendry’s life has been full of woe. As a young orphan, Dove grew up in different foster homes throughout her childhood. In the present, she works as a stripper as she attempts to remain on her feet. The only thing that keeps Dove happy is dancing, but everything changes when her childhood dreams turn into reality.
The shadows she conjured up in the past come into her life, making Dove realize that these twisted elements aren’t part of her imagination, but real. Dove is catapulted straight into the puzzling lifestyle of Midnight Mayhem. She’s in the middle of four mysterious men, known as the Brothers of Kiznitch.
However, just one of these men takes her interest – Kingston Axton. His devilish nature, handsome face, and tortured soul speaks to Dove’s heart. In Peace Lies Havoc has more twists and turns than you may think. This is certainly one to try if you want a truly addictive book that’s tough to put down.
Ivory Westbrook is a young survivor who aches for a new life. She is an incredibly talented pianist whose skills are impressive for someone just seventeen years old. The renowned academy that Ivory attends gives her the chance to make her aspirations come true. However, the academy is an establishment where nepotism and wealth run the scene, which is an obstacle for someone of Ivory’s caliber.
As she enters her senior year at the academy, she realizes her piano instructor, her main supporter for all of these years, will be retiring. Scared that all of her dedication and work was pointless, Emeric Marcereaux then comes into Ivory’s life as her new instructor. Older, handsome, and gentle, Ivory starts to fall for Emeric’s many qualities. Dark Notes is a great book if you’re interested in age differences, forbidden love, and dark sexual themes.
Mackenzie, or Mack for short, realizes that her best friend, Talia has gone missing. Mack knew that Talia was mixed up in the Irish mob, and intuitively believes that they are responsible for her disappearance. Mack wants to prove that the mob was involved and, if Talia turns up dead, get her vengeance. Mack’s plan was straightforward at first, but then Lachlan Crow sets his sights on her.
Soon to rule as head of the mob, Lachlan won’t believe a word Mack says, putting her at serious risk of blowing her cover. Mack and Lachlan also have a dangerous connection, which is not what Mack needs when he’s the one obstacle preventing her from getting her revenge. If you’re after a book that’s messy, dangerous, and thrilling all in one, you need to give Crow a read for yourself!
After Harlow ‘Low’ Westbrook’s father dies, she can barely keep it together. All she wants to do is use sex and alcohol to distract her from her grief. To top it all off, Low finds her boyfriend locking lips with a different girl, which sends her world upside down. As a way to cope, Low becomes involved with The Sainthood, a fearsome and all-powerful gang.
Theo, Galen, Caz, and Saint enter Low’s new school and quickly take possession of her. Low’s life then becomes extremely difficult as she battles with four complex men, secrets that were supposed to stay buried, and an unforgiving new ‘father’.
Resurrection is the first of three books, so if you are thinking of giving it a try, remember that you won’t find a resolution until the last book. If you’re into bully romances, bold heroines, and lots of smut, you’re in for a treat with this classic enemies-to-lovers tale.
These were some of the best dark romance novels to add to your bookshelf! As dark romance is such a broad genre, some of these books can be very hit-and-miss. Still, the variety in the genre means that there’s a good chance of finding something you love. If you’re a fan of the genre and are into depraved, mysterious, and twisted themes, you’re sure to find some new stories in our list above!