Romance is one of the most popular genres. Some of the most beloved authors in this category are Emily Henry, Jenny Han, and Nicholas Sparks. Love stories are generally feel-good books. Audiences want to feel light after reading, and the happily ever after in novels like Beach Read and Book Lovers do this well. There are other subsets, however. Specifically, the taboo world of dark romance.
Dark romance is a subgenre with disturbing themes, including BDSM, stalking, violence, and morally grey characters. It’s not for readers under 18.
Although these books can be triggering, they offer insight into the life of abuse survivors. They’re fantasy and fiction, and that must be kept in mind. Dark romance should be enjoyed with caution and intention.
Let’s look at some of the most popular dark romance books available.
1. The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori
If you’re on BookTok, you have absolutely heard of this one. The Sweetest Oblivion is a treasure for mafia romance readers. The story follows Elena, a sweet mafia daughter. When she meets her sister’s arranged husband, sparks fly.
Nicolas Russo’s family is in the mob. He has a thing for twisted pleasures, but it turns out Elena does too. A lot. This book is chock full of steamy scenes. However, if you struggle with violence, read with caution.
2. Corrupt by Penelope Douglas
This dark romance is the darkest of the dark. A story of lust and revenge, it is perfect for the more deranged readers. The story follows Erika, who can’t take her eyes off Michael, her boyfriend’s older brother. Michael reciprocates her sexual desire.
Tension grows when Erika moves to Michael’s city for college to escape her family and ex-boyfriend. But she is unaware of what awaits her. A twisted game of revenge follows. Be sure to check the trigger warnings on this one!
3. Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters
When the put-together Tess is kidnapped and drugged on a trip to Mexico, her perfectly planned life is changed forever.
Will she be broken beyond repair, or can she find the silver lining? The book is extremely dark, with themes of kidnapping, assault, and slavery. It is not for the faint heart. Read at your own risk.
4. Dangerous by Nora Ash
Dangerous follows the story of Mira. To escape her vicious family, she changed her identity and became a psychologist. She encounters a rugged man named Blain one day, who rattles her.
Their mutual hatred is muddled with attraction. When her family finds her and arranges for her to marry London’s biggest mafia family, she discovers it’s Blaine. There are many steamy scenes. The book has some graphic descriptions of violence, so be mindful before picking up.
5. Notice by K. Webster
K. Webster’s books are the perfect dark and taboo romances. This story follows the once-broken-turned-independent Violet. She works for Gray Maxwell, an ex-sniper who is now known as Mad Max.
Although she and her work have been ignored the six years working with him, once she hands in her notice, Gray is all about her. Borderline obsessive. Violet is fearful of her past, and Gray will do anything to make her his. Like the other novels on this list, read at your own risk.
Dark romance is not everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who can digest it, they can prove to be amazing reads.