Welcome back to the latest Crazy Book Genre episode! I am so excited to bring you a genre that is near and dear. One that’s not a comfort read—but it gets the blood pumping and excitement thrumming for the thrill and passion unleashed with the turning of the cover. Provocative, taboo, and often referred to as a guilty pleasure, I’m talking about Dark Romance.
Well…What is Dark Romance!?
Dark romance is much like how it sounds—romance novels with darker themes and mature content for adult readers. Dark romance novels often come with content (CW) and trigger (TW) warnings, and I highly advise you to check them out prior to purchasing and reading. This genre explores themes such as BDSM, role-playing, abduction, rape fantasies, and kidnapping and captivity. Some dark romances do explore a lack of consent or consensual non-consent. When I say check the CWs and TWs, it’s good advice.
Dark Romance Recommendations
Starting off light, I’ll introduce you to Born, Darkly by Tricia Wolfe, a duet. This psychological thriller / dark romance is light on the spice, but the cat and mouse and the chemistry are just…WHOA! London Noble is a criminal psychologist that decides to work with serial killer Grayson Pierce Sullivan—think the Joker and Harley Quinn, and you’ll see where this is going, sort of… If you’re here for the morally gray man candy with a charm that’ll pull you in from the first description, then Sullivan is your new book boyfriend!
If he’s evil, then am I in danger of falling for the devil, or am I the devil herself?—London, Born Darkly
If the last one reminds us of our favorite dark comic book couple, then The Ritual by Shantel Tessier will give you The Skulls vibes. Ryat is a senior at Barrington University; after three years of paying his dues to the Lords, he gets to become one, and with that, he gets to pick his Chosen. He chooses Blakely, who is already promised to another, but with his offering, she takes his hand, unknowing the dangers of his world. Ryat is over-the-top and possessive as hell. She’s his, every part of her, and he’s going to make sure everyone knows it. This is a five-chili peppers kind of spice; there is no lack of explicit content for your enjoyment.
You were mine yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” He gently kisses my forehead. The tenderness a contradiction to his threatening words. “And you will continue to be mine forever.—Ryat, The Ritual
The beginning trilogy of the seven-book Royal Elite series, this Royal HS dark bully romance will have you bound and captivated, biting your nails to find out what happens next. Deviant King brings together Aiden and Elsa, the villain and the ice queen. Aiden is not morally grey; he is black all the way through. Mean and angry, his fire is always full flare, never simmering. This is full of the tropes you’re looking for: enemies-to-lovers, psychotic H, alpha male, possessive, feisty h, and several checks in the kink column. Read the CWs and TWs on this 4 chili-pepper read.
Those who don’t play think that the king is the most important piece because the game is over when he dies. They don’t know that the king is useless without his queen.—Rina Kent, Deviant King
Kidnapping, conditioned responses, merciless kingpin: these are just a few of the darker elements of the Twist Me trilogy by Anna Zaires. Giving 365 Days vibes, this dark romance will have you hating, loving, and loving to hate Julian as he first captures Nora and slowly falls in love with her. She’s no angel, just a kitten with claws who becomes just as obsessed with her captor-turned-husband as he is with her.
I want to be her everything: her protector and her tormentor, her joy and her sorrow. I want to bind her to me physically and emotionally, to brand myself so deeply on her mind and soul that she will never think about leaving me.—Julian, Twist Me
We’ve got a stalker, folks, and he has no problem letting his prey know he’s there and that she’s no longer on the market. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton is one dark and twisty ride. Zade is OBSESSED with Addie; he’s psychotic and the epitome of morally gray. Adeline is an accomplished author with an obsession with scare thrill-seeking. So when she becomes the center of attention to her Shadow, she becomes The Manipulator of his dreams. The cat and mouse games will have you reading this in one setting and immediately one-clicking for the second book.
UNKNOWN: Sneaking off with random men, little mouse? If I catch his hands anywhere near you, they’ll end up in your mailbox by morning.—Zade, Haunting Adeline
Dark Romance is certainly not for everyone. While there are still HEAs (not all) getting there is a thrilling taboo seduction that might have you clutching to your book/reading device, craving to see what happens next.
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