23 Best Authors Like Sylvia Day Who Unravel the Threads of Desire

Discover our curated list of authors like Sylvia Day who write about romance in a way that defies stereotypes, taking readers on deeply emotional journeys.

In recent years, genres such as romance, legal thriller, fantasy, paranormal, historical, speculative fiction, and urban fantasy have surged, carving out a significant space in the mainstream literary scene. Once relegated to the shadows, these genres now command a large and passionate audience. The popularity of books like Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight has been instrumental in this change, with readers gravitating towards stories that blend romance with elements of fantasy, suspense, and the exploration of taboo themes.

Sylvia Day, a New York Times bestselling author, doesn’t shy away from exploring complex themes such as BDSM. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award. Following is a list of authors who, much like Day, have crafted compelling love stories that have left readers yearning for more.

Best Authors Like Sylvia Day Ranked

1. Maya Banks, 1964 –

Maya Banks
Maya Banks

Born and raised in Texas, Maya Banks is a prolific author best known for her erotic romance novels. To date, she’s penned more than 50 books. Her career has spanned multiple genres, including contemporary romance, Scottish historical fiction, and romantic suspense. Her KGI series delves into the thrilling world of a private military group. She has reached the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists multiple times, and she’s been honored by her work being compared to the successful Fifty Shades trilogy.

Banks delves into the passionate world of dominance and submission in her book Rush. Gabe Hamilton, a wealthy businessman, becomes infatuated with Mia Crestwell, his best friend’s younger sister. A complicated relationship ensues when he offers her a contract to become his submissive. Banks’ portrayal of the intricate dynamics of desire, power, and consent is both engaging and challenging, inviting readers to explore the darker corners of romantic love.

“I can’t be without you,’ he whispered. ‘You have to stay, Mia.”

Maya Banks, Rush
Rush (The Breathless Trilogy Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Banks, Maya (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 413 Pages - 02/05/2013 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

2. E.L. James, 1963 –

E.L. James

Erika Leonard, known by her pen name E.L. James, is a British author who gained global fame with her Fifty Shades trilogy. Initially a Twilight fanfiction, the series sparked a widespread conversation about BDSM and erotic literature. Its immense popularity led to a successful film franchise and brought erotic fiction to a much broader readership. James also penned The Mister, a standalone romance novel, which, while popular, has not yet achieved the same acclaim.

James’ breakout book Fifty Shades of Grey introduces readers to the naive literature student Anastasia Steele. When she interviews the enigmatic billionaire Christian Grey, she is drawn into his world of BDSM. As Anastasia grapples with her awakening sexual desires and Christian’s dark secrets, the narrative explores the complexities of their unconventional relationship. James’ depiction of the BDSM lifestyle, coupled with the emotional intricacies of the characters, has sparked intrigue and debate among readers worldwide.

“And in this quiet moment as I close my eyes, spent and sated, I think I’m in the eye of the storm. And in spite of all he’s said, and what he hasn’t said, don’t think I have ever been so happy.”

E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • James, E L (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 540 Pages - 04/03/2012 (Publication Date) - Bloom Books (Publisher)

3. Larissa Ione, 1967 –

Larissa Ione
Pleasure Unbound Book Cover

Larissa Ione is a former Air Force veteran turned New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Notable for her Demonica and Lords of Deliverance series, her paranormal romance novels are lauded for their intricate world-building and compelling characters. Ione has also written under the pen name Sydney Croft and a co-writer, Sydney Croft. 

Pleasure Unbound is a unique blend of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Tayla Mancuso, a demon-slaying warrior, is admitted to a hospital run by demons, where she encounters the sexy doctor Eidolon. They must navigate a treacherous world of good and evil as they grapple with their passionate attraction. Ione’s detailed world-building and captivating characters keep readers engrossed.

“Blood dripped to the obsidian floor as Eidolon probed the patient’s most serious wound.”

Larissa Ione, Pleasure Unbound

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4. Jodi Ellen Malpas, 1979 –

Jodi Ellen Malpas
This Man Book Cover

Hailing from Northampton, England, Jodi Ellen Malpas self-published her debut novel This Man before landing a deal with Grand Central Publishing. Her One Night trilogy also received widespread acclaim. Known for her alpha male characters and strong female leads, Malpas has secured her place in the contemporary romance genre.

In This Man, Ava O’Shea, an interior designer, meets the intriguing and possessive Jesse Ward when she takes on a project at his manor. The story unravels as Ava finds herself irresistibly drawn to Jesse, despite his controlling ways. Malpas’ portrayal of the intense emotional and sexual relationship between Ava and Jesse offers readers a deep dive into themes of obsession and control.

“I want to look after you forever.” he whispers, pressing his lips against my temple.”

Jodi Ellen Malpas, This Man
This Man (A This Man Novel Book 1))
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Malpas, Jodi Ellen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 465 Pages - 06/18/2013 (Publication Date) - Forever (Publisher)

5. Meredith Wild, 1981 –

Meredith Wild
Hardwired Book Cover

Meredith Wild is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author. Wild self-published her Hacker series, which catapulted her into success. Her entrepreneurial journey, transitioning from a tech CEO to a full-time writer, has been featured in various publications like Forbes, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Hardwired follows Erica Hathaway, a tech entrepreneur, who presents her start-up idea to a panel of investors, one of them being the dominant and wealthy Blake Landon. Their professional encounter evolves into a passionate affair, where Erica’s independent spirit clashes and merges with Blake’s protective nature. Wild’s depiction of a modern heroine navigating love and career is refreshing and relatable.

“Winter had thawed in Boston and spring was upon us. The campus had come alive, buzzing with college students, tourists, and city natives.”

Meredith Wild, Hardwired
Hardwired: The Hacker Series #1
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Wild, Meredith (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 270 Pages - 04/07/2015 (Publication Date) - Forever (Publisher)

6. Sylvain Reynard

Sylvain Reynard
Gabriel’s Inferno Book Cover

Sylvain Reynard is a Canadian author known for the Gabriel’s Inferno series. The anonymous writer is also the author of the paranormal romance series, The Florentine, which explores the underworld of Florence, Italy. Reynard’s eloquent writing style often incorporates art, literature, and culture, providing readers with an intellectual romantic experience.

Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno is a tale of redemption and forbidden love. Gabriel Emerson, a respected Dante specialist, hides a tortured past beneath his sophisticated exterior. When he meets Julianne Mitchell, his unsuspecting student, their connection triggers a series of events leading to the revelation of secrets and a journey toward forgiveness. Reynard’s lyrical writing and detailed references to Dante’s Inferno provide an intellectual depth to this emotional romance.

“Real isn’t what you are; it’s something that happens. And right now, you need something good to happen to you.”

Sylvain Reynard, Gabriel’s Inferno
Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno Trilogy Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Reynard, Sylvain (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 577 Pages - 07/31/2012 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

7. Laurelin Paige, 1974 –

Laurelin Paige
Fixed on You Book Cover

Laurelin Paige is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author born in Logan, Utah. She began writing as a necessity when her husband lost his job when the Blockbuster video store he worked at closed down. After filing for bankruptcy, Paige decided to try self-publishing, and the gamble paid off. The bankruptcy was dismissed, and the writer has enjoyed consistent success with subsequent books. Paige’s books have now even been translated into several languages.

Fixed on You introduces readers to Alayna Wither, a recent MBA graduate with a history of obsessive love. She meets Hudson Pierce, a wealthy businessman, and they embark on a no-strings-attached relationship, attempting to resist their growing feelings for each other. Paige’s portrayal of Alayna’s struggle with her past and the allure of the unattainable Hudson makes for an addictive read.

“We’re too busy for a proper toast, So let’s just say this is to Laynie. We’re proud of you, girl.”

Laurelin Paige, Fixed on You
Fixed on You
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Paige, Laurelin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 296 Pages - 06/24/2013 (Publication Date) - Laurelin Paige (Publisher)

8. Jamie McGuire, 1978 –

Jamie McGuire
Beautiful Disaster Book Cover

An Oklahoma native, Jamie McGuire is a New York Times bestselling author. Besides her well-known Beautiful series, she has also written the Maddox Brothers series, a spin-off focusing on Travis Maddox’s brothers. Beautiful Disaster quickly gained popularity among readers and was a contender for Best Romance in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

In Beautiful Disaster, Abby Abernathy aims to lead a quiet life, but her plans are upended when she meets Travis Maddox, the campus bad boy. Their mutual attraction leads to a wager—if Travis loses, he must remain abstinent for a month, but if Abby loses, she must live with Travis for the same period. McGuire’s depiction of this intense, passionate relationship pulls readers into an emotional whirlwind.

“It wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t just him, it was what we were together that was the exception.”

Jamie McGuire, Beautiful Disaster
Beautiful Disaster: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • McGuire, Jamie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 431 Pages - 07/12/2012 (Publication Date) - Atria Books (Publisher)

9. Lisa Renee Jones, 1969 –

Lisa Renee Jones
If I Were You Book Cover

Lisa Renee Jones, a former CEO of a Fortune 500 company, transitioned into writing and quickly made a name for herself in the romance genre. Besides the Inside Out series, her notable works include the Dirty Money series, a captivating saga about family and power. Her books are lauded for their blend of suspense and romance.

Jones’ If I Were You revolves around Sara McMillan, who stumbles upon erotic journals that pull her into the life of their author. Intrigued, she steps into Rebecca’s shoes and begins a relationship with two men involved in her life. Jones’ blend of mystery and sensuality keeps readers engaged as they, along with Sara, seek to uncover Rebecca’s fate.

“Dangerous. For months I’ve had dreams and nightmares about how perfectly he personifies the word.”

Lisa Renee Joens, If I Were You
If I Were You (Inside Out Series Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Jones, Lisa Renee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 401 Pages - 09/13/2012 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

10. Raine Miller, 1963 –

Raine Miller
Naked Book Cover

Raine Miller is a New York Times bestselling author best known for her Blackstone Affair series. Besides romance novels, Miller has also written historical fiction like The Passion of Darius and The Undoing of a Libertine. Her books, known for their emotional depth and engaging characters, have been translated into several languages.

Naked, the first book in the Blackstone Affair series, introduces Brynne Bennett, an American art student in London who becomes involved with successful businessman Ethan Blackstone. As their relationship deepens, they must confront their past traumas. Miller’s captivating narrative of two broken individuals finding solace in each other strikes a chord with readers.

“That picture changed everything. I was not the same after I saw it, and I couldn’t go back to the man I’d been before seeing it either.”

Raine Miller, Naked
Naked: The Blackstone Affair, Book 1
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Miller, Raine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 139 Pages - 12/12/2012 (Publication Date) - Atria Books (Publisher)

12. Tiffany Reisz, 1973 –

Tiffany Reisz
The Siren Book Cover

Tiffany Reisz is a renowned author in the genre of erotic fiction. Her Original Sinners series, which includes The Siren, has been lauded for its provocative and thought-provoking narrative. Reisz’s work often explores themes of sexuality, religion, and love. Her standalone novel The Bourbon Thief won the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence Award in 2015.

In The Siren, Reisz introduces Nora Sutherlin, a famous dominatrix and erotica writer. When she presents her manuscript to the respected literary editor Zachary Easton, he demands complete control over it for six weeks. As they work together, an unexpected bond forms. Reisz masterfully explores the dynamics of power and the nature of love and sacrifice, delivering a provocative and poignant story.

“At sixty-four and with his gray beard and spectacles, J.P. was literature personified.”

Tiffany Reisz, The Siren
The Siren (The Original Sinners Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Reisz, Tiffany (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 428 Pages - 10/16/2017 (Publication Date) - MIRA (Publisher)

13. Sarah Castille, 1970 –

Sarah Castille
Against the Ropes Book Cover

Sarah Castille is a bestselling author of contemporary erotic romance. Her Redemption series is praised for its engaging characters and compelling narrative. Castille, a former lawyer, utilizes her legal expertise to create realistic conflicts and dynamics in her novels. Her works have been translated into several languages worldwide.

Against the Ropes is a story of redemption and love in the world of underground fighting. Makayla, a medic, is drawn to the dangerous world of an underground fight club and its charismatic owner, Torment. Castille’s adept portrayal of the primal world of fighting and the healing power of love provides an irresistible mix of emotion and adrenaline.

“Gasping for air, I glance up and flash my best fake smile.”

Sarah Castille, Against the Ropes
Against the Ropes: An MMA Fighter Shows a Strong-Willed Medic That His Hands Can Also Be Instruments of Pleasure (Redemption Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Castille, Sarah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 09/03/2013 (Publication Date) - Sourcebooks Casablanca (Publisher)

14. Kresley Cole, 1968 –

Kresley Cole
A Hunger Like No Other Book Cover

Kresley Cole is a number one New York Times bestselling author known for her Immortals After Dark series. She also authored the Arcana Chronicles, a young adult series blending paranormal romance and dystopian themes. Cole’s extensive use of mythology and unique world-building has garnered her a dedicated fanbase.

In A Hunger Like No Other, part of the Immortals After Dark series, Cole introduces the fierce Lykae leader, Lachlain, and the ethereal vampire, Emmaline. Trapped by an undeniable bond, they navigate a world filled with mythological beings. Cole’s vivid world-building and ability to infuse humor into a dark narrative captivates readers.

“It’s not if you castrate an entire Roman legion, it’s if they believe you did. Perception is everything.”

Kresley Cole, A Hunger Like No Other
A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark Book 2)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Cole, Kresley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 04/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

15. Nalini Singh, 1977 –

Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh

Born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand, Nalini Singh is a New York Times bestselling author known for her Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series. Her writing, praised for its intricate world-building and compelling characters, offers a unique blend of romance, science fiction, and fantasy. Singh’s stories often explore themes of identity, belonging, and the power of emotional connections.

Slave to Sensation is the first book in Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. Sascha Duncan, a Psy struggling with her conditioning, and Lucas Hunter, a changeling alpha, are thrust together amidst political unrest. Singh’s richly detailed world where emotionless Psy, shapeshifting Changelings, and humans coexist offers a unique and intriguing backdrop for a passionate romance.

“Hunter had become the only ruling alpha in the DarkRiver leopard pack at twentythree years of age.”

Nalini Singh, Slave to Sensation
Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changelings, Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Singh, Nalini (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 354 Pages - 03/31/2009 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

16. Anna Zaires, 1980 –

Anna Zaires
Twist Me Book Cover

Anna Zaires is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of science fiction and dark romance. Besides her Twist Me series, she also co-authored the Krut series with her husband, Dima Zales. Born in Russia, Zaires’ multicultural experiences often seep into her writing, providing a diverse narrative backdrop.

Zaires’ Twist Me takes readers into the world of dark romance. When Julian, a powerful arms dealer, kidnaps Nora Leston, she becomes entangled in a twisted relationship. Zaires pushes the boundaries of traditional romance, offering readers an exploration of love in the context of control and obsession.

“I know he would always come for me. I know he would kill for me. I know he would die for me.”

Anna Zaires, Twist Me
Twist Me
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Zaires, Anna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 332 Pages - 07/31/2014 (Publication Date) - Mozaika Publications (Publisher)

17. Sarah MacLean, 1978 –

Sarah MacLean
Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical romance novels. In addition to the Rules of Scoundrels series, she’s known for her Love By Numbers series, and her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. As a passionate advocate for the romance genre, MacLean also writes a monthly column for The Washington Post.

MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake follows Lady Calpurnia Hartwell, a spinster who creates a scandalous list of things she wants to do. Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, aids her in this endeavor, leading to a passionate romance. MacLean’s engaging writing and vibrant characters offer a fresh twist on historical romance, making it a favorite among readers.

“I find that people see what they expect, my lord, as opposed to what is there.”

Sarah MacLean, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love by Numbers Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • MacLean, Sarah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 428 Pages - 03/13/2010 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins e-books (Publisher)

18. Gena Showalter, 1975 –

Gena Showalter
The Darkest Night Book Cover

Gena Showalter, a bestselling author known for her Lords of the Underworld series, also penned the White Rabbit Chronicles, a unique twist on the zombie genre for young adults. Showalter’s writing often blends fantasy, paranormal, and romance elements, creating unique and captivating narratives. She has published over thirty books, and her works have been translated into multiple languages.

The Darkest Night is the first book in Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series. Maddox, cursed to die and live again every night, meets Ashlyn, a woman who can silence the voices that haunt him. Showalter’s blend of mythology, paranormal elements, and heated romance creates a riveting tale that keeps readers hooked.

“Every night death came, slowly, painfully, and every morning Maddox awoke in bed, knowing he’d have to die again later.”

Gena Showalater, The Darkest Night 
The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Showalter, Gena (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 277 Pages - 01/18/2016 (Publication Date) - HQN Books (Publisher)

19. Alisha Rai, 1980 –

Alisha Rai
Alisha Rai

Former lawyer Alisha Rai is a critically acclaimed author known for her Forbidden Hearts series. Her book The Right Swipe was named one of the Best Romance Novels of 2019 by The Washington Post. Rai’s novels often explore contemporary issues like mental health, consent, and diversity, earning her a dedicated following.

In Hate to Want You, Rai weaves a compelling narrative about Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler, once inseparable, now torn apart by a family feud. Their annual secret rendezvous keeps them connected, but old wounds reopen when Livvy returns to town. Rai’s exploration of forbidden love, familial loyalty, and long-held secrets offers an intense and heartfelt read.

“Because it was far easier to be kind to other people than it was to be kind to herself.”

Alisha Rai, Hate to Want You
Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rai, Alisha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 380 Pages - 07/25/2017 (Publication Date) - Avon (Publisher)

20. Alice Clayton, 1972 –

Alice Clayton
Wallbanger Book Cover

Alice Clayton, a former cosmetics industry worker, succeeded as a romance author with her Cocktail series, including the famous Wallbanger. Known for her combination of humor and heat, Clayton’s books offer a refreshing take on contemporary romance. She has also co-authored the Honey Don’t series with Nina Bocci.

Clayton’s Wallbanger is a humorous and steamy romance about Caroline Reynolds, an interior designer with an unfortunate dry spell, and her womanizing neighbor, Simon Parker. Their shared wall becomes a source of frustration and sexual tension. Clayton’s witty writing style and the chemistry between the characters make this a delightful and entertaining read.

“And even though it was barely above a whisper, I heard it. He sighed my name.”

Alice Clayton, Wallbanger
Wallbanger (The Cocktail Series Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Clayton, Alice (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 386 Pages - 02/14/2013 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

21. Abbi Glines, 1977 –

Abbi Glines
Fallen Too Far Book Cover

Abbi Glines is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She rose to fame with her Rosemary Beach series and the Sea Breeze series, both set in charming coastal towns. Glines’ novels, often featuring small-town romances and bad boys with hearts of gold, have resonated with a broad audience.

Fallen Too Far introduces readers to Blaire Wynn, who moves in with her father and stepmother after her mother’s death. She meets her stepbrother, Rush Finlay, and their complicated relationship unfolds. Glines’ captivating storytelling and the intense connection between Blaire and Rush make for an emotionally charged reading experience.

“I stared at the massive three-story house that sat directly on the white sand in Rosemary Beach, Florida.”

Abbi Glines, Fallen Too Far
Fallen Too Far: A Rosemary Beach Novel (The Rosemary Beach Series Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Glines, Abbi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 242 Pages - 01/20/2014 (Publication Date) - Atria Books (Publisher)

22. Julie Kenner, 1965 –

Julie Kenner
Release Me Book Cover

Julie Kenner, also known as J. Kenner, is a New York Times bestselling author who is best known for her Stark series. Her work spans multiple genres, including romance, fantasy, and young adult. Kenner’s books, praised for their intricate plots and well-developed characters, have been published in over twenty countries. Before becoming an author, Kenner practiced law in Los Angeles.

Release Me follows Nikki Fairchild, a recent Texas transplant and aspiring entrepreneur in Los Angeles, and Damien Stark, a wealthy and enigmatic businessman. Kenner explores themes of control, submission, and hidden pasts as their erotic relationship develops. This story enthralls readers with its complex characters and engaging narrative.

“A cool ocean breeze caresses my bare shoulders, and I shiver, wishing I’d taken my roommate’s advice and brought a shawl with me tonight.”

Julie Kenner, Release Me
[Release Me] (By: Julie Kenner) [published: February, 2013]
  • Julie Kenner (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Headline Eternal (Publisher)

23. Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward
 Roomhate Book Cover

Penelope Ward, a New York Times, USA Today, and number one Wall Street Journal bestselling author, is a beloved figure in contemporary romance. She has penned numerous novels, including Stepbrother DearestNeighbor DearestDrunk Dial, and Gentleman Nine. Her evocative writing, complex characters, and emotionally resonant plots have earned her a dedicated following. Ward’s novels often explore themes of love, loss, and redemption, making her a favorite among readers looking for depth and authenticity in their romance novels.

Roomhate is a compelling narrative about childhood friends Justin and Amelia, who inherit a beach house and are forced to share it. Their reunion is fraught with tension due to unresolved issues from their past, which adds a layer of intrigue to the story. As they navigate their cohabitation, old feelings resurface, leading to a passionate and turbulent love story. Ward’s knack for writing emotionally charged scenes shines in this novel, making it a standout in her impressive bibliography.

“I don’t like fighting with you. I love you. In case there was any doubt.”

Penelope Ward, Rommhate
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Ward, Penelope (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 279 Pages - 02/14/2016 (Publication Date) - Penelope Ward Books, Inc. (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best dark romance books!