13 Best Dark Romance Books: Discover a Dangerously Thrilling New Romance

Fans of dark romance will revel in our tantalizing compilation of the 13 best dark romance books to lay your hands on only. Find your next favorite novel here.

Dark romance novels often feature complex characters and dark themes such as violence and manipulation. For example, a heroine may be drawn to a dangerous man because she believes he can save her from harm. However, she may not realize that he will hurt her. The genre is also known for its high-stakes action. Some dark romance novels feature characters willing to indulge their desires, even if it means harming others.

Dark romance often features elements of magic, and sometimes, the characters may use supernatural powers to achieve their goals or avert danger. Dark romance novel writers create enthralling tales and aim to make their way onto the list of romance author bestsellers.

Here Are The 13 Best Dark Romance Books

1. Tears of Tess, by Pepper Winters

Tears of Tess is the first book in a dark romance trilogy about an abducted woman. This young girl fights for her freedom but cannot escape her kidnappers and is forced to live in a world of darkness. When she tries to escape, she discovers that she is being trafficked where she is taken to Mexico and sold to a sex trafficking ring.

She is eventually sold to a man known as Q, who is very dangerous. Her boyfriend, Brax, discovers what happened and travels to Mexico to find her while at the same time, she feels begins to form an attraction to Q and she is torn between the two parts of herself. The relationship between Tess and Q is a powerful love story full of dark themes that will make you question what’s right and wrong.

“I’m offering you my pain. My blood. My pleasure…I’m offering to fight your needs with my own. I’m willing to join you in the darkness and find pleasure in excruciating pain.”

Pepper Winters, Tears of Tess

2. Fangs, by Sara Anderson

Fangs is a graphic novel about a vampire and a werewolf who fall in love after meeting at a bar and starting to date. The relationship progresses gradually throughout the novel, and they are a couple who enjoy macabre lifestyles and love horror movies, novels, and fine dining. The book is a modern take on the night’s classic creatures and a quick read. The story of Elsie and Jimmy is about stereotypes of magical creatures, evil forces, and superstitions.

“In a world where every single person, good or bad, has a voice, I hope you pick up your pen and use yours.”

Sara Anderson, Fangs

3. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer

Stephanie Meyer
Stephanie Meyer via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Twilight is part of a four-book series by American author Stephanie Meyer. It follows seventeen-year-old Isabella (Bella) Swan as she meets a 103-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen at her new school. She also meets his family, the Cullens, a vampire nomad family.

Bella quickly falls in love with Edward before she finds out the truth about him. She subsequently learns he is a vampire but soon realizes he is not like the other vampires. As their relationship develops, Bella has a hard time dealing with Edward’s overprotective tendencies. Edward is drawn to Bella but doesn’t want to turn her into a vampire. Bella is attracted to Edward, too, and insists that she is willing to become a vampire for him. 

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…What a stupid lamb,” I sighed. “What a sick, masochistic lion.”

Stephanie Meyer, Twilight

4. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier

Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne Du Maurier via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Described as the novel that changed the face of British literature, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a masterful psychological profile of a once great house gone mad. The story is set in Manderley, a massive estate once one of the most impressive in Britain. Maxim de Winter is the owner of a large, ostentatious home.

A beautiful and modest young woman catches the eye of the wealthy man, marries him, and naively believes his housekeeper and the household staff will welcome her. However, she soon realizes that the entire household and her new husband are haunted by the owner’s dead first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs. de Winter has no chance of winning them over.

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca

5. Interview With a Vampire, by Anne Rice

Anne Rice
Anne Rice via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Interview With a Vampire is the story of Louis de Pointe du Lac, a man who lives in 1900 New Orleans. Lestat de Lioncourt is a wealthy Frenchman who offers Louis companionship and the chance to live forever. He encourages Louis to become a vampire with the promise of eternal life.

The plot of Interview With a Vampire is centered on morality, but it also focuses on sexuality, and there is an undercurrent of sexual attraction between the two lead characters. Throughout the novel, Louis feels conflicted about being a vampire and does believe that his new powers will bring him great happiness, but there is a price that he is unsure he wants to pay. 

“None of us really changes over time. We only become more fully what we are.”

Anne Rice, Interview With a Vampire

6. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell
Mary Doria Russell via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Sparrow has two intertwining stories, one set in 2059 and the other in 2019. The former begins when the young astronomer, Marc, intercepts a transmission of haunting music from the planet Rakhat. The latter follows Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest who leads a scientific mission to make first contact with an extraterrestrial culture. The two stories are intertwined, and the reader is given access to the thoughts and feelings of each character.

Russell explores whether religion and first contact can challenge each other. She also provides access to the sentient creatures on Rakhat. The novel explores the nature of love, faith, and evil. Mary Doria Russell is an award-winning writer whose debut novel won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the British Science Fiction Association Award. The Sparrow series was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including being shortlisted for the Hugo Award and the Kurd-Lasswitz-Preis.

“Watching him with one eye, she wondered if men ever figured out that they were more appealing when they were pursuing their own work than when they were pursuing a woman.”

Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow

7. Ruthless People, by JJ McAvoy

Ruthless People is centered on two Mafia offspring, Melody Nicci Giovanni and Liam Alec Callahan, who entered an arranged marriage in Chicago. They are from rival families whose fathers force them into marriage so their two families can be stronger and the bloodshed between the Irish and Italians will end.

The book has everything you’d want from a Mafia book, including drama, backstabbing, and sex. The characters are all calculating and must be many steps ahead of the people they are fighting. Liam goes into the marriage thinking that his wife will be a typical Italian wife who (in those days) would stay at home cooking and doing his bidding. But Melody is as cold and calculating as Liam, maybe even more so.

“She looks like a sweet little lamb from afar, but when you get close, you find out she skinned and ate the damn thing just to use it as a coat.”

JJ McAvoy, Ruthless People

8. Captive in the Dark, by C.J. Roberts

The plot of Captive in the Dark is about an abused girl held hostage in a dark room. While it is a little slow-paced at times, it is worth a read if you are a fan of dark romance novels. There are several good characters, but the most compelling is the protagonist, Olivia, a smart but naive girl. Ironically, she is also the one who manages to stand up to the monster who is holding her hostage.

The book is a dark sexual fantasy novel that is filled with lusty scenes and colorful language that keep the reader wanting more. You might be interested in exploring more romance books, check out our round-up of best erotic novels.

“He was my tormentor and solace; the creator of the dark and the light within.”

C.J. Roberts, Captive in the Dark

9. Nine and a Half Weeks, by Elizabeth McNeill

During a nine-and-a-half-week affair, Ingeborg Day (pen name Elizabeth McNeill) and her lover went from a typical romantic relationship to performing a series of acts that could be described as sadomasochism. McNeill’s Nine and a Half Weeks is a retelling of her true life experiences and her thoughts on how her life was altered by this affair. When women struggled to be respected in the workplace, Day was an executive for a large corporation that also taught in small Midwestern towns. The book is an extremely graphic account of a sexually gratifying affair between two very different people. 

“So it went, a step at a time…it came about that I found myself – after the time span of a mere two weeks – in a setup that would be judged, by the people I know, as pathological.”

Elizabeth McNeill, Nine and a Half Weeks

10. Devil of Dublin, by B.B. Easton

B.B. Easton is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author who quit her stressful job as a school psychologist to become a full-time writer. Devil of Dublin is full of non-stop action, graphic violence, and dark romance. The plot centers on two contrasting characters, Darby Collins and Kellen Donovan, who first meet as children and reunite as adults. The romance is a dark and tormented love affair that endures through all their lives’ ups and downs.

The book also includes an ensemble cast of supporting characters, including Darby’s mother and a band of Irish mercenaries. The book is inspired by Irish folklore and includes a touch of magic. The main character, Darby Collins, visits Ireland once a year to visit her grandfather, who tells her tales of the mystical creatures in the trees. She is taken with the enigmatical mystical countryside and is fascinated by the story of a boy who can’t speak.

“My eyes shot open in surprise as his strong arms clamped around my waist.”

B.B. Easton, Devil of Dublin

11. The Witch and the Vampire, by Francesca Flores

The Witch and the Vampire are loosely based on the fairy tale Rapunzel. The two main characters are thrown together in a cursed forest where they must overcome their fears to save themselves. Ava is now both a witch and a vampire and needs to conceal the fact that she is also a vampire. Ava must escape foiling her mother’s intentions to destroy the town. 

Kaye, who used to be very close to Ava, is now prepared to eliminate any vampires—including Ava—that threaten the village. While covertly preparing to turn Ava in, Kaye pursues Ava and persuades her to go into the wilderness with her. The Witch and the Vampire is a great book for fantasy and romance fans. The characters are complex and intriguing, and the plot is well-paced.

“I have never met a vampire personally, but I don’t know what might happen tomorrow.”

Bela Lugosi, The Witch and the Vampire

12. The Sweetest Oblivion, by Danielle Lori

In The Sweetest Oblivion, Elena Abelli is a mafia princess with a taste for the finer things in life. While Elena has the best intentions and sees herself on the side of good, she still has to survive in the complex mafia world. When she encounters the man her sister is supposed to marry, Elena falls for the cold and cynical brute.

She discovers a side of herself that she hadn’t known; a side that desires the rough world of violence, power, and control. She discovers how far she’ll go to quell her carnal yearnings for a man she thought she would disdain. This inevitably leads to an escalating situation, one that only Elena is equipped to handle. Eventually, Elena’s walls come crashing down, and she gives in to her desires.

“I swear to God, Elena, if I find out you’ve let some man touch you, I will deliver his hands to you in a box.”

Danielle Lori, The Sweetest Oblivion

13. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Lolita is the story of a middle-aged man who has an affair with a young girl. Described as a modern masterpiece, the novel tells the story of a man named Humbert, a professor at a university, who becomes obsessed with a twelve-year-old girl named Dolores Haze. Nabokov writes as an enigmatic, unreliable narrator. He demonstrates his rhetorical skills through a portrait of the obsessive lust of a man for a child.

Numerous American publishers rejected the novel because it went against public mores. G.P. Putnam’s Sons eventually published it; however, it was highly criticized in the New York Times. The public response to the book was strong, though, and the reviews failed to dampen the novel’s popularity over the years. You might be interested in exploring romance prompts, check out our round-up of top writing prompts for romance.

“Perhaps, somewhere, someday, in a less miserable time, we may see each other again.”

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita