There's a great Toni Morrison quote that says that if the book you want to read doesn't exist, you should write it yourself. I took that advice to heart when I started writing because-- and if you're reading this, you probably agree-- there is a serious DEARTH of villain romances out there, and when a villain canon does make it into the main stream, our ships have a tendency to be ruthlessly destroyed (*stares in The Rise of Skywalker*).
Now I am the author of several villain romances and erotic thrillers, such as Quid Pro Quo and Fearscape, but I also read a fuckton of other villain romance and erotica, too, because those are the stories that I love. And when I'm not writing them, you can bet your ass that I want to be reading them.
A couple years ago, I published a blog post called 9 Romances Where the Villain Gets the Girl, which remains my most popular post to date. Even to this day, I still get comments on it from my fellow villain loverinos, who share my passion for the mad, bad, and dangerous-to-knows. So today, I'm sharing nine more villain romances because can there ever really be enough? I certainly don't think so.
Heads-up that as far as my social media is concerned, I'm basically an Anne Stuart stan account. She's one of the few traditionally published authors I can think of who consistently churns out really good villain and antihero romances. Nowadays, she mostly publishes romantic suspense, which I also enjoy, but a lot of my favorites are her historical romances. LORD OF DANGER is not only a villain romance, it's also an arranged marriage romance, and it features an innocent heroine with a man regarded by many to be some kind of sorcerer. Picture Jareth from Labyrinth with a pinch of Mozenrath from that old Aladdin TV show from the 90s. Also they have sex in a lightning storm! YAS.
Let me tell you that I had a devil of a time searching for this book. I actually finally found a copy in a thrift shop (or, at least, my mom did), which made me SCREAM because paperback copies of this bad boy go for $150-$200 if you buy it secondhand. STORMFIRE is the epic of Catherine and Sean. He kidnaps her en route to boarding school and, well, you've probably heard the rest. Rapes her and sends her blood-stained underwear to her dad, punches her in the face, forces her to slave away, attempts to have her gang-raped, IT'S QUITE THE JOURNEY. This book punched all my buttons and I'm still not fully convinced that it's really a romance, but man, Sean suffers for his transgressions, and also they have sex in a THUNDER STORM (Anne Stuart, do you also stan?), and the writing in this book is absolutely transcendent at times. If you can find a copy on the cheap and have a psychological stomach of steel, it's honestly worth the read.
This is another book that gets a little pricey-- which, actually, might be my bad guys, because I noticed that until I reviewed it, you could still get copies for $5. I'M SORRY. But honestly #sorrynotsorry because this book desperately needs an ebook Renaissance. It's so good. Elise, like the heroine in STORMFIRE, is just a teenager when the story begins, but she's bratty and hilariously dramatic. The hero rapes her when he catches her bathing in the nude, and is quite surprised when her brothers end up forcing him to marry her at practically swordpoint. From then on, their relationship takes a tumultuous journey, where Elise ends up aboard a slave ship, becomes a mistress to Jean Lafitte, and even ends up getting sold as a slave herself, only to escape. The relationship between her and Garth reminded me a lot of the back and forth between Han Solo and Princess Leia, so if wastrel rakehell and bratty firebrand is a dynamic that appeals to you, I would recommend this book 1000%. It's definitely not-PC but unlike many authors of this era, she makes an attempt to give PoC characters nuance and doesn't romanticize the horror of human slavery at all, so go her.
Honestly, it is SO RUDE that this book is out of print because it's basically everything I want out of the fantasy romance genre. It features a marriage of convenience between a tomboyish mage-soldier named Dawn and the would-be conqueror of her parents' kingdom, Cobalt the Dark. This is probably the softest villain romance on this list because the hero's only flaw is that he really likes to conqueror people (I know, right?? SUCH a softie), but he is so respectful and sweet towards the heroine and so awkward anytime that he is out of his armor or without a sword that my heart melted. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I immediately bought all of the other books in the series, which revolves around a color-based magic system where mages use shapes as focuses. It's really interesting and so much fun.
If you had told me that I was going to enjoy a romance novel with a cult leader as the hero, I would have laughed and told you to GTFO. But then my friend raved about how good it was and I was like, "hmm, maybe." And then I read it and was like OMG. The heroine comes to this cult compound to investigate the cult leader as a fraud when he scams her mother out of all her money. And then he ends up being both more and less than she thought he was and it kind of ends up becoming a real wild ride. Toxic AF? Oh yes, but I still loved it. Anne Stuart is at her best when she pairs a no-nonsense but damaged heroine with a villainous, morally grey bastard of a hero.
For a long time this book was out of print and copies were wildly expensive (think STORMFIRE). But then it was released on Kindle and I could finally read this very controversial YA book. I am honestly shocked that it was YA because it has more of a new adult feel to it (and it would probably be categorized and sold that way if it were released today). It's the story of an English artist named Cathy. One day, she falls asleep in a field and captures the attention of a rock star named Paul Devlin who has just taken up residence at the house. He and his friend bully her into coming into the house and feed her, dress her up, and then basically flip a coin over who gets to rape her. And when she ends up pregnant from this, Devlin hunts her down and manipulates her into doing what he wants. It actually reminded me a lot of UNTOUCHABLE by Sam Mariano, except with an 80s hair metal-type rock star instead of an All-American football player. I think if you like one, you'll like the other. EASY CONNECTIONS is such a toxic, problematic read-- but it's so much fun. So is the sequel. (Yes, there's a sequel!)
One of my Instagram followers recommended me this one and it was everything she told me it would be. It's a dark, luscious story about Dorian and Adrienne. Two disaffected rich kids who gradually become obsessed with each other. Or at least, the hero does. Dorian has never forgotten that encounter and when he sees Adrienne at a gallery several years later, he pursues her relentlessly. She runs, and then tragedy strikes, making Adrienne incredibly vulnerable. And what does Dorian do with this vulnerability but treat her with the utmost emotional care-- nah, just kidding. He kidnaps her and makes her his live-in mansion bitch, and the book starts to feel like one of those disturbing French films where you're not sure if it's going to end toxicially-ever-after or with one or both of them dead. But don't worry, this IS a romance. It's just not a particularly healthy one. And yet, somehow Whitney Bianca made me buy that they were right for each other and no one else. I know, I'm shocked, too.
Okay, so full disclosure, I was the beta reader for this book and I'm friends with the author. That said, I would 100% give this book full marks time after time even if she wasn't my BBBF (Best Book Buddy Forever(TM)). For starters, remember when I talked about cult leaders in romances? Yeah, this book made me look like a fool for a second time for thinking that I wasn't into that shit. I'm also not normally into cheaters or horror in my romance, but this book made me like both of those things too. Heather Crews habitually makes me eat my words when it comes to Things I Didn't Think I Liked in Romance(TM) and this book in particular is a dark delight with the vibes of an 80s occult thriller that somehow manages to straddle several genres at once while simultaneously excelling at all of them. Also it's a sexy blackmail romance WHICH IS MY FAVORITE. Need I say more?
Here it is, folks. The book I'd walk through fire for. It's one of my top five desert island books and it's one of the few books I've read multiple times (I think I'm at 4x now) and never gotten tired of. I own it in ebook and paperback (IT HAS AN AMAZING STEPBACK) and I'm probably going to have to buy a back up because it's just that good. Whether you consider Ivan Tramore a villain or not is up for debate, but regardless of his intentions, he is a man obsessed, and the object of his dubious obsessions is one Lissa Alcester, whom he will stop at nothing to possess. The scenes in this book live rent-free in my head and this has some of the sexiest, cleverest banter I've ever seen in a historical romance. The latter part of the middle section drags on just a tiny bit too long but the ending is one of the most heart-in-your-throat emotionally satisfying endings that I've ever read. My only regret is that I read this book of hers first-ish, because nothing else of hers has quite lived up (although she has some REALLY good ones that I may end up featuring on another post someday).
So there you have it, my fellow villain lovers. Nine more romances to whet your palate and keep you just as obsessed as I am. Did I miss one of your faves? Should I do a part three? Have you read one of these and want to gush about it (PLEASE SAY YES)?
⬇️ Let me know in the comments below! ⬇️