Don’t miss this book list of the best dark fantasy romance books worth reading if you’re looking for romance books with a shadier, darker twist.
Dark fantasy romance books bring together the elements of fantasy, magic, and the supernatural with darker themes that may or may not be for everyone.
Though these fantasy romance books have a happy ending, they are also filled with morally grey characters, violence, danger, bullying, non-consensual acts, and other complex, boundary-pushing behaviors that put a different spin on the central love story.
If you are a fan of dark fantasy romance books, I know that you will enjoy the novels on this list as they are either my favorites to read or are the most popular in the category.
For even more fantasy romance books, check out these book lists as well:
- Best Fantasy Romance Books
- Best Enemies to Lovers Fantasy Romance Books
- Best Young Adult Fantasy Romance Books
Happy reading….because life is better with a love story.
*Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
The Best Dark Fantasy Romance Books
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Beautiful, manipulative and dangerous, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere.
But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.
For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…
If you’re OK with what might happen to a pleasure slave then grab it and enjoy. If not, you may want to pass on this dark fantasy romance.
If you get hooked, just know that it’s the first in The Captive Prince trilogy so you’ll have more to devour.
The fae abandoned this world to us. And the ones with power rule.
Gold. Gold floors, gold walls, gold furniture, gold clothes. In Highbell, in the castle built into the frozen mountains, everything is made of gold.
King Midas rescued me. Dug me out of the slums and placed me on a pedestal. I’m called his precious. His favored.
I’m the woman he Gold-Touched to show everyone that I belong to him. To show how powerful he is.
He gave me protection, and I gave him my heart. And even though I don’t leave the confines of the palace, I’m safe.
Until danger comes to the kingdom and a deal is struck.
Suddenly, my trust is broken. My love is challenged, and I realize that everything I thought I knew about Midas might be wrong.
Because these bars I’m kept in, no matter how gilded, are still just a cage. But the monsters on the other side might make me wish I’d never left.
I love when authors reimagine fairy tales and myths and recreate a story all their own.
Kennedy reimagines the myth of King Midas in this dark fantasy romance book that is completely addictive and will have you reading the entire Plated Prisoner series.
It’s a dark fantasy romance for its violence and non-consensual acts, but if you love fractured tales then this should be your pick of the list.
Nineteen years ago, I was plucked from the heart of a bloody massacre that spared nobody else.
Small. Fragile. An enigma.
Now ward to a powerful High Master who knows too much and says too little, I lead a simple life, never straying from the confines of an imaginary line I’ve drawn around the castle grounds.
Stay within. Never leave.
Out there, the monsters lurk. Inside, I’m safe … though at a cost far greater than the blood I drip into a goblet daily.
Toxic, unreciprocated love for a man who’s utterly unavailable.
My savior. My protector. My almost executioner.
I can’t help but be enamored with the arcane man who holds the power to pull my roots from the ground.
When voracious beasts spill across the land and threaten to fray the fabric of my tailored existence, the petals of reality will peel back to reveal an ugly truth. But in a castle puddled with secrets, none are greater than the one I’ve kept from myself.
No tower is tall enough to protect me from the horror that tore my life to shreds.
To Bleed a Crystal Bloom is another dark fantasy romance book based on a fairytale reimagining.
If you like the story of Rapunzel then you’ll love this book even though you’ve never heard it told in this way!
Almost twenty years after the barrier between Earth and the Otherworld fell in the Fae Wars, Budapest is balancing on the precipice.
A battle for dominance is brewing between the elite fae and the privileged humans in Eastern Europe. The prejudice between the sides is bubbling with hate and violence.
Nineteen-year-old human, Brexley, has grown up in privilege, but not without heartbreak. After being orphaned, she is taken in by General Markos, living in a walled city rife with power grabs and ruthless political games.
Then one night the course of her life changes, and Brexley is thrown into the most feared prison in the east. Halalhaz, —where you go in but don’t come out.
She must learn to live with the worst of fae and human criminals. The rule of hierarchy puts humans on the bottom, where the only way to survive each day is to make alliances with the fae.
Here she meets the hot, vicious legend, Warwick Farkas. A myth among man and fae.
He is as brutal, cruel, arrogant, and as lethal as the lore says he is, ruling the prison with unchallenged authority. Brexley can’t deny an intense draw to him, one that might cost her life.
If The Games don’t take her out first—A fight to the end where only one survives.
I’m kind of obsessed with dark fantasy romance series that take place in prisons though I’m not sure why.
Maybe it’s the no-way-out mentality that’s already stacked against the main characters, but this book gives me similar vibes to J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood: Prison Camp series.
Though, if you are a fan of her work, you’ll find a lot of hidden gems from her other books in this dark series.
Isolation, darkness, and rotting flesh, surround me, suffocates me, But I am the vile ruler who controls it all.
I long for warmth, yet, all that I touch, is cold.
Then, she stumbles into my domain, lost and frightened, alone and confused.
And I terrify her even more.
She calls me the devil, so I show her pleasure, like only the devil can.
I am the heat that stirs her flesh, the longing that trembles her bone.
She begs her body to refuse, to escape my embrace, but I am her master, the puppeteer of passion.
I am the King of Flesh and Bone. Welcome to my court, little one.
Sometimes you just want to sink into a dark fantasy romance book with a really compelling villain and that’s what you’ll find with Enosh.
Who wants to read about redeeming heroes anyway 😊. Ha! This is the first book in The Pale Court duet that is filled with violence, loss, and horror.
Of course, I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
Jude was seven years old when her parents were targeted and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie.
Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed.
But as civil unrest threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Holly Black’s dark fantasy romance book is one of the most popular in the genre. If bully romance is your thing when it comes to dark romance, then you’ll enjoy this one.
Despite the bullying behavior, Jude and her strength totally steal the show in this one.
I’m a Gemini. Impulsive. Curious. Headstrong. A twin. Heir to a throne I know nothing about. And it turns out, I’m Fae.
But of course there’s a catch – all I have to do to claim my birth right is prove that I’m the most powerful supernatural in the whole of Solaria.
And sure, technically that’s true as I’m the daughter of the Savage King. But the bit they didn’t put in the brochure was that every single Fae in this Kingdom would claim my throne if they could.
The school they’ve sent me to is both dangerous and one helluva party. Vampires bite weaker students in the corridors, the Werewolf pack has orgies in the Wailing Wood at every full moon and don’t even get me started on the dark and twisted ways the Sirens use their powers on people’s emotions, or how my sinfully tempting Cardinal Magic teacher hosts detentions that leave people needing therapy.
Classes are totally interesting if you manage to live through them. And that Gemini star sign I mentioned?
It now determines my elemental magic and affects my destiny, so learning astrology is essential if I’m going to beat down my classmates – which is actively encouraged by the way.
My biggest problem is the drool worthy Dragon shifter who has his eyes on my throne. He and his three psycho friends are determined to make my time here hell.
All I’ve got to do is survive. But fate might have other ideas.
Dammit, why couldn’t I have gotten a letter to Hogwarts?
If you enjoy dark fantasy romance books with bullying at school with lots of magic and paranormal elements then you will want to grab this first book in the very popular Zodiac Academy series.
Think dark romance with a mix of Harry Potter and Twilight elements but also non-consensual acts so take note.
Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past.
For the last seven years Callie has been wearing a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she once received. Only ending her life or repayment will fulfill her obligations.
Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want … at a price.
And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects. But for Callie, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now.
When Callie finds the Bargainer in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change.
At first, it’s admitting a truth—a single bead’s worth—acknowledging the attraction between them. But the Bargainer is after more than just rekindling their connection.
Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one, and only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to her breast.
For the Bargainer to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. If she can forgive him.
Laura Thalassa writes some amazing and unique fantasy romance series including The Bargainer series which starts with this book that dazzles with the push and pull between Callie and Desmond – the siren and the bargainer.
Jump right in with this dark fantasy romance, you won’t regret it!
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary.
Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure.
Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing.
And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need.
He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance.
And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred.
Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.
I forewarn you that once you start this book you’ll find yourself binge-reading the entire From Blood and Ash series, it’s that good!
While more morally gray actions pop up as the series continues, you’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to determine what is actually at play in this story and who you should trust.
Armentrout dazzles with amazing writing, and wonderful world-building and character development to make this a must-read dark fantasy romance book!
Check out my review of From Blood and Ash.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre ends a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution.
Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.
At least, he’s not a beast all the time.
As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae.
But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.
Sarah J. Maas’ books are some of the most popular in the fantasy romance genre.
Things really pick up steam and turn a bit dark toward the later part of this book when we see what Feyre is really made of.
She may take a stand against unimaginable evil but it’s her love and courage that held me captive until the very end.
Like all Necromancers, Cassius Corbin grew up knowing one irrevocable truth: we all come to an end. It was a lesson he learned well when his mother was ended by fellow witches.
Six years later, he is back in the town of Winslow, Massachusetts to attend Tennebrose University. But that’s not the only reason.
While he’s home, he intends to track down a magical folio stolen from his family centuries ago.
Once he finds it, he’ll finally be everything the witches in Winslow fear and the Corbin name will be respected once again — as long as Graeme Hewitt, the son of his family’s archenemy, stays out of his way.
As the first weather witch born in a century, the witches in Winslow demand great things from Graeme Hewitt, despite his thoughts on the matter.
He’s supposed to be their future, but all Graeme can think about is the past — until the infuriating Cassius Corbin returns.
In spite of the blood feud that has raged for centuries between their families, Graeme finds himself in the unfortunate situation of needing Cassius’s help.
Six years ago, Graeme also lost his little brother and Graeme wants the truth about what happened that day. So who better to answer his questions than the son of the woman who took his life?
Plus, if you love enemies to lovers stories in MM romance, this is the choice for you!
When King Talos Caville surrendered to the elves, soldier Nikolas Yazdan vowed never to serve the royals again.
He said the same to the prince who tried to buy his loyalty, and learned that the Caville princes don’t take no for an answer.
Whipped for his insolence, Nikolas is also forced into slavery in a palace full of vicious, brutal royals. Prince Vasili is the worst Caville of all.
Malicious and cruel, the prince is more viper than man, and someone inside the palace wants him gone.
Nikolas would end the prince himself if not for one thing: Julian, the prince’s personal guard and Niko’s light in the dark.
If Nikolas doesn’t submit to Prince Vasili and discover who is plotting against him, Julian will suffer.
But there’s more wrong in the palace than just the prince. The king is on his last days, the ferocious elves are creeping closer to the great city of Loreen, and madness stalks the hallways.
There’s poison in the Caville court, and if Nikolas doesn’t discover the real reason Prince Vasili tried to buy him with a bag of coin, the palace, the city, and everything he loves, will be lost forever.
Check it out if you love slow burn, dark fantasy romance books where enemies become lovers. Sensitive topics include slavery and dubious consent among others.
Captured by a king of darkness. Forced to find the light within.
Arwen Valondale never expected to be the brave one, offering her life to save her brother’s.
Now she’s been taken prisoner by the most dangerous kingdom on the continent, and made to use her rare magical abilities to heal the soldiers of the vicious Onyx King.
Arwen knows better than to face the ancient, wicked woods that surround the castle on her own, which means working with a fellow prisoner might be her only path to freedom.
Unfortunately, he’s as infuriating as he is cunning—and seems to take twisted pleasure in playing on Arwen’s deepest fears.
But here in Onyx Kingdom, trust is a luxury she can’t afford. To make it out of enemy territory, she’ll have to navigate back-stabbing royals, dark magic, and dangerous beasts.
But untold power lies inside Arwen, dormant and waiting for a spark. If she can harness it, she just might be able to escape with her life—and hopefully, her heart.
I love fantasy stories full of magic, danger, mystery, and interesting beasts.
Related: Best Slow Burn Romance Books
Owned by a ruthless Assassin Lord, Scarlett Monrhoe and her two sisters have been trained since they were children to torture and take life.
They are the most feared trio on the continent, but they are also wild and unpredictable.
A tragic night has Scarlett finding herself locked away in a noble’s household, trapped and forgotten, until she’s ready to fall into line.
Until the day she is presented with a job. If she completes the assignment, her payment will be something she has coveted for ten years.
Revenge against the Fae Fire Prince who brutally took her mother’s life ten years ago. Is she willing to sacrifice her ideals for retribution?
But when children begin disappearing from her home, all her plans are put on hold as she races to save the most innocent.
With the help of old friends, a jilted lover, and a mysterious newcomer who claims the magic of the Fae is possible in the mortal lands, Scarlett delves into the darkest corners of the world.
Forgotten secrets will come to light, and she will discover the darkness extends far beyond her own kingdom.
Lady of Darkness is a new adult, dark fantasy romance novel that also features both the slow burn, and enemies to lovers tropes.
With mysteries to solve and revenge to seek, you won’t necessarily find answers in book one since it ends on a cliffhanger, but dig in for the entire Lady of Darkness series.
My coven has remained hidden in the shadows for centuries. We’ve avoided the ‘real world’ altogether; hiding from monsters and other creatures we share this planet with.
We found protection in the Colville National Forest, nestled in a town protected by magical barriers.
Our powers are locked by an ancient curse, one meant to protect us from being found. Until now.
The past has a way of repeating itself. A new game is beginning. No one is safe. He’s coming for me. He’s hunting. The monster we’ve run from for centuries has found us.
How far will this dangerous game go? How far will I be able to take it, or will he destroy me and everything I care about?
Will the one thing I can’t live without be the key to destroying and undoing the past? Or will the past destroy me before I can save the people I love from what I’ve done?
Strap in for this action-packed, dark fantasy romance book with an alpha hero you’ll love to hate.
I love fantasy books where a person or people are hiding who they truly are but I have a feeling no one will be able to hide from Lucian.
This one is steamy, violent, and tension-filled romance. What more could you want?
We were meant to be seductive. We were designed to lure humans in.
Fortuna Sworn is the last of her kind.
Her brother disappeared two years ago, leaving her with no family or species to speak of. She hides among humans, spending her days working at a bar and her nights searching for him.
The bleak pattern goes on and on… until she catches the eye of a powerful faerie.
He makes no attempt to hide that he desires Fortuna. And in exchange for her, he offers something irresistible.
So Fortuna reluctantly leaves her safe existence behind to step back into a world of creatures and power.
It soon becomes clear that she may not have bargained with her heart, but her very life.
This dark fantasy romance novel is big on world-building though Fortuna is not someone I’d ever want to come in contact with since she can make your worst fear come to life.
Yeah, no thanks, but the mystery surrounding her brother and her kind will pull you in.
Dark trigger warnings include harassment, toxic relationships, and slavery.
Twenty-two years ago, I was cut from a cold, sodden womb, and cradled in the filth and poverty of Chicago’s concrete arms.
Statistically, I wasn’t supposed to survive these streets past the age of eighteen. Fate had a different plan.
I was bred for one purpose and one purpose only: to unleash destruction on my world.
My thoughts are power. My words are weapons. Evil created me then grace tried to save me. But first… they tried to end me.
They call themselves the Se7en. They are sin and salvation, and everything we’ve feared from the beginning of time. And their leader is the most dangerous of them all.
He doesn’t lose. He doesn’t compromise. And most importantly, he doesn’t distract himself with mortal weakness. Not until me.
End one to save a million. That’s what he told me when he took me as his prisoner. That’s what he’s been trying to tell himself ever since he took me into his arms.
How do you fight the evil inside you? Are people truly weapons of the Devil set to destroy the world when they are “called” and their evil is activated?
That’s the question in this dark fantasy romance book that brings Eden front and center with the Se7en. Read it if you dare…
Three centuries ago, Molly Darling’s ancestors signed a contract in blood—daemon blood—to protect themselves from harm.
On the eve she turns nineteen, Molly leaves for her birthday party against her parent’s wishes, sick of their warnings about her “betrothal to a demon.”
Except that she’s very much betrothed, and he’s very much a demon—one who’s only agreed to the nuptials to use Molly’s ancient daemon powers.
Brash, arrogant, and built like a Greek god, Tensley Knight keeps showing up to save Molly from otherworldly strikes, only to insult her a moment later.
As Molly learns more about the demon world, she realizes two things: that her family’s safety depends on a successful marriage, while any chance of freedom she’ll ever have calls for Tensley’s demise.
Yet sometimes Molly spots a tortured soul beyond those liquid grey eyes, and there’s no denying the way her skin tingles when Tensley touches it.
If you’re in the mood for a dark fantasy romance that is an arranged marriage story, Vein of Love is the book for you.
Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Fallon who was taken far away from home shortly after she was born.
A home that held more than strange traditions and bizarre superstitions. Twenty-four years later, she returned to Weeping Hollow, a town she’d only heard about in stories during restless nights under a marble moon, to take care of her last living relative.
They called the nosy mortician a freakshow-a ghastly thing. They said I couldn’t go near her.
Still, there was this aching pull to Fallon Grimaldi that I couldn’t escape.
A nostalgic pull as if we’d been here before.
Once upon a time, there lived a mysterious boy named Julian with a curse as old as centuries wrapped around his soul.
He was one of the four Hollow Heathens, the very dark creatures who caused the town’s people to live in fear.
And the Blackwell name was stained with darkness. They called him a monster. Cold and hollow. They said I shouldn’t go near him.
Still, there was this aching pull to Julian Blackwell that I couldn’t escape. A nostalgic pull as if we’d been here before.
I couldn’t resist adding this story about two characters from two different covens who hate each other despite them both escaping the witch trials many years ago.
I love dark fantasy romances that bring together great writing, great world-building, and fantastic characters into one!
Related: Best Witch Romance Books
I can manipulate the emotions of anyone who lets me. I will make you hurt, make you cry, make you laugh and sigh.
But my words don’t affect him. Especially not when I plead for him to leave.
He’s always there, watching and waiting. And I can never look away. Not when I want him to come closer.
I didn’t mean to fall in love. But now that I have, I can’t stay away.
I’m mesmerized by her smile, by her eyes, and the way she moves. The way she undresses…
I’ll keep watching and waiting. Until I can make her mine. And once she is, I’ll never let her go.
Not even when she begs me to.
Considering this is the first dark fantasy romance book in the Cat & Mouse duet, you know that it’s going to be a thriller. And that book blurb….divine!
If you love alpha males who are let’s just say it, stalkers, then you’ll love Zade. Carlton herself says that she loves characters who are morally grey so you’ve heard it from the source and been warned.
This one is dark and addicting, and you’ll either love it or hate it. Which side will you fall on?
For two centuries, all of the Darling women have disappeared on their 18th birthday. Sometimes they’re gone for only a day, some a week or a month. But they always return broken.
Now, on the afternoon of my 18th birthday, my mother is running around the house making sure all the windows are barred and the doors locked.
But it’s pointless.
Because when night falls, he comes for me. And this time, the Never King and the Lost Boys aren’t willing to let me go.
Be forewarned that this one ends on a cliffhanger, so be prepared to read the rest of the Vicious Lost Boys series.
Growing up in Eserene’s slums, Petra’s life is marred by unimaginable tragedy. Things finally begin to look up when she meets Calomyr, member of the Royal Guard and keeper of just as much heartache as Petra.
Once again, though, her life is upended when her mother remarries a Lord, forcing Petra to undergo a brutal initiation ceremony in order to ascend to the Royal Court.
As Petra prepares for initiation, news of a fanatical rebel regime reaches the high walls of Eserene. No one seems to panic, so Petra doesn’t either.
Until the city is smoldering before her.
Outside the city walls, Petra must untangle a smoke-shrouded web woven long before she was born.
She finds her entire life has been orchestrated for one purpose, a purpose kept hidden from her until she unveils the secret that thrums through her veins.
As everything she thought she knew unravels, Petra is forced to confront ghosts she didn’t know she had – and the monsters and demons that now join them…
This book is Leasure’s debut and she comes in hot packing a lot of harrowing themes into this dark fantasy romance book.
It’s a new adult romance with a gothic setting where a morally grey heroine is forced to navigate a brutal world.
Sprinkle in suspense, violence, and lots of graphic content and you’ve got a book that will keep you on the edge of each page!
Do you have a favorite dark fantasy romance book that deserves to be on this list? Share it in the comments below!
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