Columns > Published on February 8th, 2021

Bad Romance: 10 Books To Warm Your Cold, Black Heart

Header image by cottonbro studio

To quote Lady Gaga, the Patron Saint of Pop Music: "I want your love and I want your revenge, you and me could write a bad romance."

It's time to let go of all your traditional notions of romance books and start looking for love in all the wrong places. The dark side of literature has whatever it is you need. Perhaps you're in the mood for hot, sexual tension between two characters? How about a game of cat and mouse? A man desperately in love with a woman who's either playing hard to get or is already taken? What about a love between two people that is so instantaneous and so strong, a former lover feels threatened by it from beyond the grave?

You don't need to run to the romance section to look for sultry, pastel colored book covers with Fabio squeezing a busty female. Horror can satisfy your craving for love or lust and give you nightmares, which is really all anyone needs these days. A healthy distraction from our real-world hellscape. Here are my recommendations to quench your thirst.

1. "Go Down Hard" by Ali Seay

What happens when two serial killers become neighbors?

STABBY, SLASHY, KILL, KILL, KILL! Sexy. Sultry. HOT! Tense. Suspenseful. Need I say more?

Get Go Down Hard at Bookshop or Amazon


2. "You" by Caroline Kepnes

Caution: This book is addictive as fuck. If you plan to start, make sure you can disappear from your life until it's finished. This book is hilarious, sexy, scary, and unpredictable. Prepare to feel dirty for loving the bad guy.

Get You at Bookshop or Amazon


3. "An Invitation To Darkness" by Hailey Piper

A sea captain meets a mysterious heiress and it's love at first sight. But Jamie Thames soon realizes her new lover has a past that won't let go. This is an insta-love to put all others to shame. As part of the Short, Sharp, Shocks! collection from Demain Publishing, you could finish this on a lunch break. 

Get An Invitation to Darkness at Amazon


4. "Love For Slaughter" by Sara Tantlinger

A provocative, alluring collection of intimate poems about love, lust, and relationships. All the cutting and killing and bloodletting are used to express the danger and vulnerability we experience in our love. Read just a few poems a day or devour the whole collection—the choice is yours depending on what you're in the mood for

Get Love For Slaughter at Amazon


5. "Dracula" by Bram Stoker

Does anyone else have a big, fat crush on Count Dracula? I'll be an ancient vampire's eternal flame.

Still one of the hottest love stories in history. There is no other quote in any other book more sexy or full of wanting than:

"I have crossed oceans of time to find you.” 

Get Dracula at Bookshop or Amazon


6. "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca falls helplessly in love with a widower named Maxim. They quickly marry and she takes up residence in his isolated estate, Manderley. Delicious Gothic romance and gaslighting ensues. 

Get Rebecca at Bookshop or Amazon


7. "Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Noemí must check in on her cousin who lives in an estate called High Place, located in rural Mexico. During her stay, she meets her cousin's new family. Some of them she is immediately fond of, others not so much. She discovers that the family is hiding some secrets, but is unprepared for how aggressively they will protect them. Mysterious, sultry, and VERY gothic

Get Mexican Gothic at Bookshop or Amazon


8. "When Darkness Loves Us" by Elizabeth Engstrom

Two novellas with two female protagonists who just want to be loved but find themselves at the center of horrific tragedy. These stories are compelling, intricately plotted, and imaginative. Engstrom is a skilled storyteller!

Get When Darkness Loves Us at Bookshop or Amazon


9. "The Grip of It" by Jac Jemc

A newly married couple find the perfect fixer-upper to start working on, that American dream of home ownership. The relationship between Julie and James is put to the test when their new home presents some interesting challenges. A slow-burn, psychological horror that has you wondering what is really behind all the creepy stuff. The marriage or the house?

Get The Grip of It at Bookshop or Amazon


10. "The Siren and the Specter" by Jonathan Janz

Daniel Caine is one of my personal literary crushes. He's a skeptic of the supernatural and plagued with guilt. He finds himself in a haunted house that is truly putting his skepticism to the test, but at the same time a former lover is haunting his every, waking thought. Caine is a man with a tortured soul and he just needs someone to hold him...I will. I volunteer! 

Get The Siren and the Specter at Bookshop or Amazon

This list has a little something for everyone, but if you find that you've read everything here or you're looking for something darker or sexier or more romantic—I have more recommendations for you! This is really just the tip of the iceberg. Hit me up on social media.

About the author

Sadie Hartmann, “Mother Horror” reviews horror fiction for Cemetery Dance Online and Scream Magazine. She is a co-owner of a curated, horror fiction book subscription company called Night Worms. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, kids and Frenchie.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: