Villains are hot.
End of story. Full stop. The end.
So here are some of my favorite recs where the heroine/hero gets the villain. This is a list of primarily dark romances, many of which have incredibly troubling themes. Please make sure to check triggers of individual books before selecting one to read. Feel free to DM me for further details on the books, I'm happy to answer specific questions.
The Kidnapping of Roan Sinclair by Ashlyn Drewek
My friend Carmen recommended this book to me and it was pretty intense. I'm not even sure I can list out all the trigger warnings without making this blog post incredibly long. We have a sexually repressed grumpy Russian thief named Sasha (known for torturing and murdering people) who kidnaps a sunshine-y man named Roan to hold for ransom. But things get out of hand and Sasha soon finds himself fighting feelings for the mouthy, complicated man...feelings that could get him killed. Buy It Here.
Lap of Luxury by Brianna Hale
This is a second book in a series, but could probably be read standalone. Damir wants his brother and his brother's woman dead. And he's willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, including kidnapping his brother's secretary Bethany. Bethany wants nothing to do with the terrifying and sociopathic Damir, but after a bloody knife fight in his office leads to her first-ever orgasm with a man she finds herself...confused, to say the least. Soon Damir will be forced to choose between the woman he's grown to care for and the revenge he's desperate to carry out. Buy It Here.
Unhinged by Onley James
Some might argue that by only killing bad guys these heroes are actually, well, exactly that...heroes. But I'm including them on here because without the guidance and strict rules of their father I'm pretty sure these guys would have been out slaughtering the innocents. As it is, they find immense pleasure in torturing, maiming, and murdering evil doers in the most gruesome of ways. But they love their partners...they think. I mean, after all, who really knows what love is? Lots of yummy kinks and filthy, filthy sex. The best part was the little to no relationship drama which is so rare to find in dark romances. Buy It Here.
Soul Eater by Lily Mayne
Okay, so this is another one of those... is he really a bad guy books, but given that the thousands of years old Soul Eater couldn't care less about human life and slaughters them frequently without a care in the world I'm gonna put him on the list. The terrifying Soul Eater doesn't know why but he wants the bubbly and talkative human, Danny, for himself and he's going to do whatever it takes to keep him. Except show him his face...because he's also kinda insecure about his looks. As Danny treks along with Soul Eater through the wasteland that used to be the United States he learns that maybe his first impression of the serial killing monster wasn't entirely accurate and maybe he's actually in love with the guy. Oops. Buy It Here.
Twist Me series by Anna Zaires
These are fucked up books. Like... seriously pushed my limits. Cartel leader Julian wants the newly eighteen year old Nora. So he takes her. All the way to his private island where he locks her up and refuses to let her leave. No matter how much she cries and fights and wants him dead. Nora had plans for her life... plans that didn't involve being kidnapped and held captive by a terrifying, violent, and dangerous man. But now she's here and he's getting in her head and making her question everything, including her own feelings. Stockholm syndrome vibes. Buy It Here.
Run Posy Run by Cate C Wells
Posy has spent her life going from one asshole boyfriend to the next. And when Dario, her latest mob boyfriend who treats her like shit, kicks her out after a misunderstanding she finds herself on the run...for her life. Then Dario changes his mind. He wants her back and he's going to do whatever it takes to make Posy love him again. But Posy has seen the man behind the veil and she wants nothing to with him. Too bad Dario doesn't understand the word no. Side note: Dario is both a psychopath and also likely on the Autism spectrum though it is never said outright. Buy It Here.
Pestilence by Laura Thalassa
This is a series following the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse as they come to end all humanity. I've only read the first of this series Pestilence and it was the first time I ever actually struggled with a hero before. Like, damn... I know it was his job but dude didn't give one fuck about the human race. Even when the heroine was trying to get him to see her POV it ended with her more seeing his point of view. It was good writing though and if you like an irredeemable hero and don't have a weak stomach because shit gets kinda gross then this series could be for you. I heard the last book was hella good.
Ivan by Sophie Lark
Alright, this book is a little different from the rest in that they're both kind of villains but the heroine is a hitwoman so... I think she ranks a little higher than a mob boss. But either way, she breaks in to kill him and becomes his prisoner. Dun dun dun. Spanking is involved. Buy It Here.
Beast by Measha Stone
Who doesn't love a good old-fashioned Beauty and the Beast re-telling? Ellie trades herself to a dangerous man in exchange for her father's safety, but it's not too long before she starts regretting what she's done. Because Ashland isn't a nice guy and he's going to bend Ellie to his will if it's the last thing he does. Dub-con/Non-con situations inside, so tread carefully, and be ready for darkness. Buy It Here.
Play Dirty by Onley James and Neve Wilder
Okay, this is another villain-villain one, lol. It's a win-win situation. Two hitmen with severe trust issues fall in love with each other while playing pranks on each other. Couples who murder together...stay together? This can sort of be read as a standalone (I think there's enough context to make it work), but honestly the entire series is so great. First book is a hacker and a hitman and the third book is a nerdy psychopath psychologist who works with serial killers and then decides he wants to start killing them...and the beach-bum hitman who's obsessed with him helps guide him through becoming a hitman. Anyways, it's all glorious. GLORIOUS. Buy It Here.
Bonus Content: "Bad" Guys
And because I can't help it, here are some guys who are either A. good guys who do some bad things, B. good guys misunderstood as bad guys, or C. bad guys willing to do good things for their woman.
Carnal Cryptids by Vera Valentine
A series where your worst nightmares are real and they feed on your fear. This books brings the Jersey Devil, Champ the sea monster, and Mothman together in an MMM relationship. Des is a Believer, someone whose belief in these "mythical" cryptids helps keep them alive and kicking. When our trio meet Des they fall head over heels for her but...their idea of wooing her involves chaining her up and intentionally scaring her. So, not the greatest of starts, guys. But they redeem themselves and the MMMF action is so damn hot and there's weird dicks and shit which is always a plus. Buy It Here.
Enthralling the Orc by Tracy Lauren
This was an Orc Lite book (which is what I call books where the hero is a half-orc situation and more human than orc). The world has been trained to despise orcs who are murdering rapists for the most part, and our poor hero is lumped in with them despite the fact that he's actually a pretty nice guy. It takes our heroine a bit to realize this, but as they travel the woods together getting into scrapes and danger on their journey, Ellyn starts to realize that first impressions aren't always accurate.
Neon Gods by Katee Robert
This book involves Hades and Persephone but isn't really a re-telling. It's more a...reimagining? The Gods aren't actually Gods, they're people who work for (see: run) the government and Olympus is just a big city. But Persephone is promised to Zeus by her mother and Zeus' last three wives have wound up dead. Uh oh. So she runs to Hades who runs the Lower City for protection and winds up discovering that the man, the myth, the legend is actually a nice guy and a really good ruler of his people. And he cares for her soooo good. Some kink, some dark themes, some real potential with this series.
Given to the Ghoul by Desiree M. Niccoli
Mina is sacrificed to the ghouls that live in the desert after she refuses to have sex with the town mayor. She's resigned to death, either by lack of water or by ghoul, but it turns out the ghoul is pretty chill and hot and horny. He's not going to kill Mina unless he accidentally kills her by orgasm. And when he brings Mina back to meet his people she discovers that pershaps the ghouls are misunderstood after all. If you want a man who will literally eat your enemies for you then this short little novella is for you. Buy It Here.
Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews
And the ultimate romance hero. The guy who murders without remorse but will maybe think twice before killing someone if his woman doesn't want him to. That'd the kind of energy I'm here for. Mad Rogan is literally a psychopathic hot mess of a hot billionaire. And Nevada isn't scared of him (well, at least she isn't after he tortures her and drops her back off at her house because then she's just straight pissed at him). But they have to work together and Rogan is ready to do what it takes to make her his. Except like... communicate with her. And stop teasing her. And actually make a move. Slow burns, you slay me. But he's delicious and this book should be held up as an example of what perfection looks like. That's all. Buy It Here.