Dena: any chance you will put together a list of “dark” reads on your blog?
Alicia: She has dark reads…how dark do you wanna go? She’s got the BDSM dark, but if you want darker, there’s a few out there that aren’t on here.
Dena: I loved her recommendation for the captive in the dark series, Comfort Food, etc..
Michele: Dena, Dark reads are probably my favorite genre… I have SEVERAL that I could recommend… but they are REALLY DARK! I totlly agree with you about wanting a “Dark reads list”!!!!
Esther: Any suggestions on what to read after Aleatha Romig truth??? I’m having serious withdrawals. Cannot get the story out of my head, and I noticed you suggestions on what to read after other series/books. Help!
Sandra: Maryse can you please recommend of more dark read books…
Sarah: Any suggestions for something similar to the darkness/uneasiness these stories provoke?
Jen: Maryse, I would love to see a top ten dark reads list if you ever decided to make one ;0)
Wow, authors! You’ve created a monster. Not only monsters in your stories, but monsters out of us! I couldn’t be happier, to experience the terror in such great company. And to finally be able to rant and rave publicly about it? Ahhhhhhh such sweet relief!
Yep… ’cause as much as I loved my “first”, I kept it secret. I had one friend that indulged in this guilty pleasure with me (actually I’m gonna blame her for introducing me to this genre). We tried. We tried and tried to analyze why we were so into such a horror of an anti-romance ”romance” story. Well, actually… part of it, for me, is easy. I love psychological thrillers. I love to be scared out of my mind (on the safe side of my book or TV screen). I’m addicted to the adrenaline rushes of temporary fear. I’m also addicted (especially addicted) to the adrenaline rush of falling in love.
So what happens when you combine the two? Freaky, scary, stockholm syndrome butterfly inducing, thrilling taboo!!! That’s what!
Yep. I’m all pink… with a dark side.
I mean… sure. We’ve got our “darker” reads. BDSM clubs, D/s relationships that might not be the social “norm”, but ever since “Fifty Shades” the reading genre has been accepted widely as a guilty pleasure. I’m not talking about that here, though. Oh I love ‘em too. All sorts of social disapproval (Dr. Drew anyone?). But there’s a ton of relatable dysfunction, damage, and healing that can be found in these, despite the darker nature.
But no. I’m talking… darker. Unacceptably darker. Delightfully darker.
Jennifer: By the way, read a book called “Comfort Food” by Kitty Thomas, this book truly encompassed everything Dr. Drew was complaining about with Fifty Shades, the force, Stockholm Syndrome, etc. This was the real deal and for me this was a dark and compelling read. I really didn’t want to finish it but like a car wreck on the side of the road, couldn’t look away.Maryse’s Book Blog: I read that one!! ACK! I couldn’t even review it because it was so emotionally disturbing. But the author is so good, that I bet you felt her ache, didn’t you? You know when… That was amazing how the author made me FEEL like the heroine. In all that crazy, logically my head was in one place… and yet. OMG I felt like crying with her. *shakes head*
Oh yah!!! The good stuff. The hard stuff. (P.S. THAT was my “first” dark read and I did eventually review it, when I realized there were a bunch of “us” out there and that pitchforks were not necessarily coming my way ). I mean, after all, I don’t condone or ever want that kind of thing in my real life. I harbor no wicked fantasy, because let’s face it. In reality, the monsters are exactly that, through and through. Monsters in every way. But to read about it happening to a fictional character and experience it through her eyes. Through her mind? Well, heck! Guilty as charged! I can’t help loving these books.
The kind of stuff that in real life, would be sheer torture and terror, but in books, we can allow ourselves to look beyond the obvious “crazy” and explore the human need to bond. To find good in bad. To find light in dark. To find relief and comfort and moments of reprieve amongst the dread. To explore human coping mechanisms in monstrous circumstances.
And do we? Do we find love and comfort amongst the monsters, even in fictional art? Sometimes, yes! But sometimes it’s all in the eye of the beholder. It’s all in the mind of the reader. It’s in the skill of the author and the journey in which she leads us, and then… leaves us.
With a genre such as this, each one experiences it differently, but one thing for sure, I have yet to find a reader say such a read did not have them on the edge of their seat. They may never read another one like it, and they may have had to put it down at times, but likely not out of boredom.
Put it down… to escape terrifying fiction and come back to the real world? Yes. To take a break from the psychological (and maybe physical) terror? Yes. To halt the adrenaline surge? Yes. To step back from the emotional connection we might be experiencing (to our dismay) with the bad guy? Yes. But put it down ’cause we’re bored? Nahhhh… I doubt it.
Guilty DARK pleasures of the kidnap-y kind. Of the bad-guy criminal kind (never mistake “bad guy” with “bad boy” in these. They are diametrically opposed). The bad guys? Pretty much, unredeemable. And yet, there’s that little *something*… Plus, it helps that these bad guys are always so good looking. OH NO I DID NOT just say that!!! *sigh* I’m appalled at myself. But see? It’s fiction. And fun!
So you ready to get your feet wet? Your adrenaline spiked, your heart burned and your mind… bewildered? Basically are you ready for shock, anger, abhorrence and possible… infatuation, despite what your mind is telling you?
Are you a “Dark-Read” lover… or are you “Dark-Read curious?” Then these might be for you!
Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas
My first and will always be my favorite. Just in the way that this story shocked me, put me in my place and did not let me get up for one second of the ride. And I didn’t even want to. I hunkered down in a ball on my couch and didn’t move from the first page to the last. A detective (familiar with kidnapping cases and Stockholm Syndrome) is kidnapped. Her handsome captor won’t tell her anything, won’t even speak to her, but breaks her down nonetheless (even as she recognizes all of the signs, and attempts to combat them). SO SO good! I gasped, I shivered, I felt sick and I cried. But you’d be surprised at what I was crying over. Or… maybe some of you “dark read veterans” will know exactly what made me sad. Stockholm Syndrome gets me every time. In fact, I could swear now when I pick up a new dark read that I’m “jonesing” for it to kick in. Well, this one initiated me, trained me and whipped me into submission and I want more! (check out my BOOK REVIEW)
Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet: Book 1) by CJ Roberts
I remember exactly where I was when I decided to prop this one open for a look. In the parking lot of a wildlife park, where my husband was wanting to take some “nature” photos. Guess where I stayed? Yep, I didn’t even get out of the car ’cause this one had me hooked from the get-go. Husband went and played with his hobby, and I got to indulge in mine. If the book is good… it doesn’t matter where I am, when I read. ‘Cause I’m IN the book. And this one wasn’t just good. It was AMAZING!! Also check out the next two books in the series which were just as amazing: Seduced in the Dark (The Dark Duet: Book 2) and Epilogue (The Dark Duet: Book 3). One of my all time favorite series ever! (check out my BOOK REVIEW of #1, BOOK REVIEW of #2, BOOK REVIEW of #3)
Wanderlust by Skye Warren
She leaves the overprotective clutches of her mother (warning her against all of the evil in the world away from home) and ends up in the clutches of a disturbed kidnapper. Guess mama was right. Disturbing as all get-out (well, actually… all of these are) but this one had some detail in places that had me worried about my own sanity… ’cause falling for this bad guy? GAH! No. Way. But… wait for it. ‘Cause I eventually succumbed. And let me tell you, what I learned about him, and how I felt as I was “her” blew me away. Loved it. If one can “love” such a thing. (check out my BOOK REVIEW)
Escape From Paradise by Gwendolyn Field
Everything I wanted in a dark read but with a premise that allowed me to be comfortable in my love for it. I was okay with letting it be known, and once you read it, you’ll understand what I mean. These slave-trading monsters kidnap and force others into a life of sexual slavery but within the lap of luxury. Even from her eyes, she recognizes a sort of “good fortune” considering how much worse off she could have fared had she been in another “masters” hands. But what makes my Stockholm syndrome acceptable (even in public) is the budding romance angle. The monster she is falling for… might not be so bad. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a thrilling psychological mess, but… well. You’ll see. (check out my BOOK REVIEW).
Consequences by Aleatha Romig
Be careful what kind of deal you make with that handsome stranger in a bar… ’cause he just might force you to live up to your end of the bargain. That’s what happened to Claire when Tony walked into her life, charmed her, and then proceeded to kidnap her. Oh WHAT A MONSTER!!!!!!! Beautiful on the outside but so demented… ugly… on the inside (sorry Tony lovers. ). Some would say ugly… “at first”. I will say this was one of the hardest anti-heroes to fall for. I *felt* it, yes, but once removed, I cringed for even going there. BUT!!!! I was scared EVERY step of the way, and any tiny loophole that Claire would find and try and use had me shaking in my boots. I knew… I just knew. If you like Stockholm syndrome books, read this. ‘Cause book #2 is already out (so good!!) and #3 is coming soon. I’m still not team Tony, but… GAH! Just sayin’ (check out my BOOK REVIEW of #1 and BOOK REVIEW of #2).
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
One of my favorites of them all and it’s YA!!! But not YA in subject matter and thought processes… just in it’s “tame” factor. Oh it has a certain love angle, don’t get me wrong, but who needs steam, when you’re on the edge of your seat the entire time? Another handsome young man, infatuated by a beautiful young woman… in an airport. And as these two strangers chat in the airport restaurant, he slips something into her drink, and she wakes up, in the outback of Australia!!! Living with him in his own “little world” all conveniences of the real world, gone. She must now rely on him to survive and what a journey it is. I loved “learning”, coping, and seeing things through her eyes. And I loved the developing… relationship. What it had to become after so much time in captivity, in complete isolation. Just the two of them. And then… okay I’ll stop here. Just a surprise that I didn’t see coming. WHOA!!! SO good. (check out my BOOK REVIEW).
Comfort Object (Comfort series) by Annabel Joseph
Not so much a kidnap story, but more like a “Fifty Shades feel” on steroids. There was a contract (although I’d say more like coercion – not kidnap but close). This “master” is almost as much of a jerk as the rest of the bad masters in these books, and I spent much of the story horrified by him, and therein lies it’s “dark” nature. He takes “master” to a whole new level and his abhorrent actions and punishments had me spewing vile insults at my iPad. His intention to not get attached had him reacting and saying the most vicious things, and yet… like in all of these dark reads… she (and we) find ourselves falling for him. *sigh* When will I ever learn? Oh that’s right. It’s fiction. So I’m going with it. (Check out my BOOK REVIEW).
Tender Mercies by Kitty Thomas
Definitely one that was “up there” for me in thrill factor, because it explored a MUCH darker side of the D/s relationship. All safe words, and lifestyle clubs are out of the picture when a bored submissive looks for something much more “real” than what she’s been living. Leaving the safety of the United States and handing over all of her rights to her master (legally as per this island) she realizes that her “realistic” fantasies are far from the horrible nightmare she has been forced to submit to. GAH!!!! This one killed me. A lot. But… (yep. There’s always a but). ‘Cause you see, not all masters are cruel. (check out my BOOK REVIEW).
Mafia Captive by Kitty Thomas
Are you getting an idea of who my favorite dark read author is? This author keeps writing these exciting nightmare/unconventional love stories, and while none of them jolted me (and excited me) as much as my “first” (which was also her book – Comfort Food), each one has that special something. This, so far to me was by far her safest “dark” book. Pretty girl witness to a mob hit and the sadistic mobster that is just about to kill her realizes… she’s his twin brother’s “type”. He “gifts” her to him. And while her new master is the sweet/safest one of the two, he has his own sadistic side and needs that he’s been repressing. And this tempting beauty is calling to his dark side. She’s a natural submissive but terrified of pain and not at all his perfect Sado/Maso fit. And his dark side is craving it badly (while his good side is punishing him for even going there). Fun! Just not as dark or twisted as her others. But that’s okay, ’cause overall, I really enjoyed the lighter side of this mob family. (check out my BOOK REVIEW).
Hear Me (Dark Erotica) by Skye Warren
Another frequent “dark read” writer that I am paying attention to. This book had a few interesting twists that I didn’t see coming and while a tad confusing at times, I got the “message” loud and clear. A submissive escapes from a horrific hostage situation and is rescued by a man in the woods. She wants him to be her master. He wants nothing to do with that. She doesn’t speak and she can’t remember anything, but as he helps her heal… things are revealed. Good, short dark read, with a few surprises that kept me satisfied. (check out my BOOK REVIEW).
Judgment by Denise Hall
<—- Eeeeeep!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!!!! Oh boy this one tortured me from start to finish. It took me a long while before I could review it ’cause I just couldn’t tell what I thought of it. I hated it. I loved it. No matter what, though, I was IN. Except I had to put it down to take breaks ’cause this “training center” was too much for me. Plus, the majority of slaves being trained are there against their will. Two stories going on with this one, the “breaking down of”… and “the broken” just wanting to go back home. No, not their original home. Go back to their master (Stockholm Syndrome!). GAH!!! It is DARK! I can only do 1 or 2 like this one a year as this pushes even my darker limits. (check out MY REVIEW).
Dark reads that I want to read next:
The Heart Has Reasons (A romantic suspense thriller) by Martine Marchand
The synopsis of this one HAS me, and when I told my husband about it, he told me to get on it. ‘Cause he knows I’ll tell him the story as I go, and this one sounds so good! Guy hired to kidnap (and return) the wife who ran away from her husband. Except… somewhere along the lines, I hear the kidnapper finds out she escaped her serial killer. NOT her husband. Eeeeeeep!!!
Obsession (The Talisman series) by Sofia Grey
Oh this one is next!!! So, she’s married to a mean controlling husband who hires a PI to see if she’s stepping out on him, but this PI can read minds and realizes the truth about her private life. And he falls for her, but her husband won’t let her go. YIKES!!! (P.S. that’s what I deduced from the synopsis – I can’t wait to see where this goes).
The Breakaway by Michelle Davison Argyle
She’s kidnapped but she’s not so sure she wants to escape ’cause all she can go back to is abuse. Ohhhhh!!! Yes please! (plus, book #2 has already been released!)
Guilty Pleasures by Kitty Thomas
My friend Michele liked this one, and the premise definitely has my attention. She has an affair with her massage therapist and the “… illicit affair grows increasingly blurred. Anton will accept nothing short of her complete surrender as he molds and shapes her to be sold to the highest bidder.” Oh oh.
Her Dear and Loving Husband (The Loving Husband Trilogy) by Meredith Allard
I hear I need to read this trilogy and I say… YES I DO!!! Thank you for that recommendation, Piper!
The Tied Man by Tabitha McGowan
“… if the price is right, depravity has no limits”. Nice!! (thanks Elmarie and Lezanda!)
Screaming in the Silence by Lydia Kelly
Hitchhiking can only lead to no good. Who still hitchhikes anymore? Argh! But she and her friend does, and they find a whole LOAD of trouble in the process. (this one has been recommended a TON from our fellow readers so I have to get on it!)
Break Her by B.G. Harlen
I heard this one is alllllll dark, always dark. I don’t even think there’s even a touch of romance or unconventional love story in it, but those that have read it have been affected.
The Erotic Dark (A BDSM Erotica Novel) by Nina Lane
I love this author’s other contemporary romance series so this definitely has my interest! Thanks for the recommendation, Christina. She gives herself over to three Doms in a Louisiana plantation. “The plantation becomes both Lydia’s haven and her prison as she surrenders to the desires…”
And a few choices from our fellow dark-read lover, Michele (actually, TWO Micheles had some great recommendations, so here they are):
Betrayed by Wodke Hawkinson
Oh this looks good! She is kidnapped and escapes her captors and (from what I gather) is found (saved?) by a man who’s been a recluse for years…
Zeke by Wodke Hawkins
“Zeke begins to exert subtle control and entices her to leave town with him. As they travel, his behavior grows more deviant and increasingly volatile.” Eeeeeep!!
Big Sky by Kitty Thomas
Well we all know how much I’m a huge fan of hers and here’s one that I haven’t read yet. She leaves big city life and moves to a ranch and I suppose this isn’t your “typical” ranch. I glanced at a few reviews and I saw “dark & creepy” so… YAY!
Obsession-Girl Abducted by Claire Thompson (and Michele says anything from Claire Thompson)
“What develops is an intense, if conflicted, BDSM love story. It’s a dangerous journey of self-discovery on the parts of both Master and slave.” and a different Michele (Michele H) said: “Obsession: Girl Abducted also by Claire Thompson. This one was a tough read, really messed with my head. Dark and extremely disturbing. I couldn’t figure out if I hated or liked the male MC. He was scary and disturbed, but yet…..but yet….hmm….not for the faint of heart.”
Fortune by Annabel Joseph
Much more “romantic” than some of her other books and I LOVE the male MC in this one! Did not like the male MC in some of her other books, but Ryan is hot and likeable. : ) Also, this is supposed to be a sequel to Deep in the Woods, but you can read this as a standalone.
Enslaved by Claire Thompson
Michele H said: “Dark and scary, but ends up being romantic and sexy too. Hard to explain, but….it works, lol!”
Underestimated by Jettie Woodruff
Ela recommends it: “Ready for another dark read? Underestimated by Jettie Woodruff!” —> from the synopsis: “She learns what real hell is when she meets the husband that she doesn’t want to marry, but nobody gives her a choice. Can she escape? She can, and does only to wake up and find herself back in the hands of the man she ran from.” Oooooh!!!