My Top Ten Dark Reads

by Maryse on July 6, 2013 · 102 comments

in Book Recommendations, My Favorites

I’ve been asked for a list like this… oh… for about a year now. Ever since I came out with my little “dark read” obsession. What a relief it was to find out I wasn’t alone in my weird thrill.

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)

*shakes head*

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. eek 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!!!

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{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

stacy B July 6, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Two that weren’t mentioned that left me reeling and unsure of how I felt afterwards…
1) Flawed by Kate Avelynn: This book doesn’t necessarily have a HEA but it’s one that makes you pause and wonder what in the heck just happened. Every once in a while I like to deviate from my lovey dovey reads and read something that makes me question my sanity.

2) Screaming in the Silence by Lydia Kelly: Has a very similar feel to CJ Roberts books. You can’t help but fall in love with the twisted man who is supposed to be the bad guy. This book was the very first book I read this yr and I loved every second of it.

Maryse July 6, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Oh yes I read Flawed!! The severely troubled brother freaked me out. True!

I think I have Screaming in Silence so I’ll have to bring it back to the top. :)

Stephanie Krayeski July 6, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Thanks for the great list! Now I have a bunch of Dark reads to add to my TBR list! Great job, Maryse! :-)

stacy B July 6, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Ha! Yes, the brother was severely disturbed. I read that book well into the early morning hours and I remember sitting there after I finished it, unable to go to sleep for a while because it threw me so much. I hear of this book and I say “hello crazytown!” lol

Natasha July 6, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Oooh! Just saw the Tied Man listed as one of you next. This book is one of my favorite books!!! Loved it! I reviewed it on Goodreads it was sooo good since I’m not one for reviews. Excellent writer and excellent read.

Lisa July 6, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Her Dear and Loving Husband is FREE in the UK at the moment!!!! Love love love this list, I’ve just bought the 3 I didnt already have. EEeeek!!!! So excited :)

Lise July 6, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Have to agree with Natasha. I loved the Tied Man, it was crazy good and crazy some more! Can’t wait for you to read it, Maryse.

Lisa M July 6, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Her Dear and Loving Husband is also free in Canada. Sounds good and even better that’s its free considering all the books I have bought recently!!!

Suzanne July 6, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Love your lists Maryse!
Thanks :)

Melody July 6, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Thanks for the list! Our book club right now is reading Consequences and Truth. There is so much to these books….very dark with wonderful twists that just don’t stop! We will definitely include the dark reads we have not read yet!

Allyson Lindt July 6, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Comfort Food – that book definitely tweaked my brain and made me question everything after I read it. Amazing book.

Another one I don’t see up there, but was dark and incredible and compelling and a very guilty pleasure, is Obsession by Sofia Grey. Dark, but sooo good.

Marjie Thomas July 6, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Thanks Maryse for this posting. These are my favorite books! Screaming in Silence is one of my favorites too, as someone else posted. It’s my secret reading addiction. Have to go buy Escape from Paradise. Can’t wait.

Shirley July 6, 2013 at 10:03 PM

The Heart Has Reasons by Martine Marchand was great! It has to be one of my top reads of 2013 so far. Thanks for the other great titles!

Elaina July 6, 2013 at 10:56 PM

Thanks Marysea for the blog. I’ve just about read all the “dark” reads, some darker than others. But I agree; Screaming in Silence, The Tied Man, Escape from Paradise, were all really good reads. Too bad there isn’t as long a list of the “dark” as there are of the “normal” romance books out there. Happy Reading!!!!

Sotia Lazu July 7, 2013 at 2:43 AM

The only one on your list I’ve read is Mafia Captive, and really enjoyed it. I’ll make sure to look for the rest, thank you for this list!

Also, seconding Allyson’s suggestion; I loved Obsession!

Jenn July 7, 2013 at 3:16 AM

That’s a great list and I now have some new ones to add to my TBR list! The Dark Duet series was my first dark and even now I shiver when I think of those books. Caleb definitely did a number on my brain!

Juanita July 7, 2013 at 4:01 AM

Wow and wow and thank you is all I can say. I love the list you put together for us. I’ve only read a few but I can’t seem to stay away from a dark read every once in a while. My top favorite one right now will have to be The Tied Man, boy that book did a number on me. Then Consequences/Truth followed by the Dark Duet. Now without shame I get to add to those listed. I’m scared & excited at the same time. Lol!! Anyway a while ago I read a review somewhere about a dark read but I don’t remember the damn name of the book. Here is a brief description of it, maybe someone can help. It’s been driving me crazy i really want to get my hands on that book. Here it goes: a young women escapes the abuse she endured living with her mother who isolated and kept her prisoner in their home. The day she escapes she gets picked up on the road while hitch hiking. She then becomes again a prisoner in the hands of the guy who picked her up. Anyone know what the name of that book is?

Maryse July 7, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Juanita yes! That one is on my list above. It’s called Wanderlust. Sooooo good! :)

Maryse July 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Sotia and Allyson, I downloaded Obsession. That one will be very very soon for me.

Maryse July 7, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Okay I just added a few more recommendations that have come from here and Facebook. Plus I forgot to include “Crows Row” in my list. For that matter, I should probably include Sempre, but while I love them dearly, I hesitate ’cause I just didn’t find them dark enough for this list…

Juanita July 7, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Thank you so much!!!

nikki e July 7, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Right? There is dark and then there is daaaaaark. Loved your recommendations and loved the way you wrote this list. Um, Tender Mercies……..What are you waiting for!? Get on that girl! And now I have a few more to add to my tbr. Sometimes nothing can satisfy me like a good dark read. I hope this list you wrote just keeps growing!

nikki e July 7, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Sorry, I meant guilty pleasures. Get on THAT! he’ll, they are all good. I Love kitty.

Erika July 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM

There was a book called “Monster” free on Amazon a few months back. Had a guy on cover sprayed gold. Not sure if anyone read it. Wondering if it was any good. Similar to Dark Duet series in synopsis I think. Thanks for the great list! My Amazon wishlist is overflowing and I need these dark reads in the middle of super lovey dovey sweet romance books:p Gotta balance it out! Dark Duet Series is still my favorite but now I have more to consider. Thanks again!

Stacy (StacyHgg) July 7, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Great Post!!! I Love dark reads!!! The Tied Man was the absolute darkest I have come across yet, but I did love it to death (although I thought I might vomit a few times). I just picked up Escaped from Paradise yesterday so I super excited to read it!!!

julie o July 7, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Just finished “Escape from Paradise” and was absolutely enthralled!
I didn’t realize I liked books like that. So your list coming out today was
just perfect. Somebody tell me which book I should try first.

Also finished “Mid Life Love” and really enjoyed it, especially the Home Depot scene. that is so me.

Stacy (StacyHgg) July 7, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Sorry for the double post but I LOVED Blind Obsession by Ella Frank as a dark read too!!! I mean 5+++ stars LOVED!!! Do you consider that dark enough for the list? It was very dark, but just in a different way than some of the others..

Angie H July 7, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Oh, Comfort Food is excellent. Extremely tightly woven story of two people’s limitations and their exquisitely dark release. Did not want to like this book as much as I did, but I’m over it. Fortune was very satisfying on a few levels and the male lead is one of those “levels” ;) I cannot do the truly dark stories, just can’t. The good news, Maryse has a whole list of other great erotic romances to take me into 2014 :)

Siana July 7, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Great list! You really must read The Tied Man. It’s so beautifully written and heartbreakingly dark, I’m fairly certain you’ll love it. Here’s some more dark reads I don’t see mentioned here:

1. Underestimated by Jettie Woodruff
This is a new one I’m currently reading – I’m not far in so don’t know if I’m loving it yet, but it has been compared to Truth and Consequences, with Drew being likened to “Tony on steroids”. Kinda daunting!

2.Abduction by Varian Krylov
Krylov’s books have some pretty dark themes. Abduction is about Devan, who’s abducted and taken into a remote cabin in the woods. She manages to escape her kidnapper, only to find herself at another cabin inhabited by a cruel stranger (he’s a damaged rock star). Things get pretty hairy when the kidnapper catches up with them and holds them hostage playing mind games with them.

3. Club Mephisto by Annabel Joseph
A very dark BDSM series depicting total power exchange that I loved. It ended up being quite an emotional read. I adored Mephisto, the dreadlocked nightclub owner. It’s about a damaged girl who lives in a Master/Slave relationship with Mephisto’s best friend, who starts to worry about his health and the future of his slave should something happen to him.

Shannon July 8, 2013 at 9:30 AM

The Heart Has Reasons is really good. I wouldn’t really call it dark. The situation is pretty messed up at first, but it certainly won’t make you feel like you lost your mind and are in serious need of a fluffy romance to recover. OMG I felt SO twisted after reading Comfort Food! I was completely all for the dude in the end- that is so messed up! Great author for reals- but creepy scary.

Jen C. July 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Thanks for the post. I have some of them already on my TBR. Just finished a dark read titled Lunch: A Novel, by Karen Moline. It was dark, in an obsession sort of way. The writing was also different – written from the point of view of an ‘observer’ of sorts. I was looking for something different and found it. I hope to try some from this post soon. Too many books and not enough time…

Jenniffer July 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Thank you for this list! LOVE dark and twisted.

Jean July 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Okay.Just finished The Edge of Never and decided I needed a change from the mushy/crying love story. So, I FINALLY took the plunge with a “dark” read. This is my first. I started Captive in the Dark last night which I had downloaded months ago, and I am completely freaking out! Didn’t think I would like the “kidnapping/bad guy” kinda thing….but what is it about Caleb that has my head spinning!?!?! All I can say right now is…..WOW! Thanks for taking me to the dark side Maryse!

Maryse July 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

*wicked grin* ;)

Jean July 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM

OMG Maryse! Finished Captive in the Dark in one day! I cannot believe how affected I am by it….can’t stop thinking about it! Loved it! And I am so relieved the next two books are out already so I don’t have to wait for them….I would have died waiting! Unfortunately, work is getting in the way today and I can’t start the 2nd one until tonight (or this afternoon if the boss leaves early…heehee)! THANK YOU!!!!

Mann2012 July 17, 2013 at 6:38 PM

My favorite read for 2013 is The Tied Man. I loved it!!! Dark Reads are my favorite and since I am a horror lover, the darker the better. :) Maryse, this one may be for you because it reminded me of your boy Z! (BDB). A gorgeous man controlled by a wicked woman with a M/F romance thrown in. I love to read something that is different and since most DRs have the girl in peril, this was very refreshing. Can anyone recommend other male captive books that are M/F? They are hard to find since most are M/M… Hope you enjoy it as much as I did… Love you Blog…

Biate July 21, 2013 at 5:24 AM

Im not a big fan of the dark reads but on occasion Im in the mood for it. Escape from Paradise is my number one, I loved it, but its mostly because it has a good and happy ending. I’ve read all Kitty Thomas books and Tender Mercies is the best. Big Sky is just disturbing! Screaming in the Silence by Lydia Kelly is an awesome read, I couldn’t put it down. I hope you get to that one soon Maryse.

Mag August 8, 2013 at 6:14 PM

The darkest book I’ve ever read: Heat. by R. Lee Smith. This features 2 stories; a criminal alien who comes to earth to kill humans to harvest them for drugs and the alien cop who is chasing him down. Each kidnaps a woman to help them meet their goal. The relationship between the criminal and his captive is un-freaking believable. It is BAD!. He is the most evil thing ever…and yet, I find myself rooting for him. And the cop, I’m rooting for him too. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is plot driven and it is long! I stayed up night after night until 3am even though I had to get up in 2 hours to go to work. When I finished it, I started it again immediately. It is cracktastic!

tori August 19, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Bianca sommerland deadly captive and collateral damage. R lee smith. Olivia..heat..scholomance…dark and unusual.

Mag August 20, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Did you read HEAT by R. Lee Smith yet? The darkest. Unbelievable. Also, the auther has a blog page now with excerpts of her next book which is coming out soon.

mann2012 August 29, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Another awesome one is Take Me, Break Me by Cari Silverwood. Read it a few days ago and just found out the sequel is coming out in a couple of days… :) This one will make you squirm and it is super hot!

Tried “Heat” but couldn’t get past the alien thing… Sorry…. But I only got 100 pages in out of the 1000 (ha) before bailing…. Maybe will try it again since it comes so highly rec’d.

Mag August 30, 2013 at 7:36 AM

Well, Heat certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I encourage you to try again. I do like some scifi though. I like books that are plot driven and the relationship between the H/h is more than instalove. I want to talk about this book. Check out the review on Dear Author and the Goodreads reviews. I’ll check out Take Me, Break Me.

Jennifer October 16, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Hey Maryse,

Have you read Tears for Tess yet?……really great dark read!

Jean October 17, 2013 at 8:08 AM

I loved Tears for Tess book too! Been waiting for Maryse to read it and get her thoughts on it!!!

Maria Majeed October 23, 2013 at 12:01 AM

Hey has anyone read SOLD by Leslie Sansom…… It is really an awesome read…. It has a similar feel to it like Tears of Tess….Also Maryse please suggest more books like wanderlust and captive in the dark. I have read almost all the books u recommended above. Also any books that are similar to Marco’ s redemption. That is a great book as well….. Looking forward to ur suggestions…..

Jean October 23, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Maria, have you read Madeleine Abducted? I really liked it!

Maria Majeed October 24, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Thanks Jean for the suggestion. I just downloaded it. It looks interesting :)

Jean October 25, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Maria, of course, the Captive in the Dark series was the best ever! But, I loved Tears of Tess also, so I hope you like this one!

Maria Majeed October 28, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Thanks were off course right and I totally loved Madeline abducted. Everyone should check it out. And yes the captive in the dark series is by far my favorite. Especially enjoyed Caleb’s Epilogue.

Jean October 29, 2013 at 8:13 AM

So glad you enjoyed it! And isn’t it great that there is a 2nd one coming out…looking forward to the continuing story! And yes, I loved Epilogue the most too…never thought I would fall so hard for Caleb!!

Maggie November 22, 2013 at 1:29 AM

Just finished Tears for Tess… LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it :) Thank you for the list and all the other recommendations. My Dark TBR list just increased :)

Jackie blue December 24, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Plausibility by jettie woodruff *** taboo*** couldn’t help but to read in 1 sitting

D January 8, 2014 at 10:37 PM

I am also loving this list!! If you have not read Lizzy Fords Rhyn Eternal I suggest you do, the Third Book is the best!!!!!! Everrrrr!!!! I will not ruin it for you and I suggest you read it from the beginning of the series. You will not be disappointed trust me.

Maggie May 5, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Thank for this site, fran-tastic…..always struggled what to read next or after a great series of books…. Thanks… Before fifty shades made it legit(lol) to read the “dark side” and talk about it.. i found this series Club Shadowlands by Cherise Sinclair. it opened up the door for me in understanding BDSM the thrill, suspense, the good and bad guys, loved the story line and the masters..the good ones not to dark but dark enough.

Michele May 7, 2014 at 6:40 AM

Just read The Sordid Promise by Courtney Lane….LOVED IT!!!!!! seriously had me going, dark-ish, great twist, love story with an ending BUT there will be a book 2.

Annie May 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Uncovering you by scarlett edwards is a dark read but so good I highly recommend it if you liked consequences books then you will like these book three is due out any day now and I can’t wait as I couldn’t put first two down,Jeremy is a psycho!

lian92 May 18, 2014 at 3:15 PM

wow great list dont know why i didnt coment before i heard especially good things abought Comfort food , Escape from Paradise , Consequences and the tied man and Dark duet is my favorit in the genre i never so many stong emotions while reading a book and even after evrything that hapened they still have a HEA i have some newer recomendations some of them you read like Her masters Courtesan by Lily White theres also Hero by Leighton Del Mia and The Beast by Jaden Wilkes and i heard many great things abought Still missing by Chevy Stevens

h June 22, 2014 at 12:53 AM

do you recommend any angsty romance novels – like, super angsty – that aren`t YA in thoughts and nature? thanks

Maryse June 22, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Hi H!

I’d say try Thoughtless or Beautiful Disaster. :)

Erica August 3, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Hi Maryse! Great blog. it’s my go to for what to read next :) I know i’m late to this post but i just fell in love with dark erotica thanks to cj roberts Dark Duet series. Now i’m looking for something else to read… What do you think about Pepper Winters Tears of Tess (monsters in the dark series)?

Maryse August 3, 2014 at 7:19 PM

Hi Erica!

I haven’t read those yet… I hear very good reads! :D

sonia August 19, 2014 at 12:10 PM

want to read: I read a description of a book once where a guy kidnapped a teenager. The story went like this her neighbours had a cute boy she was attracted to him but he never gave her notice. Anyway she phoned her friend who advices her to talk to him because he was outside shooting hoops . So the girl goes out and tries to impress him but the boy says something which gets her rattled up can’t remember what basically makes her feel like a kid. Then she stumps off angry when a car stops the driver asks her for an address and flirts with the girl , who tries to jealous the neighbour kid so she flirts back with the driver then the driver like oh come closer my girlfriend hurt or something like that basically he gets the girl close enough to the back side car window. Then bam the women in the back opens the car door and grabs the girl . The girl can’t scream due to the fact the way she’s being held. The neighbour kid only notice when he finds a trainer on the driveway then he starts running but by then cars driving away. This whole scenario is flash back and now the girl is a high class prostitute who is still forced to do prostitution by her captor and she has a ambition that she wants to be free . There is a hero in the book I can’t remember by the description what his role is but he helps her.

Sorry I can’t name the book cause frankly I don’t remember. All remember it is a dark read .

I just wanted to read a book with a alpha female then I remembered this book , so I checked my to read list but it wasn’t on it .

So if you know what I am talking about please tell me the name of the book otherwise could advice a alpha female book not paranormal please.

Oh I also remember the cover of the book was red and the hero was assigned to kill the heroine. Also the heroine had a tattoo to remind her she needs to fight and not die .



LovetoRead January 26, 2015 at 1:20 PM

Thanks for the list! If you haven’t tried Twist Me by Anna Zaires you need to. LOVED it, it was my gateway into the darker side. :-)

stephanie April 21, 2015 at 9:46 AM

I have some new books to read…so thank you! But, I’m wondering if you’ve read the Life of Anna series? That’s one of the darkest I’ve read :)

Stacey June 8, 2015 at 3:13 PM

Okay Ladies… want dark, I have dark, dark, dark, dark and then it gets darker…. The Life of Anna by Marissa Honeycutt.

Katherine June 19, 2015 at 11:17 PM

Hi Maryse, can you please recommend a few stockholm syndrome books from here that have a good ending? That is that the girl and the guy actually get to be together at the end… (I know I sound like a loser) But I can’t handle a heart wrenching story AND a heart wrenching ending, it’ll kill me!
Thanks a lot!!

Marie June 22, 2015 at 4:04 AM

Try Twist Me. Two out with the third being released in July

Jennifer T July 14, 2015 at 5:12 PM

Enthrall series! Incredible!

Kelly P August 24, 2015 at 9:20 AM

I have just finished the Underestimated Series and OMG my emotions where all over I loved all the twist and turns

drapeta September 28, 2015 at 7:46 PM

I would be interested to see what you think of the black jewels trilogy by anne bishop. One of my all time fave sets. Though I think that the later books could definately be skipped. (Bishop goes on to extend the series and it just feels like afterthoughts)

Lennox October 1, 2015 at 8:54 AM

To Sonia, did you ever found out what book with the kidnapped as a teen storyline? Got me curious as well.

Apple October 13, 2015 at 11:07 PM

LOVE LOVE DARK READS!! It’s definitely my fix!
Think you can come up with a list of dark reads that contain VERY little romance? I enjoy the dark side of things. I don’t even want a happy ending. Just a nice, juicy, dark, nightmare-enticing read :)

Anna October 26, 2015 at 3:59 AM

Hiya I have been loving your lists for a few months now since I discovered your website I have now read loads of your dark reads and others. I came across a book that I haven’t seen mentioned on here Wrong by LP Lovell and the second book Wrath by LP Lovell definitely worth a read I read them both in a few days I couldn’t put them down. Brilliant

Marcie Boyer October 30, 2015 at 9:54 AM

Thank you for having a Dark Reads list, but I cannot go without commenting that you have to have something from Ker Dukey or D.H. Sidebottom. The Empathy and Deception series that are co-authored by them cannot be missed! There book”I See You” is NOT to be missed and “Drawn to You” by Ker Dukey was not what I expected a little different for her, but still AWESOME and surprising.

Emily December 28, 2015 at 8:47 PM

You should check out Abducted by Varian Krylov. Awesome book!

Nara February 18, 2016 at 11:21 PM

I have a recommendation for your dark reads list, Maryse.
Just finished Deviant by Natasha Knight – The warning blurb reads
‘No cliffhanger, only a badass Alpha male who doesn’t seem like much of a hero at the start, who uses strong language and …… Some readers may find him offensive”
No kidding!! I found this to be un-put-downable even though I felt icky while reading it.

Maryse February 18, 2016 at 11:23 PM

YAY Nara!!!! I’m going to look it up and add this to the list!! :D Thank you!

Anya March 6, 2016 at 12:21 PM

You should read Target This by Lily White. I’ve read all those book even the other recommendations and nothing can compare to the mind fuckery of Target This. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you like dark erotic reads.

Karen May 6, 2016 at 12:28 PM

King by Fraizer is dark and twist. Also The Butterfly Garden.

Ats May 26, 2016 at 10:29 AM

I would definitely include Life of Anna series… of the best Dark read….

Tiff June 8, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Oh man The life of Anna should be top on this list for dark, sexy, gritty reads! It’s definitely hard to stomach at points but I promise it’s worth the read. The journey the author takes you threw is an emotional roller coaster ride to say the least. I didn’t think I could cry anymore by the time I got to the last book but yep I could. Actually I sobbed hysterically but with happiness this time:-) I do believe this is one of the darkest books I’ve ever read and I read alot of the books on this list so proceed with caution when beginning this book.

Lizzie August 2, 2016 at 9:34 PM

Hey! Have you read the Indebted series by Pepper Winters? I’d like to know your opinion. Also there’s this book called Human Surrender. Those are five stories from different authors and it’s on my TBR list, maybe you’ll like it

ashly August 16, 2016 at 8:12 AM

i know what love is by whitney bianca is a must read..was dark enough for me.

Marylou November 21, 2016 at 9:42 PM

Yes Lizzie I have read the Indebted series and they are so good. All the Pepper Winters I have read are. Another great read is The Life Of Anna. Oh yes. Tiff is right it should be the top of the list. Just be forewarned you’ll have your heart ripped out more than once. There isn’t an emotion you won’t experience to the max. I read it about 6-8 mo. ago and it still runs me through the gauntlet when I think about it.

Felicia January 5, 2017 at 10:22 PM

I desperately need a updated dark reads list. Especially after Nina G Jones Take me with you!!!

Viv Phoenix May 18, 2017 at 9:52 AM

Thank you for this list. My TBR list of dark reads just blew up!
These make early BDSM classics such as 91/2 Weeks and the Story of O look tame.
I’m fascinated by that zone where something that seems horrible turns tender. The combustion of two damaged people can be amazing.

Isabel May 21, 2017 at 3:19 PM

Just finished reading the life of anna, omg thanks to the people here who suggested it. I definitely agree that it should be on the top of this list! Most dark and intense story ive read so far

Kathy Sigford July 15, 2017 at 11:02 PM

Is there going to be another chapter of Anna?

Tash February 14, 2018 at 2:10 AM

Hi Maryse. Can i ask you a question? Im desperately looking for 2 books. I cant remember their titles. I have come to know about them in one of your suggestions. One was about a woman who made an account in a site where they’ll stage a kidnap for you, like theyll send a guy for you to live out yoyr fantasy of being held against your will and raped. Then when the day comes, a guy indeed came to her house BUT it wasnt the ‘actor’ but a guy who really intended on killing her but due to the woman’s beauty, something happened between them. The guy wanted to avenge himself and her sister coz the woman’s father who was a police officer helped cover up the crime of the boys who raped the guy’s sister when they were kids.

The other book was about a woman who felt like there was someone following her. Turns out there was a guy obsessed over her. He was kinda rich and has his own company. The woman was a social worker kind of? Shes taking care of a teenage boy who later died when he worker for the guy (he was shot coz the male lead was involved in some dirty work). At the end the guy impregnated the woman And he died. The plot twist is that he pretended to die coz he wanted to rake care of his own issues forst before facing the womanand their now 5yo son.

Pls pls Maryse tell me the titles if u happen to know. It’s been bugging me for ages. The 2nd book i was talking about will be having a book 2.

Stef March 2, 2018 at 5:33 AM

I have come across this post in my search for more books to read, and have to say I have read most of these books.

Indebted and Monsters in the Dark, – By Pepper Winters really a good reads. I will be reading through the rest of the comments and search some more.. thanks for the share

Maryse March 2, 2018 at 6:21 PM
Elaine April 7, 2018 at 3:51 AM

I was wondering if you had heard of an older book about kids being in a sex school to learn to be submissive. I came across it in the late 80′s and have been driving myself crazy trying to remember the name of the book. Thanks

Donna April 16, 2018 at 6:10 PM

Hi Maryse, recently read Journey Into The Dark by Mitzi D. Lane, thought it was great, wondering if you have read it yet :-)

Nina Romero May 2, 2018 at 10:07 AM

I love the dark duet series, it;s one of my favorites. You guys should check out the Masked Emotions Series, I think you guys might like it.

Maryse May 2, 2018 at 11:25 AM

YAY!!! Thank you Nina!!!

Donna May 2, 2018 at 11:33 AM

Sorry Maryse…that should have read Journey Into The Dark Side by Mitzi D. Lane…some good reviews on Goodreads, thought your followers might like it !!

Maryse May 2, 2018 at 2:23 PM

Thank you Donna!!!! Okay I’m looking it up. :D

Charlene July 8, 2018 at 2:56 AM

Hello! I’m hoping someone can recommend some books to me. I was so excited about this list because I love smart, dark novels (so many novels feel like they only go skin deep with their characters and everything is so ‘wholesome’).

I would love to read a novel about Stockholm syndrome, but I am more interested in the dark elements and exploring the thought process of the characters, and would prefer it be less focused on erotica and romance. I could see myself being disappointed if it ends as a “happily ever after” and the guy never gets what he deserves. I’m worried these seem more romance focused but I’m not sure. Can anyone please make a recommendation? Thank you so much!

Maryse August 20, 2018 at 9:26 AM

Hi Charlene!!!

We’ve started a list for you right here:

I’ll continue adding to it as more recommendations for you come my way. :)

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