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  • Writer's pictureAyden K. Morgen

The Ten Best Angsty Romance Books

I'm a sucker for a good romance that delivers the suspense, the heat, and the angst. My Kindle is full of titles that keep me swiping long after I should be sleeping. I just can't get enough of them. If it has the potential of reducing me to tears or shredding my heart into tiny pieces before giving me an incredible HEA, I am so down to read it!

Here are my ten favorite angsty romance titles! (Click on the title to be taken to Amazon to one-click away. I'm not an affiliate. Just a good book buddy.)

SEMPRE by J.M. Darhower

Okay, so maybe there is a little order here because this is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it as fanfic, and bawled my way through it. I've bought copies for my siblings and my reader friends and recommend it to anyone and everyone who loves romance. It is THAT good.

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco grew up under vastly different circumstances. Haven, a second-generation slave, was isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege and excess.

Now, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.

In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that began before either of them were born threatens to destroy them instead. Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price—especially not freedom. But how much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?


Yes, JM makes the list twice. This book is dark and gritty and twisted, but so incredibly good. I'm not a big fan of the bad guys, but I love Naz so much.

Ignazio Vitale is not a good man.

I suspect it, the first time I see him, sense the air of danger that surrounds the man. He has a way of commanding attention, of taking control, of knowing what I'm thinking before I even do.

It's alarming and alluring. It's dark and deadly. It's everything I've ever wanted but the last thing I truly need. Obsession.

It doesn't take him long to draw me into his web, charming me into his bed and trapping me in his life, a life I know nothing about until it's too late. He has secrets, secrets I can't fathom, secrets that make it so I can't walk away, no matter how much I beg him to let me go. I see it sometimes in his eyes, a darkness that's both terrifying and thrilling. He's a monster, wrapped up in a pretty package, and what I find when I unmask him changes everything.

I want to hate him.

Sometimes, I do.

But it doesn't stop me from loving him, too.

CLIPPED WINGS by Helena Hunting

This book is painful and dark, but so worth every angsty moment. It's also sexy as hell at times. I highly recommend it.

Their body art is hot. Their chemistry is even hotter.

From her dark hair sweeping below her waist to her soft, sexy curves, Tenley Page intrigues tattoo artist Hayden Stryker in a way no one else ever has…especially when she asks him to ink a gorgeous, intricate design on her back. Yet for all her beauty, there is something darkly tragic and damaged about Tenley that Hayden is everything.

Covered in ink and steel, Hayden is everything Tenley has never dared to want, awakening a desire to explore more than the art adorning his stunning body. Trapped by a past that leaves her screaming from nightmares, Tenley sees Hayden as the perfect escape. Although he has secrets too, if they both keep themselves guarded perhaps their intense physical connection will remain only that.

But nothing, not even passion, can keep them safe from their pasts…

FALLING INTO YOU by Jasinda Wilder

This damn book is so. freaking. good. I ugly cried through most of it...and then immediately read it again because I wasn't sure I appreciated it enough the first time.

I wasn't always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way.

Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.

Colton didn't teach me how to live. He didn't heal the pain. He didn't make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.


Nell Hawthorne is in love with her life-long best friend, Kyle Calloway. Their young love is invincible and life is full of promise; then one night Kyle dies suddenly in a tragic accident and Nell is forever changed. She meets Kyle's older brother Colton for the first time at the funeral. They both struggle to move on with life as best they can. Years later, they meet again in New York City, and Colton realizes that Nell has never really gotten over Kyle's death. She seems to be harboring a deeply rooted pain, a heavy weight of guilt and regret. He knows he shouldn't get involved, but he can't help himself. Trust doesn't come easily for either of them, and they both have demons. Together, they learn the purpose of pain and the meaning of healing, and the importance of forgiveness.

UNDO ME by M Robinson

This book is an incredibly hard one to read. It's dark and ugly and sad and tragic. But it's SO GOOD. It's another that I bawled my way through and loved ( and hated!) every second of it. I highly recommend giving it a chance. It's the third in a series, but can be read as a standalone.

I met her when I was sixteen.

I fell in love with her when I was seventeen.

She brought me to my knees when I was twenty.

I loved her against reason.

I loved her against hope.

I loved her against all odds.

Now she's back, a constant reminder of what I lost, what could have been.

I hate her.

I resent her.

I still love her.

Can I forgive her...

Will she be my end once again or my beginning?

WARNING (BY AYDEN): This book deals with violence and sexual assault. It may not be suitable for all readers.

SAFE WITH ME by Kristen Proby

This book isn't as angsty as the others on the list, but I found myself crying my way through parts of it anyway. it's such an incredible book that deals with some really heavy issues in a way that leaves you with the warm and fuzzies by the end. The book can be read as a standalone, but the whole series is pretty great.

Keeping others safe is what Caleb Montgomery does. He’s never had a problem taking on an assignment, whether it was during his dangerous SEAL days or his most recent job of training war mercenaries. But being assigned to keep Brynna Vincent and her adorable daughters, Maddie and Josie, safe from an unknown threat has thrown Caleb off his axis. Hot for the tall brunette since she came back to town more than a year ago, being close to her day in and day out is cracking Caleb’s resolve to keep his hands off her gorgeous body and his head in the mission.

Brynna is sick and tired of being afraid. All she wants is a normal, quiet life for her and her precious girls. Just as she’s settling into her new home in Seattle and feeling safe again, Caleb shows up on her doorstep insisting the danger is as high as ever. But whether she needs to be sheltered from the threat in her past, or from the intense emotions she feels for the sexy, protective man sleeping in her home, remains to be seen. What will happen if Brynna and her girls fall in love with a man so broken he may not be able to protect them from the danger that threatens, much less himself?”

SAFE WITH ME is the fifth book in the With Me In Seattle series, and continues to follow this tight-knit, loving family through life’s trials and tribulations with humor, passion and everlasting love.

A POUND OF FLESH by Sophie Jackson

Like Sempre, I first read this when it was fanfic and was blown away by how incredibly GOOD it was. If you like bad boys and angst with a side of steam, definitely give this one a shot!

Haunted by nightmares of her father’s street murder fifteen years ago, Kat Lane decides to face her fears and uphold his legacy of helping others by teaching inmates at a New York prison. There she meets arrogant Wesley Carter, who’s as handsome as he is dangerous, as mysterious as he is quick-witted, and with a reputation that ensures people will keep their distance.

As teacher and student, Kat and Carter are forced to leave their animosities at the door and learn that one should never judge a book by its cover. As Carter’s barriers begin to crumble, Kat realizes there’s much more to her angry student than she thought, leaving them to face a new, perilous obstacle: their undeniable attraction to one another.

When Carter is released and Kat continues to tutor him on the outside, the obstacles mount. Can they fight the odds to make their relationship work? Will Kat’s family and friends ever accept her being with someone of his background? And will Kat’s discovery of Carter’s role on the night her father died force them apart forever...or unite them?

BENEATH THE SCARS by Melanie Moreland

Full disclaimer: I adore Melanie something fierce. I was fortunate to read an ARC of this book and have my signed copy proudly displayed. BUT it is SO GOOD. Scarred heroes always get me, and this one is no exception. There will be tears. And swooning.

The sound of the ocean, the crash of the waves as they kick up against the sand and rocks—these are the only sounds Megan Greene wants to hear. She wants to leave the rest of the world behind, and find some peace.

The offer of a private house on the beach, set in a small town in Maine, is perfect. Time to think—to be by herself. It’s all she wants. It’s the escape she needs.

Until she stumbles across the painting that seems to echo her own chaotic mindset.

Until she meets the unfriendly artist behind the stormy painting and discovers his secrets.

All Zachary Adams wants is to be left alone. His canvases, and the unending scope of the ocean and sand, are his life. They direct him—fill his hours. Bring him focus.

Until she enters his life.

She dredges up memories of the past—the haunting images he has hidden for years; the fears he has never shared.

A story he keeps buried below the surface.

Can she make him see what he is missing? Can he trust her enough to believe?

Together they embark on a journey where their pasts collide and threaten to tear them apart.

Will their fragile bond hold or wash away with the ebbing tide?

FIRST AND ONLY by Abbie Zanders

This book, y'all. Oh my lord. It's sexy as hell, but even more than that it's so damn emotional! It shattered my heart into tiny pieces and then put it back together and then shattered it again before finally making it So. Freaking. Happy.

Lexi O’Connell has secretly been in love with Ian Callaghan for more than ten years. So when she returns to Pine Ridge and he turns those sexy crystal blue eyes her way, she doesn’t have a hope of resisting, even if she knows it can only be for one night.

Even if it will break her heart. Because while she would know him anywhere, he doesn’t even recognize her.

Ian Callaghan is mischievous, playful, and irresistible to women. When he sets his sights on the attractive young woman who has been discreetly staring at him, he doesn’t think twice about seducing her.

It wasn’t supposed to be more than one night. And falling in love with her was definitely not part of the plan.

A few days is all Ian needs to know that Lexi isThe One. Hiscroie. His soul mate. And he doesn’t understand how she can just walk away.

But what Ian doesn’t understand might just kill her.

GRAVE REFRAIN by Sarah M. Glover

This book is a little different than everything else on the list, but that isn't a bad thing. This book is one of my favorites of all time. It's sexy, mysterious, angsty, and just so well written that I go back to it over and over again. If you like a little supernatural mystery interwoven with your steam and angst, give this one a go!

Andrew Hayes, a brilliant but troubled musician, has been haunted since childhood by memories of his muse. One night from a San Francisco stage, he spots her, but before he can reach her, she vanishes from sight. Desperate to find the woman, he accepts a curious offer to stay in the city, moving into a dilapidated Victorian under going renovations that stir up far more than dust. Andrew's life soon becomes even more chaotic with the arrival of martini-swilling ghosts and a troupe of flesh-and-blood stoner spiritualists bringing bad tidings from the Great Beyond. The dark side of his obsession creates visions both thrilling and menacing, and as he struggles to solve the mysteries threatening him, Andrew discovers his life is repeating a refrain more deadly than he'd ever imagined. Inspired by the sexy noirs and comedies of the past, Grave Refrain transports the reader to a place where the things that go bump in the night not only thrill you, but might just take your breath away for good.

Need more angst? Check out Fight for You and Kill for You, the first two books in my new series of standalone romantic suspense novels.

Set amidst a gang war in Los Angeles, this gritty series follows the law enforcement officers tasked with bringing the city back from the brink as they find love with the courageous women caught in the crosshairs. The series is dark, gritty, emotional, and chock full of angst and steam!

Wracked by guilt over the senseless tragedy that destroyed his life, and trying to outrun memories of the only girl he's ever loved, Michael "Cade" Kincaid committed his life to bringing down some of the most dangerous gangs around. As one of Seattle's most dedicated DEA agents, he buried his gangbanger past beneath years of ruthless decisions and hard wins.

But old memories don't stay buried for long.

With a gang war brewing in Los Angeles, Cade is forced back to the city he fled ten years ago. Everything is different now, but when he sees January James again, he realizes some things will never change…like the way he loves her. Confronting his dark past to save the girl he left behind might be the most painful thing he's ever had to do, but he'll do it. For her.

"Just breathe" reads his tattoo. But how do you breathe when you feel like dying?

January James swore she would never forgive Michael Kincaid for what happened ten years ago, but now he's the only thing standing between her and the dangerous man threatening the neighborhood she vowed to defend. With Cade in her personal space at every turn, keeping her defenses in place isn't so easy. He might not be the same boy he was then, but he still has the power to destroy her

"Stay strong" reads her tattoo. But how do you stay strong when you feel like breaking?

Reunited by danger, bound together by feelings that just won't die, and desperate for forgiveness they don't believe they deserve, Cade and January will risk their lives to break free of the past. To build a future, they'll both risk the only thing that really matters: their hearts.

The last thing Detective Octavio Hernandez expects to find at the scene of a mass gang-related shooting is a brown-eyed angel standing bravely in the midst of the chaos. One look at Faith Donovan and the homicide detective knows there's more to her than meets the eye. She's keeping secrets that just might help bring down Los Zetas, one of the biggest drug cartels in Los Angeles.

He just has to convince her that trusting him is worth the risk.

Forced upon a mother who didn't want her and enslaved by a gang that refuses to let her go without a fight, Faith's life has never been her own. She thought she'd made peace with her fate…until Octavio sweeps in and carries her out of her blood-soaked cage.

Faith relies on no one, but the hardened detective makes it difficult to remember why. The way he cares for her makes her ache for what she never thought she'd find: love and a family of her own. But trusting him when she knows he has an ulterior motive is one of the most difficult things she'll ever do.

He swore to give her the freedom she craves, but when the secrets she holds paint a target on her back, keeping that promise will prove no easy feat.

To secure her freedom and win her heart, this detective will move mountains and take down anyone standing in his way.

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