There’s nothing sexier than a forbidden romance. Wanting someone you shouldn’t pushes the passion factor of any relationship up to eleven, especially in romance books. These 13 romances—whether paranormal, young adult, historical, or contemporary—all have that extra sizzle in their pages that only a forbidden romance can bring. Go ahead and read one. We won’t tell.
Hate to Want You
Livvy and Nicholas should be enemies—after all, their families are. But they are both consumed with passion for each other, especially once Livvy returns to town after an absence. No one writes sexy like Alisha Rai, and this book topped many lists of the best romance releases in 2017.
Love in the Afternoon
Quirky Beatrix ends up writing letters to her friend’s love interest, Christopher, as he faces the harshness of war. But Christopher doesn’t realize it’s Beatrix penning the letters, and when he returns home, he’s confused and angered by his feelings—and pulled inexplicably towards Beatrix, who can’t tell him the truth. If you dig epistolary books, you’ll love the letters between the would-be lovers in this charming historical.
Few New Adult romances are as beautifully-written as Unteachable, a steamy, ultra-forbidden romance between precocious 18-year-old high school student Maise and her film teacher, Evan, whom she sleeps with at a carnival before school starts after lying to him about her age. What follow is an unbelievably awkward first day of school, a heap of suppressed desire, and some incredibly lyrical lines.
The Bronze Horseman
A dazzling historical romance set in Russia during World War II, The Bronze Horseman will satisfy your craving for forbidden romance along with an amazing family saga. Tatiana is drawn to Red Army officer Alexander, but he is her sister’s love interest, a line the loyal Tatiana will not cross. But her feelings for Alexander only intensify with time …
Navy lieutenant Dustin and officer Wes have hooked up online—but when they realize they’re now on the same SEAL team in real life, any contact, romantic or otherwise, is off the table. Watching these two men resist the rules of the military is hot enough, but along with Albert’s trademark wit and heart, it’s downright irresistible.
Forbidden romance goes futuristic in the start of Ally Condie’s YA dystopian trilogy about Cassia, a girl living in a society where your perfect match is revealed at a ceremony. But in Cassia’s case, she sees a second face flash before her at the ceremony—which could be a glitch, or could be her true love. Either way, the government wants her nowhere near him.
On the Island
Like Unteachable, the bestselling On the Island simmers in taboo age differences, this time with the genders reversed. Thirty-year-old Anna is set to be teenage cancer survivor T.J.’s tutor when their plane to his summer home crashes, leaving them on a deserted island and struggling to survive—and having feelings neither of them expected.
Haters gonna hate, but Twilight has been so popular for many reasons, including its status as a great forbidden romance. As Bella Swan realizes after she comes to the town of Forks and meets Edward Cullen, nothing’s more forbidden than a relationship with a vampire—especially one who wants to drink your blood like it’s a tasty new flavor of La Croix.
Tell Me How This Ends
Tell Me How This Ends, a finalist for last year’s Romance Writers of America RITA award, manages to be both uncomfortable and delicious as the story of one college woman torn between two brothers. Lizzie starts dating sweet Ryan, not realizing he’s the brother of Jude, a guy she’s met and is trying to avoid—but who attracts her all the same.
Beverly Jenkins is a superstar in the world of romance, and books like Forbidden show us exactly why. Set in the Old West, Rhine is a man who finds success by passing as white, but when he rescues the African-American Eddy, he’s tempted by her—even though society and the law forbid it.
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, check out this steamy political read. In it, Damen is dethroned by his own brother and sent to serve as a pleasure slave to his enemy, Prince Laurent. The two work well together—in more ways than one—as long as Damen keeps his identity a secret. (Spoiler alert: it won’t stay a secret forever.)
A Discovery of Witches
Harkness’s paranormal trilogy—set to be a television show in the UK later this year—has a tantalizing forbidden romance at its core: Diana, an Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, should under no circumstances fall for vampire Matthew. But, come on, could you resist a vampire who does yoga?
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Despite having an evangelical radio host as a father, teenage Joanna has been out as a lesbian for years. But when they move to a conservative town in Georgia, he asks her to keep mum about her sexuality—which runs into a snag when she’s tempted by Mary, the sister of her friend. This young adult romance, which topped several book lists after it came out 2016, is full of sweetness, honesty, and swoons.