Bad boys, thrilling suspense, boundary-pushing situations—if you’re like me, you like your romance novels with at least one of these, if not all three. And if you’re seeking maximum thrills and danger, it doesn't get much more intense than a mafia romance.
The 12 great mafia romance books below are sometimes shocking and all seriously addictive. Sneak one on the subway next time you’re looking for a romance that’s mad, bad, and definitely dangerous.
A New York Times bestselling author well known in Romancelandia for penning paranormal romance, Kresley Cole goes gritty in this contemporary erotic romance. Natalie is a grad student who’s suddenly thrust into the world of the Russian mob when she’s found by her estranged father, the mob boss. Daddy sends Russian Aleksandr to protect his daughter, but once the hot bodyguard meets Natalie, he wants her for himself—on multiple continents. If you’re looking for something wickedly sexy with a side of BDSM, take a peek at this one.
If you’re tired of only the male protagonists in mafia love stories getting to be bad, check out this first book in J.J. McAvoy’s Ruthless People series. The children of mafia royalty, Italian Melody and Irishman Liam have a marriage arranged in hopes of uniting their two crime families. Liam thinks he’ll be able to rule over his new wife … but he has no idea what he’s in for. Melody is ruthless, efficient, and powerful, and isn’t about to let Liam take the reins from her hands. But when they face a common enemy, can the two work together? Fun fact: according to her Amazon bio, J.J. McAvoy started writing this story during a Morality and Ethics class in college.
A captive romance, Julie Hockley’s debut novel Crow’s Row was a Next Generation Indie Book Award nominee in 2012. In it, college student Emily is spending a quiet summer in New York working at her school's library. But when she witnesses a mob murder at a local cemetery and passes out, she is whisked to backwoods Vermont. There she falls for Cameron, the man holding her, and her life is transformed. Despite the edgy premise, this one is surprisingly sweeter than many in the subgenre.
The RITA Award-winning Perfect Chemistry is a young adult twist on organized crime romance. High school senior Brittany is a good girl everyone thinks is perfect. But when she’s paired in lab with Latino Bloods gang member Alex, her facade starts to crumble—along with the wall around her heart. Initially spurred on by a bet to get her into bed, Alex soon develops real feelings for Brittany himself, which leads to serious conflict. Alternating between their points of view, from Alex’s gang life to Brittany’s home life with a sister with cerebral palsy, this young adult romance is one that Booklist praised as “a novel that could be embraced by male and female readers in equal measure.”
Monster in His Eyes
Monster in His Eyes is another tantalizing New Adult mafia romance from a USA Today bestselling author. College student Karissa keeps running into an older man around campus. Ignazio Vitale is so mysterious and alluring, Karissa can’t help but fall for him. But he’s got a big secret he’s keeping, of the dark and deadly variety. Soon Karissa and Ignazio are hanging out on that thin line between love and hate, fear and passion. Their white-hot attraction is liable to burn them both. Luckily for us readers, we can live vicariously through them while safe on the sidelines.
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Zero at the Bone
In this San Francisco Book Festival Nominee for Gay/Lesbian literature, surgeon Jack’s life is on the line when he witnesses a mob killing. Despite being put into protective custody, hitman D (yes, D) finds him … but D can't bring himself to kill the innocent doctor. As Jack and D succumb to their dangerous connection and passion, they’ve also got to outrun the danger at their heels. But how can a normal guy and a hitman ever have a future together? Fans of m/m romance will snatch up this romantic thriller from Jane Seville.
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If you love mafia romance and paranormal romance and don’t want to choose between the two, try New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan’s shiftertastic Leopard’s Blood. Joshua Tregre is a leopard shifter who’s been tapped to take over a crime organization in Louisiana. The new job fits the whole powerful and dangerous vibe Joshua's got going on. But then he meets fellow shifter Sonia, who brings him to his knees. Emotions and tension run high in this steamy, genre-bending tale.
The first in a seven-book series, King by USA Today bestselling author and Goodreads Choice finalist T.M. Frazier is one of the grittier stories on this list. King is a man just released from prison, who’s probably not going to start making better choices any time soon. Doe has amnesia about who she is and what she’s done, but when she wanders into King’s prison release party (yes, really), she’s in for quite an education. Trigger warnings for all the things, but if you like your romance on the wicked side, this one may warm your dark heart.
Son of the Mob
Mafia love gets more light-hearted in this Gordon Korman young adult novel. It’s the story of high school boy Vince, who’s trying to distance himself from his mob boss dad and the rest of his criminal, or criminally-adjacent, family. But when Vince falls for a girl, he’s in real trouble … because her dad is an FBI agent who wants to put his own father behind bars. Mob romance doesn’t get much sweeter or funnier than this.
Love the Way You Lie
The first in her Stripped series, New York Times bestselling writer Skye Warren’s Love the Way You Lie is an example of what she does best: a tempting tale of passion and dark romance. In this story, the heroine is running from the mafia, as Honor and her sister flee their mobster father. While in hiding, Honor works at a strip club to make cash and meets sexy, mysterious Kip. The two get involved, but their passion may be doomed. Why? He’s got one hell of a secret.
Karina Halle’s fanbase loves her for her gorgeous writing, and in Dirty Angels, her complex characters and plot are turned up to eleven. In Mexico, Luisa is young and beautiful but poor, struggling to support her parents. When drug cartel leader Salvador meets her, he offers her a chance at wealth in exchange for her hand in marriage. But marriage to Salvador isn’t the dream Luisa expected—and when the dangerous Javier needs Luisa's help to destroy her husband to gain his own power, she’s tempted by him in more ways than one … If you’ve been curious to try this New York Times bestselling author, just be warned this book has more violence than her other reads.
Beneath These Shadows
If you like tattoos in your romance, Beneath These Shadows may just leave a mark on your heart. When Bishop rescues the beautiful Eden outside his Voodoo Tattoos shop in New Orleans, he can’t help but want to protect her. But he’s got his work cut out for him falling for a mobster’s daughter, and she’s got her work cut out for her getting this gruff tattoo artist to open up his heart to someone outside his inner circle.