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 16 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 Scarlet Thread
Swept away by lush historical narratives of passion and power? Then bestselling author Evelyn Anthony’s The Scarlet Thread is for you. Angela Drummond is an English nurse stationed in Italy during WWII. While in Palermo, she falls in love with a wounded Sicilian-American soldier named Steven Falconi. The wartime lovers soon marry in secret, and Angela is pregnant when they say, “I do.” Alas, their time together is short-lived. When a bomb strikes the hospital where Angela works, Steven is convinced his wife is gone. Devastated, he returns to the streets of New York—and enters into a life of crime as the heir apparent to his powerful Mafia family. He soon marries Clara Fabrizzi, the daughter of a formidable don. Their union secures Steven’s command of the family business. Clara, beautiful and possessive, wants Steven for himself; Steven yearns for the true love he thought he lost all those years ago. Then, one day, Angela reappears in his life. Spanning continents and decades, Anthony’s epic romance is a rich combination of criminal suspense, sweeping history, and lasting love.
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.”
Tempting the Devil
For all those drawn to the gritty details of mafia romance books, Patricia Potter’s tale of seduction and suspense is sure to enthrall. Meredith County is rocked by the discovery of three slain police officers, handcuffed and executed gangland style in an overgrown lot. Robin Stuart, a driven journalist from Atlanta, sets out to cover the crime and search for the truth behind the slayings. Meanwhile, lone wolf FBI agent Ben Taylor conducts his own clandestine investigation. While the triple homicide is outside his jurisdiction, he knows the murders link back to Hydra, a Southern Mafia crime ring he’s been investigating. Soon, Robin and Ben are working side-by-side well into the night to crack the case. But as temptation flares between the pair, the journalist and the FBI agent must ensure that they don’t become the next victims of the dangerous criminals determined to bury the truth.
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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Award-winning historical romance author Nan Ryan, hailed by Romantic Times as “one of passion’s leading ladies”, gallops into the Wild West in this moving tale of outlaw love. Cordell Rogers leads an organized gang of ex-Confederate soldiers. Their big score? A Yankee shipment of gold moving through the southern territories. When their raid on the shipment results in the death of a Union soldier, Cordell and his bandits flee to Mexico. Cordell’s wife Sarah and their little girl Mollie ride south as well, but scarlet fever claims Sarah’s life—leaving Mollie to grow up among the outlaw gang. Years later, Mollie is a grown young woman; with a pistol at her hip and a renegade glint in her eye, she’s set to follow in her father’s lawless footsteps. But riding toward Mollie is the son of the slain Union soldier. He seeks revenge… will he find love instead? Outlaw’s Kiss is rich with period detail and passionate frontier adventure. While not a mafia romance, its themes of tight-knit criminal operations and generational crime are sure to delight fans of the genre.
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.
The Thief's Daughter
Mafia romance books often draw on enticing ideas of double identities and desperate souls yearning to break free from a life of crime. Victoria Cornwall’s riveting historical romance, set along the windswept cliffs of 18th century England, plunges into these themes. For many living in Cornwall, smuggling is a way of life. Young Jenna Cartwright wants nothing more than to remain above the fray. But when her brother is thrown into debtor’s prison, she finds herself drawn into a criminal underworld of brigands and thieves. To keep a low profile, Jenna works as a housekeeper for the dashing Jack Penhale. Yet Jack harbors his own dark secret. A professional thief-taker, he’s on a mission to track down the criminals who killed his father. It isn’t long before Jack and Jenna’s lives become entangled—both in matters of justice and of the heart.
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.
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