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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm seeing the term "dark romance" quite a lot these days. It's got me wondering what exactly it means and what readership is being targeted. I've used the term to describe a couple of my romantic suspense books, because they contain some dark and disturbing backstories, and nasty villains. A couple of reviewers used the term "read with the lights on."

So, am I right in my use of the term, or does dark romance mean something else--perhaps implying elements more on the erotic end of the scale?
 

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Dark romance generally contains kidnapping or entrapment, psychological and/or physical abuse, and dubious consent, often because of revenge, a misunderstanding, or a debt that must be paid. The hero is usually an inflicter of most if not all of that. There is a huge audience for it, but no matter how tortured or "justified" the hero is, I just can't get past it to see him as redeemable or loveable in any way.
 

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Ha, I remember the days when Anne Stuart stories were considered "dark romance". Well, we didn't have a specific word for it. I read some recent HR that hailed back to some of the deeper darker tortured stories of time past. Love them.

What is called "dark romance" now is not something I have any interest in. I followed it, read some and in many many cases, they are not even romance at all. So I don't call them romance. Many are just being thrown into romance to get eyeballs on it.

Romance has always had many shades of moods and tone. RS and HR in particular can go quite deep.
There has always been "dark" and still is. I just call them romance. That isn't really anything new though. Some romantic suspense novels can go really really dark. But they are still romance as the genre. Lots of the new kind of "dark romance" are not.

If you want to give it any kind of name, maybe gritty? I don't know. As a huge romance reader and I think most of us have read a lot, we kind of expect RS to be more gritty more often than not. I just recently read a few that really went places. But so are some from 20 years ago.
 

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cvwriter is correct. What currently gets called "dark romance" has rape, past and current abuse, often Stockholm syndrom-like attachment between hero and heroine, and generally is in a race towards worst case scenarios including sex with minors, murder and torture. Being banned off Amazon is a badge of honour in this sub genre, instead of a problem.

It is romance however, and includes the basic requirements of a central love story and a HEA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
cvwriter said:
Dark romance generally contains kidnapping or entrapment, psychological and/or physical abuse, and dubious consent, often because of revenge, a misunderstanding, or a debt that must be paid. The hero is usually an inflicter of most if not all of that. There is a huge audience for it, but no matter how tortured or "justified" the hero is, I just can't get past it to see him as redeemable or loveable in any way.
I kind of figured I was misunderstanding the term "dark romance" in today's romance market, and now it's confirmed. I'm okay with tortured heroes, but not cruel, unforgivable, or physically abusive ones. So this is telling me my RS are not dark in a way today's reader might interpret it. I'm thinking they're more romantic mysteries . . .

Thanks to everyone for the use of their brainpower. :D
 

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In my experience, dark romance is typically the equivalent of Porter's (Mel Gibson's character) relationship with the lead female actress in "Payback." He's a killer, she's a hooker, they argue, may assault each other, and even hate each other, but there's an undeniable attraction between them. I often think of it as a grittier version of Mal Reynolds and Inara's relationship, post-Serenity (Inara proves many times that she is as devious as Mal).

It's not an ideal situation, and the couple often expresses dubious morality, even to each other. Sometimes it works because of that. It's kind of like that saying, "when you find someone as weird inside as you are..."

Basically, diabolical couples. It's one of the few types of romances I write.
 

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Kal241 said:
In my experience, dark romance is typically the equivalent of Porter's (Mel Gibson's character) relationship with the lead female actress in "Payback." He's a killer, she's a hooker, they argue, may assault each other, and even hate each other, but there's an undeniable attraction between them.
That is almost the relationship between the MCs in my UF, except she's a thief with a vampire fetish. Seems to be a pretty common dynamic in action movies with opposite-sex MCs though. I'm not sure if I'd call that dark romance so much as the type of relationship that happens when those types of people in those types of situations have feelings for each other.
 

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paranormal_kitty said:
That is almost the relationship between the MCs in my UF, except she's a thief with a vampire fetish. Seems to be a pretty common dynamic in action movies with opposite-sex MCs though. I'm not sure if I'd call that dark romance so much as the type of relationship that happens when those types of people in those types of situations have feelings for each other.
Ironically, my next series has something similar planned: a human female lead, rebel operative, attracted to an alien male on the other side of a conflict. Not quite dark romance, but...I'd call it gray, at least.

LilyBLily said:
I'm pretty sure dark romance is what was described previously, as a power dynamic with the male usually exercising violent control over the female. Not equality of tackiness.
The reverse also counts: females going 'alpha' on males does exist, but is rarer. The storyline for the movie "Crush" comes to mind.
 

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Kal241 said:
Ironically, my next series has something similar planned: a human female lead, rebel operative, attracted to an alien male on the other side of a conflict. Not quite dark romance, but...I'd call it gray, at least.
Those are my favorite kinds of pairings, especially when they hate each other at first.

LilyBLily said:
I'm pretty sure dark romance is what was described previously, as a power dynamic with the male usually exercising violent control over the female. Not equality of tackiness.
We need a special term for equality of tackiness :)
 

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Glad to see that I'm not the only one kind of floundering. I've been trying to think of where to categorize a book I'm already outlining for next year as well as a current book. So I decided to search dark romance on goodreads and ultimately realized I have a totally different construction and desire when it comes to dark romance. Most of the stories were revenge, abuse, stockholm-esque, involved stalkers becoming the stalked, A Hannibal/Clariece style romance, two gritty morally dubious noir detectives, or some combination there of.

For me Dark romance is like...Heathers sans comedy or like a more psychological Eyes Wide Shut, which I am starting to think does not exist
 

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LadyDD said:
For me Dark romance is like...Heathers sans comedy or like a more psychological Eyes Wide Shut, which I am starting to think does not exist
That's not Dark Romance anymore. The genre has shifted there. Dark Romance is now a twin of Dark Erotica. Check these:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/46786.Dark_twisted_abusive_romance_2013_2015

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/41581.Most_Controversial_Dark_Romance_

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/42347.Romance_or_Erotica_with_Kidnapping

That is what people expect when they see the label "Dark Romance".
 

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zzz said:
What is the new name of the genre previously considered dark romance that has been taken over by the bad boys?
Mostly NA, I'd say. And Biker/MC Romance.

Dark Romance these days is really dark, much closer to horror or gore than ever before. It all started off with the Dark Duet Series by CJ Roberts, which features the sex trafficking
of an 18 year old virginal girl, how she is broken and trained, and then falls in love with her "trainer". Murder and mayhem, rape and worse ensues.
At some point during the past five years this got mashed up with hardcore BDSM stories, and now contains stories which one has to consider being splatter. It's quite the arms race. I've seen bestiality and underage content. There's considerable influx from fanfiction, too. There recently was at least one thread here on the forum about such a book.
 

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Nic said:
That's not Dark Romance anymore. The genre has shifted there. Dark Romance is now a twin of Dark Erotica. Check these:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/46786.Dark_twisted_abusive_romance_2013_2015

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/41581.Most_Controversial_Dark_Romance_

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/42347.Romance_or_Erotica_with_Kidnapping

That is what people expect when they see the label "Dark Romance".
Yeah I'm aware of that now. At this point these sort of labels have me reconsidering if I'm "really" a romance fan or author. These stories hold no appeal to me what's so ever. I like Bonnie and Clyde romances, not always with HEAs, which I think means they're not technically seen as romances at all, which I think is pretty dumb but that's not what "romance" audiences want.
 

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LadyDD said:
Yeah I'm aware of that now. At this point these sort of labels have me reconsidering if I'm "really" a romance fan or author. These stories hold no appeal to me what's so ever. I like Bonnie and Clyde romances, not always with HEAs, which I think means they're not technically seen as romances at all, which I think is pretty dumb but that's not what "romance" audiences want.
I gave up on trying to figure out what romance audiences want. And if you market something as romance and it doesn't meet the expectations, the reviews will tear you apart.
 

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Dark romance is A type of romance. It's not THE type. There are many romance readers, and they like many things. Including strong, sweet men. You do not have to go anywhere near dark romance to be a bestseller even in contemporary romance.
 

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Personally, I don't get the appeal of dark romance, but I have many friends who read or write it. The go to dark romance authors ASAIK are Pepper Winters and Skye Warren (amongst others).

Dark romance usually has the hero abusing the heroine in some way, but it can also be more dubcon bc of circumstances, i.e. he was ordered to kidnap her by his mom boss but instead he decides to make her his bride.

Dark romance is NOT romance with dark/heavy themes.
 

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Crystal_ said:
Dark romance usually has the hero abusing the heroine in some way, but it can also be more dubcon bc of circumstances, i.e. he was ordered to kidnap her by his mom boss but instead he decides to make her his bride.
Bolded the part because I haven't stopped laughing since I saw it.
 
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