The cover art for "Mexican Gothic" in triplicate
(Del Rey Books)

10 Steamy, Spooky Horror Romance Novels To Get Your Heart Racing

Sometimes you want to turn your brain off with a steamy sexy novel packed with jump scares. Other times, you want your spooky romance books to get hot while also challenging you as a reader. The horror romance genre has it all covered, from thought-provoking literature to clothes-ripping vampires—sometimes all in the same book.

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10. The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass

Cover art for "The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass)

The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass is an anomaly inside an anomaly. Stephen King, undisputed King of Horror fiction, wrote a seven-part dark fantasy meganovel about gunslinger knight errant Roland Deschain and his pilgrimage to a transcendental tower that is responsible for holding King’s multiverse together. It’s a beautifully weird series, made beautifully weirder by this flashback novel where Roland tells the tragic story of his first love, and his first loss. It’s a gut-wrenching romance about two kids who fall victim to a superstitious world at war, and the fallout that turned Roland from romance protagonist to weathered anti-hero.

9. Mexican Gothic

Cover art for "Mexican Gothic"
(Del Rey Books)

Everything is going great for Noemí Taboada. She lives the life of a glamorous socialite in 1950s Mexico City! Nothing can bring her down! Until she gets a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin who claims her hubby is trying to kill her. Sounds like the real victim here is Noemi’s vibe. Now the socialite has to relocate to her cousin’s creepy country estate and deal with all the freaky supernatural goings-on therein. Luckily, she’s got two hotties to help her through it: the sweet himbo cousin of her cousin’s ill-humored fiance Virgil Doyle, and Virgil himself. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is a spooky, sexy mess.

8. Twilight

white hands holding a red apple

I’m sorry gang, but I gotta include this one. For the culture. The people have spoken. Like it or not, Stephenie Meyer’s sparkly vampire saga Twilight deserves a spot on this list. It’s the ultimate fantasy: being caught between a hot goth vampire and a musclebound werewolf. Who wouldn’t want to be in that envious position? While the prose can be … lacking … the strength of the novel lies in its sheer, brute force impact on the horniest parts of the psyche. It’s a dark sex fantasy, it doesn’t have to be that deep to hit right. If ya know what I mean.

7.The Historian

Cover art for "The Historian"
(Little, Brown and Company)

The Historian was the culmination of over a decade of writing and research. You know what other fantasy romance novel was written that way? Madeline Miller’s goated Song of Achilles. Slow and steady wins the sexy race. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian is about a titular researcher attempting to uncover the life of Vlad Tepes, the real-world inspiration (or nightmare fuel) behind Count Dracula. Granted, the romance in the novel takes a backseat to the greater mystery, but anyone who ever had a teenage romance knows the backseat is where all the hot stuff happens.

6. Let The Right One In

"Let The Right One In" cover art
(St. Martin’s Griffin)

Let The Right One In is my personal favorite vampire story. Part horror, part coming-of-age romance, the story centers around a bullied young boy who befriends a spooky neighbor girl who only comes out at night. As the pair begin to open up to one another, the boy learns that his new friend is a 200-year-old vampire with the mind and body of a child. And guess what? He doesn’t care. He loves her so much that he’ll even help her with all the less romantic parts of vampirism. I.e. murder. If you won’t kill for them, is it really love at all?

5. Certain Dark Things

"Certain Dark Things" cover art
(Tor Trade)

What happens when a lonely street kid meets a hot vampire lady on the run from a Mexican vampire cartel? Certain Dark Things. The novel is a “confidants to lovers” arc, a pair of vulnerable people helping each other survive the mean streets soon begin to feel more for each other than just trust. Love. Desire. All that good stuff. Which is great, considering they’ll need each other to climb the mountain of corpses they leave in their wake in their escape from those who wish them harm.

4. The Taker

Cover art for "The Taker"
(Gallery Books)

It’s a standard night in the hospital for trauma doctor hottie Luke Findley, until murder suspect Lanore McIlvrae shows up in his ER with a police escort. As the good doctor gets to know his patient, he begins to realize that more is at play here than meets the eye. A whole history more. Lanore is older than she looks, and her story transcends the limits of time and the human body’s mortal coil.

3. Carmilla

Carmilla Deluxe Edition: The Cult Classic that inspired Dracula.
(Pushkin Press)

Carmilla was a watershed moment in horror romance history. Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire novel predates Braham Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years, but more importantly, Carmilla is one of the earliest works of sapphic fiction. The novel revolves around the teenage Laura, who begins a bone-chilling relationship with the (seemingly) same-aged Carmilla who has fallen under the care of Laura’s family. Laura soon becomes the focus of Carmilla’s carnivorous desire, and the dark dream begins.

2. The Phantom of the Opera

"The Phantom of the Opera" cover art
(Paper Mills)

Before it was Broadway’s most successful musical in history, The Phantom of the Opera was one of the most important works of horror romance in the English canon. You know the plot already: Disfigured theatre kid all grown up falls in love with the young starlet of a new opera and becomes obsessed with her. Things take a dark turn once stagehands begin to go missing, only to turn up hanging dead from the rigging by their necks. Gaston Leroux’s novel is not to be overlooked.

1. The Vampire Chronicles

"The Vampire Chronicles" cover art

Anne Rice’s Gothic vampire romance mythos is so so SO much more than Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise’s Interview with the Vampire shenanigans. Described by the author as a “metaphor for lost souls,” Rice’s homoerotic vampires are morally complicated figures attempting to survive in a world that would rather them not exist. What do you do when you are cursed to live forever? Cursed to drink the blood of the living? Cursed to never see the sun? You learn to let go of your preconceived notions of goodness and God and to live a darker existence. Preferably in the arms of the similarly afflicted. After all, they’re the only ones who will understand. The Vampire Chronicles is a tragic example of how the broken seek the broken, and it breaks them all the more.

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.