Tainted Love – 13 Books for the Non Romantically Inclined

Well, hello there!

Valantine’s Day is upon us in no time. But what do we, the non-romantically-inclined do? For starters, nothing. Doing nothing is great! On the other hand, curling up with a book about the dark side of love sounds equally appealing.

I’m only not into Valantine’s Day. Who would have thought? I’m also on my own, because my other half is away on a ski trip with his bestie. #bromance So, I’m going to enjoy my own company and dive into one of these dark stories.

These 13 books all have a few things in common; failed marriages, secrets between spouses, toxic relationships, illicit romances.

So, let’s get cracking!25

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid7husbands

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.


The Honeymoon by Tina Seskissummer-honeymoon

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?


The Millionaire’s Wife by Shalini Bolandmillionaireswife

When Anna Blackwell opens an email from an unknown sender, the shocking image attached shatters her perfect world. A woman has been killed. And Anna knows who did it. The past is catching up with her.

Is it her turn next?

To protect herself and her husband Will, she must tell him the terrible truth about her first love. But as the secrets of her life unravel, Anna begins to realise that she is not the only one who has been living a lie.

Anna doesn’t know who to turn to: her best friend, her parents, her husband. But she knows that her ex-lover is dangerous and she must stop him, before it’s too late…


Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hallourkindofcruelty

PASSION. OBSESSION. MURDER.

Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave.

They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike.

Even though she’s marrying another man.

Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising.

This time, someone has to die…


Sunburn by Laura Lippmanapt-sunburn

One is playing a long game. But which one?

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through.

Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal.

Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?

Something—or someone—has to give.


The One by John Marrstheone

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

A word-of-mouth hit in the United Kingdom, The One is a fascinating novel that shows how even the simplest discoveries can have complicated consequences.


Gerald’s Game by Stephen Kinggeraldsgame

Once again, Jessie Burlingame has been talked into submitting to her husband Gerald’s kinky sex games—something that she’s frankly had enough of, and they never held much charm for her to begin with. So much for a “romantic getaway” at their secluded summer home.

After Jessie is handcuffed to the bedposts—and Gerald crosses a line with his wife—the day ends with deadly consequences. Now Jessie is utterly trapped in an isolated lakeside house that has become her prison—and comes face-to-face with her deepest, darkest fears and memories.

Her only company is that of the various voices filling her mind…as well as the shadows of nightfall that may conceal an imagined or very real threat right there with her…


The Girlfriend by Michelle Francesthegirlfriend

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.


Bad Romance by Heather Demetriosbadromance

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.


Bitter by Francesca Jakobibitter

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out?

It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.


Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughananatomyofascandal

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.


The Date by Louise Jensenthedate

Something bad has happened to Alison Taylor.

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future.

By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…


The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Algerthebankerswife

The only thing worse than finding out that your husband is dead, is discovering the secrets he left behind.

Annabel’s seemingly perfect ex-patriate life in Geneva is shattered when her banker husband Matthew’s plane crashes in the Alps. When Annabel finds clues that his death may not be all it seems, she puts herself in the crosshairs of powerful enemies and questions whether she really knew her husband at all.

Meanwhile, journalist Marina is investigating Swiss United, the bank where Matthew worked. But when she uncovers evidence of a shocking global financial scandal that implicates someone close to home, she is forced to make an impossible choice.


What’s your favourite dark love story? Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?Hugs and Kisses - Black

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58 comments

  1. I’m not romantically inclined in the slightest and will definitely not be reading any fluffy romances on Valentine’s Day – or even celebrating it with my boyfriend (we never do). I love how dark some of these are, definitely more my kinda romance books. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has been on my TBR for ages!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loving the list! I’m not even bothering with any valentines or romance themed lists at all, that shows you how very much non romantically inclined I am. I have The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo on my TBR and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fantastic post! Thank you, Norrie, for offering the Valentines Day alternative. I’ve never been into the day. No reason but it never felt romantic to me and I’m married to a romantic guy. I told him years ago to never buy me flowers on that day ever again. He’s broken the rule a couple of times by bringing me grocery store flowers, which I loved. They dried up beautifully and ten years later, they still are on display in my foyer.

    I digress but I’m loving the books on your list. Somehow I let The Girlfriend slip by so I’m on the waitlist for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s cute! ❤
      I don't think my BF even knows when Valentine's is, hehe 😀 He does get me flowers tho the few times when he does the shopping.

      I hope you enjoy the Girlfriend! I read it a while ago, but i remember staying up way past my bedtime to finish it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good job on letting your guy have a #bromance. I feel that a lot of guy activities have been tainted because they don’t want to be thought of as couple, so when real friends can overcome that, more power to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh, such a shame really!
      Me and the BF are both on the opinion that we should be doing our own stuff from time to time. I also have my annual trip with my bestie and i’m not planning on giving that up, so i’m happy he gets to do the same 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Trust you to do the antithesis of Valentine’s Day, Norrie. And I love it. I love a list like this with the darker side of romance, and what a great collection too, a little something for everyone’s dark side! Ha! Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anatomy of a Scandal sounds fascinating. I remember hearing about it a while back sounds very timely to like something that might make me mad! And Gerald’s Game the film has been on my Netflix list forever. Maybe that will be my Valentine’s treat. Have a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These look great! I wanted to read The Honeymoon actually and forgot about it, so thanks for reminding me! And The Girlfriend sounds great too. 🙂

    Shalini Boland- I read something by her a while back, so her name jumped out at me. That one doesn’t look bad either!

    Like

  8. This post is perfection. Every year, I hate Valentine’s a little bit more. Not because of some bad memory of not having a date or whatever, but just because it’s not a “real” holiday and a lame fake holiday at that. And also, I’m not one for romance. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Wonderful book list!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hahaha, my boyfriend is in Madrid with his besties on Valentines, so talk to me about bromance xD We never celebrate, Valentines isn’t that popular here meh. 🙂 Also we’re not the romantic wubbly bubbly types. xD Love your choices, I’ve only heard of Gerald’s Game and Evelyn Hugo and really want to read both! I watched the Gerald’s Game movie and it freaked me out for real, hope the book will do the same. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, how cool 🙂
      Ya, i can’t say we are romantic either in the traditional sense. But like the other day he got me a portable charger cuz i always have dead equipment with me and i thought it was the most romantic thing. LOL.

      Gerald’s Game movie was top notch!

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. Valentine’s is actually my mother’s birthday xD so I’ve had a complicated relationship with this ‘holiday’.

    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one that I’ve seen nearly everywhere 😀 (and hey. Almost my name :D) so I’m kind of curious about that one.

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Ouhhh though i’m quite into my fluffy little romance here, I gotta say you’ve got some interesting picks here !

    Loving Thrillers aswell, “The Millionaire’s wife” caught my eye.. and omg “The one” makes me wonder who i’d be matched with DNA-wised XD like… of course I doubt of it working but, im tempted by the concept still you know ?

    Liked by 1 person

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