The best romance novels for lovers of grouchy, brooding, broken book boyfriends (aka the tortured hero)

Who am I?

The tortured hero was my first love, and I’ve never been able to shake him. He never fails to crush me, and there’s nothing more rewarding to a masochistic reader than being completely annihilated, then put back together again. These heartbroken heartbreakers are easy to love (usually), easy to forgive (hopefully), and always keep you coming back for more (definitely). My character, Darian, was born of my search for the perfect tortured hero, and although I’ve moved on to a different kind of hero for my follow-up novel, Magnolia May, he’ll forever own my heart.  

I wrote...

Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun

By Robin Hill,

Book cover of Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun

What is my book about?

Francesca’s a grieving daughter who promised her late father she’d come out of her shell. Darian’s a grieving widower, content to remain in his. When the lonely pair meet by chance at an Austin, Texas music festival, they find solace in each other’s company. What follows is an unexpected friendship…and the toll it takes when the lines begin to blur.

Waiting for the Sun is an angsty, emotional friends-to-lovers romance about what happens when love finds you after loss—whether you’re open to it or not.

The books I picked & why

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Mists of the Serengeti

By Leylah Attar,

Book cover of Mists of the Serengeti

Why this book?

Once in Africa, I got my @ss handed to me by a king…” That’s a direct quote from my review, and it will make a lot more sense once you’ve read the book. Jack is the epitome of the tortured hero—angry, terse, godawful at times—but you accept it because, Oh my God! Think of what he’s suffered! And then you get to that part where said hero begins to soften toward the heroine and shut up! This book absolutely gutted me, and the pain was physical. No, seriously. My chest and stomach literally ached. I felt tingly, overheated, exhausted, and drained. And that was just from the prologue! 

Rush: City Lights Book III: New York City

By Emma Scott,

Book cover of Rush: City Lights Book III: New York City

Why this book?

Oh, Noah. Noah, Noah, Noah. Ask any old-school Emma Scott fan their favorite tortured hero of hers, and their answer will likely be Noah Lake. This one is broken emotionally and physically, which makes it hard to hold a grudge when he lashes out. Not that I even had a grudge to begin with. I mean, think of what he’s suffered! One of the best parts of the angry tortured hero trope is all that delicious groveling, but with Noah, I didn’t need much. (Alright, fine. I didn’t need any.) FYI, Rush is a standalone that’s only connected to the other books in the series by its city setting.

The Man I Love

By Suanne Laqueur,

Book cover of The Man I Love

Why this book?

As far as tortured heroes go, Erik Fiskare is more of the brooding, quiet, suffer in silence type. The torturing happens on page, in a scene that will send your heart to your stomach. I suggest carving out time for a trilogy; it’s imperative you read book two to get the full impact of book one, and by then you’ll need book three just to heal. Lastly, be sure you’re stocked with Kleenex…and perhaps some antacid. I’m here if you need me. 


By J.M. Darhower,

Book cover of Ghosted

Why this book?

Jonathan isn’t your typical tortured hero, as much of his brokenness is self-inflicted. But that doesn’t make his journey to redemption any less painful or heart-twisty. We follow his progress in real-time while simultaneously discovering everything he did to fall from grace in the first place. You equally love him and hate him in the most soul-crushing way. And if that little bit of catnip didn’t sway you, give five-year-old Maddie a chance.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

By E.L. James,

Book cover of Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

Why this book?

I can’t deny this is where my love of tortured heroes began. I wasn’t a big romance reader at the time, but curiosity got the best of me. I waited until I had a weekend to myself, then proceeded to download my first ever e-book. I didn’t expect to like it—I didn’t even expect to finish it, but two days later, I’d read the entire series and was ready to start it again. Christian Grey is my OG and, in many ways, inspired my Darian. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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