The best books on forced marriage

1 authors have picked their favorite books about forced marriage and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The Book of Ivy

By Amy Engel,

Book cover of The Book of Ivy

Similar to my story, this is about a girl forced to marry the son of a dictator against her will…only instead of fighting to save her own life as she’s about to be murdered, this girl is the murderer trying to take out her new husband. She’s being manipulated by her family to act as an assassin and starts to waiver in her mission when her new husband proves to be absolute book boyfriend perfection. It’s kind of the opposite of mine where my leading lady is cunning and manipulative to save her life, this leading lady is trying to be stumbling through being stealthy enough to murder a man who was supposed to be her older sister’s victim—not hers.

Who am I?

I love dystopian stories because these are tales that could actually happen if a particular series of steps fall into place over the course of the next decade, century, etc. Dystopia is set in our real world, just in the future. There’s no unbelievable magic…just what our real world could be generations from now. The evolution or devolution of science, law, law enforcement, medicine, education, etc is fascinating to explore…especially since I’m an incredibly techy person. I love exploring what could happen in our future if we follow certain paths, good, bad, or otherwise. Asking “what if” is my favorite question.

I wrote...


By K.M. Robinson,

Book cover of Jaded

What is my book about?

Her father started a rebellion when she was a child and was caught. They can’t publicly hurt him, but they can make his daughter, Jade, marry the Commander’s son when she turns 18, make the country believe they love her and accept her into the family and then murder her and make it look like an accident. Her only hope is to make her new husband fall in love with her for real. One chooses life, one chooses death…in the midst of chaos, only one will succeed.


By Lauren DeStefano,

Book cover of Wither

This one is totally different than the others on my list, but when I was diving into these related genres and finding myself more and more inspired by them, it was always a surprise and a treat to find a book that just completely defied all genre expectations. The book blends Sci-Fi with Fantasy, something I’ve always enjoyed if done well, and something that made me think maybe I could try my hand at this. I was never that great in science or math, even though I tried, but the idea that we could mix Sci-Fi with Fantasy, now that was intriguing. And throw in a little unexpected romance and I think you have a really well-rounded adventure. Humans are the root cause of the ending of the human race, so obviously humans have to undo what they’ve done, but your average person is just trying to survive the fallout.

Who am I?

I’m a writer who loves to read and wants to write all the fantasy genres, or at least, wants to try. I’ve always been fascinated by monsters and the question, “What if?” Dystopian, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, and Fantasy gives us the freedom to explore both these things. It’s amazing how these genres can bend our world and expectation when we explore these two things. What if the world ended but not in the way we expect? What if monsters were real? What if we are the real monsters? These questions are terrifying but so fascinating to consider and blending fantasy with apocalyptic has been a safe way to explore them.

I wrote...

World of Ash: Book One in the Ash and Ruin Trilogy

By Shauna Granger,

Book cover of World of Ash: Book One in the Ash and Ruin Trilogy

What is my book about?

There are two inherent truths in the world: life as we know it is over, and monsters are real. The Pestas came in the night, spreading their pox, a deadly plague that decimated the population. Kat, one of the unlucky few who survived, is determined to get to her last living relative. When it mutates and becomes airborne, Kat is desperate to avoid people because staying alone might be her only chance to stay alive. That is, until she meets Dylan, with his easy smile and dark, curly hair with nowhere to go and no one to live for. The unlikely couple set off together through the barren wasteland to find a new life – survive the roaming Pestas, bands of wild, gun-toting children, and piles of burning, pox-ridden bodies.

The Girl with the Louding Voice

By Abi Daré,

Book cover of The Girl with the Louding Voice

This novel taught me more about Nigeria than I could ever have learned from reading scholarly histories. Adunni is the narrator of her own story, and her voice has the rhythms, textures, and energy of a child bursting to express herself – to locate and validate herself – in a life where she struggles for agency. Daré gives us the political, economic, and cultural context of modern Nigeria whose forces work mostly against Adunni, but it’s never didactic. Adunni is compelling, admirable, and adorable, but while you sense she will ultimately break her bonds, she evokes thousands of Nigerian girls who won’t. The ending seemed to be setting us up for a sequel – hurray!

Who am I?

I wondered, seven novels in, why I’d never written in the voice of a child, and it so happened that Our Picnics in the Sun, the eighth novel, required me to do just that. In doing my research I discovered an oddity. Writers of fiction assume the right to enter the head or consciousness or identity of their characters. The oddity is that you might expect a writer to write, without too much difficulty, from the point of view of a child: after all, the writer has been a child. But it turns out that childhood experience is often elusive, evades interpretation, and is the hardest to capture on the page.

I wrote...

Our Picnics in the Sun: A Novel

By Morag Joss,

Book cover of Our Picnics in the Sun: A Novel

What is my book about?

In Our Picnics in the Sun I wrote one of the narrative strands from the point of view of a child, Adam. Until then, I got to know my adult characters through a kind of osmosis: absorbing, rather than inventing, their wholly imagined lives. So, I thought, having been a child myself, won’t writing Adam be as much about memory as imagination? Mightn’t it be a little easier?

It wasn’t. Writing Adam taught me that there is no generic ‘child’s view’ of anything. Childhood isn’t one thing or even a thing at all. There are writers who know this more profoundly than I, who capture childhoods in all their complex, fragmented, puzzling variations. Here are five of them, whose children rise off the page and enter the heart.

The Good Women of China

By Xinran,

Book cover of The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices

This collection of hidden testimonies of women in China, based on call-ins to a radio show in the 199Os, depicts what women think and feel about their world and their realities. We hear women speaking for the first time about forced marriages, poverty, persecution, love – and their triumphs. It is key to understanding the thoughts and feelings behind what we think we know.

Who am I?

I have specialized in writing about Asia since first moving to Hong Kong as a journalist in 1989, and spent the past three decades trying to improve understandings between East and West. My Asian women friends repeatedly asked me why Western men expected them to pour their drinks and serve them food. I answered “because that’s what they saw in the movies.” The James Bond films perpetuating these images of servile Asian women scrubbing white mens’ backs in the bathtub were pervasive when they were growing up. I decided to uncover and explain where this history of imagery and the stereotypes they result in come from – and, as someone with an anthropological background, also explain cultural practices that foster misunderstandings. 

I wrote...

The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient

By Sheridan Prasso,

Book cover of The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient

What is my book about?

Why do stereotypes about Asian women persist in Western culture: as submissive and servile, or the opposite – as kick-ass, kung-fu Dragon Lady dominatrix? Despite recent progress in Hollywood, these images remain pervasive in film, TV, advertising, and other imagery. Where do they come from, and what are the realities behind them?

This important, acclaimed book tackles the perceptions and the realities, recounting the history of East-West interaction that led to these images and their persistence, and the cultural factors and market forces that help them persist. It is ideal for people looking for understanding, and for people looking to help others  – like guys with an Asian fetish– understand.

Ruthless King

By Alison Aimes,

Book cover of Ruthless King: A Dark Mafia Omegaverse Fated-Mates Romance (Ruthless Warlords)

I’m always enamored of a truly dark, gritty setting. I want to see the dirt under the hero’s nails. Smell his sweat and hear his harsh breaths as he fights or...does other things. Aimes’s world in the Ruthless Warlord series is visceral. It grabs you by the throat, shakes you, throws you down, and smothers you. It’s brutal and in some ways unbearably harsh. But Aimes’s books are always tempered with humor, warmth, and ultimately, triumph of the human spirit. I may shiver and shudder my way through Nikolai and Dahlia’s story, but I feel hopeful by the end, and that’s why I return to Aimes’s books again and again—to be, ultimately, uplifted.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by “other worlds” since I found my father’s battered copy of Dune when I was eleven. I’ve been seeking that experience of transportation, of transcendence, that I got from reading Dune, ever since. I’ve found it in diverse places, from the very alien worlds of Jo Clayton’s Diadem from the Stars series to the somehow-familiar woods of Richard and Wendy Pini’s ElfQuest comics. I’ve tried to give that experience back to my readers, in creating worlds wondrous and strange but entirely relatable. The books on this list sparked that same sense of transcendence and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

I wrote...


By E.J. Frost,

Book cover of Snowburn

What is my book about?

Hale Hauser is a Company killer. Perfectly engineered, highly trained, superbly effective. He has everything and nothing. Kezra Kerryon is a runner on the backwater colony of Kuseros. She'll get anything from A to B, for a price. When Kez hires Hale to help her retrieve a black-market package, she introduces him to the maze of strange loyalties and twisted customs of Kuseros’ underground gangs. In payment, he takes the one thing only a woman can give him, and discovers the one thing he's missing.

But Kez has a secret, which will threaten them both. To protect her, Hale must unleash the monster. Can he control the killer inside long enough to discover the truth before it destroys them? Or will he lose everything just as he’s found it?

The Captive Heart

By Michelle Griep,

Book cover of The Captive Heart

Reminiscent of the wildness, adventure, and romance of The Last of the Mohicans, Captive Heart sizzles on every page. This is Michelle Griep's best book yet and one that played out before my eyes like an epic movie I kept wanting to watch over and over. The romance is perfect, the adventure nonstop, and the characters really touch your heart. 

Who am I?

What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic. There’s nothing better than a great romance novel set in the past when chivalry was not dead. I’m a published author of more than twenty-five novels, including a great pirate series. I grew up in Florida and fell in love with the tropics as I sat on the beach and dreamt of handsome pirates. Once I became a Christian, I started reading Christian romances but found many of them moved a little slow to my liking, so I decided to write one myself! I have a BA in Computer Science and have won several awards for my writing.   

I wrote...

Veil of Pearls

By MaryLu Tyndall,

Book cover of Veil of Pearls

What is my book about?

She thought she could outrun her past...In 1811 the prosperous port city of Charleston is bustling with plantation owners, slaves, and immigrants such as Adalia Winston. But Adalia has a secret: her light skin belies that she is part black and a runaway slave from Barbados. Skilled in herbal remedies, Adalia finds employment with a local doctor and settles into a quiet life.

Born into one of Charleston’s prominent families, Morgan Rutledge is handsome, bored—and enamored of the beautiful Adalia, who spurns his advances. Morgan’s persistence finally wins, and Adalia is swept into the world of Charleston high society. But when her owner comes to find her, will that love be enough, or will the truth ruin Morgan and send Adalia back into slavery?


By L.J. Shen,

Book cover of Sparrow

Sparrow was the first book I’ve read (and liked) in the arranged/forced marriage trope. It’s what got me hooked on the trope and inspired me to write my own. Set in Boston, with Troy, a thirsty-for-revenge, morally gray Irish mafia boss that bows to no one…except for the one woman he thought he hated.

Who am I?

As a woman who comes from a culture that normalizes arranged/forced marriages, turning it into a more delicious fantasy in books rather than a bitter harsh reality has become an obsession of mine. Now, as I’ve written an entire series in the trope, I read and enjoy many by other awesome authors, too. I hope you enjoy the books on the list as much as I have.

I wrote...

The Italian Marriage: Billionaire Mafia Arranged Marriage Standalone

By N.J. Adel,

Book cover of The Italian Marriage: Billionaire Mafia Arranged Marriage Standalone

What is my book about?

Enzio Lanza is the most vicious animal in the city. The killer of my husband, his own twin brother, and the new Mafia boss. Oh…and he wants me as his bride. One-Click this revenge, enemies to lovers, arranged marriage Mafia romance now.

Stolen Innocence

By Elissa Wall,

Book cover of Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs

I found Wall’s first-hand account of what life is like inside a polygamist cult to be both revealing and tragic. The book is nonfiction but reads like a novel. I loved how the pages were full of descriptive passages that gave me an insider’s view of what these young girls are taught and must face as child brides. It helped me see that what began decades before is still happening under a cloak of secrecy. I found this book revealing and disturbing, and one I couldn’t put down.

Who am I?

Living in southern Utah for many years, I saw first-hand the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah. It always intrigued me that these people still held on to the beliefs and teachings of the early Mormon leaders regardless of the laws or scorn of those who lived around them. The research I did for The Treasure of Cedar Creek, was about polygamy, but also the history of the area of Idaho where the novel takes place and how it would be as a woman not only trying to escape, but facing the challenges of the terrain and perceptions of the day.

I wrote...

The Treasure of Cedar Creek

By Brenda Stanley,

Book cover of The Treasure of Cedar Creek

What is my book about?

In 1896, the isolated and vast state of Idaho is a haven for the polygamous splinter group called The Kingdom of Glory, which is hiding more than their outlawed practice of plural marriage.

Peri, who escaped the Cedar Creek compound years earlier, returns to help rescue Grace, a girl betrothed to the prophet himself, she ends up also saving her own sister Emma. As the three women make a frantic and deadly escape from the compound, they take with them both the newborn heir to the church, and their dead mother’s cryptic journal to the prophet’s hidden treasure. Along their journey, the women realize to truly be free they must face what holds them captive, even if those answers are more horrifying than they ever imagined.

The Assassin's Curse

By Cassandra Rose Clarke,

Book cover of The Assassin's Curse

I love a good enemies-to-lovers trope, and this one has it! Pirate Ananna nearly escapes a forced marriage into another pirate clan, but her freedom comes at a cost—an assassin sent to kill her. Hold on to your hats because this book has adventure, romance, curses, and more! You’ll fall in love with the world and the characters as they leap off the pages! 

Who am I?

I’m a young adult fantasy author who’s been in love with pirates since before Pirates of the Caribbean came out…and who then wrote a novel inspired by it. I grew up watching every pirate movie I could and have always wanted to hunt for treasure. I feel my most calm when I’m by the ocean, and I’m a bit of a wanderer myself—having traveled to over 60 countries and to every continent (yes, including Antarctica!). I have a master’s degree in Creative Writing and love sharing my adventures with the world. 

I wrote...

A Touch of Gold

By Annie Sullivan,

Book cover of A Touch of Gold

What is my book about?

After King Midas’s gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, he relinquished The Touch. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her, and she harbors powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days concealed behind gloves and veils until a charming duke arrives. However, their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals the treasures her father needs to survive. Thanks to Kora’s ability to sense gold, she sets sail after it. But she’ll have to go up against pirates, betrayers, and sirens—not to mention treasure seekers who think the golden girl might be worth her weight in gold—or risk losing her father and kingdom forever.

New book lists related to forced marriage

All book lists related to forced marriage

Bookshelves related to forced marriage