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Bad Boy Romance

What is the Bad Boy Romance Genre?

In many ways, this genre is as close as many women get to living out their romantic fantasies – for some reason, we are often attracted to what we want and cannot have, to what we know is bad for us, but which we are determined to get anyhow.

What to Expect in Bad Boy Romance Fiction

  • These novels are set in the current time – and the bad boys need to evolve with the times to stay current/relevant

  • It’s about 50/50 in terms of who is the pursuer in the relationship

  • Many of them have the “traditional” bad boy trappings – rock band, tattoos, trouble in their past, motorcycle

  • Many of the heroines have had bad relationships in their past; many of the heroes are portrayed as “damaged” and not wanting relationships

Characteristics of the Bad Boy Romance Genre

  • Level of Angst

    On a scale of 1-10, the level of angst in this genre usually between 7-10, and is usually internal to the characters – she knows that she should not be doing/wanting what she is doing/wanting, but she cannot help herself; he knows that he does not do well in relationships and that he cannot be trusted to be faithful or honest when he is in one.

  • Character Development

    This genre tends to focus a lot of attention on developing the character of the heroine, but little attention on the bad boy – in fact, the bad boy character is usually somewhat underdeveloped, which does help the reader fill in their own blanks (fantasies).

  • Plot Strength

    This genre is interesting in that the plot strength varies pretty dramatically – in many novels, it is quite weak, with much of the “plot” being designed solely to get the heroine and the bad boy into bed (or on the stairs, or in the pool, or by the shed, or in the cab of the pickup truck, etc).
    However, in some books it is extremely developed and interesting, and almost seems to be challenging the reader to understand the dynamics of these troubled (and troubling) relationships.

  • Romantic Tension

    For many of the novels in this genre, there is virtually no romantic tension beyond wondering how long it will take to have sex, and how many times the bad boy tries to end the relationship before finally realizing he really does need (and deserve) a loving partner and not just hot sex. That said, there are some clear exceptions to this, and those are the novels which often become huge best sellers…

  • Level of Eros

    10 out of 10…definitely!

  • Prose Quality

    The prose quality in this genre can go either way: In many cases, it is pretty weak…the majority of the novel is simply about creating the time and place for sex, sex and more sex. But, there are definitely exceptions to this which have outstanding writing and fully developed characters and situations. These are the novels which are more interesting since so much time is spent encouraging the reader to really understand the bad boy: what motivates him, how to reach him, etc. In many ways, some of the authors in this genre seem to be writing a “bad boy” guide for women who want to learn how to win them over in real life!

Related Romance Subgenres



  • Western: Since the heroes are usually portrayed as loners and reluctant, there is often a “western” romance vibe here, also.

  • Military Romance: Sometimes the bad boys are “damaged” as a result or experience in war, so it can sometimes be part of the “military romance” genre.

  • Paranormal Romance: And, in recent years there have been vampire and werewolf bad boys, so definitely some “supernatural” romance connections, as well.

Bad Boy Romance isn't for you if

You like “sweet” relationships, the hero and heroine to be “equal” and you like gentle, slow, developed relationships.

Bad Boy Romance is totally for you if

You yourself like bad boys, hot sex scenes (and a lot of them) and want some new ideas for your own relationships…

Popular Bad Boy Romance Books
  • 1 Twilight (2006)

    By Stephenie Meyer. Is an epic tale of the supernatural bad boy. I know that some may disagree that Edward is a bad boy since he means well, but the truth remains that he spends much of the novel wanting to kill the heroine, who cannot stop obsessing about him. There is no sex in this novel – indeed there is actually very little kissing – but in terms of the bad boy romance genre, this is definitely one of the best!

  • 2 What to Do with a Bad Boy (2014)

    By Marie Harte. Is the story of a bachelor determined to remain a bachelor, and the hot lady mechanic who moves in next door and threatens to ruin his comfortably single life.

  • 3 Walking Disaster (2013)

    By Jamie McGuire. Tells the story of a man whose life is full of women, gambling and violence – just how he likes it…until he meets the woman who threatens to turn it all around.  NOTE: This is the second book featuring these two characters – the first book, Beautiful Disaster (2012), tells the story from the heroine’s perspective.

  • 4 Thoughtless (2012)

    By S. C. Stephens. Focuses on a woman who seemingly has it all – unless she and her fiancé are forced apart. Turning to a bad boy rock star, she finally discovers the truth about what she wants and who she really is.

  • 5 Real (2013)

    By Katy Evans. Is about a hot young boxer who has a bad boy image both inside and outside of the ring. Once he sees his new sports therapist he is determined to possess her, even it costs them both everything.

  • 6 Reaper’s Property (2013)

    By Joanna Wylde. Features a man named “Horse,” a “tattooed, badass biker” determined to get what he wants. Marie isn’t interested in being anyone’s property, but then when there is a situation which threatens her family, she might not have a choice.

  • 7 Pushing the Limits (2013)

    By Katie McGarry. Is a novel about a slightly younger heroine who falls for the bad boy in the black leather jacket. Trying to remember what happened to cause her fall from grace with the “in crowd,” she turns to him to try to recover and discover the person she wants to be.

  • 8 Crash (2012)

    By Nicole Williams. Is a twist on the classic “Romeo and Juliet.” As aspiring ballerina, she literally has the world at her feet, but she puts it all at risk since she cannot give up her desire for her bad boy – who has a rap sheet, a reputation and dangerous mood swings which threaten to cost her everything.

  • 9 Damaged (2014)

    By L. A. Fiore. Tells the story of a girl who knows how to defend her body, but not necessarily her heart. Despite being warned away from her bad boy by her friends and her memories of her last relationship, she does not want to want him, but cannot seem to stop. From his side, he doesn’t want to want her either…yet they are continually pulled toward one another, discovering that their unexpected linked past is leading them inevitably toward a linked future, as well.

  • 10 Fifty Shades of Grey (2011)

    By E. L. James. Is the classic bad boy story. Filled with everything this genre loves – with a focus on the hot guy and kinky sex, this novel pushed boundaries for the genre by introducing a new “classy” bad boy. He isn’t poor, doesn’t have tattoos, doesn’t ride a motorcycle and isn’t the lead singer of a rock band, but he does have all of the needs and demands of the bad boy, and is as broken as any of them. His story left millions of women secretly wondering how far they would be willing to go themselves in order to “win” him, and the success of the movie of the same name and the two follow up books may give us our answer.