GS vs. STA: Angsty Romance

Bitchery reader Amy asks for recommendations, oh well-read Bitchery:

[T]he reason for my bothering you is to ask you and all other sisters and brothers of SB for help. I am a great lover of Laura Kinsale, esp. Seize the Fire. Yes, I am a fangirl of the” angsty”, “gut-wrenching” intense romance school, and I would appreciate it very much if you could help me to find more treasures in this particular school of romance.

So – angsty romance – bring it on! What’s your pleasure?

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  1. 1
    starborn says:

    Most of Laura Kinsale’s stuff but especially:

    For My Lady’s Heart

    I also recommend:

    The Windflower by Laura London
    Sunshine and Shadow by Laura London
    To Have And To Hold by Patrica Gaffney
    The Painted Lady by Lucia Grahame
    A Rose At Midnight by Anne Stuart
    All Through the Night by Connie Brockway
    The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett (if you are feeling brave and have the time)
    Keeper of the Dream by Penelope Williamson
    The Outsider by Penelope Williamson

    Those spring to mind and they are fabulous

  2. 2
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Some of Suzanne Brockmann’s SEAL heroes, but you’ve pretty much got to read the whole series in order to get to them. 

    However, her Heart Throb is a completely stunning book and almost perfect.  Adore the hero, even adored the heroine, which is difficult for me, and the story is just perfect.  And it’s a stand-alone.  As is Bodyguard.  Personally, I didn’t like this one, because of the hero, but most of her other rabid fangirls (yes, I am one) adored it.

    SEP does some sort of angsty heroes, but nothing like Kinsale.

    Urm…considering this is my forte, you’d think I’d know.  JR Ward’s heroes, of course, especially Z’s book, but Oh, the controversy…

    I’ll second Williamson’s The Outsider.  Adored that book.  Linda Howard’s earlier books?

    I’ve got to get my hands on The Windflower.  I’ve heard too much about it.

    And Joey Hill’s BDSM books are very angsty.  Her current gay male BDSM Rough Canvas (ebook only on Ellora’s Cave) is one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read, and whoa baby HOTT!  And angsty!  AND you get TWO heroes and don’t have to worry about that silly heroine person!  ;)

  3. 3
    Lorelie says:

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by angsty but if it’s an angsty leading man:
    Zarek in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dance with the Devil.  But be prepared for the slow slide into suckage of the rest of the series.

  4. 4
    shaunee says:

    “Requiem for the Devil,” by Jeri Smith-Ready.  I’ve said it before, but I have no problem saying it again.  You Will Snot Cry.

  5. 5
    amy eunmi lee says:

    Dear Lorelielong,

    I knew I had to be more specific with what I defined as “angsty”. Thank you.

    I will say that my “angsty” book would have either “angsty” heroine or hero. I will say that this book will have either or both hero or heroine getting emotionally “broken” and then mended. And then I would say that a reader of the said book would be participating in that “intense”  emotional rollercoster through these characters, and definately would have to experience a “catharsis”. Do I make better sense of what kind of recommendations I would like?

  6. 6
    shaunee says:

    Again I say Requiem for the Devil.  Definitely fits the bill.

  7. 7
    Stephanie says:

    Oh man, like everything by Lorraine Heath is a heartstring-tugger for me.

    Or perhaps I was just overly emotional when I went through her books.

  8. 8
    Emeline Green says:

    I’m gonna concur with Sarah F.: J.R. Ward is torturously tortured (and torturing) with the angst and the HoYay and the Dark Pasts Full of Abuse and Mother Issues. Seems like the Paranormals would probably be a good place to start. Every hero wears guyliner and pleather and looks sad/angry all the time; you know, like at Hot Topic. And what’s more angsty than the mall?

  9. 9
    Phoebe says:

    Veiled Promises, Tracy MacNish
    Veiled Desires, Tracy MacNish

    Both these books fit your bill.  I just read them a few weeks ago, and can’t stop thinking about them.  Veiled Desires was my favorite, though.  I loved that book!

  10. 10
    Kelly Bishop says:

    Julia Quinn – When He Was Wicked. I cry at sad movies all the time but this was the first book I can remember in a long time that made me cry. I just bawled… But in a good way.

  11. 11
    azteclady says:

    Linda Howard’s “Cry No More”—and keep the kleenex handy.

    Laura Kinsale’s “Flowers from the Storm”

    I’m sure I have many more, but will have to think a bit. “Will be back”

  12. 12
    Jami Alden says:

    No body does humorous yet angsty like Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I especially love Lady be Good and It Had to Be You.

    Pretty much anything by Penelope Williamson is incredibly rich and angsty. 

    For something more recent, I found Kresley Cole’s MacCarrick books (if you desire, if you dare, if you deceive) to be pretty angsty. 

    As for recent contemporaries, Shannon McKenna does really sexy emotionally tortured heroes.

  13. 13
    Chris S. says:

    Julia Ross has dealt with some badly bruised characters (let’s say ‘maimed’ rather than ‘broken’).  And yes, if you want some SERIOUS plunge-into-the-depths in order to emerge, you should try JR Ward.

  14. 14
    Jami Alden says:

    oh – here’s another author – Katherine Sutcliffe.  I think she retired, but her historicals and her contemporaries are totally dark and angsty.

  15. 15
    anu says:

    Anne Stuart’s Rose At Midnight. YUMMY.

    Somebody mentioned Julia Ross. I liked The Seduction, altho the angst comes from the external plot rather than from the characters. Also, the writing can be really purple.

  16. 16
    Becca says:

    Kathryn Shay is about as angsty as I can deal with. All her heros, and a good number of her heroines, are pretty damaged people who manage to find love in spite of it.

  17. 17
    Kalen Hughes says:

    Julia Ross is my favorite romance writer, but I’m not at all sure I’d call her protagonists “angsty”. Powerful emotions in those books, yes, but not “angsty” (or at least not in the way I think of it). I don’t tend to like “angsty” characters (too much martyr and TSTL action) and I spend the whole book being annoyed . . .

  18. 18
    lisabea says:

    And what’s more angsty than the mall?

    So true, so true. But for real hell? One would have to also be trying on swim suits with ones size 4 16 year old daughter. Now that is angst. 

    You know, the brotherhood are just a stroke of eyeliner away from being true emo dudes.

  19. 19
    Emma says:

    Robin Schone’s “Gabriel’s Woman”.

    In fact, just about all of Schone’s work pretty much fits your bill. She writes erotica in the mainstream, with Kensington, I think. You can pick up her work in any bookstore. I highly recommend the companion to “Gabriel’s Woman”, titled, “The Lover”. Each book stands alone, but imo one should be read with the other. Also, “The Lady’s Tutor” as well as her novellas in the anthologies “Captivated” and “Fascinated”.

  20. 20

    Crap…the most angsty novels I’ve read are by an author in the ‘90s who used all three of her names…but I can’t remember what they were.  They had a lot of heart break before the ending.  In fact, they were so painful sometimes, I couldn’t read one unless I was in the mood.  Sorry I can’t be more specific

  21. 21
    Kat says:

    “Requiem for the Devil,” by Jeri Smith-Ready definately! It’s one of the few books that had me sobbing.

  22. 22
    dl says:

    Sarah…if you can find a copy of “The Windflower”, it’s fabulous.  “The Testamony” is also lovely.  Anything by Tom & Sharon Curtis aka Laura London is devine. 

    My def of angst is similiar to Kalen.  I love a book where the emotions of the characters pull you into the story. When it’s done well, you can feel it for days or weeks.  Besides some of the already mentioned:

      Vulnerable by Amy Lane,
      Warchild by Karin Lowachee (not romance), and maybe some others like   Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
    Tell Me No Lies by Elizbeth Lowell.

    IMO opinion, angst is just too, too much. Recently read “Thief With No Shadow” by Emily Gee, after reading several glowing reviews (the liars).  H/H both wallowed in angst the entire book, second guessing themselves, guilt, worry, anguish, martyr, misery, and generally TSTL…endlessly & ad nausium until I desperately wanted to slap them both and toss the book into the garbage.  In the final few pages they finally pulled their heads out and somehow achieved HEA, hah.  I traded that puppy so fast I think the stamps were on fire.

  23. 23
    Jackie L. says:

    Linda Howard’s Cry No More.  Angst upon angst.  Emotional wringer.  External bad things happen to heroine and the tale is how she fights back.  Not for the faint of heart, or if you have small children at home.  Well small children you like.

  24. 24
    Joanna says:

    Seconding Dorothy Dunnett’s the Lymomd Chronicles.  It is very very long (6 volumes – all of them long) but very very good and very very angsty.  On the Angsty front, I would particularly recommend Pawn in Frankincense which is heartwrenching – but I think it is number 4 in the series and to really get the most out of them, you should start with number 1.

    Also, Lily by Patricia Gaffney.  More of a traditional bodice ripper this one and to be honest, it feels a little like the heroine is sent gratuitously through hell by the author in a ‘painting by numbers’ kind of a way – BUT – I totally loved it.

    I’d also tentatively recommend Edward Edward by Lola Burford.  I say tentatively because I last read it 17 years ago as an impressionable teenager.  Very angsty – and not actually romance as such – but historical.  Some extreme content.  Erm – I’ll say no more.

    Finally – the book in response to which I sobbed hardest most in my life (again, not a romance but has romantic bits).  The Gold Tipped Pfitzer by Irene Handl – sequel to the equally brilliant The Sioux.  Obscure and wonderful * le sigh *.

  25. 25
    Eunice says:

    The Lily Brand, by Sandra Schwab

  26. 26
    asdfg says:

    Alison McLeay’s trilogy Passage Home, Sweet Exile,and After Shanghai. They’re hard to find, but excellent. Anything she writes is excellent.

  27. 27
    nina armstrong says:

    Some of Mary Balogh is like this-I recommend Simply Love in particular-the heroine is a rape victim and the hero was horribly disfigured in the Napoleonic war. Also Mary Jo Putney has several books like this,also Jo Beverly’s Rogues series-like the new one Lady Beware.

  28. 28
    Joanna says:

    Yes yes yes to Simply Love by Balogh and also One Night for Love by her.  I absolutely loved that book – it’s v angsty.

    I love this post!  Angst is so my cup of tea (erm – not real angst – just fiction).

    *goes to bathroom in search of mild sedative*

  29. 29
    gwendy says:

    I want to second the praise for Veiled Desires by Tracy MacNish. Much intense suffering before HEA and a delicious over the top villian who is female.
    Ditto The Lily Brand by Sandra Schwab, great angst and wickedly crazy villian who is female.

    Lets see… There is Lydia Joyce, any book by Anne Stuart. Has she ever written a truly bad book? I’ve never come across one, Elizabeth Lowell’s bad, bad cowboys, Karen Robard’s classic, real romance novels with extremely troubled heroes, Laura Lee Guhrke’s Guilty Pleasures ( the moody muscian hero), Melanie George’s The Pleasure Seekers. And two of my favorite’s Flowers In The Storm and Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale.

  30. 30
    Leah says:

    You might have to get these used, but I’d offer RIDE THE FIRE by Pamela Clare and DANEGELD by Susan Squires as some really emotional, I-can’t-believe-what-you-put-these-people-through kind of reads.

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