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Ugly Tales Recommends

You read an Ugly Tales original story and you found it unique... somewhat intriguing. Or perhaps, you stumbled upon the Home page of this website and connected with the ethos of Ugly Tales.

Either way, if you like the stories I am telling with Ugly Tales, you will likely also enjoy reading the stories I like reading. In which case, you should scroll down and browse through the list of books I would recommend reading to anyone who can appreciate my dark fiction novellas and short stories.

And if you happen to have stumbled upon this page and find the recommendations below to be interesting, don't forget to look around the rest of the site and maybe pick up your first Ugly Tales original.

Top 10 Psychological Thriller Authors of the 21st Century

curated by Savan

It is simple to deceive the heart, but the human mind? Not so much. Today we put the spotlight on some psychological thriller authors who have the rare ability toy with even the most evolved of our minds. Their stories will make you question reality and they will condemn you to a few sleepless nights as you try to make sense the fascinating ideas that they plant in your head.


Needless to say, this list isn't exhaustive. Rather, we're featuring some of our modern favorites and hoping you'll discover a new author to fall in love with.

psychological thriller authors to read
psychological thriller authors

Gillian Flynn

Once a writer for Entertainment Weekly, Flynn wrote her first novel in 2006. Aside from writing three very popular novels, she has dabbled in short stories as well as comics. Two of her books also made it to the list of our favorite crime thriller books.


Flynn excels at creating strong female leads and exploring complicated, layered relationships. Her deep understanding and exploration of the vulnerabilities in human relationships makes her books unputdownable for her readers.


Start by reading: Gone Girl

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Paula Hawkins

Hawkins started her career writing under the pseudonym Amy Silver, without much success. It was her first novel under her real name, The Girl on the Train, that garnered profound notoriety.


She won acclaim for tackling issues that women are afflicted by in our society. Paula Hawkins puts the microscope over controversial human behavior, such as, cheating and abuse, and explains what drives people to such actions with exemplary lucidity.

Start by reading: The Girl on the Train

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Stephen King

Although widely regarded as a legend in the horror genre, Stephen King's horrors are often born of the human psyche and our wild imagination. Whether it was his first novel, Carrie, or perhaps his most celebrated work, The Shining, King has always been able to capture the psychological apprehensions of his readers' minds.


King’s specialty lies in his sharp dialogue, passionate opinions about generic life experiences, and his incredible ability to transcend genres. Apart from thrilling plots, a Stephen King book always comes with the promise of amazing world-building and believable characterization.

Start by reading: The Shining

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Clare Mackintosh

A former police officer, Clare Mackintosh has written five novels, all part of the Sphere series, that have since been published in more than 35 languages. Her books have hit bestseller lists for crime and thriller books and earned her several prestigious awards, including Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2016.


Her books are notorious for unpredictable plot twists, believable crime-scene narrative, and solid character development.

Start by reading: I Let You Go

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Mark Edwards

A British Author, Mark Edwards has built his reputation recounting tales of extraordinary events with ordinary people. After having written over ten books, each, more terrifying than the other, Edwards has firmly established himself in the psychological thrillers genre.


Edwards started out co-authoring and self-publishing his books before hitting the big time. Mark leaves his mark (sorry, we love puns) by making the readers wonder if the world is truly as straightforward as it seems.

Start by reading: The Magpies

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Lucy Clarke

A psychological thriller author endorsed by the Richard and Judy Book Club, Lucy Clarke has written five brilliant novels that have been translated into at least 12 languages.


One of Clarke’s most favored tropes, one that I personally enjoy, involves disappearance of people and how that impacts the close ones of those who disappear. A Lucy Clarke book is a treat to those who like to see clues come in waves to help gradually uncover the mysteries surrounding the protagonists.

Start by reading: You Let Me In

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SJ Watson

Steve J Watson is an English writer, better known as SJ Watson. He created earned international acclaim with his debut novel, Before I Sleep. The book has since been published in over 42 languages. An audiologist by profession, Steve took a demotion at work to focus on writing.


Watson often explores the theme of memory loss in his books and his characterization and pacing of his stories are always on point. Watson is especially great at creating relatable characters that his readers can easily invest in.

Start by reading: Before I Go To Sleep

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AJ Finn

Daniel Mallory left his publishing job behind to 'become' AJ Finn and write his debut novel, The Woman in the Window and hasn't looked back since.


Finn offers a fresh perspective in the psychological thriller genre. The Woman in the Window isn’t so much a chilling or a nail-biting but instead a gripping read that is truly hard to put down! The best quality of Finn's writing in perhaps the pacing - there is never a dull moment.

Start by reading: The Woman in the Window

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Lisa Jewell

A psychological thriller specialist, so to speak, Lisa Jewell first shot to fame with her novel - Then She was Gone. The British author has written eleven novels and continues to leave her readers short on sleep because they simply cannot put her books down!


Lisa has an innate ability to make her characters come alive. Her tales, although borrowed from classic fiction, seem unique in the telling from her perspective. Her appealing style of writing connects with all her thriller readers alike.

Start by reading: I Found You

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Kiersten Modglin

Kiersten is a self-admitted psychological thriller fanatic and has written more than ten books in the psychological thriller and romantic suspense genres.


In her books, she enjoys exploring and showing readers the darkest parts of the human mind. Her ability to tap into the readers' minds and finding twists in the mundane make her a fitting addition to this list of amazing psychological thriller authors.

Start by reading: The Dream Job

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10 Unforgettable Crime Thriller Books of the 21st Century

curated by Arnab

From nail-biting suspense thrillers to gripping crime drama, the last few years have been fantastic for readers of crime thriller books. Detectives, spies, serial killers, drama, this genre is packed with everything.

So, if you love to read about cold-blooded murder and are allured by page-turning plot-twists and spine-chilling mystery, you cannot ignore this list of top crime thriller books of the 21st century that will leave you in awe.

Stack of Crime Thriller Books
Unforgettable Crime Thriller Books

Sara Gran’s first book of the Claire DeWitt series, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, is an exhilarating, mysterious adventure filled with humor, an exciting plot, and a brilliant backstory. In the book, Claire is a self-proclaimed “world’s greatest detective” who learned detection from Jacques Silette’s mysterious handbook, went to New Orleans to solve a murder case.

Sara Gran’s most significant achievement in the book is that she helps us look through the horror of the post-Katrina world. And better understand its children, slowly becoming perpetrators. Gran did a great job of knitting several compelling mystery stories into one novel. With a sharp and engaging voice, she manages to hook the reader and take them into the dark world of DeWitt.

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Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn (2012)

Gillian Flynn, one of the most successful thriller writers of our time, brings the reader in a dark place with her razor-sharp writing in the unputdownable masterpiece, Gone Girl.

The story starts on the morning of Nick and Amy’s wedding anniversary, where Nick’s gorgeous wife Amy mysteriously disappears from their home. Under enormous pressure from police and media, Nick starts to show suspicious behavior. But is he the killer? Is Amy dead? You have to read the book to find out.

Gone Girl was able to successfully capture the female rage and helped to re-popularize female-driven crime thrillers. We, briefly, even considered adding it to our romantic suspense thrillers reading list.

However, this book a bit of a slow burner. It takes time to build up Nick and Amy’s marriage and their secrets. That is why the first half of the book may feel a tad slow to some. Other than that, Gone Girl is a nerve-fraying thriller that puzzles you at every turn.

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The Dry

Jane Harper (2016)

Award-winning author Jane Harper published her mysterious, page-turning debut thriller, The Dry, in 2016.


This isn’t a breakneck thriller novel that gives you a rush to read, this is the sort of book that starts slow and gradually gains momentum. The complex web of the storyline captivates the reader’s attention to the point that it keeps you thinking about it for a long time after you finish reading.


Another notable characteristic of the book is the depth and beauty given to the characters. You will feel mentally present in each conversation. Also, the writer did a fabulous job with the minimal description of violence, which makes the book suitable for almost all kinds of thriller readers.

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Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn (2006)

Just Google 'most disturbing psychological thriller books' and you will find Sharp Objects plastered all over the search results, and with good reason.


Sharp Objects is another chilling crime thriller book written by Gillian Flynn. The book tells the story of Camille Preaker, a reporter who has returned to her hometown to cover a murder story.


As the story advances and the case begins to unravel, Camille finds herself mentally attached to the young victim. And she realizes the demon she is searching for may be a lot closer to her than she thinks.


If you are faint of heart, then this book is probably not for you. There are vivid descriptions of violence, substance abuse, and animal abuse in the book. But if you crave for a crime thriller filled with spine-chilling narrative and unforgettable ideas, then you are in for a treat.

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Bill Beverly (2016)

Bill Beverly’s debut novel Dodgers is a story of a 15-year-old boy, East, a foot soldier of a drug mafia, who is sent to kill a witness in another city. He goes to complete the task with his hothead half brother and two other young men.


East, who never stepped outside his hometown, traveled to another city to commit the murder, but things don’t go as planned.


The book is eventful and primarily follows a road trip with the four main characters. The writer made the characters very believable, and although the drama catches speed early, giving an anticlimax feel, Dodgers is an absolute pleasure to read.

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The Turn of the Key

Ruth Ware (2019)

The Turn of the Key is a modernized take on a haunted house mystery.


The story revolves around Rowan, who gets a job in a wealthy family as a live-in nanny. As she stays there, she starts to feel that something is a little off. The misbehaving child, the creepy poisonous garden in the back, it all makes her very suspicious. You will discover more mystery as the story unravels.


Right from the beginning, the book manages to hook the reader with vivid, hair-raising depictions of suspense. That said, this book is a slow-burner, and as the story unravels, the intensity increases.


With a brilliant and suspenseful plot, Ruth Ware delivers a stellar suspense thriller book.

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The Lock Artist

Steve Hamilton (2009)

Steve Hamilton took a break from his Alex McKnight Series and created a truly unique lead character in the book The Lock Artist. And he did a really great job with it.


Michel is an eighteen-year-old boy with the exceptional talent of picking locks. He can pick any lock in the world. Due to some trauma in childhood, he hasn’t uttered a single word in ten years. Still, his unique set of abilities pushes him into the world of crime until he sees a chance to escape.


If you are not usually one for crime thriller books, you might want to give this book a spin. This is not just a crime thriller but a tale of love, curse, redemption, and horror.

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The Girl Who Played with Fire

Stieg Larsson (2009)

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second novel in Stieg Larsson's best-selling series, Millennium. It was published in Swedish in 2006 and in English in 2009.


The story revolves around a genius but troubled hacker Lisbeth Salander who is accused of murdering two reporters. As the story advances, Salander draws herself into a pursuit of the murderer, which leads her to face her own dark past.


The book is hefty. Larsson crafted his suspenseful story in such a way that it gives you a taste of a fast-paced, cinematic crime thriller. With enough plot twists and a compelling cast of important characters, you will either love the book or hate it, as the mood takes you.

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London Rules

Mike Herron (2018)

Slough House is an amazing spy series created by Mike Herron, and London Rules is a brilliant fifth addition to the series.


The main character in the book is Lamb. He is an obese, alcoholic spy who says what should not be said, does what ought not be done. But it gives Herron the license to write unpredictable twists in a way that truly lets the character comedy shine through.


Herron’s story is imaginative but realistic. With an unusual twist to keep it interesting, there’s a lot of dark comedy that will keep readers smirking, giggling, and even laughing out loud.


Honestly, if you get a kick from reading crime thriller novels and like humor too, you must start reading London Rules today.

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Mark Dawson (2018)

The author of the famous John Milton series, Mark Dawson, published the 13th mission of John Milton by the name Sleepers.


Milton is tasked to eliminate a Russian team that assassinated a Russian defector. The journey takes him to Moscow and sees a confrontation with the directorate of the Sleeper agency.


Sleepers is a thrilling, suspenseful story with multiple viewpoints which run separately but successfully come together in the end. The characters are strong and well-developed. Dawson successfully keeps the reader hooked through to the end of the book. This book was simply written for success.


9 Romantic Suspense Thriller Books You Must Read This Year

curated by Savan

Romance books are perfect when you want to just stay in, get comfy, and read.


However, if you get bored with the sweet romantic stories and are looking to explore a darker side of romance, you will love our list of new romance suspense novels. Make sure to add them to your list.

Romantic suspense thrillers - lovers' spats
Romantic Suspense Thriller Books

New York Times- bestselling author Dorothy Eden is known for her suspense thriller books. In the year 2013, she published her nail biter novel The Deadly Travellers.


It’s a story of a little girl who suddenly vanishes on the train. Even Kate, the main character, was assailed by doubt and fear. Will she find the little girl? You have to read the book to find out.


The book is ideal if you are looking for an easy-to-follow romantic suspense thriller. The story is quick and moves as fast as the train that Kate is on. It's a lovely addition to your reading list.

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Down in New Orleans

Heather Graham

Down in New Orleans is a thrilling romantic suspense novel by Heather Graham, the author of the bestselling and award-winning series Krewe of Hunters. The book was first published in 1965, but it is still widely considered a romantic suspense must-read.


The story revolves around Ann and Jon Marcel. Accused of the murder of a stripper, Jon must rely on his close friend and ex-wife Ann to help him. And when Ann tries to help her ex-husband, she steps into a shadowy and sensual world in New Orleans and finds herself fighting for her own life.

The mystery, the romance, and the sub-plot of ex-lovers reuniting make it an excellent thriller story.

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A lawyer by profession and a bestselling author, Julie James wholeheartedly focused solely on writing only after her books got optioned by Hollywood productions. So far, she has written nine romantic novels and The Thing About Love is one of her latest published works. A story about two FBI agents who were once rivals, but six years later, they find themselves assigned to work as partners in an undercover mission.


The playful camaraderie and sexy chemistry between John and Jessica make this book an engaging read. However, the average reader may feel slightly distracted from the emotional aspects of the book because a lot of time was spent detailing the FBI's elite HRT team's ins and outs, which may not all be relatable for every reader who picks this up.


However, the romance storyline is on point and the attractive rivals dynamic between John and Jessica make The Thing About Love a delightful read.

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Some Kind of Hero

Suzanne Brockmann

Suzanne Brockmann is a bestselling American author who has written more than fifty novels. She is most famous for her 'Troubleshooters’ series on Navy Seals.

Some Kind of Hero is the story of Lieutenant Peter Greene, who is trying to find a missing child with the help of a romance writer, Shayla.

Brockmann has brilliantly intertwined the relation between the two and created a rich backstory for their characters, which help you get invested in the novel.

Some Kind of Hero is a fast-paced, action-packed book that really takes off from the first page. While the romance doesn't take centerstage when we start the novel, it is definitely worth the wait.

The action, the stress of trying to find a missing child, and romance will definitely keep you hooked till you finish the last page of the book. This book will be a worthy addition in your reading list.

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Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte had originally published Jane Eyre under her pen name, Currer Bell.


Perhaps not your typical romantic suspense book, published in 1847, this book is a timeless classic. Jane Eyre is considered as one of the most progressive books of its time because of its focus on Jane's individuality at a time when society expected women to be anything but and because of how Charlotte Bronte approached sensitive topics like sexuality, religion, and feminism in the eighteen hundreds.

The meticulous character development and vivid depictions of the world Jane lived in are just some of the many things that you make this book exceptional. The book has an intriguing plot and brilliant plot-twists to keep you hooked.

The story revolves around Jane, who was orphaned as a child and felt like an outcast. When she arrived at Thornfield Hall, Jane found herself attracted to Adele. Will she be left heartbroken or exiled? You have to read the story to find out!


Jane Eyre’s overtly religious theme may not suitable for our times, but the book has weathered competition from generations of romantic suspense thrillers and is still one of the best stories you will ever read.

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Every Last Breath

Juno Rushdan

Every Last Breath, Rushdan’s fast-paced and gripping debut novel holds the reader’s attention from start to finish.


The story revolves around Maddox Kinkade, an expert agent who recruited Cole to stop the threat of a pandemic. Later she found out Cole was her lost love. As they started working on saving the world, it’s interesting to read how their relationship evolves.


New York Time's bestselling author Lexi Blake said:

“An electric combination of heart-stopping thriller and swoon-worthy romance. It’s an unputdownable thrill ride!”

All in all, Every Last Breath is an emotional story of a second-chance romance thriller that will keep your eyes riveted to the pages.

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Julie James’s Something About You is lighthearted romantic suspense. Lawyer turned New York Bestseller author Julie James published her third book Something About You in the year of 2010.

The story revolves around Cameron, who decided to take a break from her daily life and spend her time in a hotel. However, with her bad luck, she got involved in a murder case next to her hotel room. Turned out, Cameron had a history with the special agent who was in charge of the case.

The writing of the story is strong, and it grips the reader's attention with a fun, smooth, and catchy style. It tells the story from everyone's point of view- including the killer. The storyline is not overly surprising, but with Julie James's brilliant and witty writing, it's worth reading.

something about you julie james.jpg

Her Deadly Secrets

Laura Griffin
“With her signature breathless pacing and suspenseful twists and turns, 'Laura Griffin never fails to put me on the edge of my seat'." - USA TODAY.

Another New York Times bestselling author, Laura Griffin wrote Her Deadly Secrets in the year 2019. And it went to become USA Today bestseller.

The book tells the story of Kira Vance, a private investigator who spends her days navigating the labyrinth of Houston's legal world and know all its dark secrets. Soon she finds out that there is a price for keeping deadly secrets as a killer was set out to eliminate her.


Her Deadly Secrets is a thrilling read on how Kira fights to stay alive while also unmasking the killer.

This book is an excellently well written, in-depth, entertaining, and suspenseful story that will surely keep you turning the pages intently until you get to the last page.

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The Me I Used To Be

Jennifer Ryan

New York Bestselling author Jennifer Ryan published another brilliant romantic suspense thriller The Me I Used to Be in the 2019.

In this novel, Evangeline Austen returns home after serving time for a crime she didn't commit. She wanted to rebuild her life after that, but as she went on to rebuild her life, she started to find out the shocking truth about the past.

The book is an breezy and enjoyable read, although, the main characters could have had more depth. Sometimes everything seemed quickly falling into places.


Overall if you love light romantic suspense stories, you should have this book in your reading list.

If you like this list, but want to explore other darker fictional takes on romance, just scroll down to our favorite forbidden romance books in this reading recommendations list.

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9 Forbidden Romance Books That Will Shake Your Sense of Morality

curated by Savan

The romance genre is remarkably deep with several sub-genres and hence, it allows a wide variety of readers something unique to enjoy. Today we are looking at five uniquely special forbidden romance books. Forbidden romance includes any and all romantic relationship that is considered taboo or unnatural. In some ways, even Romeo & Juliet should be considered a forbidden romance story.


In this post, however, I am going to explore books that explore slightly more complicated relationships; stories that appear taboo to society but in reality, is an individual choice of freedom. We will judge these books by the complexity of struggles of its characters to come to terms with their relationship and their own internal conflicts.

Flying Forbidden Romance Books on Bed
Forbidden Romance Books


Tabitha Suzuma (2010)

Forbidden is about a relationship between a brother and a sister. Forced to grow up prematurely due to a drunken mother, their plight and problems are highlighted beautifully in this book. Although the subject is not for everyone, Forbidden presents it poignantly and will leave you emotionally drained.


The book's subject is highly controversial and will not find an interested audience in everyone. However, the book is beautifully and boldly written.

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Penelope Douglas (2015)

Born in Iowa, United States, Penelope Douglas is a new-age writer who loves writing on taboo subjects and adult themes. She has written sixteen books so far! She holds a degree in public administration and education, but today she is just a full-time author.


Misconduct explores a romance between a single father and the young teacher of his son. The story manages to convey the struggle for both as they enter into a taboo romantic relationship. A teacher scared for her job, a father scared for his reputation, and a desire to be together. Misconduct manages to capture and beautifully narrate their relationship as they overcome their own limitations and vulnerabilities.


Try to overlook some of the sex scenes if they start to feel a little repetitive and, instead, focus on the brilliant portrayal of emotions.

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Colleen Hoover (2016)

Colleen self-published Slammed in 2012 and immediately won the hearts of her readers. The book explores vulnerability in relationships, especially between a student and a teacher. I almost added it to our romantic suspense thriller books reading list as well, until my better senses prevailed.


Hoover's explorations in grief, internal struggles, and difficult choices make this book lovable and relatable. Slammed is a very fast-paced book with falling in love and complexities arising at breakneck speed.

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Debt Inheritance

Pepper Winters (2014)

Pepper Winters has written more than twenty books and is famous for her work in dark romance. Having been both self-published and traditionally publishing, she is a unique success story.


Exploring the treacherous subject of slavery, Debt Inheritance is a fast-paced book. The unique aspect of the book is its portrayal of the male lead as a villain. This book makes no attempt at trying to find light in the darkness and that was a refreshing perspective. The character arcs are beautifully sketched out and make this book an unputdownable page-turner.


The only issue with the book is a set of inconsistencies, which sometimes adversely affects character development. That aside, the side characters are not very engaging either. This book had much more potential.

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Born Darkly

Trisha Wolfe (2017)

Trisha Wolfe is never afraid of exploring taboo subjects and relationships and doesn't let you easily forget her compelling yet controversial stories.


Born Darkly attempts to explore and explain a relationship between a psychologist and a criminal. A forbidden relationship as per her profession, the book explores the dark and murky mind of a really flawed character.


The book is extremely dark and not for the fainthearted. Know what you are getting into before adding this to your reading list.

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Birthday Girl

Penelope Douglas (2018)

Birthday Girl is another brilliant forbidden love story from the New York Times Bestselling author Penelope Douglas.

The story follows Jordan and her relationship with her boyfriend's dad. The incestuous concept may fill you with disgust, but the book is a rather tender love story at its heart. Jordan is a lonely girl without family or friends, and she's just looking for a person with whom she can share her life and be happy. Pike happened to be just the right man for her.

The book can be an intense read about the internal battles of two individuals. This singular focus allows this story to become a masterpiece among its peers. The characters are relatable and humane. Jordan is sweet but clever, firm but not a badass, and she has real dreams like most of us.

And excellent plot that tantalizes you with taboos on every level, this book definitely deserves a place in your TBR list.

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Leah Reader (2014

Leah Reader’s Unteachable is an edgy, sexy USA TODAY bestseller. Reader's lyrical, paretic, and vivid writing style grabs the readers' attention from the very first line. And you will have no shotage of goosebumps reading the rest of the story either.

Maise is a young girl who aspires to be an actress. One night at a carnival, she meets Evan. They came close immediately. But their chemistry was short-lived. After a couple of months, when she goes into acting school, she found Evan as her teacher.

Unteachable is a smart, sexy, and provocative story that goes off-script some times. If you are one for taboo sexual fantasies, this book is sure to deliver.

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Stepbrother Dearest

Penelope Ward (2014)

Penelope Wards’ New York Bestseller book Stepbrother Dearest is an intense love story between Greta and her stepbrother Erik. When Erik came to live with Greta, she didn't realize how evil her brother truly is. However, as they slowly moved past their differences, they came closer. And one day Erik left as quickly as he had come into her life. After a long seven years, a family tragedy brought them back together, and neither were prepared to deal with how life had changed.


This is the kind of book that if you start reading, you will want to keep going. The author beautifully balances the stories of both our main characters to the point where you will feel empathy for both.


The book isn't perfect, but if you want a sexy, unique, and unconventional book, you should definitely give Stepbrother Dearest a try.

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Sara B. Larson (2014)

Defy is a lush, gorgeously written, action-packed, and heart-pounding debut romance novel by Sara B. Larson.

The story revolves around Alex, who is a female fighter forced to serve in the king's army, disguised as a man. One day a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace and abducts her and soon after, Alex finds herself confronted with two men who crave her. Of course, you have to read the book to find out what, eventually happens of Alex.


The book is a slow burner at the beginning and can sometimes feel a little too predictable. But read this to enjoy the wonderful word-wizardry of Sara B. Larson’s, if for no other reason.

Whether we admit it or not, we all love tantalizing and sensual forbidden love stories. Tell us in the comments if you have read any of these books or if we have missed some of your favorites.

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Well, let's leave you with these for now. But here's a quick few callouts:

  • There are some images and graphics used on these page that are not Ugly Tales intellectual property. These assets have either been licensed for use by the creators of this page or used under fair use guidelines.

  • This page is live but always pending more updates. Whenever I think a book is UT Worthy, this page will get updated to include it. And there already are several other UT Worthy books in my bookshelf, which will gradually appear on this page pending enough books populating a category.

  • If you'd like more niche book recommendations, bookmark this page on your browser and sign up to the Ugly Tales mailing list.

  • If you'd like to recommend a book you read and think it should feature on this page, please get in touch.

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