Few things are as tempting as forbidden fruit, and books about forbidden love explore this concept.
The tragedy of a doomed love has been fertile territory for many authors, including Shakespeare, Emily Bronte and many more. The circumstances presented in books about forbidden love have varied, including disparate class backgrounds, feuding families and tortured pasts. Even when faced with these insurmountable odds, the protagonists in books about forbidden love pursue their impossible relationships, drawn like moths to a flame.
Books about forbidden love have continued to be popular with modern readers, particularly with young adult readers. Many of these modern books about forbidden love explore unconventional or uncomfortable relationships that are doomed from the start, such as love between siblings or between a teacher and a student.
Through these books about forbidden love, readers can explore these dark relationships safely.
#1 – Twilight
This book, which inspired many other books about forbidden love, tells the story of Bella Swan as she begins a new life in the quiet town of Forks, Washington. During her eventful first day in a new high school, Bella meets the mysterious Edward Cullen. The two eventually fall in love, but Edward’s true identity as a vampire puts Bella in a dangerous situation.
#2 – Slammed
After the tragic death of Layken’s father, she must hold her remaining family members together. When she meets her 21-year-old neighbor, Will Cooper, Layken quickly falls for him, feeling hopeful about the future again. Unfortunately, a terrible secret awaits them, putting their relationship on hold.
#3 – Gabriel’s Inferno
When Professor Gabriel Emerson meets his new graduate student, Julia Mitchell, he soon falls deeply in love with her. But, like the protagonists of many other books about forbidden love, Gabriel’s troubled past and dark desires make him feel unworthy of the innocent Julia’s love. However, redemption is not far away for Gabriel.
#4 – Thoughtless
Kiera and Denny head off to a new life together in a new city with exciting jobs. Their idyllic life comes to a crashing halt, however, leaving Kiera alone and broken. Kiera turns to Kellan Kyle, a local rock star, for comfort and support. Although the relationship begins platonically, passion soon drives them together.
#5 – Delirium
In the world of Delirium, love is a disease that must be eradicated. As Lena draws nearer to the age when love is removed from the body, she looks forward to the operation. Alex, a boy from outside of the civilized world, will soon change her mind and her plans drastically.
#6 – Girl with a Pearl Earring
The author of this book about forbidden love creates a rich fictional story based on a real painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” by Johannes Vermeer. Griet, a household servant for the Vermeer family, becomes close to the famous painter and serves as his model and muse. However, Vermeer’s marriage and the class barriers between him and his muse make the relationship an impossible dream.
#7 – Flowers in the Attic
As is the case in many books about forbidden love, desperate circumstances set the stage for taboo relationships. Corinne, a destitute mother sneaks her children into the attic of her parents’ house to avoid the wrath of her father. Over time, the children begin to suffer from their confinement, and an illicit romance begins to brew between two of the siblings.
#8 – Atonement
When Briony Tallis incorrectly interprets a romantic interaction between her sister and the son of the family’s housekeeper, chaos erupts and breaks the couple apart. Robbie, the falsely accused man, ends up in jail, despite the pleas of Cecilia, his love interest. World War II breaks out some time later, further blocking the pair in this forbidden love story.
#9 – Wuthering Heights
Like many classic books about forbidden love, the romance in this story is doomed from the beginning. Two lovers, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, first meet as young children in a remote moorland in England. The class differences between the two keep them apart, and Catherine ends up marrying another man. The disastrous consequences of this marriage have lasting effects on all who inhabit their house.
#10 – Lolita
After the early death of his childhood sweetheart, Humbert Humbert has developed an interest in young girls. When he meets Charlotte Haze and her daughter Dolores, he moves in with the family to be close to Dolores. The two engage in an illicit love affair that takes them across the country and, like many books about forbidden love, ultimately ends with tragedy.
#11 – Romeo and Juliet
Written by William Shakespeare in the 1500s, this famous and tragic play inspired many books about forbidden love and is still taught in high schools around the globe. Romeo and Juliet belong to two feuding families, making their love affair dangerous and forbidden. When their secret love is revealed, Juliet takes drastic action to save their relationship. When her decision backfires, it forces both families to assess the consequences of their petty feud.
#12 – Jane Eyre
This book follows the story of Jane Eyre as she matures from a young girl, verbally mistreated by her relatives, to a governess at Thornfield Hall. While living at Thornfield Hall, Jane meets the mysterious Edward Rochester and falls in love with him. Like many books about forbidden love, the pair must overcome many obstacles before their blossoming love can move beyond shy glances.