Updated: Oct 3, 2022
We all love a good arranged marriage trope. The whole "oh no, I'm forced to marry this sexy, brooding fae lord for the good of my kingdom, whatever will I do?" concept is something we just devour in books! The heat, the tension, the slowly growing to love each other over time, and, yes, the 🔥 spice 🔥, are always sooo delicious!
So, for your convenience, I've created this comprehensive list of the best fantasy romance books with the arranged marriage trope! Everything from indie to traditional, from clean to steamy. There's something for everyone in this list!
❌ - clean
🔥 - some heat, nothing explicit 🔥🔥 - explicit scenes included
A Deal With the Elf King Heat Level: 🔥
Honestly, all the books in Elise Kova's Married to Magic series fit the bill. Book 1 is a Hades and Persephone retelling that is unique and imaginative, and the romance between Luella and the Elf King is full of angst, tension, and plenty of swoon-worthy moments. Heat level is mild; not enough to call it "steamy" but a bit of heat to satisfy those just waiting around for the characters to do the deed already.
Kingdom of the Wicked Heat Level: 🔥🔥
Minor spoiler, but yes, an arranged marriage to a Prince of Hell is involved in this series, and it is delectable. Wrath is one of the sexiest love interests you'll ever meet, all muscles and tattoos and golden eyes. The spice in this one is mostly in Book 2—prepare to fan yourself—but as far as Book 1 goes, there's one makeout scene and that's all.
The Bridge Kingdom Heat Level: 🔥🔥
As part of a peace treaty, Lara is sent as a bride to King Aren, but she has plans to destroy his kingdom from within. Danielle L. Jensen excels at the incredibly slow burn, milking the tension for all it's worth and leading up to one, singular, very steamy scene. Plus, the worldbuilding in this series is incredible, complex, and thorough. It made the story feel so much more believable. Books 1 and 2 have 1 steamy scene each, but Book 3 pulls out all the stops and probably bumps up the heat level to three!
Stolen by the Shadow King Heat Level: 🔥
This book is described as "steamy-sweet" which usually means no explicit scenes, but the heat is still there. This is another Hades and Persephone retelling, but the best thing about the myth is how original and unique the retellings seem to be. An age-old story retold with a twist, and it never gets old! Each story brings something new to the tale, and this one is no exception. A fierce heroine, a brooding hero, and sexual tension galore!
House of Lies and Sorrow Heat Level: ❌
Enemies to lovers, forced proximity, and arranged marriage! Yes, please! While the romantic development is satisfying and there are some heated moments, there is little to no spice in this book. However, the chemistry between the characters is off the charts. This is a fun, easy read if a bit predictable. Overall a great story.
Feathers of Snow Heat Level: ❌
This is a fun Goose Girl retelling with an arranged marriage and a princess with a secret. The romance is fun and light, nothing steamy. The worldbuilding is excellent and well-developed. Overall, a unique take on the fairy tale!
Kingdom of Villains Heat Level: 🔥🔥
This is a delectable enemies to lovers with "touch her and you die" vibes and sexual tension aplenty. And yes, steamy scenes. The development of the romance is just *chef's kiss*. Pick this one up. You won't regret it.
Ivy & Bone Heat Level: 🔥🔥
What's that, you say? More Hades and Persephone? Why, don't mind if I do! Yes, Ivy & Bone is another Hades and Persephone retelling, but this one has a neat role reversal where she is the one to summon him to the land of the living instead of him dragging her down to the Underworld. It's got witches, forced proximity, only one bed, and some very hot and spicy scenes.
Bound to the Dark Elf King Heat Level: 🔥🔥
Anyone else sensing a pattern here? But there's a reason for that. IT WORKS. She's captured by the Elf King. Upon seeing her, he declares she is his fated mate. Their marriage is supposed to bring peace to all the lands. But, of course, she refuses to love him. No matter how dark and sexy he is. This book does contain steamy scenes, and it's a fun ride, so buckle up!
The Wrath and the Dawn Heat Level: ❌
This is a fascinating and magical tale based on A Thousand and One Nights where Shahrzad, wife to a brutal king, tells a thousand tales to keep the king from killing her each morning. This is an enemies to lovers arranged marriage where Shazi intends to wed the king and then kill him, but of course, plans change once she gets to know the dark and brooding king. No on-page steam—everything is very closed door in this book.
Bride of the Shadow King Heat Level: 🔥
This is an arranged marriage with a twist. The Shadow King chose the younger and more beautiful daughter as his bride, but he can't stop thinking about the oldest daughter, the one often overlooked. The build-up is a delicious slow burn. There is one steamy scene, but the deed doesn't actually happen—however, it alludes to more spice in future books, so prepare yourself.
Forced to Be Queen Heat Level: 🔥
She is chosen at random to be the fae king's bride. But instead of the monster she expects, he asks for her help to save his people. I truly love a dark and dangerous hero who is more than meets the eye, and this is a classic example of that. Alluring, slow burn romance with a bit of steam (more steam in the sequels, though).