It’s unavoidable. They’re everywhere all over the charts, with chiseled abs, open dress shirts, and bedroom eyes that want something a little more than just a casual fling.

Boys next door? No. Mafia hitmen? Still popular, but no. Dad’s best friends? Not even that. Okay, well sometimes. Stepbrothers? Close, but no proverbial cigar, ladies. Romance in 2017 is all about daddies. Of the step or family friend variety, of course—let’s make that clear.

Romance writers are a saucy bunch, and I say that as a decidedly saucy romance writer. We like to write about exciting heroes and heroines, about forbidden love between men in power and the women beholden to them, about virgins and CEOs, maidens and mafia mavens. When we look back at some of our favorite romance heroes, stepbrothers hit the top of the charts with sexiness, dating back to 2015. Though we still see a spare stepbrother here and there in the top of the romance charts, 2016 gave way to the daddy’s best friend and the powerful CEO. It makes perfect sense that our new sexiest of sexy men is the stepdad. And not only the stepdad—the possessive guardians, plenty of daddy’s best friends who like to be called by the moniker, “Daddy,” and the powerful men playing the role of father to the ingenues in their lives. We writers and readers want them all. And that’s why they’re all over Amazon.

But wait, Lexi, isn’t that a little… risqué? Maybe even a little too risqué?

Absolutely. Yes. A resounding, loud yes. From me, and from anyone in the world you might care to speak to about books. It’s absolutely risqué, over the top, maybe even just a little bit creepy. But that’s exactly why we love it. Why we gotta have it. Why we want bigger, better, and more. And that’s why the tops of the charts are all about daddies.

B. B. Hamel is absolutely killing it with her numerous daddy romances—starting with the perfectly titled Man of the House, released during the holiday season. This one is a straight up stepdad, marrying his confidant and friend—and then falling for her much, much younger daughter. There’s no cheating, of course, since the marriage is one of pure convenience. But there’s still that delightful feeling that this romance is wrong, and perhaps even doomed from the get go. Shakespeare knew it long ago—we readers and consumers gravitate towards doomed love like bees to spring flowers.

Combine doomed with totally taboo and just a smidgeon of no, you should absolutely not do that and voilà, you have a story that simply needs to be told.

In Possessive Daddy, we see another step-daddy romance blooming—this time, a man trapped in a fake marriage to an older woman. And Connor—the man in question—is a super sexy, ex-SEAL who can’t seem to keep his eyes off of his stepdaughter. It’s wrong. It’s forbidden, and it’s just what we want to read. Hamel’s most recent book, Your Daddy, focuses on a relationship between a guardian and the girl he’s been protecting.

Still forbidden, and oh so sexy. We’ve always fallen for the older man and younger woman, and this type of plot gives that trope yet another way to bloom.

Wicked Lil Brat by Alexis Angel tells a similar tale, this time bringing in the idea of discipline into play. It’s role play written down on the page—the teasing, naughty younger woman sparking her stepfather’s imagination and desires.

But there’s a softer side to daddies, too. Despite being called rock hard, Rye Hart’s new hero is in need of love—not just sex. Rock Hard Daddy tells the story of a single dad and his best friend’s daughter walking back into his life. This story contains the sultry ingredient of a forbidden relationship—and it also tugs at our heartstrings. The man in charge—the single daddy—needs love in his life, and this taboo love is the one that blooms.

Who says that taboo love can’t also be sweet? In fact, it’s the sweetness that often makes us stay after the forbidden attraction begins to bloom. In this newly developing sub-genre in the romance world, there are varying levels of sweetness and spiciness to choose from. And there’s every type of daddy to choose from—bad boys, billionaires, and single dads looking for love. There’s one thing they all have in common, however. Each of our heroes is in a position of power, and there’s nothing more appealing than that.

That older man can fulfill his heroine’s deepest fantasy—and as the reader, we’re all along for the ride, even if we feel like we shouldn’t be reading it. Scratch that. Especially if we feel like we shouldn’t be reading it.

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Books Mentioned in This Article

Lexi Whitlow

Lexi Whitlow is originally from the middle of nowhere in a tiny county in Virginia--though now she's enjoying her days as a suburban romance writer in a neighborhood with a big, shiny pool. She spent her early years growing up between Virginia and her grandfather's farm in North Carolina. She's Southern by heritage and a world-traveler at heart. Writing books allow her to travel to distant, unexplored lands in her mind, but she spends most days chasing her six-year-old and shouting at her dog to stop sneaking onto the sofa while she's writing. She holds a master's degree in English literature, and her mom is so proud she's "using her degree." Lexi harbors a not-so-secret love for bad boys. She loves fighters, dirty princes, crooked cops, and criminals. Her husband is a scientist... but he has the heart of a bad boy. She spends what little free time she has crocheting, painting, and occasionally cooking for her family. On big writing nights, everyone is happy eating cereal.

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