Let's not kid ourselves here: we're all suckers for a good villain, especially if they're darkly seductive as well as intelligent and complex. Some get redemption arcs and become antiheroes, while others . . . well, they're too far gone.
Yet we can't help but love them anyway.
THE DARKLING - Shadow & Bone
You probably saw this one coming, huh? The Darkling was a well-written, crush-worthy villain before he made it onto the big screen. Seeing Ben Barnes play him makes him even more delicious (especially to Jordan!).
Despite his questionable actions, the Darkling cares deeply about his fellow Grisha and creating a better world for them. He is ambitious, clever, and his heartbreaking backstory (a lonely nomadic lifestyle, bullying, and the burden of great power) create a deep-seated desire to be loved that makes you want to just squeeze him...but he's also a power-hungry manipulator.
KAZ BREKKER - Six of Crows
Kaz is another villainous character we loved before the Netflix adaptation tapped Freddy Carter to portray him. If anyone deserves to get revenge, it's Kaz, who was traumatized as a child by a brush with death that stole his older brother and left him alone in the world. Watching “Dirtyhands” bring down his enemies "brick-by-brick" with his brilliant, conniving schemes and sheer ruthlessness (plus a little help from his badass crew) is just as satisfying as seeing him fall in love with his most trusted ally.
We talked about our love for Kaz in a previous post, but we couldn't have a villains post without mentioning one of the greats!
One of the most exciting aspects of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is trying to determine whether or not The Darkness, AKA Luc, has true feelings for Addie or not. First he's gifting her things she cannot acquire on her own (thanks to the curse he put on her), then he's taking away what little she has. One minute he's declaring his feelings, the next he's acting as if it's all part of the long game he's playing to win her soul.
Either way, he's gorgeous. Or at least the black-haired, green-eyed form he assumes whenever he visits her is.
RHYSAND & AZRIEL - A Court of Thorns and Roses
If it weren’t already apparent, we’re suckers for characters who are willing to do dark shit for good reasons—especially when that reason is their loved one(s).
Rhys has lost most everyone and everything in his life (including his freedom). It’s no surprise he’d go to some dark depths to protect his city and the people he cares for— and he certainly has. When his people (subjects or loved ones) are threatened, Rhys is all too willing to sacrifice himself or get his hands bloody—or let his Spymaster do the dirty work.
Speaking of the Shadowsinger, Azriel is a major hottie wreathed in shadow magic and a broody aura. His other sexy attribute— serious respect for women.
With his tortured (literally) past, it's no wonder Azriel is skilled at doling out pain, or that readers so deeply want him to get a happy ending. He’s spent so much of his life alone that he deserves it.
If dark, stoic gentlemen are your thing, you'll definitely love Az.
Not so affectionately known as "Psycho Ass" in the Dark-Hunter world by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Zarek is an absolute mess of snarling "stab-first-ask-no-questions" rage. Ordered killed by his mother, enslaved and regularly beaten by his father, and eventually executed for a crime he didn't commit, Zarek is understandably damaged when he sells his soul to return for revenge as a Dark Hunter.
Though he keeps everyone at arm's length, it's because he doesn't want to care about anyone so they can be used against him, and so he doesn't have to endure more loss or betrayal. Which makes him the most dedicated, all-in, no-holds-barred partner when he falls for the first and only person to touch him with her infinite kindness.
THE PHANTOM - The Phantom of the Opera
Erik is one of those characters you want so badly to be "good" because you can see that soul simply longing for love and acceptance. He doesn't fit into society, he has buckets of trauma to contend with, and the only person who doesn't treat him like a monster is beautiful, sweet, and . . . belongs to another.
Unrequited love is painful enough without knowing it's the only person who might even be capable of loving you. We're not saying his villainy is justified, but boy do we think he deserved a better ending.