I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
Book #2 in the Jeannie Lin/Liliana Lee Princess Shanyin trilogy. This one is noticeably darker. The writing is fabulous though. I also love that Shanyin is a bit of an anti-heroine. She's not ashamed of herself or how she lived her life. Yet, in this story, she confronts how she had tried to hide from what was happening with the emperor and at court. As worldly as she is, she was naive about what was going on in her own harem.
Trigger warning: This story had some dubious consent scenes, along the lines of Shanyin said no, but her body said yes. Ugh. Not unusual for some erotica but it was there. Just a warning. It is with one particular character (named Tai), so those scenes could be avoided.
Other than that, have Book #3 ready to go because the end of this one will have you ready to grab it to keep reading.