5 Adorable YA Romances That Are Sure to Spark Joy
If you’re anything like me, you spent a good chunk of winter devouring rom-coms — both literary and cinematic — just to keep your spirits up. Now it’s officially spring, and we’re all feeling a little more hopeful about the weather and vaccinations! But some of us could still use a small burst of joy to power through these next few weeks… not to mention some suitably breezy reading material for sunny days in the park.
The good news is, YA rom-coms are just the ticket, and there are tons of amazing titles floating around these days. For you, I’ve gathered five YA romances that will spark joy and provide a nice escape from the stressors of daily life, if you need one. Let’s get into them!
Starting things off sweet, A Taste for Love is a story that’ll have you craving cupcakes, cookies, and sugar-dusted kisses.
Liza Yang is a high school senior who’s constantly disappointing her meddling baker mom, but tries to make amends by offering to judge the family bakery’s annual bake-off.
Unfortunately, it’s not until the contest begins that Liza realizes her mother has hand-picked contestants who would be perfect matches for Liza — in her mom’s eyes, anyway.
What follows is a delicious mash-up of the GBBO and The Bachelorette, served with a side of enemies-to-lovers and a dash of sister dynamics. Oh, and did I mention this medley of a novel also manages to be a loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Truly, this delightful new rom-com is a book that Austen herself could find no fault in (especially if she also really loved baking).
2. By the Book by Amanda Sellet
Speaking of classic romance novels, By the Book takes the literary approach to love and runs with it — or rather, protagonist Mary Porter-Malcolm does. Mary has read enough romance (only the ones published before 1900, mind) that she’s actually compiled their wisdom in a guidebook for other teenage girls, titled The Scoundrel Survival Guide. This foolproof field guide warns girls off all the “wrong types,” as defined by the literary greats.
But when she finds herself shunted to a public school for the first time, Mary encounters a boy who defies all her well-documented expectations. Cute, literary, and with a solid grounding in both friendship and love, this book will capture all the feels — both the past and present.
3. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
In the now-iconic YA romance To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean famously writes love letters to, well, all the boys she’s loved before. In Words in Deep Blue, Rachel writes only one — but, in true romantic style, she tucks that letter into her crush’s favorite book in his family’s bookshop. His response? Radio silence.
Now, years later, Rachel moves back to the area and finds herself working in that very same bookshop alongside the very same boy who broke her heart. This swoony, second chance at love will sweep you up every bit as much as Lara Jean’s did, reminding you that some relationships, like your next favorite book, just need to be picked up at the right place — and at the right time.
4. Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen
Let’s be real: we love realistically awkward young adult books because most of us were at least a little shy and socially graceless in high school, right? YA novels where teens are uber-cool and hip, going to all the right parties and getting the hottest boyfriends, are not exactly relatable to the average teen experience (at least, it wasn’t for me).
If grounded stories of teens struggling to fit in are your jam, you’ll love Late to the Party. Codi’s journey to find her place in her high school social circle — without losing her identity, and while trying to find love — will make you laugh, make you cringe, and warm your heart, sometimes all at once. It’s the perfect book for those of us who didn’t (or don’t) know exactly how to navigate the teen years, but put their whole heart into trying.
5. Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen
If you’re a sucker for the “fake dating” trope, you’re going to love Mia and Jake in Fake It Till You Break It. These two have known (and loathed) each other their whole lives, but no matter how fervently they insist otherwise, their parents think they’re perfect for each other.
Fed up, Mia and Jake hatch a plan: pretend to date, then stage the most epic breakup in history — bad enough to guarantee neither family brings up the subject again. Guaranteed foolproof! Except for one tiny detail: turns out, Mia and Jake maybe don’t hate each other quite as much as they thought. And if that’s not dramatic enough for you, there’s a bit of a love triangle here too, providing just enough inner torment to make that happily ever after feel sweetly deserved.
Armed with these stellar YA romances, I have no doubt you’ll be able to face whatever life throws at you. They may not be actual therapy, but I think we can all agree that there are times when comfort reads are the best possible form of self-care — something we could all use a little more of these days.
Wow, such amazing suggestions for YA romantic reads!
Thank you, Desiree, for this useful article. ♥♥♥
Guest Blogger Bio
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best resources and professionals. She’s very passionate about indie publishing and helping authors reach their dreams! In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading fiction (especially contemporary romance novels) and writing short stories.
Thanks again! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime.
As always, happy reading, everyone! Have a great weekend!