Love adult contemporary romance and YA, but wish you could have the best of both? A book driven by the unique hormonal intensity of first young love, filled with relatable trials and tribulations of becoming an adult, but featuring more mature protagonists like say twenty-somethings and more satisfying intimate love scenes?
Have no fear, new adult romances are here!
New adult books bring something very delicious to the table: a mix of what readers love best about YA and adult romance featuring an age group of characters where none really existed before—characters that haven’t magically passed “GO” and blipped from 17 to 26. Best of all there’s sex scenes that don’t stop cold like The Vampire Diaries going to commercial break. It’s not all about the nookie; it’s about the blending of genres.
Like YA, many bestselling new adult books don’t shy away from life issues and the discomfort of dealing with them even if it’s merely tackling adjusting to college, the age old trope of losing one’s virginity, or simply the highs and lows of transitioning from teen to independent young adult. But many standouts in new adult romance genre are more than willing to really get their hands dirty tackling societal taboos like date rape, incest and abuse while chasing their HEA.
Tammara Webber’s Easy and Colleen Hoover’s Slammed, along with Hoover’s latest, Hopeless, are among the best of the New York Times bestsellers. Words like “genre defining,” “poetic,” and “defies convention” are often used to describe Webber and Hoover’s work and for good reason.
Easy starts up just after college sophomore Jacqueline has been dumped by her high school sweetheart. She’s understandably blindsided. Not one to mope, she attends a frat party where she is attacked by an acquaintance, a fellow frat brother of her ex. It’s shocking and traumatic. A fellow classmate, Lucas, saves Jacqueline—a boy who, we come to learn, is a lot more complicated and interested in her than she knew. The events send her life into a tailspin. Easy deftly deals with the subject of acquaintance rape and its impact on college life, but still packs a swoonworthy punch with beautiful -is he bad or is he good- Lucas and their budding relationship. Webber’s book also allows Jackie, as she wants to be known, the opportunity to become empowered and decide what type, if any, romantic relationship she wants to have moving forward with her life on her own terms.
Hopeless walks the razor’s edge between being a YA and new adult book telling a beautiful tale of first love amidst the dark, ugly secret of abuse that can lurk behind closed doors of a place that is supposed to be a safe haven, but all too often is not, a place called home.
In Slammed author Colleen Hoover’s latest heart-wrenching novel, Hopeless, Sky and Holder fight for room to breathe and a chance to flourish despite soon to be 18-year-old Sky’s unexplored and deeply buried baggage. Content to think it’s a product of a protective mother and a life of homeschooling, Sky’s never felt any sort of meaningful connection with a boy; in fact, kisses bore her. Instead of feeling love or lust, her former boyfriend’s touch sends her inward, leaves her feeling strangely blank, more content during a kiss to lose herself in counting the stars above. Sky soon meets Dean Holder, a mysterious boy who holds the key to unlocking her pastin an unexpected twist—a past she never knew she was missing. Holder has loved this girl from day one. Only it’s not the way you’re thinking. Colleen Hoover never lets her characters off the hook that easily. Haunted as they both are this story of damaged childhoods, self-exploration and first love still manages to be lyrical and light with neither character becoming soured by the bitter realities of their lives. Despite the darkness, Sky and Holder’s discovery of one another is epically, gorgeously romantic (including the best first not-a-kiss-kiss in the history of first kisses) as Sky calls it. The depth of their journey together will have you gripping your book/e-reader, both cursing and loving what it means to be sucked into one of Colleen Hoover’s swoony yet tragically magical love stories.
Another rising star in the new adult arena is J.A. Redmerski, who's written The Edge of Never. At 22, Camryn Bennett finds yet again she’s pulling herself together after her life has fallen apart. Thinking outside the box, she abruptly abandons her job, deciding to take an indefinite road trip. With nothing more than a small bag and her cell phone, Cam hops a Greyhound bus to nowhere, desperate to escape the reality of things she’s tired of dealing with and who she will become if she stays. The road trip begins with Camryn’s chance meeting of Andrew Parrish, a handsome former model with a love of cars and rock and roll who, unlike Camryn, is not running away but headed back home to say goodbye to his ailing father and desperately wants to be headed anywhere else. This sweet and sexy story is told in alternating points of view with Cameron hoping Andrew can’t tell she’s got no place to go and Andrew starting to feel attracted to the young woman spirited enough to do what he hasn’t—live life beyond the boundaries. It’s a stealthy romance that lets you come along for the ride, then sneaks up and rocks you. When Cam and Andrew finally bare their souls and help one another deal with what they’re really running from, you’ll beg for their HEA right along with them.
With books like these it’s easy to see how new adult romances are enjoying a steady surge in readership and accolades. By embracing what readers love about YA and adult contemporary romances, new adult is like the peanut butter cup of romance reads—the best of two great tastes put together to make a whole new kind of treat. Yum.
Have you read any of these? Have any others to recommend?
Tina Allen has spent over a decade successfully avoiding publishing her romance novels by teaching reading and writing, pimping books as a librarian and writing/editing for others. Tina is now gleefully reading, writing and reviewing romance atBookCrack.com. She can also be found tweeting about her adventures in authorhood @book_crack.