Every romantic heroine is bound to have a past, but some heroines have pasts that are more memorable—and awful—than others. The latest batch of New Adult stories topping the bestseller lists feature heroines who have had to face some genuinely horrific, life-changing events during their formative years. They are lucky enough to find special heroes, with scars of their own, to help them heal. Ultimately, their ability to overcome their trauma is what stands between them and true love.
Nineteen-year-old Kate, the heroine of When It Rains by Lisa De Jong, was a talented track star with plans to attend college and become a lawyer, but one night something terrible happened that changed her life forever. She quit track, skipped college, and went to work in the same diner as her mother. When her best friend Beau Bennett finally admitted that he had feelings for her, she told him she couldn’t be with him and encouraged him to go away to school and find somebody else to love, somebody who wasn’t so broken. Then she meets Asher Hunt, a sexy, motorcycle riding bad boy who makes her feel alive again. Beau isn’t happy to learn of her budding relationship with Asher, but Kate believes that she’s found her one true love—until she learns that Asher has a secret as well, one that could tear them apart forever.
Twenty-year-old Neva James, the heroine of Finding You by S.K. Hartley, is another broken character, scarred by a traumatic event that happened when she was ten-years-old. Growing up, she relied on her brother’s best friend Logan White for comfort in her times of need, and now that they’ve gotten older, she starts to think of him as more than just a friend. He’s a popular athlete at college, however, and his reputation as a “man whore” keeps Kate from taking their relationship to the next level. She also finds herself drawn to mysterious bad boy Angel Walker, a similarly broken soul who shares her passion for music. Kate will have two choose between her two loves, but a cliffhanger ending, which left readers aghast, has the potential to change everything.
Aimee Spencer, the heroine of In This Moment by Autumn Doughton, is another traumatized heroine; however, her story is described by readers as unique among the New Adult genre for what it doesn’t have—no alpha male hero, no love triangle, and no cliffhanger. Aimee is a college freshman who literally falls into sexy athlete Cole Everly’s lap while having a panic attack. Because of his own troubled past, he has a well-deserved reputation as a womanizer, but Aimee is different than his other conquests. He wants to be her friend and understand her, not realizing they both might lose their hearts in the process.
Layla Flaherty, the heroine of Keep Me Still and the prequel novella Let You Leave by Caisey Quinn, saw her parents get murdered when she was young and developed such crippling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that it actually induces seizures. She’s treated like a leper by the other kids in her high school, but then she meets Landen O’Brien, the new boy in town, who’s not afraid of her condition. He wants to help her and hold her and love her, but his own family issues tear him away from her. In Keep Me Still, Layla tries to make a fresh start at a college all the way across the country from her hometown, and she’s shocked when Landen shows up, ready for a second chance at a loving relationship. They both have secrets, however, that could tear them apart for good.
Harper, the heroine of The Rocker That Loves Me by Terri Anne Browning, suffered emotional abuse at the hands of her mother and step-sister while she was growing up, and she has a hard time believing that she’s beautiful or lovable. Shane Stevenson, a sexy rocker with a well-deserved reputation as a womanizer, falls hard for Harper, but he has a tough time convincing her that she’s perfect and desirable just the way she is. They’ll both have to overcome the demons of their past to find true love. The Rocker that Loves Me is the fourth book in the popular The Rockers series that details the love lives of the members of the rock band Demon’s Wings.
Unspoken, the second book in the Woodlands series by Jen Frederick, features a heroine who made a bad choice during her freshman year in college by losing her virginity to a popular, immoral athlete. She suffered verbal abuse at the hands of his minions and earned an undeserved reputation as a slut with S.T.D.s. When she meets Bo Randolph, a former marine and underground fighter, in one of her classes, her heart is closed to his sex appeal and charm, but he slowly wins her over. They go from lab partners, to friends, to lovers. Despite Bo’s rugged masculinity and his own history of trauma, readers described him as being refreshingly kinder and more sensitive than the typical alpha male. They also appreciated the slower pace at which the relationship developed, making it more believable.
Brittany is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and small business owner who hopes that heaven will be like a bookstore with an endless supply of free books, free coffee and super comfy chairs.