For the past year or so, New Adult novels have been topping the bestseller charts. Despite some diversity in the genre, they generally tend to share specific characteristics—angsty, sexy, and romantic with tortured young heroes and heroines who find love in each other’s arms. While the latest New Adult books still possess those characteristics, the genre seems to be expanding into well-known tropes popular in the adult contemporary romance genre. There also seems to be a growing subgenre of New Adult romantic suspense.
Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren is the third book in the popular Beautiful Bastard series. While it possesses features that are quintessentially new adult—a sheltered heroine, a reformed rake, burgeoning sexuality—it also falls into the friends-to-lovers trope, which is very popular in the adult romance genre. The heroine Hannah Bergstrom has led a studious, cautious, uneventful life, but at the urging of her older brother, she decides to develop her social life. She throws caution to the wind and pursues her brother’s sexy friend Will Summer. Will is a playboy who has always had affection for his friend’s little sister, whom he calls Ziggy. Ziggy’s all grown up now, though, with some very grown up desires that she wants to explore with Will. Readers praised Hannah as a quirky, funny, loveable heroine.
In Jake Undone by Penelope Ward, the heroine Nina Kennedy struggles with an anxiety disorder that severely limits her life, but she takes a chance and moves to New York City for nursing school. She’s terrible at math, but her new roommate Jake, a pierced and tattooed bad boy, offers to tutor her. They make a deal that if she gets less than an “A,” she has to face one of her fears—with his help. She falls for him, of course, and ends up pregnant, but a secret from Jake’s scandalous past could ruin their chance of a happily ever after. Nina’s journey to motherhood (and a controversial lactation scene) caused me to place this book in the boundary-pushing category.
Rebel by Elle Casey is a riches-to-rags tale, also common in the adult romance genre. The heroine Teagan Cross is a pampered princess who loses everything when her father dies. Suddenly homeless and penniless, she allow misfortune to keep her down. With few employment options available to her, she manages to manipulate her way into a job at the automotive shop Rebel Wheels, which is owned by the taciturn hero Rebel. Their relationship slowly builds as she becomes part of his life and family. There’s also some mystery surrounding her dad’s death, which adds suspense to the story.
Sweet Home by Tillie Cole is a fish-out-of-water tale about a slightly nerdy, twenty-year-old British girl named Molly Shakespeare who follows her Oxford professor to the University of Alabama to be his teaching assistant. She doesn’t trust people and doesn’t want a relationship with anyone, but when she meets the star quarterback of the football team, Romeo Prince, she willingly becomes his latest conquest. Despite their troubled pasts, they fight to have a happy ending to their Romeo and Juliet story.
In Making Faces by Amy Harmon, the hero Ambrose Young could have been a male model before he went off to war and returned home physically and emotionally scarred, grieving the loss of four of his friends as well as his good looks. The kind-hearted heroine Fern Taylor loves him through his pain and helps him see that he’s still beautiful—inside and out—even if she can’t see the same beauty in her own flawed looks. Readers said that, although the love story between Ambrose and Fern was sweet and sensual, this beauty-and-the-beast-inspired tale wasn’t just about romance—it was also about courage, heroism, and the power of friendship.
Sweet Surrendering by Chelsea M. Cameron is a new adult version of a sexy office romance where the heroine is the boss and the hero is her assistant. Rory Clarke is the vice president of her father’s company. Lucas Blaine is her newest hire. They can’t keep their hands off of each other, but Lucas has a secret that could sever his budding relationship with his boss. Readers enjoyed the numerous—and creative—sex scenes.
Text by Cambria Hebert is about a young writer named Honor Calhoun who goes for a jog one morning and ends up getting kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the forest. She manages to steal the cell phone off of her attacker, however, and texts a sexy marine named Nathan Reed for help. He rescues her, and their romance blossoms. The kidnapper isn’t done with them yet, though, and he comes back for his revenge. This story has sexy times and some insta-love, but it’s also heavy on suspense, which makes it unique in the genre.
Tough Luck by C.M. Stunich is the third book in the Hard Rock Roots series that is characterized by being light on romance and heavy on sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. There’s also a murderer on the loose who’s threatening the lives of the major characters. The hero and heroine, Lola and Ronnie, are both musicians. Ronnie had his heart broken years ago and has used his fame to hook up with random groupies, but something about Lola makes him want to be faithful. Lola, on the other hand, is not what she seems, and she has less than pure motives for getting close to Ronnie. She didn’t expect to fall for him. But it’s not just their hearts that are in danger—it’s their lives.
In All the Pretty Lies by M. Leighton, Sloane’s mom died of cancer when she was seven years old, so she was basically smothered by her overprotective father and three older brothers, all of whom are police officers. When she turns twenty-one, she decides to rebel by getting a tattoo from a sexy artist named Hemi, a 28-year-old bad boy. He’s always preferred more experienced women, but there’s something about Sloane’s virginal qualities that draw him in and won’t let him go. Unfortunately, both the hero and heroine have secrets that could destroy their happiness. Readers say there is as much mystery and suspense in this story as there is steamy romance, and the hero and heroine’s shady pasts kept them guessing and flipping pages.
What New Adult books are pushing the genre envelope for you this month?
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.