Over the course of the past few years, New Adult has emerged as a widely accepted and flourishing genre. Before it arrived on the scene, there was a gap in the young adult market for more mature fiction featuring heroines between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. Talented authors led the way by writing stories that were too sexy to be considered YA but had a youthful focus on college and first loves not typical of adult contemporary romance. These authors inspired a passionate fan base and experienced great success. If you're new to the genre or just looking for a new favorite, here are ten books that you absolutely have to read.
The first book on your To-Be-Read list would be Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Maguire. The heroine Abby Abernathy flees her dysfunctional family to attend Eastern University and get a fresh start. She meets tattooed bad boy Travis Maddox when she attends an underground fight. She's a virgin, and he most definitely is not, but the mismatched couple is undeniably drawn to each other. Travis's dark past, controlling nature, and anger management issues, however, threaten his chances of a happily ever after with Abby.
In Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, the heroine Sky is only seventeen-years-old, but the serious issues she faces resonate with older readers. She's reeling from a traumatic past. She has a reputation as a slut, but she doesn't actually feel anything for the boys she hooks up with. But then she meets Dean Holder. He's an intense young man with an agenda and a past of his own, and he helps her start to feel again. The truth about who he is and what he really wants, however, could destroy his relationship with Sky.
The hero and heroine of The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorenson are both victims of abuse. Callie was sexually abused in middle school and spent most of her teenage years hiding behind unflattering clothes and makeup. Kayden, who was physically abused, attended the same high school as Callie, but they never really knew each other until one night Callie saved Kayden's life. When the two of them end up at the same college together, they find salvation in each other's arms despite their dark pasts.
Fans of Real by Katy Evans adore the tattooed, muscle-bound, MMA-fighting hero Remington “Riptide” Tate, a.k.a. Remy. He hires the heroine Brooke Dumas—a former athlete whose Olympic dreams were ended by an injury—to be his trainer and travel around the country with him. Even though their relationship begins as a professional one, pretty soon they can't keep their hands off of each other, but Remy's personal demons and Brooke's family issues threaten their relationship.
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young features an American heroine named Jocelyn “Joss” Butler who moves to Scotland to get away from her tragic past. Her friend and roommate Ellie has a brother named Braden Carmichael, a sexy Scotsman who is immediately drawn to Joss despite her emotional baggage. Like most of the aforementioned new adult heroes, Braden is a sexy alpha male with issues of his own. He awakens Joss to her erotic desires and refuses to let her push him away.
In Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines, the sheltered 19-year-old heroine Blaire Wynn travels from her hometown in Alabama to the Florida Gulf Coast to live with her estranged father after her mother dies. Her father leaves to go gallivanting around Paris with his new wife, however, and she ends up spending the summer with her sexy, spoiled, and pierced step-brother Rush Finlay. Rush guides Blaire to a sexual and emotional awakening, but shocking family secrets that left readers wheeling threaten to tear the couple apart.
In Collide by Gail McHugh, twenty-four-year-old Emily Cooper moves to New York City to be closer to her boyfriend Dillon Parker, but her reservations about their relationship lead her to move in with her friend Olivia instead of Dillon. Emily starts working at an Italian restaurant, and one night, she delivers food to a wealthy playboy named Gavin Blake. Gavin experiences love at first sight with Emily and knows that he wants to be with her forever, but Emily's emotional issues and relationship with Dillon stop her from committing herself to Gavin. Gavin pursues Emily relentlessly, however, using all the power and charisma at his disposal,
In Easy by Tammara Webber, the hero Lucas saves the heroine Jacqueline from a rapist on her college campus. Having recently broken up with her long-term boyfriend, Jacqueline doesn't immediately enter into a romantic relationship with Lucas. Lucas wants her, but he's not a typical alpha male. He has tattoos and piercings, rides a motorcycle, and teaches self-defense, but he's also an artist with a heart of gold who tries to be friends with Jacqueline while also working toward something more. Many readers praised the realistic depiction of college life and the psychological trauma associated with sexual assault.
The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski is about embracing the newfound freedom that comes with being an adult. The heroine Camryn Bennett is tired of her small life in North Carolina, her dysfunctional family, her shallow friends. After a night spent clubbing, she has an “aha moment,” packs her bags, and hops on a bus for destinations unknown. She meets Andrew Parrish, a tattooed free spirit with a similar outlook on life, who teaches her about love and lust and living in the moment. They embrace adventure together, but Andrew has secrets that could tear them apart forever.
Cora Carmack, the author of Losing It, says that she writes “new adult romance with a side of awkward goodness,” and readers find her stories to be more on the lighthearted and humorous end of the new adult spectrum. Bliss Edwards, the heroine of Losing It, is a twenty-two-year old virgin in her last year of college who's tired of worrying about her first time. She heads to a nearby bar, picks up a cute British guy reading Shakespeare, and goes back to his apartment. She ends up panicking and leaving before the deed is done. Her past comes back to haunt her, however, when she discovers that the paramour she abandoned is her new theatre professor Garrick Taylor. Their relationship is taboo, but they're drawn to each other anyway and they struggle to keep their hands off of each other over the course of the semester.
With as many good NA books as there are currently available, it's not just possible—it's probable—that I missed something. What's on your Must-Read list?
+Check out more reading recommendation lists:
- 10 Contemporary Romance Novels You Should Read
- 10 Regency Romances You Should Read
- 10 Erotic Romance Novels You Should Read
- 10 Paranormal Romance Novels You Should Read
- When Historical Goes Hot: Best in Erotic Historical Romance
- 10 Fantasy Novels You Must Read
- Top 5 Sex Scenes in Contemporary Romance
Love romance? For a weekly roundup of the hottest news, sneak peeks, reviews, cover reveals, TV recaps, sweepstakes, and much more, sign up for the Heroes and Heartbreakers newsletter.
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.