There’s a very basic piece of advice for any writer and that’s to read what you want to write. In other words, read your genre. Study it. Know its trends, know what sells, but mostly let supposed to inspire you to write something original, something that you’re passionate about. The other day I had this epiphany: I’m writing stories that I want to read. I know, what a concept right? But isn’t that what all writers are doing doing…writing about the world in a way that interests us?
Well, for me, my genre happens to be romance. There’s nothing I love more than a book about love. The true, never-ending, swoon worthy type of love that leaves you believing that love and soulmates might actually exist—that one of my book boyfriends might be real and is somewhere out there waiting for me. Okay, so maybe that’s a pipe dream or might be considered “far-fetched” but you never know, because the thing about fiction is that it in some way reflects real life.
Anyways, in particular I want to write for the new-adult age range. If you’ve never heard of “new adult,” don’t fret. A lot of people haven’t because it’s so new. I didn’t even hear of it until about a year ago. Basically, it’s for and about people in the age-range from about 18 to 24. What’s neat about new adult is that it’s so unexplored and it has so many options. In new adult, you can be anywhere on the spectrum from super tame to super risky; your characters can have no clue who they are, they can be finding themselves, or they can have already found themselves; your setting can be anywhere, like their parent’s home, or college, or maybe they’re on their own somewhere; and your plot can be anything because you’re not tied down by any restrictions. Basically, new adult is a blank canvas that you can draw anything on in any color with any meaning. There’s a lot of future in NA and I can’t wait to explore it.
But, back on the subject of romances, I wanted to give you all a list of my top 10 favorite romance novels/series of all time and a little bit about why I love them so much!
#1 Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan
Mia Sheridan is my all-time favorite author. Everything she puts out, I absolutely love. What’s even cooler is that she’s from the Cincinnati region, so I was lucky enough to get to meet her and have this novel, my favorite novel, signed. What I love about Archer’s voice, other than quite possibly EVERYTHING, is that her novel centers around a character who I think it would take a lot of guts to write about. Not because he’s a horrible character (Oh, no, talking about LOVE and book boyfriends, this male lead is perfection), but because Archer Hale can’t speak—he’s mute. He’s also reclusive—a character shunned not only by his hometown, but by himself. He’s also not your typical male hero by a long shot. While most of the leading men are, let’s face it, man-whores, Archer isn’t. Archer has no experience with women—in fact, he doesn’t even really know how to interact with people in general, simply because he can’t. But then Bree comes along and changes his life for the better…with some twists and turns along the way. This book is wonderful and inspiring and a must-read. You can visit Mia Sheridan’s author page here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
#2 Bad For You by Abbi Glines
I’ll be honest in saying that I don’t know why I love this book so much. I’ve read and re-read Abbi Glines’ books about a thousand times because I love her writing and the stories she has to tell so much. This one in particular has been the main one that I keep going back to. For some reason, it captivated me. Maybe it was because there was something I found very identifiable about Blythe—how she was innocent and kind, but how she also had a bit of a rebelliousness in her. Maybe it’s Krit—who’s name I adore about as much as the person, with his huge heart but bad boy persona, not to mention kind of crazy personality. Or maybe it’s just the entire story, so simple, with just a hint of drama in the end (alright, lots of drama), but the fact that in no way do Blythe and Krit really have that usual break-up scene. I’m a little lost when it comes to my love for this book, but I’m not going to question it….especially since I’ll be coming up on another re-read before too long. You can visit Abbi Glines’ author page here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
#3 Becoming Calder/ Finding Eden by Mia Sherdian
Another favorite(s) is Mia Sheridan’s two books written about two people who find love despite a terrible upbringing in a cult-like town. In the first book, it’s about them trying to break free and in the second book, it’s about them coming back together. This book left me a wreck. Granted it ends like all Mia Sheridan novels end with love winning out, but getting there was a journey. Especially because the first part of Finding Eden turned my stomach. But reading this novel…it changed me. It set a precedent for my expectations of novels…and it reminded me of why I want to be writer. How I want to make someone feel, how I want them to feel like they’re a part of the story, how I want them to be so emotionally invested that they don’t walk away without this book interlaced with their soul. This book is everything that writing should be, and I HIGHLY recommend it, maybe even above all the others in this list.
#4 Take a Chance/ One More Chance by Abbi Glines
These two are my other favorites of Abbi’s. Grant is by far one of my favorite male leads in a novel—although I didn’t like him very much at the beginning of Take A Chance. And Harlow is strong, stubborn and definitely someone who I rooted for. Take A Chance takes you through a love story that you can’t help but devour, then it smacks you in the face you don’t see coming….only to tear your heart open through One More Chance…then give you the ending you deserve. The love in this novel is real and palpable…it’ll make you cry and laugh and fall in love a little bit yourself. This book holds a twist that a lot of other novels don’t and touches on a subject that’s as original as it is heartbreaking.. Take a Chance on Take a Chance.
#5 Rule by Jay Crownover
Rule creates the foundation for a series where you come to love all of the characters—and at times you want to kill them as much as you want to hug them. Of all of Jay’s characters in her Marked Men series, Rule and Shaw are my favorite and throughout the series you get to see them progress, however this book can be a stand-alone. What I love about the character Rule is that he’s gritty and layered—he’s someone you tend to hate as much as you love. His girl, Shaw, is the perfect contrast to him and she’s someone that you want to be friends with. Her and Rule’s love is believable and as they begin their journey together, you’re a part of it with them. Every twist and turn isn’t just something your reading—you’re experiencing it right along with them. The novel is character-driven, instead of plot-driven, and that’s something refreshing and it immerses you right into the story. You can visit Jay Crownover’s website here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
#6 Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
CoHo is perfection. Even if you don’t read her, you should like her Facebook page; all of her posts are hilarious and they’ll make your day, and if you’re a writer, her posts on writing literally speak your life. Hopeless tells the story of Sky and Holder, and digs deep into Sky’s past. This novel is an emotional ride and if in the end you want more, then you can read Losing Hope , which is Hopeless written in Holder’s perspective. This novel holds a lot of love from me because it was the first “new adult” novel I read. It really opened up a window for me that I hadn’t seen before. If I wouldn’t have read this novel, Falling Forwards would’ve never been written because I would still be writing in YA land. Hopeless takes on a subject that is sad and scary, but you come on the other side with Sky and Holder a better person. You can visit Colleen Hoover’s website here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
#7 Breaking Nova/ Saving Quinton/ Nova and Quinton: No Regrets by Jessica Sorensen
Jessica Sorensen is not afraid to tackle the tough topics. Her novels are always original in the best way and they often take you by surprise by how fast they move along and by how easily you find yourself loving the characters. The Nova series is no exception. It took me a while to finally get around to reading these novels despite my love for Jessica Sorensen’s work, and once I finally decided to read them, I couldn’t stop. These are three books that you must read in quick succession or else they’re the type of books that will follow you ever you go, your mind constantly on them. They begin with Nova and Quentin getting high to give themselves a break from their past, but while Nova is able to find a way out of that life, Quentin only goes deeper…eventually getting hooked on meth. While this is a romance novel, the heavy topic has the larger weight in the novels and you can feel it. What these novels taught me as a writer is that it’s okay to tap into the darker side of things and drag your characters through their own personal hell…then gives them the much needed light that we want them to receive. Jessica Sorensen breaks these characters down and builds them back up. I don’t know many authors willing to give their character’s such terrible drug addictions, but also make them face the consequences…and then give them their retribution. This one will tear you apart, but it’s worth it. It also might make you want to volunteer at a rehab. You can visit Jessica Sorensen’s website here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
#8 Lead by Kylie Scott
If you’ve never read Kylie Scott, you should. The women she writes are strong, witty and beyond fabulous. I’ve never read any heroines like hers…and I seriously walked away wanting to be them. Heck, I want to be Kylie. Lead is the third book in her four book Stage Dive series, and can be read as a stand-alone. The books follow a band and I’d be surprised if you don’t walk away being a Diver and Kyle Scott Groupie. Jimmy is Lead’s lead, and he’s the singer in the band, the brother of guitarist David, and he’s also the band’s broody member who’s battling addiction. Loving him is Lena, who is often putting him in his place and fighting her attraction throughout the novel. This novel makes you laugh out love and fall in love all at the same time. What I love about this book is the wit…it’s not something I write well. I also love how different Lena is from the other books’ women…sometimes when you read a book you tend to find that the heroines are just copies of each other. Here that’s not the case and that’s something to celebrate. All of Kylie’s books are a must read and someone who, through her groupie page, I’ve come to really look up to. While Lead is my favorite of her Stage Dive series, I would suggest beginning with Lick, then read Play (I guarantee you love Mal, everybody does), then Lead and finally Deep. You can visit Kylie’s website here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
#9 The Summer I Turned Pretty/ It’s Not Summer Without You/ We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
I read these books when I was still in high school and several years later, I still love them. They follow Belly from her high school years up to her wedding day, where’s she marrying one of the two boys in her life. This was my first ever love-triangle novel and I was hard-core about which one I wanted Belly with, and I was happy in the end when the she chose the one I chose. These books are about first love and everlasting love, and they’re great for someone just dipping their toes into romance novels…especially if they’re looking for a less risky read. You can visit Jenny Han’s website here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
#10 Leaving Paradise/ Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles
These are two other books I read back in high school, and they were the books that sparked my love for romances. The books follow Caleb and Maggie after Caleb has just gotten out of jail. The clinker of the novel: Caleb was in jail for hitting Maggie with his car, an accident which left Maggie with a sever limp. Despite this conflict, Maggie loves Caleb and Caleb eventually comes to love Caleb back, something they both struggle with in the second book. I’ve written five and a half full-length novels so far (the four and a half of which will never see the light of day), and the third one I wrote was the origins of my romance-novel writing and it emulated this novel. This novel led me towards writing romances and I’ll always place my gratitude in Simone Elkeles for sparking that. You can visit Simone Elkeles’ website here or see her books, their reviews and then buy them here.
**Keep in mind that most, not all, of these books hold sexually explicit content and language, and are intended for audiences aged 18 and up**