With the popularity and success of Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert, I’ve been keeping an eye out for Adult Romance authors making the jump to YA Romance. While my main reads tend to be SFF and YA lit, I love picking up a romance book once in a while. Talia Hibbert is one of my favorite authors, so when I heard she was making her YA debut with Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute, I was over the moon. (And ICYMI, we’re posting a group discussion of Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute on 3/8 — hope you’ll read along with us!)
I can’t help but sit up and take note when I read about Adult Romance authors coming out with YA books. And yes, I’ve been compiling a list. Here’s what I have so far:
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert [Out now!]
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Brown Sisters trilogy, comes a laugh-out-loud story about a quirky content creator and a clean-cut athlete testing their abilities to survive the great outdoors–and each other.
Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He’s a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes . . . except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine.
Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption–yet, she’s still not cool enough for the popular kids’ table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that’s how Celine sees it.)
These days, there’s nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she’s surprised to find Brad right beside her. Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed . . . or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?
While You Were Dreaming by Alisha Rai [Out March 21, 2023]
This YA debut from powerhouse romance author Alisha Rai tackles undocumented immigration against the backdrop of viral online fame, fake dating, and a love triangle. A must-read for fans of Nicola Yoon or Sandhya Menon.
If Sonia Patil had her way, she’d be attending her local comic con instead of covering a shift for her boss’s daughter. Since Sonia’s mom was deported and her sister, who never claimed deferred status under DACA, had to forgo college to support them, Sonia’s had her hands full with work, school, and pretending everything is okay at home.
Then Sonia, in homemade superhero cosplay, stumbles into saving her crush James’s life. When a video of the daring rescue goes viral, she—or, rather, a mysterious masked savior—is thrust into the spotlight. Now she’s hiding from TikTok detectives while trying to connect with James. And while she’s drawn to his friendly but oblivious nature, she can’t deny her escalating chemistry with another awkwardly charming boy. Juggling crushes and a secret identity might just take superpowers. Will Sonia be able to hide in plain sight forever?
Her Good Side by Rebekah Weatherspoon [Out May 30, 2023]
A swoony, heart-melting YA romance from beloved author Rebekah Weatherspoon about two awkward teens who decide to practice dating in order to be good at the real thing.
Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and Jenny Han.
Sixteen-year-old Bethany Greene, though confident and self-assured, is what they call a late-bloomer. She’s never had a boyfriend, date, or first kiss. She’s determined to change that but after her crush turns her down cold for Homecoming–declaring her too inexperienced–and all her back-up ideas fall through, she cautiously agrees to go with her best friend’s boyfriend Jacob. A platonic date is better than no date, right? Until Saylor breaks up with said boyfriend.
Dumped twice in just two months, Jacob Yeun wonders if he’s the problem. After years hiding behind his camera and a shocking summer glow up, he wasn’t quite ready for all the attention or to be someone’s boyfriend. There are no guides for his particular circumstances, or for taking your ex’s best friend to the dance.
Why not make the best of an awkward situation? Bethany and Jacob decide to fake date for practice, building their confidence in matters of the heart.
And it works–guys are finally noticing Bethany. But things get complicated as their kissing sessions–for research of course!–start to feel real. This arrangement was supposed to help them in dating other people, but what if their perfect match is right in front of them?
And here’s a bonus book — while Olivie Blake is a Fantasy author, not a Romance author, I do think it’s notable that Olivie Blake (pen name for Alexene Farol Follmuth) has a really cute YA Romance out right now:
My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth [Out now!]
Opposites attract in this battle-robot-building YA romance from the NYT best-selling author of The Atlas Six.
Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.
Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve made more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made each other and the team better. Because girls do belong in STEM.
In her YA debut, Alexene Farol Follmuth, author of The Atlas Six (under the penname Olivie Blake), explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty. With an adorable, opposites-attract romance at its center and lines that beg to be read aloud, My Mechanical Romance is swoonworthy perfection.