YA Romance Books To Read If You Need a Boost of Serotonin

Quite recently, I’ve started get back into reading more YA Romances and let me tell you, I have not read enough! Its a literal fact that there’s an overflowing tbr full of tons of Young Adult romances that I need to get to, so I thought today’s post would be a wonderful opportunity to pour my heart out about some of my favorite YA romances & others I’m looking forward to!

In crafting this list of recs, I love that it gave me the chance to highlight some great backlist titles, because on the blog I’ve felt like there’s not always a chance for me to reflect on already published reads! Enjoy this list and share with me some of your favorites in the comments below 💕

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming. But as Tessa checks off each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

Basically the entire inspiration for this list, this was a super heartfelt, cute read about romance writer Tessa who rediscovers her love of writing by creating her own irl love story. I genuinely liked how Bryant balances the slice-of-life plot with the romance. The romantic storyline just immersed me and I had to know what happened next!

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: August 25, 2020

Summary: Following in the footsteps of her überfamous grandma, eighteen-year-old Evie Jones is poised to be Hollywood’s next big star. That is until a close friend’s betrayal leads to her being blacklisted . . . Fortunately, Evie knows just the thing to save her floundering career: a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress—her grandma Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway. The only problem? Gigi is a recluse who’s been out of the limelight for almost twenty years. Days before Evie plans to present her grandma with an honorary award in front of Hollywood’s elite, Gigi does the unthinkable: she disappears. With time running out and her comeback on the line, Evie reluctantly enlists the help of the last person to see Gigi before she vanished: Milo Williams, a cute musician Evie isn’t sure she can trust. As Evie and Milo conduct a wild manhunt across New York City, romance and adventure abound while Evie makes some surprising discoveries about her grandma—and herself.

I adore how Forest not only plots her stories, but also how she delivers her characters, she’s one of my new favorite writers ever since I read her debut! I’m currently reading this one right now and its so fun, if you enjoy adventures around NYC, old Hollywood, a mystery to be solved plus a “I guess we gotta work together now” – type of romance! Evie and Milo have such a fun dynamic and I loved this one (review coming soon!)

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Available through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date:
February 2, 2021

Summary: Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

Charlie and Brian’s relationship is just cuteness, cuteness, cuteness! They go on such adorable bookstore dates together and while Charlie is working through her own anxieties / insecurities, Brian sees her as she is and their scenes together are just too adorable. Also, I’m a sucker for the friends-to-lovers dynamic okay?

Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi

Available through Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date:
March 27, 2018

Summary: For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

At the time of reading Mary HK Choi’s book, I never really reached for a lot of romance, mostly because I never knew what would interest me. Then after reading this gem, it became an all-time favorite and got me to consider all the romances!

This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Williams

Available through The Book Depository
Release Date:
February 11, 2020

Summary: When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. 

Need to read this one, it sounds so sweet! A heartfelt story between dancer and a poet? Need to get to this one soon!

The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
April 17, 2020

Summary: Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it? Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and Kate needs the money too. If the two of them team up, Nate has a true shot at winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact… 

For years I’ve been meaning to read Suzanne’s romances and I mean a zombie-survival competition mixed with a rom-com? How fun!

A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea & Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: November 10, 2020

Summary: For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart. Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell. A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

Not only is this the most perfect cozy, summer romance but Taylor Namey also perfectly weaves in those emotional layers that really get you! Also it has a baker & tea shop clerk duo, how cute?

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Available through The Book Depository
Release Date:
July 30, 2019

Summary: Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy?

I don’t often reach for royal romances, but this is one that has a special place in my heart! Riguad has such a knack for making great, heartfelt characters in such few pages, its sweet & perfect if you need a light, adorable romance.

Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
April 30, 2019

Summary: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together. An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are. But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry. When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break. Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her. Then her path crosses with Adam’s. Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister. Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father. Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals. Until a marvel and an oddity occurs… Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting. Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting. 

When I think back on my favorite dual POV (first-person) books, Love From A To Z always comes to mind. Ali gave them such distinct voices and stories, despite having relatively opposite personalities they fit together so perfectly. Its such a sweet romance, layered with complex, well-written leads that will surely capture your heart.

When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
October 4, 2016

Summary: To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

You know this couldn’t be a recommendation list without an Anna-Marie novel. While I despise picking favorites, this book has a special place in my heart especially the sweet relationship between Sam & Miel. The poetic, signature style to McLemore’s stories always pairs so beautifully with their marvelously crafted, distinct characters that win you over with every book.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
May 4, 2021

Summary: Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer. Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love. 

This one just sounds like a fun romcom and I need to read it sooner rather than later! There’s a missing journal and I like how the story sounds like it’ll balance overcoming fears with a sweet romance along the way.

Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes

Available through The Book Depository
Release Date:
May 17, 2016

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when she’s around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash–and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it’s best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star who wants to help her break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for him is to stay away, but it turns out staying away might be harder than she thought.

In the early days of my blog I definitely found more time to read newer releases and YA Contemporary, that’s why this novel from Paula is so incredibly special to me! Its a sweet sports romance between a girl who feels like she has bad luck and a tennis star who are both overcoming challenges of their own. There’s still times I look back on this one too because of the incredible mental health rep., which is so well developed.

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
May 14, 2019

Summary: Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat. But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about. As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon? 

Easily on my list of favorite YA Books of all-time, this is a magnificent story following Rosa and her life in Port Coral, who’s trying to overcome her fears (but also a family curse?). Romance is a major layer to this story, but is done in such a brilliant way. Moreno writes the most memorable romances and I cannot wait to pick up her newest book: Our Way Back To Always!

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
May 22, 2018

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It’s inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible. So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare’s R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.

I have not read this one yet, but I’m 99% sure Jordan‘s posts on bookstagram kept convincing me to pick it up, I just never got around to it yet. BUT, as of writing this post I did finally start it & hopefully I’ll finish it this year because I’ve heard such amazing things about this author duo and their romances.

Xoxo by Axie Oh

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
July 31, 2021

Summary: Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word. Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating. When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

Having read Axie’s previous debut, she became an instant fave! I’ve heard such amazing things about this one and hope to pick it up asap.

Sister Of The Bollywood Bride by Nandini Bajpai

Available through The Book Depository
Release Date:
May 25, 2021

Summary: Mini’s big sister, Vinnie, is getting married. Their mom passed away seven years ago and between Dad’s new start-up and Vinnie’s medical residency, there’s no one but Mini to plan the wedding. Dad raised her to know more about computers, calculus, and cars than desi weddings but from the moment Mini held the jewelry Mom left them, she wanted her sister to have the wedding Mom would’ve planned. Now Mini has only two months to get it done and she’s not going to let anything distract her, not even the persistent, mysterious, and smoking-hot Vir Mirchandani. Flower garlands, decorations, music, even a white wedding horse—everything is in place. That is, until a monster hurricane heads for Boston that could ruin everything. Will Mini come through as sister of the bride and save the day?

Having read Nandini’s debut, I just fell in love with her YA Contemporary stories and I can’t wait to pick this one up! A summer wedding & a mysterious boy who becomes a distraction? Yes, this sounds fun!

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Available through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:
Feb. 9, 2021

Summary: If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal. If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant. For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition. But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember. Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

Enemies-to-lovers in competing restaurants? Yes, I do hope to pick this one up sometime this year too because I’ve been so behind on all the good romances!

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What are some of your favorite YA Romances? Have you read any of these in this list? Any 2022 romances your eager to read? 💕✨

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15 thoughts on “YA Romance Books To Read If You Need a Boost of Serotonin

    1. I can finally say I’ve finished my first Wibbroka book, it was so good, cannot wait to share my review! I now want to read the rest of their books & same their debut was sitting on my tbr for so long. 😌 Thanks for reading Jordan! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ahh.. I need to read so many of these books. Thank you for the recs 😍 I have read- and loved- emergency contact and love from a to z!! I hope to read Fat Chance Charlie Vega (I love friends to lovers too) and Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes so many of my faves, still think about Emergency Contact and how it influenced me to read more romance! 😭💕 What excellent picks, I loved Charlie Vega so much, hope you love it as much as I did (especially if you enjoy friends-to-lovers), thank you for reading Sophie! 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This list was MADE for me, thank you so much, I love it so much ahh! ❤ I adored A Cuban Girl's Guide, Emergency Contact is one of my favorites of all times and ahh Kristina Forest! I love her books so, very very much as well. I need to read Happily Ever Afters! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh true, I’m always seeing romances on your blog Marie! 😆💕 A lot of these are my favorites too, especially the coziness of Cuban Girl’s Guide, still think about it, an absolute fave! HEA was such a delight, it also has a romance writer mc if you need more convincing to read it! Thank you so much for the kind, thoughtful comment and for reading Marie! 💖

      Like

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