Badass Best of 2014: YA & NA Romance

Best of 2014

We’re continuing with the romance genre today, but now we’re moving into Young Adult and New Adult reads.  We have ten of our favorites from this year below in no particular order.  What were some YA or NA romances that made you swoon this year?  Fill us in in the comments!

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Best of YA Romance

YA Romance Books

Unteachable by Leah Raeder || Published March 24th 2014 by Atria ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future. But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall. When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside. That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke. Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too. Smart, sexy, and provocative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script.

Why We Love It: In a way, we were kind of scared to read this book… forbidden relationships just aren’t our thing. We must say though, we were pleasantly surprised by this book and found that it worked very well.  The main reason why we enjoyed this book so much was Maise. Maise is very mature and she is the responsible one in her household. We loved her voice – Maise struggles with a lot of things: an absentee and completely irresponsible mother, the trouble her mother gets into, a blackmailing classmate, and a boy who is in love with her. Leah Raeder definitely knows how to write a sex scene. She also hit the high points of Maise and Evan’s relationship emotionally as well — all the little things they did together that made them a couple.

On the Fence by Kasie West || Published July 1st 2014 by HarperTeen ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game. To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Why We Love It: We loved the depiction of family in On The Fence. Charlie’s brothers were so protective of her, but they really loved her. Each was distinct and had their own personalities and fears, but they all came together as a family. Charlie’s dad was also very sweet. He was doing the best he could trying to raise a teenaged daughter on his own, even when it required him to step out of his comfort zone. He loved Charlie and the boys so much and it was evident in everything he did.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Book #3 in Anna and the French Kiss) || Published April 14th 2014 by Dutton ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½ || Review

Synopsis: Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last? Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Why We Love It: There is something to be said for reading a book about someone who reminds you of yourself. Isla was shy, painfully so, like some of us. We like reading about characters we can identify with and can learn lessons from them that help us. Then there’s Josh! Well come on, guys! Artistic, brooding, tall but leanly muscled, slightly a bad boy… check, check, check, cheeeck. Of all of the men in these books, he would most definitely have been the one we crushed on.

Nova and Quinton: No Regrets by Jessica Sorensen (Book #3 in Nova) || Published April 15th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: Today is the first day of Quinton Carter’s new life. The toxic guilt of his past left him in pieces-but one girl unexpectedly put him back together. Thanks to Nova Reed, Quinton can finally see the world with clear eyes. She’s the reason his heart is still kicking behind the jagged scar on his chest. And he would love to have her in his arms every minute of the day . . . but he’s not ready yet. Playing drums in a band and living with her best friends are just some of the highlights of Nova’s life. But the best new development? Talking to Quinton on the phone each night. She wishes she could touch him, kiss him, though she knows he needs time to heal. Yet shocking news is on the way-a reminder of life’s dark side-and Nova will need Quinton like he once needed her. Is he strong enough to take the final leap out of his broken past . . . and into Nova’s heart?

Why We Love It: Any time we pick up a book from Jessica Sorensen, we know we’re in for a treat! That’s just what we got with Nova and Quinton: No Regrets. We had a lot of expectations when we picked up this book, because after over six hundred pages with them, we’d really become invested in Nova and Quinton getting some sort of resolution. Needless to say, our expectations were surpassed!

What If by Rebecca Donovan || Published September 16th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

SynopsisWhat if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time? Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago. Except this girl isn’t Nicole. She looks exactly like Cal’s shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated-and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she’s hiding, the less he wants to know. When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.

Why We Love It: What If was a very touching and emotional read with just a hint of mystery. While it did have its fair-share of angst, it wasn’t the typical, clichéd kind you find in most New Adult novels nowadays. This drama felt real and powerful and the characters and their connections helped to ground it. This wasn’t drama for drama’s sakes; this was group of realistic young people confronting a very difficult situation and dealing with the repercussions of their choices.

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young (Book #3 in On Dublin Street) || Published January 7th 2014 by NAL ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: One simple lesson in seduction between two friends can turn into so much more… Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants. Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident. The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever…

Why We Love It: We loved that Olivia was a librarian; it was a fantastic choice for her personality. She was book smart and witty, but still a bit self-conscious and awkward at times. Nate was funny and sweet at times, but he could be kind of mean and inconsiderate. It was nice to see him acknowledge the hurt his laissez-faire sexual attitude has caused others though. We thought Olivia helped to make him a better person or maybe just helped to bring his inner person to the surface. They were sweet together and just a little nerdy; we loved it. While it as hard to watch them try to “keep it casual,” the sex scenes between the two were smoking hot.

Breakable by Tammara Webber (Book #2 in Contours of the Heart) || Published May 6th 2014 by Penguin Berkley ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: He was lost and alone. Then he found her. And the future seemed more fragile than ever. As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed. All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy… As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.

Why We Love It: We haven’t had too much luck with this kind of book — Breakable is the same story as Easy, just told from another character’s perspective. In most cases, they’ve felt as if I was reading the same book. Breakable did not feel that way at all. Lucas’ story kept our interest and enough new material was added so it felt like a new book.  Some of us even enjoyed this one more than Easy, connecting more with the story of Lucas than Jacqueline.

The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan (Book #1 in Game On) || Published September 8th 2014 by Kristen Callihan ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love. Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right? Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule… Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she’s shut him down. Completely. That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It’s a good thing Drew knows all about winning. All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

Why We Love It: There’s some great chemistry between Anna and Drew and there’s a lot of hot and steamy sexy times for the two of them. While the plot felt a little predictable, The Hook Up is a perfect read for when you want a nice, light romance. There’s also a lovely little HEA at the end .

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal || Published June 10th 2014 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss. Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

Why We Love It: We’re cheating a little with this book because it is more of a mystery/thriller, but it has a great focus on the romantic pair(s) as well. It has a bit of a love triangle, but it’s definitely not what you’re expecting — two boys and a (girl) ghost!  My Last Kiss was an intriguing book full of neat twists and turns. It was a lot of fun to read and we’d recommend it to people looking for a young adult mystery that’s heavy on the romance and romantic intrigue.

The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen (Book #3 in The Ivy Years) || Published October 15th 2014 by Rennie Road Books ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now. Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself. So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it. John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused. And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room. Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice. Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Why We Love It: Starting this book was a little bit rough. For about the first 40-50 pages, we felt ourselves dragging a little bit. It just didn’t feel like a lot was happening — but, when it got going it whipped us into a reading frenzy! We reached a certain spot and were held hostage. We’re not exaggerating; The Understatement of the Year kidnapped all of our attention.

 

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Other Badass Best of 2014 Lists:
Urban Fantasy
Speculative Fiction
General Fiction
Romance (Part One)
Romance (Part Two)
YA & NA Speculative Fiction
YA & NA Contemporary Fiction
Our Best Discoveries
Our Literary Slambook
Our Most Anticipated Reads of 2015

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