16 YA Romances To Warm Winter Hearts

In time for Valentine’s Day, these teen love stories center friends, enemies, and strangers who become something more.

In time for Valentine’s Day, these teen love stories follow friends, enemies, and strangers who become something more.

Dating Makes Perfect, Happily Ever Afters, Of Curses and Kisses, and Here the Whole Time covers

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780062982834.
Gr 9 Up–When Tessa starts a creative writing program in her new school, she runs into a debilitating case of writer’s block, but her friend Caroline develops Operation Happily Ever After, a plan to jump-start Tessa’s creativity by giving her an actual love life. This well-written, page-turning romance is packed with smart dialogue, powerful insights, and a lovable cast of characters.

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 9781368053297.
Gr 7-10–Marva Sheridan is beyond excited about her first election day while Duke Crenshaw can’t wait to get it over with. As the day creeps on, he and Marva have to work together to make Duke’s vote count. Along the way, they realize their chemistry is undeniable. Recommended for readers who enjoy character-driven romance with real-world resonance.

Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn. Entangled Teen. ISBN 9781682814970.
Gr 7-10–Winnie’s Thai parents were very strict with her older sisters, but her mother decides to relax the rules for Winnie so that she can have some practice at socializing—and  so she sets up fake dates with Winnie’s arch enemy, Mat. But wait, there’s a new flirty kid in town, Taran, and maybe Mat isn’t as awful as Winnie remembered. Young teens will lose themselves in this delicious, tame romance.

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781250295026.
Gr 9 Up–Actress Evie’s dreams are shattered when she’s betrayed by her best friend. With aspirations of a second chance, Evie flies to New York to spend time with her grandmother, a legendary film star. Adventure ensues when Evie’s grandmother disappears, leaving only a grocery store delivery boy as the possible key to her location. This romantic story is full of life lessons and laughs.

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson. S. & S. ISBN 9781534448537.
Gr 9 Up–For Noa, waking up in a spacesuit floating outside of a spaceship called Qriosity is just the beginning of a strange cycle of mysteries that begin and end with a boy named DJ. When events get curioser and curioser, love seems to conquer all. A great addition for those who enjoy mixed-up romance stories.

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala. Sourcebooks/Fire. ISBN 9781492682691.
Gr 9 Up–Perfectionist Raphael is a master crafter and cosplayer. When playful, closeted jock Luca Vitale takes an interest in him, he’s a beautiful distraction who disrupts Raffy’s routine and forces him to embrace spontaneity. A crafty queer romance about self-acceptance, and a delightful addition to YA collections.

Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins. Scholastic. ISBN 9781338620825.
Gr 9 Up–Felipe is comfortable with being gay. However, he’s uncomfortable with being fat and feeling too vulnerable to others’ judgments. Then Caio, a more outgoing boy from a neighboring apartment, is sent to stay with Felipe while his mother is out of town. This LGBTQ–themed story with a soul that goes well beyond exploring queer identity will delight teen readers of realistic fiction.

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon. S. & S./Simon Pulse. ISBN 9781534417540.
Gr 7 Up–Princess Jaya Rao and her younger sister Isha are sent to St. Rosetta’s International Academy to get away from the tabloids and reports of Isha’s missteps. At the heart of it all is Grey, the heir to the Emerson family, who has been taking pictures of Isha and selling them to the papers. When Jaya finds out Grey attends the same school, she plots her revenge… but things don’t go as planned. Fans of Colleen Houck's Tiger’s Curse will enjoy this star-crossed tale; think Romeo and Juliet meets Sherlock Holmes.

All the Things We Never New, The Falling in Love Montage, This Train is Being Held, and Heartstopper covers

Breathless by Jennifer Niven. Knopf. ISBN 9781524701963.
Gr 9 Up–After Claudine’s parents announce their separation, she and her mother spend the summer after high school on a remote island, where Claude meets Jeremiah and rediscovers herself and her feelings about love. The discussions of sex are refreshingly frank and positive, and Niven expertly examines common YA themes—the desire for independence, evolving friendship, new romance, family tensions—with standout authenticity and heart.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. Scholastic/Graphix. (Heartstopper: Bk. 1). ISBN 9781338617443.
Gr 8 Up–The only openly gay boy in his school, sensitive Charlie was bullied when he came out. When Charlie is assigned to sit next to Nick, he begins falling for the popular “rugby lad.” Young love—with all its awkwardness, tenderness, and raw emotions—blossoms between two teenagers who appear to be worlds apart.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell. illus. by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second. ISBN 9781250312853.
Gr 7 Up–Deja and Josie are working their final shift at the world’s corniest pumpkin patch. Throughout the night, Deja wants to yank Josie out of his comfort zone and open up his world—no regrets allowed. The panel layouts advance the action smoothly and evoke the feeling of young love and of breathlessly standing on the brink of change.

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 9781250299482.
Gr 9 Up–Brusque and controlling filmmaker Rachel Recht wants nothing to do with Sana Khan, cheerleading captain and model human being. But when a literal run-in forces them to work together on a film, their tense relationship morphs into something beautiful and unexpected. They find their voices and first love in this enemies-to-lovers story told from dual perspectives.

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth. HarperTeen. ISBN 9780062957115.
Gr 10 Up–Saoirse’s girlfriend broke up with her, she feels betrayed by her best friend, she doesn’t know if she wants to go to university, and her mother is suffering from early-onset dementia while her dad moves on with another woman. Then she meets Ruby, a girl who, despite having problems of her own, loves romantic comedies and makes the most out of what life gives her. This is a fun romance with substance.

All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. ISBN 9780062656919.
Gr 9 Up–Rex and Carli, both juniors, play basketball for different high schools. At first glance, they both feel an immediate attraction. Tamani allows readers a deep dive into the glory and mess of new relationships, while also providing Carli and Rex with family back stories that give their actions and reasoning credibility.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Feiwel & Friends/Swoon Reads. ISBN 9781250250469.
Gr 9 Up–Yadriel, whose traditional Latinx family won’t accept that he’s transgender, inadvertently summons the spirit of schoolmate Julian, who demands that Yadriel find out what happened to him. A whodunit with a tender and forbidden love story that will draw readers in as it gradually unfolds to a gratifying conclusion.

This Train Is Being Held by Ismee Williams. Abrams/Amulet. ISBN 9781419734939.
Gr 9 Up–Set against the backdrop of New York’s transit system, an unlikely love blooms between two budding artists. Alex, a talented baseball player with a demanding Dominican father, secretly writes poetry. Isabelle is a brilliant dancer with a bright future. Serious romantics will enjoy this love story set against racism, classism, colorism, and mental health stigma.

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