Love them or hate them, high school and college romances have a distinctive feel. They often feature the cocky jock and the nerdy girl, the inexperienced and the player. They can vary from light and clean to dark and angsty, but all tell stories about young adults just trying to figure out that complicated thing called love. This genre comes with a variety of tropes and vibes, from bully romance to sports romance to rom com and more!
The following are 15 new adult romances that are 100% worth your time. Each contemporary romance novel on this list has received a 4 or 5 star rating from me. I’ve included the blurb, a description of the vibe, and links to Amazon for easy addition to your Kindle. Happy reading!
Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter
Texting banter • Awesome chemistry • Light and fun
A wrong number is supposed to be just that—a wrong number.
Do not continue to text. Do not flirt.
A wrong number shouldn’t be the first person on your mind in the morning, or the last at night…and you’re definitely not supposed to talk them into buying a baby goat.
Because that would be weird.
When Zach Hastings and I get into a wrong-number mix-up, we don’t follow the rules. We keep texting and flirting, because he’s wicked funny and perfectly nerdy and a wonderful distraction.
I’m not looking for love, and Zach definitely had the wrong number.
Maybe he’s the right guy.
Nothing But Trouble by P. Dangelico
Strangers to friends to lovers • Angsty • Great chemistry
Water polo god.
Owner of a face that belongs under Wikipedia’s definition of drop dead gorgeous.
Too charming for his own good.
But most importantly––the worst driver on the planet.
No, really, I’m pretty sure his blind nana taught him how to drive.
I had no idea who he was until he almost ran me over. And frankly, I kind of wish I still didn’t because then I wouldn’t have a sprained ankle to show for it. And my leg wouldn’t resemble a boa constrictor that’s swallowed a feral pig.
Yeah, it’s that bad.
I’ve spent years saving every penny I’ve ever earned to be able to transfer to Malibu University. And now my entire future––including my scholarship––is in jeopardy.
So I either accept the help he insists on giving me, or lose everything I’ve sacrificed for.
In the meantime, I’m going to ignore the fact that we’re becoming friends.
And I’m definitely going to pretend he’s not turning into the object of my…umm, dirty fantasies.
That’s not happening.
Not even a little.
Because the minute I clapped eyes on him I knew he was nothing but trouble.
Nothing But Wild by P. Dangelico
Popular guy & nerdy girl • Friends first • Angsty
Dallas Van Zant…
Water polo god.
Beautiful disaster in the most literal sense of that label.
Trust me, it’s not hyperbole. He’s in big trouble with the law.
What does this have to do with me, you ask? Unfortunately, a lot. For some reason, which I still can’t quite wrap my brain around, I’ve been talked into driving him around as part of his plea deal.
Problem is, he makes me nervous. I’m not good with people, men in particular, popular athletes especially. I’ve worked really hard to get my disability under control and one minute in his company and all my hard work flies out the window.
To top it all off, I promised myself that I was going to make some serious changes this year. I’m tired of feeling awkward around boys. I’m tired of never having had a boyfriend. I’m tired of being lonely. And he’s wrecking my plans.
But I’m also not the type to turn away a person in need. So I’ll do what I must to help him out.
I’ll just pretend that I’m not enjoying his company. And I’ll ignore the fact that he’s sweet and funny. And I’ll tell myself every day that he’s out of my league.
Because I’m as inexperienced as they come. And Dallas Van Zant is nothing but wild.
Jock Row by Sara Ney
Banter and chemistry • Sports romance • Slow burn
Scarlett is always the sensible one: The sober driver. The planner. The one holding your hair back while you’re worshiping the porcelain gods.
Week-after-week, she visits Jock Row with her friends — the university’s hottest party scene and breeding ground for student athletes. And if keeping her friends out of trouble, and guys out of their pants, was a sport, she’d be the star athlete.
Being a well known jock-blocker gets her noticed for all the wrong reasons; just like that, she’s banned from Jock Row. NO GUY WANTS A GIRL AROUND WHO KEEPS THEIR JOCK FRIENDS FROM GETTING LAID.
“Rowdy” Wade is the hot shot short-stop for the university’s baseball team — and the unlucky bastard who drew the short straw: keep little Miss Goody Two-Shoes out of the Baseball House.
But week-after-week Scarlett returns, determined to get inside.
How to Date a Douchebag: The Studying Hours by Sara Ney
Lovable jerk • Opposites attract • Light and fun
CRUDE. ARROGANT. A**HOLE.
No doubt about it, Sebastian ‘Oz’ Osborne is the university’s most celebrated student athlete—and possibly the biggest douchebag. A walking, talking cliché, he has a filthy mouth, a fantastic body, and doesn’t give a sh*t about what you or anyone else thinks.
SMART. CLASSY. CONSERVATIVE.
Make no mistake, Jameson Clarke may be the university’s most diligent student—but she is no prude. Spending most of her time in the hallowed halls of the library, James is wary of pervs, jocks, and douchebags—and Oz Osborne is all three.
She’s smart, sarcastic—and not what he expected.
…EVERY DOUCHBAG HAS HIS WEAKNESS.
He wants to be friends.
He wants to spend time with her.
He wants to drive her crazy.
The Friend Zone by Sariah Wilson
Friends first • Sports romance • Clean but sexy
From the bestselling author of the #Lovestruck novels comes a rousing romance about following your dreams, second chances, and playing the game of love.
Disgraced college quarterback Logan Hunt was on his way to NFL stardom when he messed up big-time. Now the Texas star player with a bad temper has a new option: Seattle’s EOL College—as in End of the Line, to his fellow misfit recruits. It’s Logan’s last chance. If he can follow the rules. No parties, no fighting, no swearing, and oh, no dating the coach’s daughter, Jess. Simple. Yeah, right. For Logan, there has never been a rule he’s more tempted to break.
The deal is “just friends.” The pretty, confident, and fiercely smart math whiz is fine with pizza, tutoring, and keeping Logan in line. But the closer Jess gets, the more receptive she is to his warm heart and spirit—not to mention his irresistible off-field passes. With defenses down, they’re both heading into the danger zone.
It’s more than thrilling. It’s love. It’s also a game changer that could sideline Logan’s NFL goals—and more important, a future with Jess. But dreams are worth fighting for, right?
The Matchmaker’s Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken
Light and funny • Great banter • Opposites attract
Wingman rule number one: don’t fall for a client.
After a career-ending accident, former NFL recruit Ian Hunter is back on campus—and he’s ready to get his new game on. As one of the masterminds behind Wingmen, Inc., a successful and secretive word-of-mouth dating service, he’s putting his extensive skills with women to work for the lovelorn. But when Blake Olson requests the services of Wingmen, Inc., Ian may have landed his most hopeless client yet.
From her frumpy athletic gear to her unfortunate choice of footwear, Blake is going to need a miracle if she wants to land her crush. At least with a professional matchmaker by her side she has a fighting chance. Ian knows that his advice and a makeover can turn Blake into another successful match. But as Blake begins the transformation from hot mess to smokin’ hot, Ian realizes he’s in danger of breaking his cardinal rule.…
Enemies by Tijan
Angsty to the max • Enemies to lovers • Steamy
Stone Reeves was my neighbor, and I’ve hated him since sixth grade.
Gorgeous and charismatic, he became the town’s football god, while I became the town’s invisible girl.
He went to a Division 1 school for football, while my father was fired by his father.
His team won the National Championship, while my mother died the same day.
He was a first round pick for the NFL …
… while I made the worst decision in my life.
Now I’m in Texas trying to pick up the pieces of my life.
But, Stone is here.
Stone is everywhere.
It doesn’t matter that disaster has struck my life again.
It doesn’t matter that he’s the one trying to console me.
It doesn’t matter that he’s the nation’s newest football obsession.
Because for me, he always has been and always will be my enemy.
Hate the Game by Winter Renshaw
Opposites attract • Sports romance • Emotional
Talon Gold is a lot of things: good at football, bad at love. Obsessed with scoring, refuses to play by the rules. Cruel. Relentless. Brilliant. Intoxicatingly attractive.
Despite his demanding reputation and propensity for being the most arrogant a-hole ever to strut Pacific Valley University’s picturesque campus, everyone wants a piece of him: coaches, scouts, and pretty little campus fangirls with pouty lips and perfect top knots.
But Talon … he only wants a piece of me.
And four straight years of infuriating rejection means I’m almost positive he’d take a night with me over a national championship trophy.
But I’m no fool—he only wants me because he can’t have me. And with graduation approaching, time is running out. He’s more desperate than ever, pulling out all the stops and doing everything in his power to get in my good graces.
They say, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
But to that I say, “Why not both?”
I have my reasons …
Sorry, BMOC. This victory? Not going to happen.
So, That Got Weird by Amelia Kingston
Steamy • Emotional • Opposites attract
A painfully awkward love story.
Incomprehensibly awkward Elizabeth Wilde is desperate for love. Connection. Intimacy. After a lifetime of romantic failures, the twenty-one-year-old gamer realizes she needs help. Professional help. She needs…
A sex tutor.
The devastatingly hot jock Austin Jacobs is just the man for the job. As the reigning campus sex god, he has the playboy act down pat. But underneath those six-pack abs beats a broken heart. He doesn’t trust people and he sure as hell doesn’t believe in love.
The odd couple strike a deal. Four weeks of ‘tutoring’ for five thousand dollars.
When Austin coaxes Elizabeth out from behind her computer screen, the attraction they feel is undeniable. They’re both a little broken, but somehow their jagged edges fit. And when their world comes tumbling down on top of them, they each have to decide if this weird thing called love is worth fighting for.
Reader advisory: This book includes references to inadequate parenting, parental death, a parent with addiction. There are also scenes including the use of performance drugs.
Break You by MV Ellis
Intense and emotional • Dark • Steamy • Enemies to lovers
This is not a love story.
I hate you not for who you are, but what you represent.
I’m the whispers in the darkness you can’t quite hear.
I’m the unease that can’t be explained, but won’t go away.
I’m your worst nightmare come to life.
I’m the filthy rich guy who’s coming for revenge.
Everything you’ve ever had.
Everything you hold dear.
I won’t stop until I break you.
You were once my savior.
Now you’re my bully.
I’m the girl from the wrong side of the wrong side of the tracks.
No match for your money, your might, or your wrath.
But I’m not going down without a fight.
When I go, I’ll take you with me.
Because we’re more alike than you want to admit.
And more connected than you know.
This is not a love story.
The Secret by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman
Lovable jerk • Intense and emotional • Dark
Secrets… they can make or break you.
I would know. I’m hiding the biggest secret of all. My scars are so much more than skin deep. They consume me, control me.
Then I meet him, Clark Jefferson. Six foot two inches of greek god hotness, with a smile that’ll make your panties disappear. He wears a clear warning label: Heartbreaker, and if I was smart I would stay away from him.
With my past, my secrets nothing could ever come of being with a man like him. Still I cannot ignore the feelings he stirs inside me. He frightens me and excites me all at once.
He makes me want to break free of the suffocating fear that claims my heart.
Our meeting isn’t fate though, he needs me as much as I need him, and so we strike a deal.
He’ll be my fake boyfriend and I’ll help him get out of trouble with his dad.
But secrets can’t remain secrets forever and as I grow closer to Clark my feelings for him grow too. Soon the line between fake and real blurs and when the past I’ve been running from finally catches up with me I’ll have to confess to Clark the truth or let go of a love that was only ever supposed to be fake.
**This is book three in the North Woods University Series. It can be read as a complete standalone and contains NO cliffhanger, NO cheating, and a HEA. Please be advised this series contains material not suitable to all readers. This is NOT a YA series.**
I Dare You by Ilsa Madden-Mills
Great banter • Sports romance • Light yet angsty
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills kicks off a brand-new, sexy, heartfelt contemporary romance series with I DARE YOU!
Badass Athlete: I dare you to…
Delaney Shaw: Who is this?
The late night text is random, but “Badass Athlete” sure seems to know who she is…
Lover of fluffy kitties and Star Wars.
His dare? Spend one night in his bed—a night he promises will be unforgettable—and she can solve the mystery of who he is.
She knows she shouldn’t, but what else is she going to do with her boring Valentine’s Day?
One sexy hook-up later, her mind is blown and the secret’s out.
The most talented football player in the country.
Just ask him.
Too bad for him Delaney’s sworn off dating athletes forever after her last heartbreak.
But Maverick wants more than one night and refuses to give up on winning Delaney’s heart. She isn’t one to be fazed by a set of broad shoulders.
Will the bad boy land the nerd girl or will the secrets they keep from each other separate them forever?
The Guy on the Left by Kate Stewart
Angsty and emotional • Age gap • Second chance
It started with a lie. A night of blurred lines between a teacher and a student.
I wasn’t her student, yet it was the single most defining night of my life.
I’ve never been the man she thinks I am.
Most people have no idea about the life I’ve lived or the words that ring true when it comes to me—still waters run deep.
But you’d be hard-pressed to find a coed on the TGU campus who knows otherwise…because I’ve never corrected them.
The clock is ticking down, it’s Fourth and Inches with the ball inside the one-yard line and the focus is on me, The Guy on the Left. I’ve never felt like a football god, inside I’m…just Troy.
It’s time to set the record straight.
For my son, I‘ll find the strength.
In her eyes, I’m determined to gain redemption.
I will have them both, even if I have to take my eye off the ball.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Releases on January 21st – review coming soon
You’ve Got Mail for teens • Light and funny • Clean and cute
A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Want more romance recommendations?
Check out my list of 15 Sensational Sports Romances here!
Want more romance recommendations? Check out my list of lists here.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases