Hi fellow bloggers,
This post has been previously published on Dani @perspectiveofawriter’s blog as she was so kind to invite me!
I am so happy and humbled that Dani invited me on her blog today! I’ve been following her for months now and she writes incredible reviews, has kickass graphics (yes aesthetic is very important to me) and succeeded in enrolling me on her “I Love Characters” weekly meme. Yes yes sometimes she really makes me sweat but I love challenges.
Now why was I here again, aside praising Dani?
Dani asked me to speak about one of my biggest passions in the world: romance in books! More precisely romance in YA books. Or my best YA romance stories….
If you look “romance” in the Merriam Webster (yes I did it) you will find many entries for the definition but my idea of romance is simply a love story.
It can be with or without sex (sorry Dani you said there will be kids but I am sure they’ve heard about flowers and bees).
It can be a love story between different gender or same gender.
It can be slow burn or all explosion and fireworks.
It can be a childhood sweetheart story, an enemies to lovers, a love at first sight, a….
I don’t care as long as there is love and the story makes my heart flutter and puts stars in my eyes.
I may be way past my teenage years or young adult years it does not prevent me to act like a lovesick teenager when I read a good romance story! To my own teenagers greatest shame…..
When I thought about writing this post I was convinced that I could come to you with ONE epic love story, gush about it and be done with it.
Only …I must have read around 8.000 books in my life so far, most of them romance with some mystery or thriller in the mix so choosing only one book was impossible.
I don’t know you but each time someone asks me for my “Top 3 or5 or 10” I always feel like leaving out other fantastic books. It’s like choosing among your kids and I can’t do it! Pure and simple.
So I went all “Oh Hell no!” and chose to give you several of my favorite YA books with epic/heart-wrenching/earthshattering romance.
All these books are YA or maybe NA for one of them (see the flowers and the bees above) and deserve to be read and read again if you are a fellow romance lover.
Perusing my shelves on Goodreads to find my “most favorite” I noticed a recurring “trope” showing again and again among my winners: the protector!
I love it when the male MC is really protective of the female MC. I melt every time that I see these young heroes, no more teenagers but really young adults wanting to slay the dragon menacing their girl.
Sometimes it’s because the girl has been abused, is frightened and in need of protection.
Other times it’s just because the hero can’t stand people being mean to his girl because she has just a golden heart and a pure soul. These young studs are not always big bad alpha mind you but they always find courage and strength when their beloved one is endangered.
Some of my favorite reads falling into the “protector” category:
The Boy who Sneaks through my Bedroom Window by Kirsty Mosely
I loved how Liam always protected Amber. He was 10 when he climbed into 8 year-old Amber’s bedroom to comfort her. Amber and her brother Jack have an abusive father. All along Liam will be her safe haven. Some may see this book as cheesy and will find flaws in the writing but it just worked for me. This is an epic love story. Liam is the bad good-looking boy every girl wants but he has eyes only for Amber. And that’s another trait I expect from my heroes: being faithful and smitten with their girl (or boy).
“She was the only thing I needed. If everything else went away tomorrow, the big house, all the cars, the money, I wouldn’t care. As long as I still got to hold her every night, I would still be the luckiest guy in the world.”
― Kirsty Moseley, The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout
This is another perfect example of boy sacrificing for the girl. Ryder took beatings for Mallory since they were kids in a foster house. Yes it’s the shy, traumatized girl protected by her former foster friend’s trope. No she is not some fearless fighting girl. Yes Mallory has many setbacks and will run and hide. But she tries!
She really wants to become “normal” and overcome her “condition”. Honestly it was impossible not to love her and cheer when she did it.
As for Ryder…Ryder will make you melt on the spot and swoon. For someone loving protective heroes Ryder was like a day trip in Heaven. He was so sweet with Mallory, so patient, so supportive. I can’t find a bad word to say about him. I wish my daughter to find her Ryder.
I dare you not to fall for him!
Are you convinced yet that romance is “THE” genre to read? No? Well let’s go further then (I swear by the end of this post I’ll make a romance fan of you).
A Girl Like Lilac by Victoria L James
This book was a trove! Recommended by a friend I really fell hard for Toby!
This book is about another one of my favorite tropes: childhood sweethearts.
Shy little Toby, seven years, hiding behind his glasses is mesmerized by bouncy, pretty and dreamy Lilac.
The first lines and first chapters with Toby being hypnotized by the cute little girl are one of the sweetest lines I’ve ever read. I was all swooning and doe eyes. Young innocent love blossoming under my watch.
Countless times Toby will defend Lilac, lay his life and body for Lilac’s safety.
Toby is not an alpha in every-day life but for Lilac he becomes a knight in shining armor. Think Clarck Kent donning Superman’s costume.
His dedication, his love was admirable and deeply touching.
“Why do you care so much?” “A young girl told me once to hunt for magic. I guess I found it in her. Now I’d do anything to protect it.”
Aren’t you swooning now? I bet you have stars in your eyes!
As we are on the right path to make you a convert let’s just go to stories with the male MC protecting not only the girl but also a bigger crew.
Like little brothers and sisters or adopted family. There is something truly romantic in exposing oneself to harm in order to keep your beloved safe.
I have a book in mind which rather skirts with NA more than YA but whose hero is on my top list of book boyfriends as his soul shone so bright! Add to it another trope that I love in romance: second chance and I was a goner!
I am speaking of One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters that I can’t recommend enough! (read the damn book)
This story hit me square in the soul, like a punch to my heart.
One Day Soon is about many things and broach difficult topics. It’s a second chance at love story but it’s also about the harsh reality of homeless teenagers, raped, beaten, hungry and forced to sell their body or drugs if they don’t want to die. Not very romantic? WRONG!
Yossarian is 18 and has lived on the street since he was 12 years old when he takes Imi 16 under his wing. Yoss is a “savior”. He protected his friends the only way he knew: by selling his body to earn some money so he could help them to survive. More than anything else, he did not want to taint Imi. She was pure and innocent and he wanted to shelter her. Of course, as this is romance, Imi fell in love with the wonderful boy but she struggled with what he did. She was very conflicted because he sacrificed himself to protect her and she was ashamed to feel disgust for what he did.
Yoss is truly one of the most beautiful characters I’ve ever met in a book. He was so strong and so broken at the same time. I wanted to take him in my arms and protect him from this ugly world, like he did for Imi. It’s impossible not to love Yoss. My heart broke each and every time he had to “go out” as it destroyed him little by little but he did it nonetheless, not only to survive but to provide food and clothes for his friends and, above all else, to protect Imi the best way he could.
”Here was a boy barely holding himself together. He seemed as though he wanted to curl into himself. I wanted to shield him from everything horrible. Everything ugly. Just as he had been trying to do for me.”
Now I dare you to tell me this story is not romantic even if the world where they are living in is ugly!
My last attempt today at convincing you that romance is more than a worthy genre in YA comes with an Uber romantic and tragic book today.
A story that made me cry buckets. One that left me a sobbing mess with a splotchy face and a headache as I had cried so much (AVOID reading it while on public transportation or bear the pitying looks of fellow commuters). Astonishingly it comes from an author writing very very dark MC romance.
She wrote a real master piece with characters sharing a love so epic it will transcend death.
They are lovers from legend.
I am speaking about A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole.
Poppy and Rune’s story rivals Romeo and Juliet.
“This isn’t the end. It’s just a little pause in our lives. And I’ll be watching over you, every single day. I’ll be in your heart. I’ll be in the blossom grove that we love so much, in the sun and the wind.”
― Tillie Cole, A Thousand Boy Kisses
This story is the embodiment of romance. Just read it!
Now before parting ways, let’s test your knowledge of OTP (One True Pairing for those who are clueless like I was barely one month ago)
I will give you one quote from a story I did not mention here above but with what I consider is another true OTP even if romance happens in a dystopian world (I give you a hint here!). Solve the riddle: find the book AND the couple. Leave your answer in the comments below if you’d like
Here is the quote ““Idiots are highly flammable, love. Let them all burn in hell.”
Now do tell me: did I make a romance fan of you? Or if you already were a romance lover what are your favorites? I love book recommendations!
Thanks for reading!