Looking for a cute romance to read this summer? Look no further! These YA contemporaries will leave you swooning.
1. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Belly Conklin spends all year looking forward to summer. Every year, her family travels to Cousins beach with the Beck’s. Belly has been crushing on Conrad Beck forever, but this year she hopes things are going to change. Things get complicated because other guys are also involved, including Conrad’s brother Jeremiah and a summer fling named Cam.
A lot of problems occur for Belly. Her brother doesn’t want Belly to flirt with his friends, her best friend Taylor visits and messes everything up and Susannah Beck, Conrad and Jeremiah’s mom, finally shares some upsetting news that will change everyone’s lives.
In this coming of age story, Belly deals with romance and heartbreak for this time. The best thing about this YA contemporary is that it is not totally about romance. Belly has to grow up in other ways as well and deal with the tough life lesson that summers at Cousins beach after this year will never be the same. All YA fans need to finish this trilogy by also reading It’s Not Summer Without You and We’ll Always Have Summer. This love-triangle won’t disappoint.
2. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Andy always has a plan. With her U.S. Senator father away all the time, Andy has a lot of independence for a teenager. Her summer is supposed to be perfect, she locked in an internship that will look great for college admissions and she’s not tied down by any guy. Her rule: never date someone for more than three weeks.
Things change quickly when Andy loses her internship and her dad faces political scandal. She ends up getting a job as a dog walker and meeting Clark, someone she might want to date longer than usual. Andy also has to deal with her dad being home all the time and finally confronting their issues.
Morgan Matson really knows how to create a fun summer read full of romance, complex female friendships and difficult family dynamics. Not only is Andy’s relationship with Clark super adorable, her friendships feel extremely real for high school. She learns the tough lesson that while some friendships will last, others end. She also learns to tell her dad exactly how it felt for him to be gone all of the time. Most of all, she learns that the unexpected may be better than her original plan.
3. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Artful dodger describes Bailey Rydell perfectly. When things get heated between her mom and step father in D.C., she decides to move to California to be with her dad. The town she moves to also happens to be the same place that her online film fanatic friend lives in. All she knows about him is that he is a guy, he’s her age and his screen name is Alex.
Bailey doesn’t want to tell him that he moved to her town for fear of disappointment. She comes up with a plan to find him first with the limited information that she has. In the mean time, Bailey lands a job at the cheesy local museum, where she meets security guard Porter Roth. Porter loves to make fun of her east coast style and supposedly “snobbish” tastes, making Bailey dread going to work. With a few surprising twists, Bailey realizes that Porter might not be so bad after all and that maybe she could see herself falling for him.
The book synopsis gives away Bailey’s mystery, that Porter Roth is Alex. Honestly, it’s fun to know this the entire time as the characters try to figure it out. It’s better that Bailey and Porter met naturally and went from hate to love than if they just met up because of their online friendship. Porter is one of our all time favorite book boyfriends. While he may seem like a jerk, the reader slowly learns about his insecurities and how he only wants to feel good enough for Bailey. The two go through a lot and face complications, but it’s a summer they’ll never forget.
4. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
The Garrett family has lived next door for years, but Samantha Reed has never approached them. Her mother looked down on this family of ten for being rowdy and unkempt. One night when Samantha sits on the roof, Jase Garret approaches her. The two click instantly and become each other’s escape. Jase dreads the fact that he cannot afford to go to college and Samantha is hiding from her mom’s state senate campaign/relationship with her adviser.
This isn’t an instant love story. The relationship develops as the two get to know each other naturally. Samantha becomes attached to the Garrett family and even helps babysit. On the other hand, Jase is determined to help Samantha’s best friend’s brother Tim change his life. Everything goes well in the relationship until Samantha’s mother makes a devastating mistake that could ruin the Garrett’s. Samantha has to decide if she should keep her mother’s secret or do what is right by helping her boyfriend’s family know the truth.
Samantha and Jase come from two different worlds, yet they have more in common than they thought possible. What makes this book so enjoyable is the complexity of the characters. Both Jase and Samantha are fiercely loyal and despite his past transgressions, want Tim to succeed. Also, they both are protective of their families, which causes some complications in the relationship. In the end, this is a fun summer read with a sprinkle of politics.
5. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Cricket Thompson’s life revolves around her best friend’s family, the Claytons. When tragedy strikes the Clayton family, her best friend Jules pulls away from Cricket and disinvites her to Nantucket for the summer. Thinking that her best fried really needs her, Cricket gets a job as a chambermaid at an Inn on Nantucket. But when Cricket arrives, Jules snubs her and makes her a social-pariah.
Cricket decides to lay low, make friends with her coworkers and get an unpaid internship with a writer. While rebuilding her summer, she runs into Zack Clayton, Jules’s younger brother. For the first time she starts seeing him as more than her best friend’s brother. Zack and Cricket start sneaking around, not wanting Jules to find out. However, secrets can’t stay quiet forever. After all, Nantucket is a small island.
Reading about a summer living on a beautiful island is a must, even if you can’t actually make it to the beach. Cricket goes through a lot of personal growth as she learns to not care what people think of her and focus on what makes her happy. Cricket’s relationship with Zack is really sweet. They are able to confide in each other and they challenge each other to try new things. The story does get complicated at the end, but that is why there is a sequel, Nantucket Red.
6. On the Fence by Kasie West
Charlie doesn’t relate to most teenage girls, she’s raised by a single dad and has three older brothers, plus an honorary fourth: the hot boy next door, Braden. When she gets another speeding ticket at the beginning of summer, her dad says he is done bailing her out and forces her to get a summer job. The only place that will hire Charlie is a clothing boutique. Quickly, Charlie is thrown into the world of fashion and makeup, things she knows nothing about.
Charlie makes friends with a group of girls through her job, ones who know the difference between lip gloss and lipstick and have never thrown a football in their lives. When hanging out with them, Charlie notices the attention they get from guys. She comes to believe that guys would never be interested in the real her. Especially Braden, who she’s been spending more time with late at night, when the two speak at the fence dividing their yards.
The boy-next-door, Braden, is the best part of this book. As Charlie tries to be someone she isn’t just to get a guy and approval from her new friends, Braden calls her out on the BS and keeps her honest. Charlie meant well, but at times her desire to fake-it-till-she-made-it came off as disingenuous and kind of ground on Claire’s nerves. Overall, though, this is a cute read and you’ll find yourself wanting to root for Charlie as she struggles to find herself…and her happy ending!
7. Summer Constellations by Alisha Sevigny
The family business is hurting and Julie Ducharme doesn’t know what to do. The last thing she wants is for her mother to sell the camp ground lake property. Except, with her brother’s recent illness and her mom’s debt, it might be the only option. To make matters worse, her crush Dan returns for the summer with a new girlfriend.
One night while looking at stars on the dock, Julie runs into Nick Constantine, a cute guy playing guitar. Instant sparks fly between the two and for the first time, the summer looks hopeful. However, Nick’s dad is a developer who wants to turn the lake into a casino resort. Nick doesn’t want to be associated with his dad’s project and tries to help Julie keep the family business. Though, can she truly ever trust him?
This story is really great for family relationships. Julie is very protective of her bother Caleb. Caleb and Nick developed a friendship that made the romance in the story even more genuine. While the romance makes you want to spend the summer at a lake with a hot guy, Julie’s first priority is her family. The interactions between the characters felt realistic because not everything happened perfectly, even though this is the type of happy ending to read on a long summer day.
8. Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
Similar to Julie in Summer Constellations, Kate Bailey loves the lake and her family’s business. Yet, her parents are always trying to get her to try something new and get out of her comfort zone. Her best friend Alana convinces her to join the school’s podcast. Thinking she can work on the technical aspects of the podcast, Kate agrees. The last thing she expected was to get picked as one of the hosts, dishing out relationship advice to her peers. She is pretty sure one of the first calls she gets is from her best friend’s crush, Diego. The problem, she thinks she is falling for Diego, even though she’s pretty sure he has feelings for Alana.
This story was really heartwarming. The friendship dynamic between Kate and Alana was genuine, and we found ourselves rooting for both of them as they figured out their complicating love lives. Instead of pitting one woman against the other, West does a great job of depicting a true friendship in which both women are supportive of one another! Not to mention that Diego is swoon-worthy. I mean, who doesn’t love a man that can cook?!
9. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Taylor Edwards’ family seems perfect— that is, until they get some unexpected news. Taylor’s father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In an effort to spend what is likely their last summer together, Taylor’s family decides to vacation at her childhood lake house. While there, Taylor is forced to reconcile with old friends (and an old flame) while also mending ties with her family. Over the course of the book, Taylor falls in love, rediscovers friendships and, more importantly, the meaning of family. While this book may sound like a tearjerker (well, okay, it kind of is— make sure to grab some tissues), the book is about finding oneself despite enduring hardship.
Taylor’s romance with her childhood love, Henry, was sweet and everything you want in a summer beach read! The reader truly comes to adore all of Matson’s characters and feels like they are along for the ride on Taylor’s journey. Don’t pass this one up!
10. Caribbean Cruising by Rachel Hawthorne
Caribbean Cruising is everything you could want out of a YA romcom— and more! The book tells the story of recent high school grad, Lindsay, who goes on a cruise around the Caribbean with her mother and her soon-to-be stepfather. Lindsay’s mother decides to have her wedding on a cruise ship despite the fact that her daughter cannot drink and will have to entertain herself the entire trip.
Her solution? Have her fiancé bring his godson, Ryan, on board to act as her chaperone. The only problem is that Lindsay has plans for her trip— ones that definitely do not include a “straight laced” (read: hot) guy like Ryan tagging along. Thinking she hasn’t done anything remotely interesting before starting college, Lindsay makes a to-do list for the cruise: snorkeling, meeting lots of cute guys, and finding a summer fling. As they spend more time together, Lindsay realizes that she maybe doesn’t need a summer fling and that the guy she’s been looking for has been tagging along on her adventures all along.
We will warn you that this book is not a masterpiece. It’s a cheesy, feel-good type of romcom with your typical, happily-ever-after ending. The romance is swoon worthy and it’s so fun following Lindsay on her adventures around the Caribbean. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up before you set sail on your summer adventure!