Reading Guide | New Adult Romance

CUPCAKE (5) This is the first in a small series of posts I’m planning to make to help you (the reader) better understand what genres & tropes you love! This post is going to talk a little about New Adult (NA) Romance; common themes, most seen tropes, top authors, and book recommendations. I’m starting with NA because it’s one of my favorite genres and the genre I’ve read the most of, aside from YA Romance & Fantasy (which will both have their own posts!).


NA is a genre that is most often ignored or misunderstood for several reasons. One, people tend to either lump NA, especially more mild NA, into the YA category. Examples of this can be seen with Anna Todd’s NA saga After. Definitely not mild, but often gets labeled as YA. Two, other NA is lumped in with erotica because it does tend to be more on the steamier side of romance. Fade to black usually isn’t found in NA, that’s for sure.

There’s a lot of debate about where YA ends and NA begins, but the general consensus is that NA’s protagonists should be between 19-25, with some room above and below that. NA is different from YA in it’s common themes, settings, and general plot lines. NA explores things like college life, sexual relationships, life outside of your parents, and general early adulthood.

These typically tend to be steamier than YA romance, which is one of those telltale signs that a book is NA opposed to YA. One example of the raging debate surround YA v. NA is one of my favorite series, Sarah J. Maas’s epic A Court of Thorns and Roses series. While it’s sold, marketed, and targeted toward the young adult readers, it deals with a lot of key NA themes and book bloggers (like myself) are quick to point out that A Court of Thorns and Roses more closely falls into NA, especially in the… ahem… steamy scenes. Lookin’ at you, chapter 54.

istockphoto-143071364-612x612Common Themes & Tropes

One of the biggest tropes found in NA is the enemies to lovers trope, my personal favorite! Lots of bully romances and jerk/sunshine tropes abound in NA, one of the reasons as to why it’s one of my absolute favorite genres. There’s also lots of second chance romance, friends to lovers, opposites attract, insta-love, and love triangles. There’s a lot of angst in NA, which is one of the reasons why it’s hit or miss for some people. I personally love all the drama and angst and that’s really what fuels a story for me, but for some people its too much.

NA can take a darker tone than YA romance in some of the things it handles that is considered too much for YA. Drug addiction, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other triggers can be commonly found in NA romance. If you’re someone who struggles with these topics please check for trigger warnings at the top of reviews! Lots of bloggers are helpful when it comes to trigger warnings, myself included!

Other common themes/aspects in NA romance is definitely college life (with all the stereotypes therein), characters losing their virginity, bad boy players, sport star guys and nerdy girls, etc. Lots of those common and stereotypical college aspects.

be1ce799745e7ff3fde4ef8e3532752fPopular NA Authors

Abbi Glines – A personal favorite of mine, her Rosemary Beach and Sea Breeze series are cult classic NA novels. I’ve read each and every book in those two series and they were my start to NA romance!

Colleen Hoover – Her books fluctuate between NA and general Fiction, but her novels generally focus on college students/early adults and thus are more classified as NA.

Penelope Douglas – Another personal favorite, Penelope does NA like no one else. Her books aren’t for the faint of heart; she’s the queen of dark romance and her books are STEAMMMMMY.

L.J. Shen – I haven’t read one of her books yet (I know, I know), but she’s a very popular NA author! Nearly every book blogger I follow has read and loved her work, and it seems she’s a staple in the NA community, especially for bully romance!

Elle Kennedy – The brains behind the wildly popular Off-Campus and Briar U series, Elle Kennedy is another classic NA author. She’s captured the sports NA market and is a common and go-to rec for anyone asking for NA help.

NA Recommendations 

Rival by Penelope Douglas                                                             Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines                                             Dirty English by Isla Madden-Mills

After by Anna Todd                                           Boys South of the Mason Dixon by Abbi Glines

These are all books I’ve personally read and loved, some even before I started this blog, but you can find some more recommendations through Goodreads here!

FB_college_romanceIn Conclusion…

As you can see, NA is a really diverse and intricate genre. It gets a lot of hate sometimes for being strictly “smut”, but that isn’t the case at all. It sounds silly to say, but it’s a very misunderstood genre. NA can be extremely emotional and as anyone who has been through college, it’s a really trying time emotionally, mentally, and personally.

There you have it! For sure not a complete look at NA, but comprehensive nonetheless. I have a few other posts planned for this series, but let me know what you’d like to see next! Do you like NA? What are you favorite NA books? Tell me below!

Happy reading



2 thoughts on “Reading Guide | New Adult Romance

  1. Pingback: Reading Guide | Young Adult Fantasy | Tonkin About Books

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