20 Must-Read YA Romances Hitting Shelves January–June 2021

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Tirzah Price

Senior Contributing Editor

Most of Tirzah Price's life decisions have been motivated by a desire to read as many books as humanly possible. Tirzah holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has worked as an independent bookseller and librarian. She’s also the author of the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries, published by HarperTeen, and Bibliologist at TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. Follow her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.

There’s nothing better than curling up with a great romance, especially if you need an injection of happiness in your life. Thankfully, 2021 is promising so many amazing YA romances, so you’ll never go long without a meet cute or romance trope to swoon over. Here’s a round up of 20 must-read YA romances hitting shelves from January to June of this year. Bonus: Many of them are by debut authors, so you can discover a new favorite author while you’re at it!

The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss by Amy Noelle Parker

Evie has always been too preoccupied with math, school, and the weirdness of kissing to really get into the idea of romance, but now she’s going to give it a shot. When she flirts with a cute guy at a math competition, she’s a little surprised when he flirts back. Cue Evie’s best friend Caleb, who’s had a crush on her forever, and is horrified to see her getting flirtatious with someone else. He decides to shoot his shot, and suddenly Evie has the attention of multiple guys. Now she has to figure out what she wants.

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Tessa is a proud romance writer who loves writing stories where girls like her get to be protagonists and find love. She only shares her stories with her best friend Caroline, until she gets into a prestigious creative writing program…and immediately gets a case of writer’s block. Caroline decides what Tessa needs is some real life inspiration, so she comes up with a list of tasks to get Tessa out of her head and out finding love, with some unexpected results.

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

Ellie Nichols needs to get out of the country, and fast—she’s just been rejected by her crush, and she can’t stand the public scrutiny. She decides that a school trip to England is the perfect chance to find new love and heal her broken heart, and that’s when she meets Will, who is a perfect rebound. But in order to capture his attention, she needs the help of a classmate named Dev, whom she doesn’t really like. Ellie and Dev make an agreement to help each other woo their respective crushes, but nothing goes quite to plan.

Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson

When Nala reluctantly attends an open mic night with her cousin, she meets and immediately begins to fall for the emcee, Tye. Although the attraction is real, Nala quickly learns that their interests are very different—Tye is a community activist, and Nala is more interested in hanging out with friends and discovering her new favorite movie. She tells a few little lies to make it seem as though she and Tye have more in common than they really do, but as they fall harder for each other, Nala finds that those lies are hard to conceal.

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre

Calling all enemies-to-lovers fans! Emma and Sophie are die-hard archnemeses competing for the top spot in their film program’s competition. First prize gets to go to an exclusive film festival in L.A., which will absolutely help their careers. But as they compete, and grudgingly work in close proximity, they have to slowly admit that what they’re feeling probably isn’t hate for each other…

A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

Liza Yang is nearly perfect—she’s a great friend, student, and daughter, even if her mom can’t stop comparing stubborn Liza to her older, more perfect sister. So when Liza agrees to help her mom out at her famous bakery’s young baker competition, Liza sees it as a great chance to try and connect with her mom…but then she realizes all the contestants are Asian American teen guys that her mom has picked for the whole purpose of matching up Liza. Now she has to get through the competition and keep her mom happy, even as she falls for one of the contestants.

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Liz has pined after Michael for as long as she can remember—and she thought she lost her chance when he moved away, but now he’s back in town. Michael has become friends with Wes, Liz’s annoying next door neighbor, so Liz hatches a plan to get close to Wes, to get close to Michael, to get close to achieving her romcom perfect prom experience. But the more time she spends with Wes, the more Liz is forced to reconsider her plans.

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Bao and Linh are two teens whose families own rival pho restaurants, and they’ve been feuding for as long as Bao and Linh have been alive. They mostly avoid each other, but when a chance encounter sees sparks flying between the two of them, they have to date in secret. Only, they realize that they both suspect there’s something more to this feud between their families than anyone is letting on…and they’re determined to figure it out.

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Mia is headed to Paris to partake in a six-week elite ballet program, and at the end of her time in Paris she’ll have the chance to audition with a world-famous ballet company. But for Mia, there’s so much more to Paris than ballet as she meets Louis, a charming French boy who wants to be her tour guide, and she uncovers a few mysteries that surprise them both.

The Summer of Lost Letters by Hannah Reynolds

Abby has just broken up with her boyfriend and is sad to see her friends all scatter the summer before senior year. She needs a distraction, and she finds one in the letters she discovers in her late grandmother’s belongings. Letters from a man named Edward who lives in Nantucket. Abby doesn’t know much about her grandmother’s past, beyond that she was WWII refugee, so she decides to head to Nantucket and investigate—and that’s where she meets Edward’s grandson, Noah.

Meet Cute Diary from Fake Dating Books 2021 |

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Noah Ramirez is the author of the popular blog Meet Cute Diary, a place where he’s been chronicling trans happily ever after stories. But when the blog is exposed as fiction—not nonfiction, as he’s been claiming—Noah needs to find a way to convince his readers that love is real. Enter Drew, who agrees to a fake dating scheme to save the blog. But the more time they spend together, the more Noah falls for Drew.

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

Reyna’s family owns Plumeria, a seaside resort in Tobago where she’s grown up. Two years ago, Reyna’s mom died and her best friend Aiden left to follow his music career, and Reyna is still there, trying to keep the Plumeria running as normal while everyone has plans for the future. Then Aiden comes back into her life, now a Plumeria VIP guest. As Reyna faces her one-time friend and lost love, and his exciting new life, she must figure out what’s next for her.

Kiss and Repeat by Heather Truett

Stephen is a teen with Tourette’s, and his tics have always made him a bit of an outsider. But then while playing a kissing game at a party, he discovers that his body goes still while kissing and decides that he wants to explore the phenomenon by kissing as many girls as possible—for science. But the longer his experiment goes on, the more complicated his relationships become, especially when he starts to actually fall for a girl he’s been kissing.

Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

Valerie and her cousin run V&C BEAUTY, a student-run business in their school that offers their American classmates Korean beauty products they can’t get in stores. Wes is a new kid who wants to study music, but his parents refuse to pay tuition…and he realizes that he can make a bit of money selling K-pop items his mom gives him. Soon Wes and Valerie are the school’s biggest competitors, and they’re determined to outsell each other, even as they begin to fall for each other.

Words Composed of Sea and Sky by Erica George

In this dual timeline narrative, Michaela Dunn is hoping to win the money she needs for art school by composing the perfect dedication to her town’s statue of a famous poet. When she discovers an old diary of a young woman from that poet’s time, she learns that Leta Townsend used to write poetry under the name of Benjamin Churchill, a boy who was lost to sea on a whaling trip. So when he returns home unscathed, she’s shocked…even more so when they begin to fall for each other.

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi

Parvin has just been dumped, days after she officially started dating, and now she can barely stand the humiliation of it all. She’s desperate for a date to Homecoming to prove that she is totally girlfriend material, and in order to get a date with Matty Fumero, she begins acting like the women in her favorite romcoms…which is a whole lot harder than she thought!

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Rioter Adiba Jaigirdar

Hani is pretty, popular, and well-liked, so she doesn’t think coming out to her friends as bisexual will be that big of a deal. But they tell her she can’t really be bisexual since she’s only ever dated guys, and Hani panics and claims she’s dating Ishu—serious, academic, and not so well-liked. Ishu agrees to go along with Hani’s fake dating scheme if Hani will help her get elected as head girl, but neither plan on falling for each other along the way.

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

While living in his rural Washington town, Jay feels like the odd one out as the only out gay kid in his school, and he keeps a list of all the things he wants to do as soon as he can leave. Then his family moves unexpectedly to Seattle and Jay finds himself immersed in a supportive queer community for the first time ever. He gets to work checking things off his list, but he runs up into a few problems when tackling his list has him running counter to following his heart with an unexpected chance at love.

Love and Other Natural Disasters from Fake Dating Books 2021 |

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

Nozomi Nagai has been dreaming of a fun summer romance for ages, but she doesn’t expect the gorgeous Willow to ask her to be her fake girlfriend to make her ex jealous. Even so, Nozomi isn’t one to say no to a challenge—she’ll be the best fake girlfriend ever, so Willow has to give her a chance at the real deal.

Between You, Me, and the Honeybees by Amelia Diane Coombs

Josie has just graduated from high school and wants nothing more than to ignore her college acceptance letter and get to work in her family’s honeybee business. But her mom is excited for Josie to be the first to attend college in heir family, and Josie’s not sure how to tell her she’s already rejected the offer. To make things more complicated, Josie meets and begins to fall for the grandson of her mom’s number one competitor in the honey business…it’s sure to be a busy summer!

We hope you enjoy a marathon of swooning with these romantic YA books!