Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

8 Epic New York–Set Romances

Aurora Lydia Dominguez

Staff Writer

Aurora Lydia Dominguez is a journalist, high school teacher and college professor based in Hollywood, Florida. A journalist at heart, she worked for places like The Miami Herald and J-14 Magazine as a reporter and editor before going from the newsroom to the classroom. Aurora's passions include reading a book on Saturday mornings with her cat Luna, time with her husband Seb and pop rock shows. You can email her at

Forever and Kate Spencer’s In a New York Minute

A clever, tender, and romantic "Nora Ephron romp for the modern ages" (Christina Lauren) for readers of Jasmine Guillory, Abby Jimenez, and Sophie Cousens. This laugh-out-loud debut from the co-host of the hit podcast Forever35 is a perceptive reminder that fate can have a sense of humor, and that love can happen . . . In a New York Minute.

“Spins a catastrophic meet-cute into a richly realized romance that's surrounded by even more love stories—between friends, between families, and between New Yorkers and their city. You’ll devour it.” (Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan)

Romance books are fantastic, aren’t they? Filled with whimsical tales that tug at your heartstrings, there’s nothing better than escaping into an epic romance that offers you a lovely escape, and a guaranteed happy ending. I, for one, adore romance novels, from chick lit to young adult, and they make me extremely happy to read.

How about New York City? What if authors decide to make it the setting of these romances? To me, the backdrop of New York City itself lends itself to love, as a place where people seek to make their dreams come true. And, not only that, but the area is magical on its own, filled with the hustle and bustle of the big city, as well as so many opportunities for characters to find themselves in the type of situations that lead to a happily ever after. Yes, it can be tough to be single in such a huge city, especially when love would be lovely to find, but, these books make me hopeful for the city, its inhabitants, and their chances of stumbling right into their own romantic love story.

With that in mind, I’ve selected for you eight epic romances set in the Big Apple, including YA and adult titles, that I truly hope you’ll find pure joy in by reading. Happy reading, and remember, sometimes romance can be found in a place, and at a time, where you least expect it to appear in your life.

Cover image of "Made in Manhattan" by Lauren Layne.

Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne

This romantic novel follows an elite New York socialite who finds herself in quite a situation that she never expected to stumble upon.

In the book, Violet Townsend loves Manhattan, loves her life as an Upper East Side born and raised resident, and she always showcases her personality with the best fashion. She is also the type of person to please others. The person that she holds the most dear in her heart is her grandmother. So, when her grandmother asks Violet to help the grandson of her friend to get to know and fit in nicely with Manhattan’s most top and elite people, she agrees. Problem is, Cain Stone is not eager to find his place as the heir to his family company, and, being born and raised in rural Louisiana, he would prefer to make his life and settle in New Orleans. All he wants is the much-needed paycheck at the end of this deal. So, when these two pair up to try to make Cain a polished man, there’s resentment in the start, yet as time goes by, Violet and Cain realize they have a lot to learn from each other after all.

Cover image of "The Sun is Also a Star" by Nicola Yoon.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This amazing meet-cute follows two extremely engaging characters as they collide one fateful day in New York City.

Natasha is a teen living in New York City, whose Jamaican family is at risk of being deported back there in less than 24 hours. The day before this is happening, she meets the handsome Daniel in the streets of the crowded city. Daniel is considered the perfect son and driven to live up to his parent’s high hopes for him at all times. And, Natasha is not the one to believe in fate and love, especially not at this specific time in her life. Yet, when they meet, they find solace in each other and explore a romantic and whirlwind of a magical day in New York City.

It might not be a traditional HEA/HFA, but it scratches the romance itch.

Cover Image of "Now that I've Found You" by Kristina Forest.

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest

This fantastic romantic story about characters searching for themselves in the big city will have you engaged and swooning from the start.

The novel follows 18-year-old Evie Jones, whose super famous grandmother has her fully inspired to also become a celebrity herself. Yet, one day Evie’s betrayed by a friend, and thanks to this, the offers for work stop coming in. She decides maybe now is the time to make an appearance with her grandma, Gigi, also known the Evelyn Conaway, to help save her career. But, Gigi has become isolated from the world and has not been seen publicly as a star in about 20 years. One day, she disappears when she is meant to accept an award, so Evie panics and has to find her. What follows is a great story, as she pairs up with the uber-cute Milo Williams, the last person to have seen Gigi before her disappearance.

As the duo goes on a hunt throughout New York City, and with Evie not completely trusting Milo, they learn a lot about each other, as well as Gigi and her current life, and realize they might not despise each other after all.

Cover image of "When Katie Met Cassidy" by Camille Perri.

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

This LGBTQ romance offers quite the adorable story, as the main characters find love when and where they least expect it.

Katie Daniels is a 28-year-old lawyer living a seemingly perfect life. Currently engaged to art curator Paul Michael, she has seen success in her career as a lawyer, holding a high position in an important law firm, with lovely apartments in the West Village and Soho. She is so proud to have come so far from her upbringing in Kentucky and has never looked back from her current New York life, which was always a dream of hers. The rug is pulled from under her when Paul decides to break off their engagement. This leads to Katie becoming close to a co-worker Cassidy Price when a heartbroken Katie agrees to meet her up for drinks. Katie admires Cassidy’s self-assured attitude, and, sexual confidence, as she grows closer to her and realizes new things about herself and what love can be.

Cover image of "Dash & Lily's Book of Dares" by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

This super cute novel, adapted into a great Netflix series, showcases New York City in a wonderful light.

The book follows 16-year-old Lily, an avid reader, who decides one day to leave a red notebook full of challenges on her favorite bookstore shelf. She then waits, hoping the right person, maybe even a guy, will discover the notebook and take up the challenges. Dash, who is not feeling the holiday spirit at all, finds the red notebook and what follows is an adventurous story where he decides to follow each and every dare in the notebook all throughout the Big Apple.

Dash and Lily are fantastic characters and this is a great little romance that pays homage to New York City and the holiday season and its sense of magic there.

Cover image of "Partner Pursuit" by Kathy Strobos.

Partner Pursuit by Kathy Strobos

This novel promises a fun read about two opposites attracting in the Big City.

The story follows Audrey Willems, a lawyer who lives to work and not to play, and has her sights set on becoming a partner at the New York law firm where she works. In six months a decision will be made, and she hopes she makes it.

One day, she meets a handsome music marketing executive called Jake, and sparks fly. Problem is, he doesn’t like to date women whose main focus is spending hours upon hours working. Jake believes in a work life balance. They attempt to date and have fun in the city, but it’s hard for Audrey to disconnect from the office, as she keeps canceling date upon date with Jake. Will they make it work?

Cover of "Blackout" by Various Authors.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon

Imagine what could happen when a loss of sudden electrical power takes over all of New York City. This book explores the possibility of this and so much more.

The compilation with superstar authors centers around the city, where people are thrown into a tailspin when New York City is enveloped by a sudden blackout. Each short story follows different themes, such as love, reconciliation, friendship and divulged secrets, all of them exposed over candlelight and the lack of buzzing electricity, as people divert themselves from distracting electrical devices and find themselves connecting in different ways.

Cover image of "The Trouble With Love" by Toni Shiloh.

The Trouble With Love by Toni Shiloh

The book follows Holiday Brown, a top singer with a platinum record and a swanky multi-million dollar super home in Manhattan that she shares with two besties. But her world is shaken up by the entrance of W. Emmett Bell, the super hunky and handsome brother that moves into the girls’ guest room in the house while his home is undergoing renovations. Holiday cannot help but be attracted to him, yet she feels like he’s a little stubborn, and does not know if falling for him is worth it. When W. Emmett’s sister is suddenly threatened by a menacing stalker and he stands up for her, Holiday realizes that he just might be the guy of her dreams. Will she toss away her doubts and pursue him?