A relatively recent entry to the romance field, New Adult stories feature heroes and heroines negotiating the tricky transition to independence after high school. These four recent releases perfectly capture the feeling of first love—and first heartbreak—that can define the early 20s.
THE BUCKET LIST
In Cora Carmack’s All Played Out, Antonella “Nell” DeLuca has reached her senior year of college with near-perfect grades. Unfortunately, she’s been so focused on studying that her social life is non-existent. Determined to remedy the situation, she makes a bucket list of things she wants to do before graduation. First on the list: Hook up with a jock.
Football wide receiver Mateo Torres has a reputation for playing hard, both on and off the field. When he meets Nell and discovers her list, he’s determined to help her check off every item. But he didn’t expect to fall in love with her. When the list is completed, will Nell choose to stay?
This is the third novel in Carmack’s Rusk University series, and it’s a winner. The hero and heroine are both intelligent, endearing and funny, and they have enough past heartache to keep readers wondering if they will find a way to stay together.
LOVE HEALS ALL WOUNDS
Tiffany King launches her Fractured Lives series with A Shattered Moment. College sophomore Mackenzie Wilson is still struggling to cope with her broken heart a year after a car accident killed her friends and left her leg badly damaged. It’s all she can do to hobble to classes and focus on studying.
Bentley James sees Mackenzie on campus and immediately recognizes the pretty girl he pulled from the wrecked SUV a year before. She’s emotionally locked down and barely speaks, however, and it takes concentrated effort to slowly draw her out of her shell. Bentley knows he’s falling in love with her, but he also knows she may break his heart. Unless Mackenzie can face her past and come to terms with everything that happened that terrible night, she may never be able to love him in return.
King has given her fans a deeply emotional novel that addresses personal and family issues. Readers will root for Mackenzie and Bentley as they fall in love and make hard choices.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
Trusting Liam continues best-selling author Molly McAdams Taking Chances and Forgiving Lies series. College senior Kennedy Ryan breaks every personal rule and spends an unforgettable night with a stranger. Tiptoeing out without waking him, she quietly leaves the Las Vegas hotel and goes home to Florida, but she can’t forget him. A year later, a threat against her detective father has her family insisting Kennedy and her younger sister spend several months in California. Much to her shock, her new boss’ son is the man from Las Vegas.
Liam Taylor is just as stunned as Kennedy. Like her, he’s never been able to forget their night together. He’s determined to keep her close, and this time, he won’t let her slip away. But Kennedy has a complicated history, and unless both she and Liam can come to terms with the past, they may never find a way to be together.
McAdams has created thoroughly likeable characters in Liam and Kennedy and surrounded them with a cast of interesting people. The plot has enough surprises to keep readers eagerly turning pages and fans will be delighted with this latest novel in the series.
Broken Juliet by Australian author Leisa Rayven is set in the world of the theater. Actress Cassie Taylor fell in love with fellow student Ethan Holt in college. Unfortunately, Ethan had deep-seated issues that compelled him to break up with her. He broke her heart and his own, as well. Several years later, they’re forced together once again when they land the lead roles in a Broadway play.
Cassie has never really recovered from losing Ethan, and much to her shock, he tells her that he’s never gotten over her either. But there is so much emotional trauma in their collective past—is it possible for them to look past it and move forward together.
The chemistry between Cassie and Ethan is steamy, their emotions raw and real. Rayven deftly juggles the lovers’ present-day relationship with their failed affair in college. Fans of the author’s debut novel, Bad Romeo, will be delighted with this sophomore offering.
Lois Dyer writes from Washington State.