12 Diverse YA Romance Novels To Swoon Over

by Mikey Duffy

Romance novels have always brought me comfort. They give me this warm feeling, like the story is wrapping me in a cozy hug. The escapist nature of these stories gives me hope fairytales can come true.

However, some romance novels seem too simple and unrealistic. As an avid romance reader, I want to read love stories about all types of people, not just characters that fit an outdated visual mold. Diversity and representation in romance novels bring a sense of realism to the ever-changing genre.

I compiled a list of swoony YA romance novels that feature diverse characters and a fresh blend of love and culture. Give these a read when you want a modern love story!

  • Zyla & Kai

    by Kristina Forest

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    This modern retelling of Romeo & Juliet is a must-read for bookworms who love slow-burn romances. Kristina Forest uses a nonlinear timeline to convey themes of loss, Black pride, and communication within Zyla and Kai’s love story during their senior year of high school. From their initial meeting at their workplace to their school trip to the Poconos, Forest enraptures the reader by keeping them guessing: will they or won’t they?

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  • Fake Dates and Mooncakes

    by Sher Lee

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    Heartstoppers meets Crazy Rich Asians in this delightful rom-com that will have readers swooning and laughing in equal parts. Dylan Tang is determined to win the Mid-Autumn Festival mooncake-making competition to help his aunt's struggling Chinese takeout, which means he can't be distracted by the sweet, handsome — and did we mention rich? — Theo Somers. But how can he say no when Theo asks him to be his fake date for a family wedding in the Hamptons?Fake dating, an exploration into Chinese culture, and the most mouthwatering descriptions of food — this story dazzles on every level.

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  • Love Requires Chocolate

    by Ravynn K. Stringfield

    Whitney is thrilled about her upcoming summer in Paris, France! She's got her jam-packed itinerary all set and is ready for some unforgettable adventures. However, as she gets used to her new school in Paris, she finds herself overwhelmed. That's when she crosses paths with her French tutor – a slightly grumpy, yet incredibly cute soccer star who is set on showing her the authentic Paris. Could he be the perfect match for her?

  • Prince of the Palsides

    by Julian Winters

    Prince Jadon is reeling from a widely publicized breakup. His reputation is tarnished, and love is the furthest thing from his mind right now. He's on a mission to repair his image for the country and gain his parents' approval. He never anticipated finding love along the way. Will this ruin all his progress? Or will falling for a normal American guy be just the thing to capture the hearts of the nation and show who he really is?

  • Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

    by Talia Hibbert

    A long and complicated romance develops in this heartwarming, playful novel by New York Times bestselling author Talia Hibbert. Bradley and Celine haven’t been friends since he ditched her for a seat at the popular kids’ table. However, an upcoming wilderness survival course will force them to work on the obstacles ahead of them and deal with their pasts. This novel is perfect for avid YA readers with its excellent mental health representation and dynamic protagonists.

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  • Chloe and the Kaishao Boys

    by Mae Coyiuto

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    From author Mae Coyiuto comes the tale of Chloe, a Chinese Filipina girl who has the next four years planned out. She wants to leave the Philippines for college in California and become a successful animator. However, her father’s sudden matchmaking lands Chloe on several blind dates, and she slowly falls in love with all of them. But is it all worth it if she leaves the country at the end of the summer? With family dynamics, Filipino culture, and the realities of first love, this summer romance is a must-read.

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  • The Davenports

    by Krystal Marquis

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    Teens will love this fresh take on period romance novels! The Davenports are one of few wealthy Black families in early 1900s America, and society holds the family to a high standard. Told through the perspectives of four main characters, two Davenports, and two close friends, the novel shows the complex romances these four women face when dating outside their social circles. History, representation, and charm — this book has it all!

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  • My Mechanical Romance

    by Alexene Farol Follmuth

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    In science, opposites attract, but can the same be said of our two protagonists, Bel and Teo? Bel’s newfound talent for engineering lands her on her school’s robotics team, captained by the nerdy yet cute Teo Luna. While the two butt heads, Bel wonders if her growing feelings for Teo are strictly platonic. Told from a dual perspective, Follmuth explores the challenges girls of color face in science and the playful nature of opposite attraction.

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  • Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance

    by Nisha Sharma

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    Readers who enjoy competition-fueled romances will love this story about the blending of South Asian cultures and the desire to dance to the rhythm of your heart. Radha is a talented Kathak dancer, but a family dispute makes her leave her dancing career behind for a life in Chicago. There, she meets Bollywood dancer Jai, who recruits her as a choreographer for his dancing team in hopes of winning an upcoming competition. As the competition approaches, Radha confronts her past relationships and growing feelings for Jai in this must-read romance.

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  • American Betiya

    by Anuradha D. Rajurkar

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    This award-winning book by Anuradha Rajurkar has realistic and heart-wrenching writing about a toxic high school relationship. Reni is an Indian American high schooler, and the designated “dream daughter.” However, her first boyfriend, Oliver, makes her question her self-worth, sexuality, and relationship with love. Reni’s journey of handling the turmoil of first love and rediscovering herself is an important coming-of-age story.

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  • Instructions for Dancing

    by Nicola Yoon

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    Opposites attract. Stellar dance moves. Interesting characters. This delightful and emotional story will make you laugh and think about true love. Evie swears off love after her parents’ divorce. Then, after a strange encounter with a woman at a bookshop, she discovers she has the power to see how every romantic relationship will end. To rid herself of the curse, Evie takes classes at a dance studio and meets the charming dance instructor, Xavier. Will she give up her pessimistic view of love and fall for Xavier? Read this magical tale to find out!

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  • Flirting with Fate

    by J. C. Cervantes

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    Fans of The Storm Runner series, which is loosely based on Mayan mythology, will welcome J. C. Cervantes’s first YA romance novel. In Flirting with Fate, 17-year-old Ava Granados misses a magical blessing she was supposed to receive from her dying abuelita, only to discover that it was given instead to the “random” stranger she collided with on her way to her grandmother’s deathbed. Is it fate? A cute and quick story that's sure to capture any teen reader's heart.

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