The best books with YA romance bad boys

Why am I passionate about this?

Bad boys in young adult romance have always been one of my favorite tropes to read. For seven years, I facilitated a poetry workshop with teens in a juvenile detention center and got to hear their stories—the heartbreak, the challenges, and the triumphs under all that bad boy façade. My memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention, is about the workshops and helped me understand both myself as a writer and the “bad boys” who wrote poetry each week. There are a lot of complexities to bad boy characters and the most satisfying stories are the ones where the bad boys redeem themselves and find love. 


I wrote...

Weaving Magic

By Mindy Hardwick,

Book cover of Weaving Magic

What is my book about?

Can Shantel and Christopher move beyond magical illusions to find love? He loves magic. She loves romance. But the biggest illusion is the one Shantel and Christopher perform together. Sixteen-year-old Christopher fights to stay sober while fifteen-year-old Shantel struggles in the aftermath of her mother’s death and seeks refuge in a fantasy world.

But the unacknowledged roots of their problems refuse to stay buried and soon, the two are headed toward a deadly magic trick.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Perfect Chemistry

Mindy Hardwick Why did I love this book?

Perfect Chemistry is one of the books I read as a model for writing the character relationship between my young adult novel characters, Shantel and Christopher. Alex is the perfectly crafted bad boy character who falls in love with Brittany and in the process is changed with how he sees his life. 

By Simone Elkeles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Perfect Chemistry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author Simone Elkeles comes an epic love story like no other . . . First in the gripping PERFECT CHEMISTRY series, this is the next addictive read for fans of Anna Todd's AFTER series, and Caroline Kepnes's YOU.

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. Forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, Brittany finds herself having to protect everything she's…


Book cover of Pushing the Limits

Mindy Hardwick Why did I love this book?

Pushing the Limits is a can’t put down, read until the middle of the night book. Noah Hutchins is the ultimate bad boy with a tough attitude and soft interior. He knows just how to understand Echo Emerson and what she needs to fall in love again. I loved how a scar was used to show both Echo’s external appearance as well as the internal scar both characters carry. This concept of using a scar as a metaphor was an inspiration for a scene in my memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention.

By Katie McGarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pushing the Limits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

They say be a good girl, get good grades, be popular. They know nothing about me.

I can't remember the night that changed my life. The night I went from popular to loner freak. And my family are determined to keep it that way. They said therapy was supposed to help. They didn't expect Noah. Noah is the dangerous boy my parents warned me about. But the only one who'll listen. The only one who'll help me find the truth.

I know every kiss, every promise, every touch is forbidden. But what if finding your destiny means breaking all the…


Book cover of The Boy Most Likely to

Mindy Hardwick Why did I love this book?

Bad boy, Tim, has struggled with drinking and now is a member of AA and is trying to start his life over. He and my character, Christopher, could attend AA meetings together and I am always happy to find a young adult character who is a reformed bad boy and trying to stay sober with AA and this story does not disappoint. 

By Huntley Fitzpatrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boy Most Likely to as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

For fans of Morgan Matson's Since You've Been Gone, Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl and John Green's Paper Towns

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the drinks cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house.

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To ... well, not date her little brother's baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn't be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the…


Book cover of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

Mindy Hardwick Why did I love this book?

Bad boy, Christian Kane is one of those characters every young adult novelist hopes will find their heroine and challenge her to be who she is, no matter what. The story is set on the Oregon Coast, home to one of my middle-grade novels, and always a welcome setting that is not always seen in young adult stories. 

By Sarah Ockler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Summer of Chasing Mermaids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Twenty Boy Summer comes a “compelling and original” (Kirkus Reviews) novel about a talented singer that loses her ability to speak after a tragic accident, leading her to a postcard-perfect seaside town to find romance.

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean…


Book cover of Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

Mindy Hardwick Why did I love this book?

It’s always a joy to find a good short story collection, better yet when the stories are all giving the villains from fairy tales a chance to tell their side of the story. From Jack in the Beanstalk to The Little Mermaid, this collection is a great one to dive into and find out what makes our famous villains tick. 

By Amerie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Because You Love to Hate Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Leave it to the heroes to save the world--villains just want to rule the world. In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains' points of view. These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like "Medusa," Sherlock Holmes, and "Jack and the Beanstalk" provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains' acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage--and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again! Featuring writing from . . . Authors: Renee Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then,…

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


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