The best YA romances with bad boys to swoon over

Whitney D. Grandison Author Of The Right Side of Reckless
By Whitney D. Grandison

The Books I Picked & Why

Leaving Paradise

By Simone Elkeles

Book cover of Leaving Paradise

Why this book?

First things first, Simone Elkeles is my favorite YA author, and I couldn’t do a list of recs without mentioning one of her books, and my all-time favorite has always been Leaving Paradise. I also recommend LP because it’s close to my own book in that it features a reformed bad boy, Caleb, freshly on probation who’s trying to navigate his way into society and fix his “mistakes.” I so love the sorta forbidden dynamic between him and Maggie, because Caleb is actually on probation for hitting Maggie in a hit-and-run while drinking and driving. So not only is he trying to win over his former friends, parents, and town, he’s gotta make things right with Maggie, who is not giving him any play whatsoever—in the beginning! Love love Caleb’s voice in this novel.

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The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

By Kody Keplinger

Book cover of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Why this book?

Two words: Wesley Rush. I’m a sucker for a bad boy with charisma. And Bianca—my girl!—definitely gives Wesley a run for his money. I love her feistiness. Wesley dubs Bianca the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” which is a huge no-no, but somehow he and Bianca began a steamy enemies with benefits fling and I lived for it. Naturally, their walls began to come down the closer they got, and there’s a line in the book (I will not spoil it) that took my breath away and made me fall completely in love with Wesley. Skip the movie, read the book! I loved Keplinger’s authentic uncensored teen voice in this. It made me a fan.

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Through My Window

By Ariana Godoy

Book cover of Through My Window

Why this book?

This title is for the upper YA crowd, I’m talking sixteen going on seventeen because while set in high school, this read is steamy. What I love about this book is the humane side of things. Ares Hidalgo is far from perfect. He messes up with our heroine Raquel quite a few times, and I love that he’s flawed and kept trying to right his wrongs. I just loved Ares’s boldness, from stealing Raquel’s WiFi, to climbing through her window to fix said WiFi when it’s down, to calling her out on her crush on him. This book is total wish fulfillment, because imagine obtaining your crush!! Do watch the Netflix movie as well!

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Say You'll Remember Me

By Katie McGarry

Book cover of Say You'll Remember Me

Why this book?

Right away, I really loved the musical connection for the male lead’s side. He and his siblings are named after musicians, and I’m big on character names and I adored that element. Not to mention I’m a huge Swiftie and I peeped the title reference right away. Hendrix or “Drix” is recently released from juvie for a crime he did not commit and is inducted into a program aiming to give young offenders second chances and rehabilitate them, sponsored by the governor. And who does he meet while doing press releases for this program? The governor’s daughter Elle! This forbidden element had me engrossed immediately. I loved the idea of Drix being off-limits for Elle, but him being the only person she could be herself with and open up to!

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I Wanna Be Where You Are

By Kristina Forest

Book cover of I Wanna Be Where You Are

Why this book?

I love that our heroine Chloe had a backbone and was able to put our hero Eli in his place and not take his crap. I also like how their road trip adventure to bring Chloe to an important ballet audition starts off with Eli blackmailing her into bringing him, and his dog, along. Eli was another flawed male lead I loved, there were moments where he’s so close to being adorable and perfect, but then he’d be clueless and frustrate Chloe—and me! I really enjoyed that Chloe was ready to forge forward on her own and Eli had to whip himself into shape to earn her!! 

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