The best young adult fantasies with high-stakes romance that’ll warm (or break) your heart

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I was an author of romantic fantasies, I was an avid reader of all things romance. Genre romance. Fantasy Romance. Romantic Fantasy. Romantic suspense. An adventure where the characters smile at each other for a heartbeat longer than usual. Give me even a hint of attraction between two characters, and I’m hooked. Give me life-or-death stakes and a first kiss that takes hundreds of pages, and I’m addicted. As a psychologist, helping young adults sort through real-life romance dilemmas is one of my favorite parts of the job. Now that I get to write these stories, I’ve made it my mission to devour all the best high-stakes YA romances I can find—or write.


I wrote...

Revelle

By Lyssa Mia Smith,

Book cover of Revelle

What is my book about?

In this Moulin Rouge-inspired romantic fantasy, magic flows like bootlegged champagne, and fantasies can be bought for the price of a gemstone.

Luxe Revelle, star of her family’s fantastical show, knows the splendor is just an illusion. With Prohibition in full swing, her family struggles to make a living, watering down champagne and patching holes in their sequined costumes. So when the son of Charmant’s wealthiest family makes her an offer—everything the Revelles need to stay in business, in exchange for posing as his girl and helping him become mayor—she can’t refuse. But when she accidentally crosses paths with Jamison Port, an orphan with as few memories as gemstones, the sparks that fly may destroy them all.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of This Vicious Grace

Lyssa Mia Smith Why did I love this book?

I read this high-stakes YA fantasy late into the night, finishing it around 3 AM. In a fantasy world inspired by Italy, it follows the story of Alessa, chosen by the gods to save her people… except she’s really bad at it (relatable). Now her people are wondering if they’d be better off with her dead. To protect herself while she figures out how to save the world, she hires Dante, a gorgeous, surly street fighter as her bodyguard. The banter between these two will have you laughing long into the night, while the slow-burn attraction comes with its own stakes: whenever Alessa touches someone, they die (oops).

By Emily Thiede,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked This Vicious Grace 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?

"One of the best fantasies of the year." - Buzzfeed

"Riveting, passionate, and full of high stakes danger." ―Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Emily Thiede's exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and…


Book cover of Within These Wicked Walls

Lyssa Mia Smith Why did I love this book?

Jane Eyre retelling in Ethiopa with magic—need I say more? Rich, quirky Magnus lives in a seriously haunted house, and the only exorcist willing to help him is broke, blunt Andromeda. I could not love these two more. Magnus is a beautiful weirdo who has been haunted and spoiled for far too long, and Andromeda puts him in his place. The banter, the creepiness of the house that is literally trying to kill them—no wonder Reese Witherspoon picked this one for her book club! 

By Lauren Blackwood,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Within These Wicked Walls 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?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
REESE'S BOOK CLUB FALL 2021 YA PICK

"Lauren Blackwood’s can’t-miss debut is a magical, Ethiopian-inspired remix of Jane Eyre." - Harper's Bazaar

What the heart desires, the house destroys...

Andromeda is a debtera―an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. She would be hired, that is, if her mentor hadn’t thrown her out before she could earn her license. Now her only hope of steady work is to find a Patron―a rich, well-connected individual who will vouch for her abilities.

When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her,…


Book cover of These Violent Delights

Lyssa Mia Smith Why did I love this book?

This is one of the most unique Romeo & Juliet retellings I’ve ever read. Set in 1920s Shanghai, the heir and heiress of two rival criminal families were childhood friends, once, before they realized the other’s identity. Now they despise each other—and several times, try to kill each other—while also trying very hard to ignore their growing attraction. Spanning two books and with a found family that tugs at all your heartstrings, the daggers are as shiny as the diamonds in this glittering, high-stakes tale. 

By Chloe Gong,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked These Violent Delights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A deliciously dark twist on Romeo and Juliet' Natasha Ngan, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Paper and Fire

In glittering Shanghai, a monster awakens . . .

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city in chaos.

Juliette Cai is the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang - a network of criminals far above the law.

Roma Montagov is the prodigal son of her greatest rivals, the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. He is also Juliette's…


Book cover of A Far Wilder Magic

Lyssa Mia Smith Why did I love this book?

A sharpshooter with high walls around her heart, Margaret lives alone in her family’s falling-apart mansion. Alone, that is, until charming alchemist Wes shows up and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: partner up in the dangerous hunt for the last living mythical creature, and bring her mother home. This delightful twist on the grumpy/sunshine trope will transport you to the mythical forest and candlelit manor with its lyrical writing. The vibes alone in this story cannot be beat. Add the promise of a hunt and a well-earned slow-burn romance, and this book will soothe your soul like a warm sweater on an autumn day.

By Allison Saft,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Far Wilder Magic 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?

A MAGICAL SECRET. A MYTHICAL HUNT. AND A LOVE THAT COULD RISK EVERYTHING.

In the dark, gothic town of Wickdon, Maggie Welty lives in an old creaking manor. Maggie's mother is an alchemist who has recently left town, leaving Maggie with just her bloodhound for company. But when Maggie spots a legendary ancient fox-creature on her porch, her fate is changed forever. Whoever tracks down and kills the hala in the Halfmoon Hunt will earn fame and riches - and if Maggie wins the hunt, she knows her mother will want to celebrate her. This is her chance to bring…


Book cover of Flowerheart

Lyssa Mia Smith Why did I love this book?

This YA fantasy romance is the essence of cottage-core: a girl with flower magic and big dreams, a shy and perfectly emo boy with even bigger secrets, and a setting that will make you yearn for a thatched roof in a field of wildflowers. Clara’s magic was never dangerous—until she touched her father’s chest and accidentally made poisonous flowers bloom inside him. She needs her former best friend’s help to save him, but Xavier’s not the nice boy she remembers, and he makes demands of his own. As the secrets unravel, the chemistry ratchets to new heights, and you won’t be able to put this one down,

By Catherine Bakewell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flowerheart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"Flowerheart is like a garden in full bloom: vibrant and sweet, whimsical and wondrous." -Allison Saft, New York Times bestselling author of A Far Wilder Magic

Perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson and Tamora Pierce, this standalone YA debut is a stunning cottagecore fantasy romance about a girl with powerful and violent magic which she must learn to control-or lose everything she loves.

Clara's magic has always been wild. But it's never been dangerous. Then a simple touch causes poisonous flowers to bloom in her father's chest.

The only way to heal him is to cast an extremely difficult spell…


You might also like...

The Others

By Evette Davis,

Book cover of The Others

Evette Davis Author Of Woman King

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in journalism, politics, and public policy for 30-plus years and watched as the extreme voices gained the most traction on either side of a debate. On social media, these minority views often dominate the discussion. 48 States is a stand-alone novel highlighting the problems of extremist viewpoints in a civil society. I also have another book series that features a political consultant who discovers she's a witch and joins a secret society that uses magic to manipulate elections to protect humanity. Bottom line: if I can’t fix political discourse for a living, I can write science fiction novels that contemplate how to do it.

Evette's book list on dystopian stories for the bada** feminist in us all

What is my book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…

The Others

By Evette Davis,

What is this book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…


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