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As February approaches and the season of love falls upon us, you may be looking for the perfect romance novel to read while binge eating Valentine’s Day candy. As an avid young adult romance reader, here are some of my favorite YA romance novels filled with heartwarming stories, new and exciting destinations, and touching retellings that will tug at your heartstrings: 

  1. Love and Gelato 

Set in Italy, this YA romance is perfect for travelers at heart. After Lina’s mother dies of cancer, she is sent to Italy to fulfill her mother’s dying wish of staying with her friend from college. Determined to find out why her mother wanted to send her to Italy after her death, she decides to experience Italy through her mother’s eyes using her journal from college and along the way finds her first love. Throughout the novel, the author builds upon the beautiful setting of Italy and addresses themes of loss and grief while focusing on the love Lina and Ren find while dealing with their pasts. 

  1. Geekerella

This retelling of Cinderella is perfect for the fandom-loving fanatics who can’t get enough of all things sci-fi and fantasy. Geekerella focuses on Elle Wittimer who loves Starfield, the sci-fi series she and her father watched as a child. When she sees a cosplay contest for the show, she decides to enter. The prize for the contest is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with Darien Freeman, the actor who plays Federation Prince Carmindor in the show’s reboot (whom she hates because she thinks he ruined the new T.V. series). After getting to know Darien more as a fan of Starfield instead of just an actor, Elle starts to slowly fall in love with him. I loved this retelling because it reminded me of the Disney movie Starstruck mixed with Cinderella. I also loved all the nerdy fandom details sprinkled throughout this book and the relationship between Elle and Darien was really heartwarming. 

  1. When Dimple Met Rishi

This romance is great for those who like it when two completely different characters fall in love. Dimple has her life perfectly planned out. After she attends this summer program for web development, she plans on attending Stanford to study computer science and become an engineer (although her mother has other plans and is determined to find her a good boyfriend). Rishi is a hopeless romantic who is determined to make his family happy by meeting the person his parents have set him up to date (and hopefully get married to) at a summer program. Things don’t go too well the first time this arranged couple meets but over time, they grow to care for one another. I really enjoyed how this book focused on how two different people can fall in love with each other over time and highlighted the pressure some might face from their parents to go into a specific career field.

  1. A Study in Charlotte

For those who love romance with an added sense of mystery, this Sherlock Holmes retelling is the perfect book for you. A Study in Charlotte follows Jamie Watson, a student at Sherringford on a rugby scholarship (although he hates playing and being an hour away from his estranged father). James has always admired Charlotte Holmes’ (the great-great-great-granddaughter of the famous Sherlock Holmes) brilliant detective work and is determined to meet her when he finds out she also attends Sherringford. Although the two start off on the wrong foot, they are forced to work together when they are blamed for the murder of a student on Sherringford’s campus. Over time Jamie softens Charlotte’s and she becomes a kinder person because of him, which is one of my favorite tropes in romance novels!

  1. A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow

This YA romance is perfect for those who love strong female characters with a clear sense of direction. When Lila Reyes loses her beloved grandmother, has a fallout with her best friend, and breaks up with her boyfriend in the span of a few weeks, she sinks into a deep hole of depression and has a mental breakdown. Due to this, her parents send her to England for the summer to work at her aunt’s inn where she meets Orion Maxwell, a tea clerk with who she slowly falls in love as he shows her around England. I loved the smaller story threads that the author included in the storyline like the strong connection for cooking Lila has in the novel and the chapters that include “recipes” for situations Lila has been going through. 

I hope you pick up one of these really sweet YA romance novels and give them a shot this Valentine’s Day season.

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Samantha Herrera

UC Berkeley '23

Hello! My name is Samantha Herrera and I am currently a Junior English major minoring in Journalism and Creative Writing. In my free time, I love reading, writing, and community service. I love talking about books and reading so if you ever need any book recommendations I'm the person to talk to!
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