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Young(ish) love: New Adult romance

A new, fast-growing category of romance has emerged in the last few years.  It's called "New Adult," and it's aimed at readers in their late teens to mid-twenties (college-aged to early adulthood). 

So, what exactly is a "New Adult"?  The protagonists in these books still bear some resemblance to their younger cousins in Young Adult romances-- they haven't entirely escaped the throes and drama of teen angst.  But they've achieved some distance from it, and gained the perspective and insight that younger characters often lack.  There's a marked change in maturity level, and the expected maturity of its readership. 

There's also a difference between New Adult and the (older) adult contemporary romances-- particularly in the "ever after."  Unlike their elders, these protagonists are not necessarily ready to settle down.  They'll still happily get their man (or woman)-- this is romance, after all-- but a NA character is just as likely to be exploring a first love as to be finding a lifetime love.  (A college friend of mine used to say, "I'm not ready for my Mr. Right-- but I'll settle for Mr. Right Now.")

"New" is really the defining word for this category of romance.  New Adult characters are new to the realities of adulthood.  They're just establishing their place in the world, shouldering unfamiliar responsibilities and facing significant life changes.  They're leaving home, starting college or a career, finding themselves, and exploring adult relationships for the first time.  And yes, to be clear: that means they're having sex.  Just like regular adult romances, NA romances can range from "sweet" to "torridly erotic."  (Ana, the heroine of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy, is smack in the middle of the NA age bracket.) 

Though most of the New Adult titles I've seen so far are straight-up contemporary romances, there are a few New Adult romantic suspense titles out now, and Jeanine Frost's new "Broken Destiny" series is paranormal romance.  The category is (like its characters) still exploring its identity, and we may see more diversification as it grows.  Coincidentally, most Regency heroines fall within the New Adult age range.  A debutante was considered "eligible" from about 16 to 24, when she was out of the schoolroom but not yet considered an on-the-shelf spinster.  However, Regencies and other historicals aren't generally considered part of the category.  Regency society (and the role of a of younger adult within it) was too different from our own to sustain the conventions of New Adult romance.

If you're a romance addict looking for something a little different, or an older teen seeking something beyond the usual high school fare, why not try a New Adult romance on for size?

New Adult Romance:
I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre (2B series) (Pbk-Romance Aguirre)
All Lined Up by Cora Carmack (Rusk University series) (Pbk-Romance Carmack)
The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost (Broken Destiny series) (Pbk-Romance Frost)
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover (YA Hoover)
Foreplay by Sophie Jordan (The Ivy Chronicles series) (Pbk-Romance Jordan)
Wait for You by J. Lynn (Wait for You series) (Pbk-Romance Lynn)
Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire (Beautiful Disaster series) (Fiction McGuire)
Thoughtless by S. C. Stephens (Thoughtless series) (Fiction Stephens)
The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken (The Bet series) (Pbk-Romance Van Dyken)
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young (Dublin Street series) (Pbk-Romance Young)

New Adult Romantica:
Bared to You by Sylvia Day (Crossfire series) (Pbk-Romance Day)
Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James (Fifty Shades series) (Fiction James)
Release Me by J. Kenner (Stark trilogy) (Pbk-Romance Kenner)

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