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YA with great chemistry

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I'm reading over a partial draft to see if finishing it will be my next project, and I really like the main character, but the love interest just feels like cardboard. I always binge-read between projects, but I've been writing MG and I need to get my head back into YA for this one. I'm trying to pay attention to the love interests in the books I've picked up, but so far they are not the memorable part of the story! So I'm looking for recommendations of chemistry done right. As in, not "This boy is hot because I, the author, say so!" Not instalove. And not gushing over how hotttt!! a boy is in appearance so much as connecting on a deeper level. Any favorites to recommend? I just feel like I need to get back in the YA mindset with some good selections in that department.
#1 - June 23, 2016, 06:41 PM

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt comes quickly to mind. I'll think of more while I get the kiddo ready for bed. :)
#2 - June 23, 2016, 06:44 PM

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I really liked IF I STAY.
#3 - June 23, 2016, 06:52 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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I like Jennifer Lynn Barnes' portrayal of love interests -- they're always more complex (and they don't always work out), but I like how things work between her heroines and the boys they fall for. THE NATURALS and THE FIXER both have intriguing love interests (though THE FIXER is pretty pre-relationship).
#4 - June 23, 2016, 07:47 PM
Robin
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BSR6CPJ/
Website: www.robinprehn3r.com

Realistic:
FAKING NORMAL and THE LIES ABOUT THE TRUTH by Courtney C Stevens
FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

Fantasy:
THE GLITTERING COURT by Richelle Mead
ROOK by Sharon Cameron (there's some "he's hot", but that's what makes the MC distrust him and it's his depth that wins her)
#5 - June 23, 2016, 07:57 PM

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IMO:
BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina
THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner
WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND by Robin Talley
#6 - June 24, 2016, 08:04 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now
www.deenalipomi.com

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April Henry's books often have very likable and realistic love interests too.
#7 - June 24, 2016, 08:12 PM
Robin
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BSR6CPJ/
Website: www.robinprehn3r.com

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I second ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS!
#8 - June 25, 2016, 08:33 AM
http://www.vonnacarter.com
twitter @VonnaCarter

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I'll second Vijaya's mention of IF I STAY--the love interest is very believable. ELEANOR & PARK is another good choice.
#9 - June 25, 2016, 12:08 PM
Ten Clever Ninjas (picture book, Clear Fork Publishing, 2019)
Butterfly Girl (middle grade novel, Clear Fork Publishing, 2019)

Twitter: @kidlitSarah

Jennifer E. Smith is one of my favorite YA romance writers. All her stories have great chemistry, but This Is What Happy Looks Like is my favorite.
#10 - June 25, 2016, 07:53 PM
twitter.com/enzor_jenni
jennienzor.blogspot.com

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