Back to school season is officially upon us. The time of year where thousands of students across the world return to class, ready to learn and meet new people. Many regard school, especially college, as a place where they have made some of their best memories.
However, college can also be super stressful. It can bring homesickness, lots of homework and assignments, and for some, a brand new environment. Whenever I get stressed, my favorite thing to do is get lost within a good book. So, whether you’re heading back to college (or wishing you were!), here are six college romances you won’t be able to put down.
The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Need-to-knows: fake relationship, slow burn, spice
BookTok convinced me to read this one and I have absolutely no regrets. The Deal follows Hannah Wells and Garrett Graham, two students in the same philosophy class at Briar University. Hannah is a solid student, and the only one to score an A+ on the first big exam. However, she lacks the confidence needed to approach her crush, a star football player. Meanwhile, Garrett is a hockey player struggling to keep his grades up to stay on the team.
So naturally… the two strike a deal. Hannah will tutor Garrett, and in exchange, he will pretend to be dating her in order to catch her crush’s eye. Things are all going to plan until one night, when an unexpected kiss leads to the best sex of their lives. After this, Garrett realizes he needs to convince Hannah that he’s the one she truly likes. This romance is super cute and the first book in the Off Campus series, but can be read as a stand-alone as well.
The Love Game by Emma Hart
Need-to-knows: enemies-to-lovers, spice
If enemies-to-lovers is more your thing, then you absolutely need to read The Love Game. This story follows Maddie Stevens and Braden Carter, who both go to the University of California, Berkeley. Maddie cannot stand Braden—he’s arrogant, egotistical, and a major player—everything her brother has taught her to avoid. Meanwhile, Braden can seemingly get every girl but Maddie to fall in love with him.
In turn, the two decide to play a game. Braden’s goal? Make Maddie fall head over heels for him. And Maddie’s? Play the player. But as they get further along in their love match, the two begin to realize that there’s more to each other than they originally thought… This novel is super refreshing and fun, and the first book (also a stand-alone) in The Game series.
Dearest Clementine by Lex Martin
Need-to-knows: sworn-off relationships, dark past, slow burn
Do you like romance but want other elements to the story as well? Dearest Clementine delivers just that, mixing college romance with mystery. Clementine is a student from Boston University who doesn’t mind being called closed off. After a bad experience with her high school ex-boyfriend and being stalked by a former professor, being closed off seems like the safest route. However, after accidentally signing up for a romance writing class, Clem is left needing material for an assignment. She finds inspiration in her attractive RA, Gavin Murphy, who is happy to help… even if that help includes making out.
While Gavin and Clem become closer, they also become entangled within the mystery surrounding a missing student. As they continue to dig further, Clem ends up becoming a potential target. Now, Clem doesn’t just have to fear for her heart—her life is at stake as well. This book is definitely an emotional rollercoaster that you will not be able to stop until you have finished.
Don’t You Dare by CE Ricci
Need-to-knows: friends-to-lovers, self-discovery, spice, LGBTQ+
Looking for a friends-to-lovers romance that will tug at your heart strings? Well, look no further—Don’t You Dare is the book for you. Keene and Aspen have been friends for as long as they can remember. Literally—the boys have known each other since they were practically in diapers, and grew up playing baseball with one another. In their senior year of high school, Keene and Aspen are dared to kiss, which seemingly has no impact on Aspen so Keene lets it go.
… That is until college, when they’re dared to kiss yet again. This experience reignites feelings in Keene, leading him to question his sexuality. Keene wants more and continues to toss out dares, putting his friendship on the line in hopes Aspen feels the same. This romance is seriously spicy and will 100% melt your heart.
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Need-to-knows: neighbors-to-lovers, forbidden romance, betrayal
Maybe Someday is a romance with a side of some serious drama. Sydney seemingly has the perfect life—she’s living with her best friend, a solid student at a good college, and in a relationship with an amazing boyfriend. That is, until she discovers that said boyfriend has been cheating on her. Understandably heartbroken, Sydney is unsure she’ll ever be able to find love again.
This all changes when Sydney meets Ridge, her attractive neighbor and the source of the music she has been hearing the past few days. Ridge and Sydney have an instant attraction and begin to write songs together. But moving on is even harder than Sydney anticipated, especially when there is a ~classic~ Hoover twist involved. Buckle down, this book is an emotional ride.
The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan
Need-to-knows: friends-to-lovers, forbidden romance
This romantic comedy will absolutely pull you in. The Friend Zone centers on Gray Grayson and his agent’s daughter, Ivy Mackenzie. Gray is a star tight-end who doesn’t make friends with women—that is, until Ivy. When Gray is in dire need of a set of wheels, he ends up being roped into borrowing his agent’s daughter’s bubblegum pink ride while she studies abroad. In order to ensure that he takes proper care of her car, Ivy sends him a text to let him know just how much pain she’ll put him in if he crashes it. This text spirals into a series of messages, and soon, the two become close friends.
Everything changes when Ivy comes home, and Gray realizes he wants to be with Ivy. However, Ivy has two rules: no sex with friends, and certainly no sex with her father’s clients. Gray is going to have to do everything he possibly can to break out of this friend zone. This book is the second stand-alone in the Game On series, and is a page turner for sure.
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