Last Updated on August 20, 2023 by Louisa
Are you looking for a university sweetheart or bad boy jock to swoon over? Well, I don’t have the power to make them a reality, but I can offer you the next best thing – college romance books!
Contained within a college romance story are tales of passion, fake relationships, enemies who become lovers, and many, many bad boys.
If you’re looking for a new book boyfriend to swoon over, or if you’re looking for a sweet and easy read, there’s a lot of diversity in the pages of a college romance novel.
Whether you’re after something steamy, romantic, or hilarious, these are the best college romance books to add to your TBR.
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Quick Answer: Top 3 Picks!
Need a book fast but don’t have much time? No worries, here are my top three recommendations…
#1 Best Steamy College Romance Book
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
- Enemies to lovers romance novel
- Main characters are LGBTQ
- Slow burning romance novel
#2 Best College Sports Romance Book
Off Sides by Sawyer Bennett
- An endearing fast-paced read with a cute romance story
- One MC is wealthy, the other struggling to get by
- Themes of prejudice, family conflict, and overcoming misfortunes
What To Expect From College Romance Books?
College romance novels can be sizzling and packed with heat, or tender and tame. Authors in this romance trope can sometimes push boundaries as far as they can, or hold back for something sweet.
No matter how much heat is packed into the pages, you can expect these books to feature characters that are in the midst of discovering who they are, whilst also learning about the complexity of love and relationships.
For many protagonists in this trope, love and romance is a new things, so they can appear quite naive. As such, you can expect them to fall into a rather chaotic college life.
Typically the protagonists come into their own as adults and end up learning valuable lessons on love, sexual experience, and heartbreak.
Aside from romance, you can also expect sub-themes such as dealing with peer pressure, academic pressure, family expectations, and other life-changing and emotional themes.
What’s common in college romances is to see a lot of growth in the characters.
As they discover new passions and emotions, as well as the intricacies of college life, they come out with a different character at the end than they were in the beginning.
Steamy College Romance Books
Let’s begin this list with the steamiest and most tantalizing college romance books for those who need a little heat in their lives.
Grab yourself a cold towel and put the kids to bed before you dive into any of these sizzling reads!
1. The Partnership – Charlotte Penn Clark
Charlotte Penn Clark’s The Partnership is a story about the passion that blooms when two opposites are forced to work together, and inevitably attract each other.
In this story, two vastly different characters find themselves in the Extra Credit class at their college for equally different reasons—writing is Kyle’s kryptonite, while Lani simply doesn’t enjoy standing out, despite her skills.
One thing’s for sure, though—they’ll have to get through this class together if they want to graduate.
Fun, flirty and light-hearted, though not without its conflicts, this college romance story will give you the perfect break from the real world.
2. If We Were A Movie – Kelly Oram
Kelly Oram’s If We Were A Movie is a love story with Nate and Jordan at its center, who meet as unlikely roommates when Nate tries to escape his brothers’ antics.
Nate is a sensitive spirit, viewing the world as a blooming rose garden.
Jordan is bold and bright, but has no illusions about love—she believes everything has already been said and done in the movies.
In such close quarters, these beliefs inevitably collide.
Filled to the brim with music and movie references, this is a story of growth and grand gestures, of rekindling one’s passion for the beauty of the world.
It’s sure to help you put your rose-colored glasses right back on.
3. The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden – Jessica Sorensen
Dark and emotional, The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden is a cut above most college romance novels when it comes to the intensity of the feelings that bloom between the main characters.
Whether it’s fate, luck, or pure coincidence, Callie and Kayden are brought into each other’s lives once more after an event that happened many years ago, changing their lives and how they view everything forever.
This time, though, Kayden is the one who feels Callie needs saving.
Jessica Sorensen tells a simple but beautiful tale of pain, loss, and love, tenser than most, which will leave you aching for more.
4. Hold Me – Courtney Milan
If you’re looking for a slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers story that represents the LGBTQ community, then perhaps you’d enjoy Hold Me by Courtney Milan, which features a trans woman as our heroine and a bisexual man as our hero.
The story follows Jay who lets stereotypes cloud his judgment of Maria when he decides she’s too girly and feminine to truly understand the intricacies of the STEM world, and Maria won’t take that lying down.
The sparks that sizzle between them are ones of hatred rather than love.
But unbeknownst to them, they already know each other online—as Jay is the most prolific commenter on Maria’s apocalypse blog that’s rapidly gaining popularity.
After long nights of chatting and exchanging opinions, they’ve grown to respect each other, and even more—but once they find out who is really behind the screen, will their opinions change?
This is a refreshing take on the college romance genre and is exceptionally well-written.
5. The Love Game – Emma Hart
If you’re looking for a new series to get stuck into, then The Love Game is the first novel in The Game series by Emma Hart that is packed with heat.
The story follows Maddie, who is entranced by Braden. She knows she needs to stay away from him, having seen through all his pretenses.
He doesn’t want her, only her body—but Maddie will still take up the challenge from her friends to play the player in The Love Game.
Irresistible bad boy Braden sees Maddie as a conquest at first, but as they dance together in this thrilling college romance story they both learn each had a lot more to offer than they originally thought.
Though their language is crass, their stories are heartfelt and deep. Fall together with Maddie and Braden in this thrilling bad boy romance novel.
Rom Com College Romance Books
Looking for something to make you laugh as well as believe in love? Check out these rom coms…
6. Smut – Karina Halle
In Smut, whose title gives much to look forward to, two headstrong budding writers end up making an unlikely team that, to their endless surprise, works splendidly together—especially when it comes to the world of erotica.
Butting heads is what Blake and Amanda do best, and when they’re paired together for the final writing project that separates them from their coveted university degrees, they’ll have to learn to work together—one way or another.
Passion from their work spills between them in reality, but the consequences of this adventure soon come crashing down.
Can they manage to write themselves a happy ending?
This is an exciting Karina Halle novel about two enemies who become lovers. It’s a romantic comedy that will have you laughing out loud. It’s a bit cheeky but highly entertaining.
7. American Panda – Gloria Chao
Tag along on Mei’s journey of growth and self-discovery in this wonderful coming-of-age college romance book with some forbidden romance elements.
Mei’s parents have a vision for her, and all her life she’s never strayed far from it—a freshman at MIT at only seventeen, studying to be a doctor, and a hand-picked Ivy League Taiwanese bachelor waiting for her in the future.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t want any of it, but her parents’ sacrifices have kept her in check so far.
Until she meets Darren Takahashi, whose cute looks have her utterly charmed, despite knowing that his Japanese heritage is something her parents would frown upon.
Now she has to make a choice—her duty or her heart?
This is a heartwarming story that’s sometimes funny, and sometimes emotional. The story is relatable and thought-provoking, as we follow a protagonist who must balance family expectations with their own heartfelt desires.
8. Metamorphosis – Erin Noelle
Laugh and cry with Scarlett as she learns what it means to be truly herself in the face of the challenges life gives her.
Due to living under her overbearing parents’ thumb, inexperienced Scarlett is a butterfly that still hasn’t come out of her cocoon.
Finally does so when she goes to college with her best friend Evie and finds herself face-to-face with the reality of love and lust.
Her metamorphosis is catalyzed by Ashton, Dylan, and Mason, and with Evie’s wisdom that comes from experience, Scarlett must make a choice before she loses all three of them.
This story is sweet and heartwarming, but will also have you laughing in some places and crying in others. If you want an emotional rollercoaster, this is the book for you.
Sweet College Romance Books
Want something tender and sweet instead of something smutty? Then you may enjoy these adorable romance books…
9. Style – Chelsea M. Cameron
The classic cheerleader-meets-nerd trope gets a new spin in Chelsea M. Cameron’s Style.
Meet Kyle and Stella, two seniors with vastly different plans for their life post-graduation.
Kyle is a stickler for her imagined future, and Stella just wants to experience wooing a girl for the first time when she gets to college—but their stories intertwine when they’re paired together in an AP English class.
Loving each other comes easy, but learning to accept that life doesn’t always go the way they planned might be harder.
Lighthearted and emotional, this novel is sure to win your heart. It’s only 256 pages so it’s perfect for anyone looking for a quick read.
10. I Want It That Way – Ann Aguire
I Want it That Way by Ann Aguire is not like your typical college romance books. It’s charming and sweet, and yet still has some New Adult themes.
The story follows Nadia and Ty who are both people who’ve found their way in life already.
Nadia is independent and over-booked—she’s a pro at managing her work and school life, but that leaves no breathing room for any romance.
Ty’s a single dad doing a wonderful job at taking care of his four-year-old while juggling night classes. Neither have any idea what’s waiting for them when their worlds come crashing together by pure chance.
They may have ideas about what they want, but life rarely complies, and that means learning to make room for love.
If you love single parent romance books, then you may want to add this emotional novel to your reading list.
College Sports Romance Books
Are you fantasizing about the college football stud or the basketball superstar? Then you’ll love these college sports romance books…
11. The Year We Fell Down – Sarina Bowen
No one can expect the twists and turns life has in store for us, and certainly not Corey Callahan, whose dream of being a varsity ice hockey player falls apart after an unfortunate accident.
Enter Adam Hartley, the boy stuck in the handicapped room next to hers, who shares a similar fate.
During late nights and long talks, Corey finds herself falling for the boy whose unique understanding of her situation offers comfort in a way no one else can.
However, he’s still hanging on to the life he had before, with his trophy girlfriend right by his side.
The question remains—is Adam strong enough to give up the life he has for the promise of true love?
This is a short and sweet book that you could easily devour quickly. It’s fast-paced and well-developed, making it hard to put down. The characters are relatable and the intimacy is realistic.
12. The Locker Room – Meghan Quinn
After another emotional rollercoaster? Then follow along as Knox and Emory’s relationship blooms from a beautiful friendship to a sizzling romance, and witness where it ends up taking them in their lives.
Legend says that a bout of lovemaking in the locker room after a baseball match is sure to end with a walk down the aisle.
After a long time of renouncing that superstition, star baseball player Knox is just about ready to give it a try when he meets and falls for Emory.
Her stubborn refusal to deviate from the rules she set for herself when she transferred to their college in Chicago makes it hard for Knox to break into her defenses.
Meghan Quinn is one of my favorite romance authors. She effortlessly makes romances feel believable and real, and her writing style is witty and humorous. This friends to lovers romance book is a bit of a slow burner but it will have your heart feeling full.
13. Boyfriend Bargain – Ilsa Madden-Mills
College romance novels are all the more exciting when they feature sports; they combine the sweetness of love at this delicate time with the sizzling competitiveness of the game.
In Boyfriend Bargain, it’s time to turn up the heat a little as this is one sizzling new adult read!
The stakes are high for both Zack Morgan, who dominates both on the ice and in love, and Sugar Ryan who has decided to play a dangerous game.
After orbiting him until he can no longer ignore her, she makes an offer he can’t refuse.
But hearts are fickle, and they will soon find that they can’t follow the rules of their love game anymore.
14. Off Sides – Sawyer Bennett
Faced paced and adventurous, Off Sides is the perfect bite-sized representative of college football romance books that feature sports as one of the main driving forces in the characters’ lives—besides love, of course.
Ryan struggles with fulfilling his parents’ expectations in the face of his almost-fulfilled dream to play in the NFL, and Danny is on the other side, desperately trying to make ends meet.
Though unlikely, a bond is forged between them, one that will catalyze a change that they might not be ready for.
Are they strong enough to cross all the hurdles in their way? If you like the sound of this, then you might also like these billionaire romance novels.
15. The Guy on The Right – Kate Stewart
Are you looking for a story about the underdog and his decision to woo the girl against all odds? Then The Guy on The Right is for you. It’s the perfect mix of romance and hilarity.
The story follows Theo who has been the guy on the right his whole life; the band geek who’s overlooked in group pictures, the one who doesn’t make waves.
But college is a new chapter in his life, and one that’s going exceedingly well—that is until he finds himself falling into the shadows of picture-perfect athlete Troy once more.
This time, though, Theo won’t go down without a fight.
16. Nothing But Wild – P. Dangelico
If you’re looking for a short book, then check out Nothing But Wild, the second book in the Malibu University Series but each book can be read as a standalone.
Dallas is exactly what it says on the tin: nothing but wild, cruising through college with reckless abandon, pulling off crazy stunts that ultimately put him in the predicament he’s currently in.
As part of his plea deal, Dora is the one who ends up having to drive him around, much to her chagrin and, if she really has to admit, a bit of satisfaction too.
Day by day, Dallas manages to chip away at Dora’s nervous exterior, making her realize she has feelings for him she never expected to have.
But will they manage to work together, despite their differences?
This is a fun-loving book about young lovers. If you’re not a fan of teen romances, this story might be a little naive for you, but I personally found it sweet and endearing.
College Romance Series
If just one book isn’t enough, then you’ll love these college romance series…
17. Attraction – Penny Reid
The first installment in a sizzling series of college romance novels that will leave you gasping for more, Attraction by Penny Reid introduces you to the most diametrically opposed chemistry partners you’ll ever meet.
Shy Kaitlyn, whose aversion to being seen constantly forces her into hiding, has been able to help out Martin—about whom everything screams bad news.
Afterward, he challenges her to a movie-worthy spring break vacation in order to break her out of her shell, in a backward attempt at repaying her.
Though far-fetched, maybe this week will be just what they both need in order to become much more than what they currently are.
18. Wait for You – Jennifer L. Armentrout
Looking for an easy read that will hit you in the feelings? Then you should check out Wait For You by Jennifer L. Armentrout, another one of my favorite romance authors.
The story follows Avery Morgenstern. All she wants to do when she starts college thousands of miles away from her home is to forget a dreadful night that happened five years ago—but it’s never that easy in college romance novels, isn’t it?
Meet Cameron Hamilton, a former bad boy who finds himself falling for this quirky and unusual girl.
Avery tries to stay away, for his presence threatens to shake the foundations of her defenses—but his charm is irresistible.
The love that blooms between them is real and passionate, yet leaves you wondering: will Avery manage to survive unscathed this time?
It’s an emotional story that will have you believing in love and rooting for the characters to find their happy ending from the very beginning.
19. The Hook Up – Kristen Callihan
The Hook Up is the first book in the Game On series by Kristen Callihan and had me devouring the entire series in no time.
It’s a tantalizing story that starts off with a fast and fiery encounter between Anna and Drew that sets things into motion.
Anna is adamant and has decided to keep Drew at arm’s length, wanting their hook-up to stay just that.
This is the catalyst to Drew’s ministrations, his attempts to woo her, despite her desperation to resist him.
Animosity gives way to love, but it’s possible that Anna’s fear of happiness will get in the way—unless she realizes Drew is too good to pass up.
If you want something fiery and New Adult with a little bit of angst, you’re going to love this light angst romance book set in college.
20. Beautiful Disaster – Jamie McGuire
Perhaps one of the most famous college romance novels is Beautiful Disaster, which is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novel about a good girl who falls in love with a bad boy.
Abby Abernathy doesn’t drink or swear and wears cardigans. She believes she has put enough space between her and her past, but when she arrives at college, her path is challenged after a one-night stand.
Travis Maddox is the epitome of bad boys. He’s clean-cut and covered in tattoos. Exactly the type of man your mum said to stay away from.
He spends his night’s gambling in a floating fight ring, and by day he is a college campus charmer.
Abby seemed resistant to his appeal, so he tricks her into his life with a simple bet. The rules are, that if he loses, he must go celibate for a month. If Abby loses, she must move in with Travis.
Either way, Travis has no idea what he has got himself into…
This is a story that’s not anything new but it has been very well done. I loved the writing style, the dynamics between characters, and the intense scenes – it was hard to put this one down.
Related Reading: Books Similar to Beautiful Disaster
21. The Deal – Elle Kennedy
The Deal is another angsty romance novel that’s worthy of any romance fan’s bookshelf. It’s the first book in the ‘Off Campus’ series by Elle Kennedy but can be read as a standalone novel.
It follows a good girl Hannah Wells who has finally met a boy who sparks an interest in her. There’s only one thing though, she’s not confident in the bedroom.
To make him notice her, she steps out of her comfort zone, even if it means tutoring the cocky captain of the Hockey Team so she can set up a pretend date.
Garrett Graham has only ever wanted to play hockey in a professional league but his GPA is threatening his future prospects.
When he meets the sarcastic Hannah Wells, he’s only interested in improving his GPA and making it to the professional league.
However, one kiss between them leads to a night in the bedroom they will never forget. Is a deal of a date to seduce another going to cut it for Garett?
This is a steamy fake relationship romance novel.
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Final Word on College Romance Books
So there you have it, those are my top college romance books of all time!
From the steamy and angsty romance novels to the sweet and passionate love stories, there’s a college romance novel for everyone on this list.
Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments!