I hope you can find all of these books at your local library. If not, ask your librarian for an inter-library loan. This links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Thank you! I am so thankful for your support!
I have a love/hate relationship with Young Adult books. I love that they are usually fast-paced and full of young love. I started reading Young Adult (or teen) fiction because I thought it meant that the books would be clean, meaning no sex, innuendo, profanity, or graphic violence. After all, these books are marketed to teenagers. But I found out quickly that my assumption was wrong. And that’s where the “hate” comes in. It makes me so sad and angry to see authors promoting sex and violence to our young people.
But I admit that I am a picky reader when it comes to fiction. I read lots of fiction genres, but to qualify as a favorite, there has to be some good romance in the book. I tell my husband that if a book doesn’t have a good kiss at the end, it wasn’t worth my time. 🙂 But I don’t like reading about wandering hands or bedroom scenes. I also don’t like fiction that is overly filled with heavy themes, such as abuse, rape, or graphic violence. Needless to say, a happy ending is a must. If that seems like a steep order to fill, believe me, it is! But over the years, I have found some really great authors who write great love stories that meet all my “clean reads ” criteria.
I decided to put together a list of my favorite books that I think teenage girls would really enjoy. I feel totally comfortable recommending these books to both my mom and my 14-year-old niece. These books are romantic, well-written, some have a lot of action, and all promote goodness. I highly recommend these books for a summer of great reading. Let’s get started!
1. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. I could wax eloquent about how much I love this book. For those of you who know me well, you have probably heard me go on and on about t his book, but I make no apologies! I have read it three times and will probably read it again before the year is over. This book is not considered a YA book, but it’s so awesome, I can’t help but think teenage girls would love it.
It’s a regency book involving two sisters and the handsome heir of Edenbrooke. Our main character, Marianne, is feisty and kind. Our hero, Philip, starts out as an arrogant snob, but turns out to be just as thoughtful and kind as Marianne. Throw in a highway robbery and some crazy characters, and you have an awesome book. If you don’t believe me, just check out all the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. It’s my all-time favorite book.
2. The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson. This is a contemporary novel that involves two stepsisters, one blond, petite and beautiful, and one with fuscia hair and size ten shoes. Our main character, Mattie, considers herself the “ugly stepsister.” Her beautiful, popular, and kind stepsister seems to have it all, even the boyfriend that Mattie has been crushing on for years. But things start to change and Mattie learns to see things from a different perspective. This book is laugh-out-loud funny and has great messages about friendship, sisterhood, and true beauty.
3. Slayers by C.J. Hill. Dragons. Knights. Romance. Adventure. Yep, this book has it all. This is the first book in a series of three. The third book is not out yet, but I will be reading it when it is released. (And by the way, C.J. Hill is the pseudonym for Janette Rallison, one of my favorite authors.)
4. Pivot Point by Kasie West. Our main character, Addison, is a “Searcher.” When faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. She doesn’t really like her superpower, and has only used it for short time frames. But when Addie’s father starts investigating a murder, Addie has to decide what reality she ultimately wants. There is suspense, friendship, and of course, romance.
5. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George. This series is perfect for younger readers (i.e. middle school), but I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy. The dragons have great personalities, the characters are likable, and the story is really fun. While romance is not front and center in this book, the love story becomes more prominent in the following books.
6. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. If you have never read this book, you are seriously missing out! This is the story of a princess who doesn’t recognize her self-worth. Ani has a special ability that allows her to talk to animals but that gift isn’t appreciated in the royal courts. While traveling to a neighboring kingdom, Ani’s lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny and Ani becomes a “goose girl,” tending the king’s geese, where she finds courage and romance. You gotta read this one, it is so good!
7. Becoming Beauty by Sarah Boucher. This is a fun retelling of the classic story “Beauty and the Beast.” In this story, Bella does not start out nice; she’s spoiled and entitled. But she changes and the transformation felt real to me. One of the themes of this book is that we can change for the better. This book is entertaining, romantic, and a fun twist to a classic tale.
8. Miss Burton Unmasks a Prince by Jennifer Moore. Jennifer Moore is one of my favorite authors and this is my favorite book written by her. I could not read this book fast enough and I was sad when it ended. Our main character, Meg, is a bookworm who longs for adventure and finds love and adventure in an unexpected place. (There is some mention of war and the hardship it brings, but it is not graphic.)
9. Just Ella by Annette K. Larsen. I love, love, love this book! I have read every book by this author and while I like them all, this is still my favorite. I have read this book more than once and plan to read it again. When we meet fifteen-year-old Ella, she longs to find herself and escape her life at the palace. She meets a royal gardener, Gavin, and they become friends and eventually fall in love. But when the king finds out about the relationship, they are kept apart. Years pass and Ella and Gavin come face to face again, but things have changed. This is a great love story with good, strong characters and plenty of adventure.
10. My Fairly Dangerous Godmother by Janette Rallison. I am a huge fan of Janette Rallison. She also writes under the name C.J. Hill, the author of Slayers (mentioned above). I have read several of her books and this is at the top of my list of favorites. Sadie Ramirez vomits during her tryouts on the TV show “America’s Top Talent.” Her performance is so bad, it earns her a fairy godmother through the Magical Alliance’s Pitiful Damsel Outreach Program. The problem is that Sadie’s fairy godmother misinterprets Sadie’s wishes in a big way. As a result, Sadie has an adventure as “The Little Mermaid”, and as a princess in the twelve dancing princesses. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am ready to read it again soon!
11. Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedwick. This is another play on the idea of having a fairy godmother. Instead of having a cute, loving, matronly fairy godmother, Kendall, our main character, is left with Ash, a cute teenage boy with wings. Kendall is a teenage girl who has known tragedy and doesn’t believe in happy endings. Ash is just trying to get his assignment to Kendall over so he can move on to other things. This book is filled with suspense, danger, some great banter and, of course, kissing.
12. Pippa of Lauramore by Shari L. Tapscott. Magic, dragons, moonlit rides, true love, handsome princes; you can’t go wrong with this book! Pippa is a princess about to turn 18. Her father, the king, holds a tournament for eligible princes far and wide and the winner gets to marry Pippa. I stayed up way too late to finish this book, but it was worth it.
13. First Light by Michele Paige Holmes. This is an unexpected retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Our main character is so likable: she’s kind, smart, and makes mistakes. She tries to be good and I loved that about her. There are some great kisses that are clean, the writing is fantastic, and the characters are well-developed. There is some violence and mention of torture, but nothing too graphic. The happily ever after is sigh-worthy. I am excited for the next book in this series!
14. Ella by Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee. This is a twist of the classic Cinderella tale. Ella is good, hardworking, and kind. Her best friend has always been there for her and loved her for years. So when faced with the choice, will Ella choose a prince in a palace or a poor boy she has known her whole life? The story line is somewhat predictable but still entertaining. There is mention of the abuse that Ella suffers at the hands of her stepmother, but it was not too graphic for my tastes.
I would love to hear about your favorite Young Adult books! Leave a comment and let me know what I should read next. You can see what I am currently reading on Goodreads.