20 College Romance Books You Don’t Want to Miss

I had an obsession phase with college romance books which started right before I got into college. I was exposed to adult romance books by then but they weren’t relatable to me as a young adult transitioning to a new adult.

When I discovered the new adult romance genre—specifically, romance books set in college—it was like tripping on a gold mine. All of these books were SO GOOD for me because they were relatable. The characters were around my age, had many of the same insecurities in life, and they had happy endings.

So if you’re looking for some good romance books set in university or college, I’ve got you covered. This includes a few popular books and many underrated books so you will definitely find a few to read. And yes, these are totally binge-able and can be read in single sittings.

Note: The steam levels mentioned are according to the perspective of someone new to romance and explicit scenes (like I was when I got into college romances).

1. The Partnership by Charlotte Penn Clark

the partnership by charlotte penn clark book cover

They’re partners…with benefits?

Kyle’s got a problem. He needs to pass college composition to graduate but he can’t get words on a page.  And it’s landed him in a pilot class called Extra Credit for students in trouble — when all he wants is to be left alone.

Lani’s got a problem too. She doesn’t like making waves and it gets her stuck in that Extra Credit class. When she ends up partnered with Kyle things start getting complicated. Kyle is angry, restless, impatient; Lani is calm, introverted, bookish. But when these opposites attract how will they manage to stay “just partners”?

This book has only 60 ratings on Goodreads! It is such an underrated romance book. It is a partners-with-benefits romance with really nice relationship growth. Definitely check it out! You can read my full review here.

Steam level: low.

2. The Love Game by Emma Hart

the love game by emma hart book cover

His challenge? Make her fall in love with him.
Her challenge? Play the player.
Until life changes the rules of the game.

Braden wanted fiery little Maddie the second he laid eyes on her – and he’d do anything to have her, hence why he’s agreed to make her fall in love with him. After all, it’s the only way he’ll get what he wants. Sex.

But, as Braden discovers, there’s more to the girl from Brooklyn than he ever imagined – and he can’t help but care about the broken girl behind those pretty green eyes.

Maddie finds Braden isn’t just a walking erection – he actually has feelings. He can be sweet, funny and his good looks don’t exactly hurt. That means trouble – but when her brother Pearce turns up in Berkeley begging for her help, she realises Braden and Pearce aren’t so alike anymore.

And maybe, just maybe, they’re exactly what each other needs.

This is an angsty, sexy romance where both the characters aim to dupe the other but both end up falling in love. It does have a harsh third act breakup but I enjoyed the romance so much.

Steam level: average.

3. Style by Chelsea M. Cameron

style by chelasea m. cameron book cover

Kyle Blake likes plans. So far, they’re pretty simple: Finish her senior year of high school, head off to a good college, find a cute boyfriend, graduate, get a good job, get married, the whole heterosexual shebang. Nothing is going to stand in the way of that plan. Not even Stella Lewis.

Stella Lewis also has a plan: Finish her senior year as cheer captain, go to college, finally let herself flirt with (and maybe even date) a girl for the first time and go from there.

Fate has other plans for Kyle and Stella when they’re paired up in their AP English class and something between them ignites. It’s confusing and overwhelming and neither of them know what to do about it. One thing they do know is that their connection can’t be ignored. The timing just isn’t right.

But is there ever a good time for falling in love?

A sapphic roommates-to-lovers and opposites-attract story that checks all the boxes. I really liked the individual character growth in this book along with the relationship growth.

Steam level: average.

4. Metamorphosis by Erin Noelle

metamorphosis by erin noelle book cover

Scarlett MacGregor has lived a very sheltered life courtesy of her over-the-top controlling parents. Having never been to a co-ed party, much less on a date, Scarlett has relied on her books, her music, and living vicariously through her best friend Evie to keep her sanity as she’s patiently awaited her freedom from their rule.

When Scarlett and Evie go away to college, Scarlett quickly meets Ashton, Dylan, and later, Mason, and is thrown into a crash course of like, love, and lust. With Evie’s help, she must figure out the difference in the three and which one she wants before she ends up without any of them.

The main character here is literally coming out of her cocoon in college. She learns a lot, falls in love, and even finds herself. If you want a book with self-exploration and romance, pick this one.

Steam level: low.

5. The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

the coincidence of callie and kayden by jessica sorensen book cover

For Kayden, suffering in silence was the only way to survive. If he was lucky, he could keep his head down, do as he was told, and make it through the day. But one night it seemed like his luck — and his life — might finally end… until an angel named Callie appeared just in time to rescue him.

Callie has never believed in luck. Not since her twelfth birthday when everything was taken from her. After the worst was over, she locked up her feelings and vowed never to tell anyone what happened. Now, six years later, she continues to struggle with the painful secret that threatens to consume her.

When fate lands Kayden and Callie at the same college, Kayden is determined to get to know the beautiful girl who changed his destiny. Quiet and reserved, Callie still fears letting anyone else into her world. But Kayden is certain that Callie has come back into his life for a reason. And the more he tries to be a part of her life, the more he realizes that, this time, it’s Callie who needs to be saved…

This book is one that I read in the beginning of my obsession phase but I STILL remember it vividly. It’s somehow stuck in my head even though my memory is bad with everything else. It is heart-breaking and comforting at the same time.

Content warnings: rape, physical and emotional abuse from parent.

Steam level: average.

6. American Panda by Gloria Chao

american panda book cover

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

If you’re transitioning from Young Adult books to New Adult books, this book is a good pick! It reads like a YA book but is set in college and has basic NA aspects like being lost about the future, finding oneself in college, and falling in love for the first time.

Steam level: very low.

7. I Want it That Way by Ann Aguire

i want it that way by ann aguire book cover

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

This is a book that will make you FEEL. The romance between Nadia and Daniel is heady and consuming. The relationship development is slow and nice. The chemistry between them leaps off the pages. But it is also oh so emotional. This also has a single parent romance trope.

Steam level: average.

8. If We Were A Movie by Kelly Oram

if we were a movie by kelly oram book cover

Music meets Movies in this sweet college romance from the bestselling author of Cinder & Ella.

NYU freshman Nate Anderson is a triplet who is desperate to escape his wild and crazy brothers. After they screw things up for him one too many times, Nate flees his housing situation and takes the first available room for rent as far from his brothers as he can get.

Enter his new roommate Jordan–a quirky LA girl who believes that everything in life has already been done in the movies. In this heartfelt tale of love, friendship and family, Nate learns how to deal with his new adult life using Hollywood films as a guide.

Another roommate-to-lovers romance for this list! If We Were Lovers is slow, comforting, and cute like a literal romance movie. It is also quite underrated but deserves more.

Steam level: low.

9. Hold Me by Courtney Milan

Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.

But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…

This is a little different kind of college romance because only one of the characters is a student, but it also does NOT have the professor-student relationship so don’t worry. If you like online-to-real-life romances, this is for you. This book also has two very nerdy main characters who go through a ton of growth. Honestly, it’s one of the best books I’ve read recently. Just read it.

Content warnings: transphobia from family.

Steam level: high.

10. Smut by Karina Halle

smut by karina halle book cover

What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?

All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree, and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finally finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.

What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project, but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is a pushy asshole (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her ass (though it’s a brilliant ass), they fight tooth and nail until they discover they write well together. They also may find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.

When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot, but at least there’s make-up sex now.

But even as they start to fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed? Or are happily-ever-afters just a work of fiction?

This is one of the best New Adult books that I’ve read. Blake and Amanda start writing erotica under pen names and become successful so they keep going. It was fun to see them get together and also deal with the stigma around erotica as authors.

Steam level: high

11. Just One Year by Penelope Ward

just one year by penelope ward book cover

The beginning of my sophomore year in college was off to a rough start.
On the first day of orientation, I had an altercation with an infuriating British dude in a campus bathroom.
(The ladies’ room was out of order. So, I used the men’s room. Don’t judge.)
I got home later that night and realized that the foreign student we were expecting to rent a room in my parents’ house was allergic to our cat.
So, the spare room went to someone else: Caleb—the British guy from the men’s room.
And so it began…my love-hate story with Caleb Yates. Or was it hate-love in that order?

The guy knew how to push every one of my buttons.
Sometimes I’d email him to express my aggravation and disdain.
He’d actually rewrite my own words and send them back to me.
That was the type of infuriating person Caleb was.
So frustrating.
Sometimes incredibly funny and endearingly sweet.
And hot.

He eventually grew on me, and Caleb soon became one of my best friends that year.
Too bad he was headed back to England soon, so nothing could happen between us—for so many reasons.
I definitely couldn’t fall in love with him, especially since all we had was just one year.

Going into this book, I didn’t expect to like it but it was so good! The slow relationship growth between the characters was the best part. The chemistry was also good.

Steam level: average.

12. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

let's talk about love by Claire Kann book cover

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

This book is about falling in love and being in a relationship while being asexual. It makes for quite a different romance compared to the rest on this list, but it is so good. I highly recommend this to everyone. Romance is possible even without sexual attraction!

Steam level: low (basically zero).

13. The Cad and the Co-Ed by L. H. Cosway and Penny Reid

the cad and the co-ed by L. H. Cosway and Penny Reid book cover

Keeping a secret this big is going to take lots of balls. Specifically, rugby balls.

Bryan Leech is a cad.
Or, he *was* a cad.
No one is quite certain.

Once the quintessential playboy, Bryan claims he’s done with wild parties and weekend benders. No more one night stands leading to mornings he can’t remember; no more binges and blackouts; no more exploits plastered all over the tabloids and rag sheets. According to Bryan, he’s cleaning up his act.

The only problem is, no one believes him.

Eilish Cassidy never thought she’d be a mother at nineteen or still in college at twenty-four. Cut off from every member of her family except her favorite cousin, she’s finally managed to put her life back together. Stronger and wiser, Eilish enters her last semester of university determined to stand on her own. Now she just needs to find an internship.

The only problem is, her best option—by far—places her directly in the path of her son’s father, and he doesn’t remember her at all.

Bryan is determined to prove he’s changed. Eager to settle down with the right woman, he’s got his sights set on the gorgeous redhead who seems terribly familiar.

Eilish is determined to hide her secret. She’ll do anything to keep her child safe, even if that means ignoring her own wishes and desires.

But what happens when Bryan starts to remember? And what will it take for Bryan to convince the girl he forgot that she’s unforgettable?

If you’re into the secret baby trope and college romance books, this book is for you! This is a second chance romance with a remade hero who is trying to do right after a ton of mistakes.

Content warnings: alcoholism, emotional abuse from family.

Steam level: average.

14. Top Secret by Sarina Bowen

top secret by sarina bowen and elle kennedy book cover

LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.
SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.
LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?
SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?
LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?
LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.
SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…
LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?
SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.
LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

This book has three tropes—roommates-to-lovers, opposites-attract, and online-to-real-life. They’re also in the same frat! The relationship development isn’t slow and very good here but the book is hot enough to make up for it.

Content warnings: homophobia.

Steam level: high.

15. Incognito by Siobhan Davis

incognito by Siobhan Davis book cover

A troubled popstar forced into hiding… A sweet small-town girl overcoming tragedy… And the kind of love that only happens once in a lifetime.

Dakota’s dreams of attending Juilliard were shattered the night tragedy struck her family. It’s one year later, and she’s now enrolled at a local university trying to piece her life back together.

Shawn is one of the world’s most famous faces, having lived under a spotlight since his star exploded when he was fourteen. Now jaded by an industry forcing him to perform music he no longer enjoys, he craves normalcy and the opportunity to rediscover his muse. When a crazy stalker gets too close, and death threats start mounting, Shawn’s management team comes up with a plan—one which will allow him to work on his latest album while staying incognito on a college campus.

Romance is the last thing on Dakota’s mind, but after she crosses paths with a hot, prickly cutie with rock-hard abs and smoldering good looks, she can’t shake him from her thoughts.

Shawn can’t afford to bring any girl into his fucked-up life, but the gorgeous blonde with the sad blue eyes captivates him in a way no girl ever has, and he finds himself falling hard and fast.

But outside forces are conspiring against them.

When danger draws closer, and secrets are revealed, will their love survive?

If you’re into celebrity-and-normal-person romances, this is a good one. This is also much underrated compared to other romances with the trope. Both the characters are from very different lives but fit together so well. The relationship development is nice and the individual character growths were nice too.

Steam level: average.

16. Dearest Clementine by Lex Martin

dearest clementine by lex martin book cover

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn’t mind being called bitchy and closed off. It’s safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out … in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake … and maybe even her life.

This is a very sweet book. The main character has issues due to past lovers and recruits someone for inspiration to write romance for a class. But of course, they end up falling in love. The trope is almost fake-dating.

Content warnings: stalking, threats.

Steam level: low to average.

17. Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame

imperfect chemistry book cover

Lucy London puts the word genius to shame. Having obtained her PhD in microbiology by the age of twenty, she’s amassed a wealth of knowledge, but one subject still eludes her—people. The pendulum of passions experienced by those around her confuses and intrigues her, so when she’s offered a grant to study emotion as a pathogen, she jumps on the opportunity.

Enter Jensen Walker, Lucy’s neighbor and the one person she finds appealing. Jensen’s life is the stuff of campus legend, messy, emotional, and complicated. Basically, the perfect starting point for Lucy’s study. When her tenaciousness wears him down and he consents to help her, sparks fly. To her surprise, Lucy finds herself battling with her own emotions, as foreign as they are intense. With the clock ticking on her deadline, Lucy must decide what’s more important: analyzing her passions…or giving in to them?

If you want a fun and light book, pick this. This book is a little like a romantic comedy sometimes. The main character is very fun to read about. I also mentioned this book in my underrated romance books list because it is underrated for how good it is.

Steam level: average.

18. The Third Best Thing by Maya Hughes

the third best thing by Maya Hughes book cover

Dear Letter Girl, I need to see you. When can we meet?

Her response never came. My secret pen pal with a dirty mind has ghosted me. I’ve roped Jules, my sweet as pie next door neighbor, to help me track her down. There’s only one problem–I’m falling for her. The tortoise shell glasses, out of this world curves and delicious treats are making the search for The Letter Girl even harder. 

My notes were supposed to be a one time thing.

A little too much wine and naughty thoughts on a winter’s night. I never thought Berk would write back. I wanted to tell him it was me, but the fear of rejection kept my lips sealed. Now he’s enlisted my help to track down The Letter Girl and our search has him hot on my, ahem, her trail. She’s the girl next door. He’s my secret pen pal. Truth is on a collision course with their hearts and it’s only a matter of time before one of them gets wrecked…

I really love stories like this where the relationship starts off through correspondence or online. This book takes this further by making it a neighbours-to-lovers romance too!

Steam level: average.

19. Cleat Chaser by Celia Aaron and Sloane Howell

cleat chaser by celia aaron and sloane howell

Kyrie Kent hates baseball. She hates players even more. When her best friend drags her to a Ravens game, she spends the innings reading a book… Until she gets a glimpse of the closer—a pitcher who draws her like a magnet. Fighting her attraction to Easton Holliday is easy. All she has to do is keep her distance, avoid the ballpark, and keep her head down. At least, all that would have worked, but Easton doesn’t intend to let Kyrie walk so easily. When another player vies for Kyrie’s attention, Easton will swing for the fences. But will Kyrie strike him out or let him steal home?

If you want a proper sports romance, here’s the one for you! The main character is a book nerd and introvert who is attracted to a baseball player. And he took notice of her instantly as well.

Steam level: average.

20. Book Boyfriend by D. C. Renee

book boyfriend by D. C. Renee book cover

What would you do if you ran into a real life book boyfriend?
You might scream or maybe giggle.
You might play coy or maybe stare.
You might ask for a picture or maybe an autograph.
You might call your girlfriends or maybe post about it.
What did I do? I ran. Literally.

Kim was a typical college student with a splash of dorky, a dash of funny, and a pinch of clumsy…well, maybe more than a pinch. After making a fool of herself in front of her classmate Brent, and his friend, Travis, a dead-ringer for one her book boyfriends, she tried to stay away. But after a few hilarious chance encounters, they became fast friends.

And then came the bet. It was Travis versus Brent, but somehow Kim got roped in to help team Travis. He was supposed to find and woo his real life book girlfriend. What could go wrong with a couple of college kids and an innocent bet? Let the shenanigans and laughter ensue! And maybe add in a bit of friendship, fun and most definitely, love.

A very underrated book, Book Boyfriend‘s male main character is literally the dream book boyfriend. It is a romantic comedy because it is so fun and funny to read. The only drawback here is the love triangle.

Steam level: low.

illustration with an open book and a latte with a foam heart on it. the illustration has the words "read romance" on it

Some More College Romance Books

I initially decided to list only 20 books but there are many more that I want to recommend! So here are a few extra books that you can check out.

  • Across the Hall by N. M. Facille. A neighbours-to-lovers romance.
  • Wait For You by J. Lynn. This is a popular and well-loved college romance.
  • Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover. Another popular one.
  • Sincerely, Carter by Whitney G. This is a childhood-best-friends-to-lovers romance too.
  • Not So Nice Guy by R. S. Grey. A best-friends-to-lovers story.
  • Into the Deep by Samantha Young. I really liked this one!
  • The Deal by Elle Kennedy. Another very popular one that deserves the hype.