10 Awesome New Adult Books that Aren’t “Just Sex”

10 Awesome NA Books

As you guys probably know, my tastes for books cover a wide range of genres. From adult fiction to sci-fi to nonfiction to YA contemporary…I read it all! And one of my favorite genres just happens to be New Adult.

One huge complaint about New Adult fiction is how it’s basically just porn with a background story in book form. Well, I’m here to tell you guys that there is more to New Adult than just sex. In fact, there’s some really great NA out there. You just have to know where to look!

While I certainly don’t consider myself an expert in this genre, I’ve found a lot of NA that I’ve loved. So I thought I’d compile a list for you guys, who are mostly YA readers, who may be interested in trying out some New Adult lit but aren’t quite sure where to start. I’ve attempted to include a few different types of NA in this list…some may feature high-school age students but have a mature plot, one is paranormal, and one is even a suspenseful “50 Shades of Grey”-type book. Not all of them even include sex!

I hope you find one (or more!) that you think you might like 🙂


*click on a book’s image to go to its Goodreads page


Feral Sins Rec


Unravel Rec


Sea of Tranquility Rec

Unteachable Rec


Reason to Breathe Rec


Escaping Reality Rec


Longest Ride Rec


Broken Rules Rec


Good Rec


Archer's Voice Rec

17 responses to “10 Awesome New Adult Books that Aren’t “Just Sex”

  1. Yay! I’m so glad to see this one up 😀 I’ve known about the Sea of Tranquility for a while now, but I’m definitely going to see if I can pick up a copy sometime soon! Also: very ironic and slightly creepy – one of the patient’s at the office I work at knows I love to read, and she brought in a copy of The Longest Ride just yesterday for me O_O

    • I think that you would LOVE LOVE LOVE The Sea of Tranquility. I can’t believe you haven’t read it already! I hope I’m not wrong, but I feel like it’s definitely a “you” book. You should read it ASAP 🙂 It’s kind of like the Pushing the Limits series in that it’s a darker contemporary romance that’s set in high school. It’s a little bit darker than McGarry’s stuff I think, though, and I enjoyed SoT’s writing more, but now that I think about it, they’re actually pretty similar.

      Haha that’s a really weird coincidence.

      Oh! And the book on this list that I was talking about the other day re: religion is Good.

  2. This is a great list. I am one that tends to stay away from new adult books because I never really know which ones to pick up and I’m not really about the whole “just sex” novels. So I will definitely have to check some of these out!

    • Glad I could help!! If you want more information about any of the books I included, just let me know 🙂 I love helping people discover good NA!

      • Hmmm good question. I guess it depends what stuff you normally like to read. I’m assuming you’re a YA fan? If that’s the case, than I would suggest The Sea of Tranquility because it’s a good crossover. The characters are still in high school, but there’s mature themes. I would say that it’s kind of like the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry, except that it’s a bit darker and I like the writing better.

      • Awesome! And yes I am a YA fan, but I am also really into Fantasy and Sci-fi (like the “adult” kinda haha) Thank you so much for the advice!

  3. Thanks for this list! I’ve never read any NA and I’m not sure I really want to (I mean, there’s so much YA I want to read that I don’t know whether I’ll ever resurface and read anything other than YA), but I’ll be sure to refer to this list when I eventually want to check out some NA! The Sea of Tranquility has such a pretty cover. I must admit I’m a huge cover snob so out of all the ones on this list that’s probably the one I want to read the most. That and Unravel.

    Have you ever come across any PoC MCs in NA? The reason I ask this is because I feel like NA has even more covers with people on them than YA, and yet I’ve only ever seen white people on them (and maybe Latin@s? Maybe? I don’t know) and it just kinda puts me off… I’m not a huge fan of all these half-naked white people covers… My impression of NA just seems to be that it’s overwhelmingly straight, cis, and white, and all of those things combined just makes it seem totally unappealing to me. I know that the lack of diversity doesn’t mean that they’re not good books, but it’s just my own personal reaction to it. It’s not really the sex that I have any problem with, haha.

    (I tried reading The Gravity Between Us since that was an f/f NA novel, but I couldn’t get into that at all and gave up after a tiny bit. Thought the writing wasn’t very good and the characters were unrealistic.)

    • Haha I know what you mean…sometimes I get so stressed out just thinking about how many books I WON’T get to read in my lifetime :/ It’s kinda depressing. But I swear, some of this NA is worth it! Well, at least I think so haha.

      The Sea of Tranquility is one that I’d highly suggest as an introduction to NA for somebody who is a mostly-YA reader. The two main characters are still in high school and, if I’m remembering correctly, there’s little-to-no sex content. I classify it as NA more because of the mature/dark content than anything else. But I know that there are people out there who consider it YA because of the character’s ages…so if you’re thinking of branching out a little bit, it’s definitely the one I’d recommend you try out first, to get your toes wet. And it’s amazing! I gave it 5 stars, it’s one of my all-time favorites.

      Unravel was good, too, but it has more sexual content. Although I really enjoyed the fact that one of the characters has a disability. I was just like, “….WHAT?!” haha. I was so surprised that it was legitimately happening, especially in an NA book!

      Your POC question is a really good one. That’s definitely a complaint I have about the New Adult genre…not enough diversity. But, let’s be honest, that’s a complaint people have about basically EVERY genre. But I do think that NA is particularly egregious in that area. But I’m a huge defender of NA because I feel like, as the genre grows, it’s going to get better and better. It’s really only been around for a few years. And it’s only just starting to become more mainstream, with big publishers actually advertising books as being New Adult. So I think that it will diversify a bit as it continues to grow…but as of right now, you’re right, it’s sorely lacking.

      I do know that Leah Raeder, the author of Unteachable in this list, is coming out with a NA book in 2015 that features a lesbian (or bisexual? not quite sure) main character. I’m super excited about that one, but don’t know too much about it yet.

      This isn’t really NA, it’s more adult romance, but the Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz is one that I’d HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend. Especially (and ONLY haha) if you’re not shy about sex. It’s very sexually intense and would probably make some people uncomfortable, but it’s extremely well written and has a few different LGBT characters (and it gets more and more LGBT as the series continues). I think that every single one of the books in that series is on my “all-time favorites” list. I can’t gush enough about it.

      But I’m having trouble coming up with any that feature POCs. I haven’t personally read any yet, I don’t think. But I will keep an eye out for you! I’m always looking out for up-and-coming NA books, especially ones that are a not quite as mainstream in terms of sexuality and race.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂 You really made me think!! I read what you said and I was like, “Wow, that’s actually a REALLY good question” haha. Sorry it took me a few days to answer!

      • Haha, wow, thanks for this really long comment! 😀 😀 I love your thoughts on NA. But yeah, I recognise that it’s a relatively new genre and I really hope it does grow more diverse as time goes on. Oooh, I’m very interested in the sound of the new book that Leah Raeder has got coming out! I think I will try to check out Unteachable as well to see if I like her writing so I can get more excited for her next book(s).

        The Original Sinners series looks very interesting! And the first book is incredibly cheap on Amazon. o: I will be sure to check it out at some point! I will never review adult romances on my blog but I’ll make sure to tell you my feels if I ever read it. (:

  4. The “NA” that I want to read – books like Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday, Maybe or Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments – is rarely even marketed as NA. Instead it’s chick lit or contemporary or something else… but those books have what I really want from NA, which is real “new adults” (you know, those who would be called “young adults” in the non-bookish realm) going out into the world, finding their place, becoming the person they want to be, and realizing that real life is hard. Yeah, romance can be a part of that, but I want more books where it’s not the most important part (or even not there at all… that would be a pleasant surprise).

    • Totally agree with you! I haven’t read either of those books (but I’ve read Fangirl, which I’d 100% say is New Adult), but I know what you’re talking about. We need more of those kinds of books!

      I’m a huge supporter of the NA genre, and something that I’m constantly saying is that I really do thing it’s going to grow, change, and diversify as it continues to become more and more popular. It’s such a relatively new genre…only recently have big publishers started to jump on the train and actually market their books as “new adult.” I have faith that, in the next couple of years, this genre is going to get even bigger and better. Authors like Rainbow Rowell are already writing the kinds of books that we really need in this genre. And I have no doubt that more authors will jump on the bandwagon, especially after seeing how hugely popular authors like Rowell have become, even without having to include gratuitous sex in her books.

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  7. My sister is always judging me for reading NA because she believes it’s porn with a background story. I am ecstatic others understand how great it can be if you dig a little to get past the bad ones. Feral Sins and Archer’s Voice is one of my favorites and I was happy to see it up there. Once you read Feral Sins, you try to read other shifter books, but all the ones I have read have been really bad or tolerable. Yet, His Purrfect Mate is great despite the title. Wait for You by J.Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout) and Easy by Tammara Webber are also great NA reads that are much more than sex. I’ve had Sea of Tranquility on my bookshelf for quite sometime and I believe this is the final push for me to start reading it. I am afraid to read Escaping Reality because of all my horrible experiences with rich dominate men (Fifty Shades…. though the last one was not that bad). If people are into Escaping Reality, Knight by Kristen Ashley is spectacular.
    P.S. I am not a blogger, but I do love books and like to talk about them– even though I have no one to talk to about them because they all hate reading.

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