Whether relaxing by the beach with a good book or just dreaming of the perfect vacation, there’s a lot of books that capture the magic of summer. Summer means driving with the windows down, splashing around in the surf, staying up late, and getting up to no good. The teens in YA novels have less responsibilities and more freedom when off from school and it feels like anything could happen.
Here’s the best summer romance books in YA gay fiction.
Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.
It should have been simple – a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.
Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.
Writing Style: First person, one POV. Descriptive. 247 pages.
Topics and Tropes: sports, surfing, identity crisis, love triangle
For those who enjoy: introspective pieces, sweet love stories, developing relationships
Even if you’re not a fan of coming-of-age stories, athletes as main characters, or homosexual pairings, I urge you to give “Caught Inside” a try. The struggle to find love and acceptance is one we’ve all faced, regardless of gender, sexual preference, age, or ethnicity.
– NfRtB, Amazon Review
Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change.
The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart.
Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.
Book 1 in the Something Like Series
Writing Style: Third person, one POV. Descriptive prose. 293 pages.
Topics and Tropes: opposites attract, life in the 90’s, love and life
For those who enjoy: humor, steamy scenes, stories that span the years, books with their own movies
Wow! I was immediately hooked! The story of Ben and Tim is very moving, full of strong and emotional moments. I felt (and still feel) that Tim and Ben are real people and have been lucky to have a glimpse of their live and love story. And I still cannot decide which one I prefer!
– PIERRE, Amazon Review
It’s Dade’s last summer at home, and things are pretty hopeless. He has a crappy job, a “boyfriend” who treats him like dirt, and his parents’ marriage is falling apart. So when he meets and falls in love with the mysterious Alex Kincaid, Dade feels like he’s finally experiencing true happiness.
But when a tragedy shatters the final days of summer, he realizes he must face his future and learn how to move forward from his past.
Writing Style: First person, one POV. Sharp, realistic. 332 pages.
Topics and Tropes: Small town setting, closeted jock, bad boy. Deals with issues like suicide, divorce, drugs, crime.
For those who enjoy: angst, coming of age stories, evocative writing.
It’s a “Catcher in the Rye” for the Millennial Generation. Burd can be effortlessly poetic when he wants, but he also knows when to just say less and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. More than anything, this is a dreamy meditation on growing up, coming of age, and falling in love. Burd is a helluva writer and this is a hellaciously good novel.
– Amazon Review
Dance Academy reject, Archie Corrigan, resents the stereotype guy ballet dancers are gay. Because he isn’t. At all. Forced to reassess his life goal at Camp Crystal Cove, it’s by sheer dumb luck he meets Landon Summers, who turns everything Archie was sure of into chaos.
Poor boy turned teen heartthrob, Landon Summers, is the name on everyone’s lips. With his unexpected leap to fame, his agent advises him to keep his bi status on the down low. Not a problem! Until Landon meets Archie.
Their unexpected friendship leads to an inevitable kiss, but their moment is caught in high definition and used as fuel for blackmail. If the truth gets out, Landon’s career could be over, and Archie will be forced to acknowledge the one thing he’s fought to deny.
But how do you go back to your average life once you’ve experienced That Feeling When … you’re finally happy?
Publication Date: Sept 16. 343 pages.
Topics and Tropes: summer camp, stereotypes, fame, blackmail, bi main character
For those who enjoy: humor, banter, flirting and developing relationships, good supporting characters
This was such a cute story. It’s the kind of book that definitely gives you all the feels. At it’s heart, it’s about two young men who are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. The fact that it’s a love story is a complete bonus.
– Shereads, Amazon Review
Malcolm Small has lived a sheltered life with parents who don’t seem to care about him. Now, during the summer between high school graduation and going away to college, Mal wants to take control of his life and make some improvements…starting with making a new friend.
Wes, the boy across the street, quickly becomes both friend and a sort of mentor to Mal. With Wes’s patient guidance and example, Mal’s breaking free of his life-long shy shell and taking chances.
Mal is also feeling free enough to start listening to the tiny voice inside him that whispers his attraction to Wes. After years of denying it, could Mal be gay after all?
Self-acceptance comes easy for Mal with Wes by his side. What about telling Mal’s parents? What about being out at college? Mal’s about to undergo some very challenging times as he grows up fast and must decide what he’ll stand for and against.
Writing Style: First person, one POV, strong voice. 260 pages.
Topics and Tropes: coming out, friends to lovers, opposites attract, anxiety and panic attacks, new beginnings
For those who enjoy: coming of age stories, love stories with light angst, some steamy scenes, new adult stories
While some of the main events were predictable, the way the story was told was all of fun, sweet, moving, funny, occasionally teary. Missy has a clever turn of phrase which is delightful!
– Amazon Review
Sam’s best friend in the world is ditching him; moving out of state to go to college and leaving him behind. It hurts like hell but he doesn’t know how to tell Ryan that he needs him to stay without saying too much. Like maybe that he might want to be a lot more than just friends…
Ryan has to get out. He’s been in love with Sam for so many years he’s afraid if he doesn’t leave that he’ll spend his whole life alone in love with someone he can never have…but of course Ryan can’t tell his oldest and best friend that he’s in love with him. It would ruin the most important thing in his life.
Before it’s too late, they have to find the courage to tell each other the truth about how they feel…to finally say those things they’ve kept to themselves for far too long.
Writing Style: Third person, two POV. 69 pages.
Topics and Tropes: best friends to lovers, surfing, misunderstandings, unrequited love
For those who enjoy: short stories, angst with a happy ending, new adult
I loved this story! If your a sucker for a good romance then this is for you. It may be a little predictable, but our hearts tend to go in that direction in these stories anyway. They both love each other but they don’t dare tell each other for fear of losing their friendship. A great read that wont disappoint. 🙂
– Tammy Roos, Amazon Review
Can a boy-boy romance bloom among the disapprovers? Paul Wu, age 15, has been crushing on Trevor Harris, the good church boy, for two years. Now he suspects Trevor likes him back. Maybe it’s time for Paul to reveal his feelings, but how? He can’t just say, “Dude, I think about you all the time,” or can he?
Trevor, meanwhile, has been saying prayers to confess his sin of lust for Paul, but maybe it’s time to confess he is gay and give up trying to change the fact.
On a surf trip to Mexico sponsored by a church that condemns homosexuality, the pressure builds as the boys sit close to each other at the campfire.
Writing Style: First person, two POV. Strong voices. 209 pages.
Topics and Tropes: surfing, religion, young love, Asian main character, alcoholism,
For those who enjoy: found families, the innocence of first love, light hearted yet serious reads
It really delves into the inner workings of a couple of kids wrestling with the dynamic tension of spirituality, religion, family, and other deep themes, but does so in the voice of its teen protagonists. This book avoids the typical tropes of YA literature and gay romances by maintaining true heart and a sense of romantic innocence, while also being grounded in the reality so many teens face.
– R Rhoads, Amazon Review
Shane Martinelli and William Houghton come from very different backgrounds. They meet at a high-end summer camp in the Adirondacks, where Shane works as a lifeguard to earn some money and begin saving for college. William is one of the guests, and he doesn’t want to be there. As far as William knows, his father only dumped him at the camp so he could spend time with his latest mistress. When Shane figures out William can’t swim, he offers to teach him.
William enthusiastically responds, but when an unexpected storm blows in, William is caught in the water and Shane comes to his rescue. They barely reach shore before lightning strikes the dock—close enough to damage Shane’s hearing.
The following summer both boys return to the camp. Shane doesn’t let his use of hearing aids stand in his way. William is now a counselor-in-training. The attraction between them is undeniable, but how can they possibly make it work? Once camp is over, a week at William’s family home in the Hamptons will determine if the love that bloomed at the lake can survive in the real world.
Writing Style: Third person, one POV. Descriptive, thoughtful. 247 pages.
Topics and Tropes: summer camp, age difference, rich/poor dynamic, growing up, MC with a disability
For those who enjoy: slow build, emotional connections, character studies and character driven stories, a few pleasant surprises
If you like young adult romances that center around dealing with who you really are, if you want to know what it’s like for two young gay men to figure out their place in the world and what they want to do with their lives, and if you’re looking for a sweet read with a lot of tenderness and some very loving moments, then you will probably enjoy this novel
– Serena Yates , Goodreads Review
Cooper is a genius. At least that’s what everyone else keeps saying, even if he doesn’t like it. But that’s not his biggest problem. Being gay while attending Dextrus Academy, an all-boys prep school, and only having one other gay friend, life can be…difficult.
Cooper wants to stay true to himself, and being a hormonal gay teen makes that difficult at times. So far, he’s managed to navigate being a good son, a good student, a best friend, and not lose himself in the process.
But when Logan, a hot surfer dude, transfers to Dextrus Academy, is it possible that Cooper will lose himself for a chance at true happiness?
Writing Style: First person, one POV. lighthearted, 141 pages.
Topics and Tropes: opposites attract, coming of age, academics, literature
For those who enjoy: romantic comedies, friendship and familial story lines, shaking up the status quo
This an entirely SFW teen romance very much in the vein of the recent film “Love, Simon”. A very promising author I will continue to follow.
– DeeGee, Amazon Review
Identical twins Aiden and Max Kingsman have been a matched set their whole lives. When they were children, Aiden was happy to follow his extroverted brother’s lead, but now that they’re in college, being “my brother, Aiden” is starting to get old. He’s itching to discover who he is outside of his “twin” identity.
Oliver’s goals for the summer are simple: survive his invasive family, keep his divorced parents from killing each other, and stay in shape for rowing season. He’s thrilled when he runs into his old friends, the Kingsman twins, especially Aiden, the object of a childhood crush. Aiden is all grown-up, but some things have stayed the same: his messy curls, his stability, and how breathless he makes Oliver. Oliver’s crush comes back full force, and the feeling is mutual. Summer just got a whole lot hotter.
Fun-loving Max takes one thing seriously: his role as “big brother.” When Aiden drifts away, Max can’t understand how his own twin could choose a boy over him. Summer won’t last forever, and with friendship, family, and happily ever after on the line, they’ll have to navigate their changing relationships before it’s too late.
Writing Style: Third person, Three POV. New Adult. 226 pages.
Topics and Tropes: friends to lovers, second chance at love, childhood crushes, family drama, first times
For those who enjoy: strong romance and supporting relationships, sweet yet substantial stories, fleshed out characters
I love LGBT romance that includes family dynamic. It enriches the whole story and reading experience. It hits home. This story was so moving that I encourage people to experience and enjoy it. It is an excellent romance novel.
– keanharv, Amazon Review
Wanting – Piper Vaughn
Jonah Beckett has been in love with his older brother’s best friend, George “Laurie” DeWitt, since he was thirteen-years-old. When his boyfriend, Dirk, breaks up with him for refusing to put out, Jonah uses his heartbreak over the situation as an excuse to ask Laurie to teach him all about sex before he starts college in the fall. Problem is, he made Dirk up, and Jonah has no idea what will happen when Laurie finally finds out the truth.
Writing Style: Third person, one POV. 54 pages.
Topics and Tropes: friends to lovers, best friend’s brother, longtime crush, scheming
For those who enjoy: fun short stories, sweet and sexy romances, new adult
Book One in the Wanting Series
A truly heartwarming, sweet, romantic story. This would be the perfect read while sitting at the edge of the lake one afternoon during the summer. It’s one of those books that works in that setting and just leaves you with a feeling of peace and happiness.
– Smitten with Reading, Amazon Review
Have you read any of these titles yet? Are there any more stories like these I should check out? Let me know!
For more summer romance books featuring queer love stories, you can also check out work by me, Finn Manning.