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These YA romances feature crazy good romance, wildly entertaining plot lines, and jaw-dropping surprises that will warm up your cold winter nights.

Unhinged by A.G. Howard

What it's about (from Amulet Books):

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school. That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn't show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland--where she (partly) belongs. Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what's right? Readers will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard's bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll's classic.

Why you should read it: Every once in a while, a book will ooze into my subconscious and insert little details into my dreams, but when a story has the ability to seep across realities and overtake my REM cycle with the vividness of its characters and the vibrancy of its world, I wake up drooling *wink* for a sequel. That is exactly what happened when I stayed up late to finish A.G. Howard's Unhinged, the brilliant follow-up to Splintered (check out my review), a darkly modern take on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

I really enjoyed the first book of this series, but Unhinged cranks the Wonderland experience up to 11, injecting every bit of its strangeness into the reader's imagination with full Technicolor fluorescence. Even though these books are primo movie material, you really don't need the screen to see the wild characters or settings. It's just ... WOW!

Fans of fairy-tale retellings, paranormal YA romance, fae fantasy, urban fantasy, love triangles and steampunk will be pulled into this tale like a moth to a flame. *wink-wink* And speaking of that love triangle, this book offers one of the most original romance possibilities I've seen in ... forever. Love. It.

The last few scenes dangle Alyssa's next adventure with shockers enough that I found my jaw needing a bit of assistance in coming off the floor. Write quickly, A.G. Howard! I need that next book!

Defy by Sara B. Larson

What it's about (from Scholastic Press):

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

Why you should read it: Readers of YA fantasy have a new name to put on the top of their "watch this author" lists. With her debut novel, Defy, Sara B. Larson draws readers into the world she has built with a velvet grip that won't let go. Her characters are unique and vividly visual, and the way she takes a rather unlikable character and makes him a hero is a sweet and romantic twist that draws a particularly fierce triangle around the novel's romantic plot.

Secrets, palaces, danger, tragedy, jungles, intrigue, swords, warriors, sorcery, a prince, ROMANCE, and action, action, action! Need I say more? Defy opens an exciting world that needs to find a place on your shelf.

MORE ON HEA: Get contributor Jessie Potts' take on 'Defy'

Anyone But You by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

What it's about (from Merit Press Books):

These violent delights have violent ends ...

Gigi Caputo is fed up. A vicious act of vandalism has dealt another blow to her family's proud pizza heritage, and the Montes -- owners of a rival Italian restaurant -- are clearly to blame. The hostility goes far beyond bragging rights for best pizza in Chicago. The Montes have been bent on destroying Cap's for four generations. Even if it means putting herself in harm's way, Gigi's determined to get to the bottom of the feud. Instead, in a secret encounter with Roman Monte, the very boy whose relatives have brought her family such grief, she finds both danger and love at first sight. If the daughter and son of these two warring families fall for each other, can it be anything but a recipe for disaster? Slowly, Gigi and Roman learn that their story is fatefully linked to the summer of 1933, when two 12-year-olds, Benny and Nick, hop the turnstile at the Chicago World's Fair. The most stunning wonder of the fair is Stella, who innocently causes a lasting rift between the two boyhood. Wending its way through past and present day, this modern take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is bittersweet, funny, and intensely exciting. It's classic romance -- a tale of hate and the only force that can ever defeat it: love.

Why you should read it: Alternating between the first-person points of view of modern girl Gigi Caputo and WWII-era Nick Monte, the tragic rift between the two family comes to life with, in my opinion, a much more satisfying — if still slightly sad — resolution than the Bard's original tragic tale. Although the funny moments in the story are subtler than the catchy-but-corny typography on its back cover ("Wherefore art thou, oregano?"), there is plenty of humor to offset moments that might bring a tear to readers who have lived long enough to know the regret of a grudge held too long.

It might seem odd to connect the words "lovely" and "heartbreaking" with a book whose tagline reads "The power. The passion. The pizza." but certain moments — especially within Nick's portion of the story — are exactly that: heartbreakingly lovely.

This story will resonate with teens as well as adults. Even readers who aren't particular fans of the Bard will enjoy this modern retelling of Romeo & Juliet, but Shakespeare lovers will appreciate nods to several works, such as a character named Queenie Mab and a teen boy referring to his dad as a "Shylock." I'm looking forward to finding out what "Twisted Lit" tale authors Askew and Helmes will tackle next!

A writer, performer and accomplished partaker of dark chocolate, Serena Chase lives in Iowa with her husband and two daughters. The first two books in her debut Eyes of E'veria series, The Ryn and The Remedy, are out now. You can find out more about her at serenachase.com.

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