If there’s one trope in romance that will always hold a special place in our hearts, it’s the forbidden love between a student and their professor. The dynamic of power imbalance, the thrill of sneaking around, and the taboo nature of the relationship make for an incredibly compelling read. Whether it’s the brooding professor or the starry-eyed student, these stories are full of tension, drama, and of course, steamy romance. Here are some of the most swoon-worthy college romance novels that will make you fall for the professor.
The Unrequited Crush: “The Deal” by Elle Kennedy
Hannah Wells has had a crush on her college hockey star, Garrett Graham, for years. When Garrett needs help passing a class, Hannah agrees to tutor him, but only if he helps her get the attention of her crush. As they spend more time together, the chemistry between them becomes too much to ignore. But Garrett has a rule against dating, and Hannah is not interested in a fling. This slow burn romance will have you rooting for these two from the very beginning.
The Forbidden Love: “Gabriel’s Inferno” by Sylvain Reynard
“Gabriel’s Inferno” follows the story of Julia Mitchell, a graduate student, and Gabriel Emerson, her Dante-obsessed professor. Their attraction is immediate, but Gabriel is haunted by his troubled past and feels that their relationship is forbidden. The tension between them is palpable, and the slow build of their relationship is both beautiful and heartbreaking. This novel is a beautiful exploration of redemption and forgiveness, with a steamy romance at its core.
The Age Difference: “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
While “The Secret History” is not strictly a romance novel, the forbidden attraction between the protagonist, Richard, and his Classics professor, Julian Morrow, is a significant part of the plot. The novel follows Richard and his classmates at an elite New England college as they become increasingly obsessed with their studies and each other. Julian is an enigmatic figure, and Richard is both drawn to and intimidated by him. Their age difference adds another layer of complexity to their relationship, making for a fascinating read.
The Student-Athlete: “The Wall of Winnipeg and Me” by Mariana Zapata
Vanessa Mazur is the personal assistant to Aiden Graves, a former college football star turned professional athlete. Aiden is gruff, demanding, and intimidating, but Vanessa can’t help but be drawn to him. When Aiden needs a fake fiancée to secure his visa, Vanessa agrees to the charade, but the lines between fake and real start to blur. This slow burn romance is filled with witty banter, heartwarming moments, and a love story that will have you swooning.
The Bottom Line
College romance novels are a guilty pleasure for many readers, and there’s something about the dynamic between a student and their professor that makes for a compelling read. These novels explore themes of forbidden love, power imbalances, and age differences, all while delivering steamy romances that will have you rooting for the couple. Whether it’s the unrequited crush, the forbidden love, or the age difference, there’s a college romance novel out there for every reader.
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