It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ve invested a tremendous amount of emotional energy, and perhaps, personal well-being, into two fictional characters who you know are meant to be together. They might not know it yet, but you’re hundreds of pages deep in this book, and you are ready for them to just make out already (odds are, you were ready on the page where they met). And then they finally do, and it was worth the wait. Here are some of our most swoon-worthy kisses in books:
1. Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett: Zorie and Lennon
Zorie and Lennon are former friends-turned-enemies, but they’re forced to stick together when a camping trip gone awry leaves them stranded in the woods together. AKA the perfect opportunity for them to discover their feelings for each another.
“You want to know what I think?” Lennon says, head dipping lower as he tries to get level with my eyes. “I think that if the universe were trying to keep us apart, it’s doing a shitty job. Because otherwise, we wouldn’t be out here together.”
“I wish we weren’t!”
“No, you don’t,” he says firmly.
“Yes, I do. I wish I’d never come on this trip. I wish I didn’t know any of this, and I wish—”
Without warning, his mouth is on mine. He kisses me roughly. Completely unyielding. His hands are on the back of my head, holding me in place. And for a long, suspended moment, I’m frozen, unsure of whether I want to push him away. Then, all at once, heat spreads through me, and I thaw.
I kiss him back.
And, oh, it is good.
2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: Lara Jean and Peter
Lara Jean is mortified when the personal letters she wrote to her crushes are mailed to each of them. But, love can still prevail, especially when you find your current crush alone, in a hot tub.
“That thing you brought up earlier . . . you caught me off guard, so I didn’t know what to say. But . . . well, I like you too.” It comes out so fumbly and uncertain, and I wish I could start over and say it smoothly and confidently. I try again, louder. “I like you, Peter.”
Peter blinks, and he looks so young all of a sudden. “I don’t understand you girls. I think I have you figured out, and then . . . and then . . .”
“And then?” I hold my breath as I wait for him to speak. I’m so nervous; I keep swallowing, and it sounds loud to my ears. Even my breathing sounds loud, even my heartbeat.
His pupils are dilated he’s looking at me so hard. He’s staring at me like he’s never seen me before. “And then I don’t know.”
I think I stop breathing when I hear him say “I don’t know.” Did I screw things up that badly that now he doesn’t know? It can’t be over, not when I finally found my courage. I can’t let it be. My heart is pounding like a million trillion beats a minute as I scoot closer to him. I bend my head down and press my lips against his, and I feel his jolt of surprise. And then he’s kissing me back, open-mouthed, soft-lipped kissing-me-back, and at first I’m nervous, but then he puts his hand on the back of my head, and he strokes my hair in a reassuring way, and I’m not so nervous anymore. It’s a good thing I’m sitting down on this ledge, because I am weak in the knees.
3. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson: Isobel and Rook
Rook is an immortal prince, and Isobel is a prodigious artist who stands accused of painting him with mortal weakness in his eyes. He whisks her away to stand trial for her “crimes,” but their personal feelings soon get in the way.
His eyes narrowed. Then he extended his hand. Unthinkingly I reached for it to help pull him up. But as soon as our skin touched he clasped his fingers around mine and pulled, and I landed on his chest with a thump. The coat drifted down after, settling neatly over our legs. Rook gave me a charming smile. I glared back at him.
“I’ll use iron on you!”
“If you must,” he said sufferingly.
“I really will!”
“Yes, I know.” I became conscious of the fact that his chest felt very solid, and I was straddling his slim waist. Our uneven breathing rocked us against each other slightly. Molten heat pooled in me again, ebbing lower.
I didn’t use iron on him.
Instead, I leaned down and kissed him.
This is a terrible decision, I thought. I’ve gone completely mad and I need to stop this instant.
But then Rook made a sound and parted his lips beneath mine, and I’m afraid that for a time I ceased listening to my brain entirely.
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Ari and Dante
Aristotle and Dante are two teenage loners who strike up an unlikely friendship in one another, though it takes some time for them to realize that their relationship has also become something more.
“What did I say when you kissed me?”
“You said it didn’t work for you.”
He looked at me.
“Don’t play with me, Ari.”
I took him by the shoulders. I looked at him. And he looked at me. “You said I wasn’t scared of anything. That’s not true. You. That’s what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of you, Dante.” I took a deep breath. “Try it again,” I said. “Kiss me.”
“No,” he said.
“No.” And then he smiled. “You kiss me.”
I placed my hand on the back of his neck. I pulled him toward me. And kissed him. I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And he kept kissing me back.
5. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Dimple and Rishi
Dimple Shah is not looking for a boyfriend when she goes to a web developing summer program, but her parents have other ideas and conspire to send potential match Rishi Patel to the same program. Initially, Dimple is less than thrilled, but she does, eventually, come around.
Rishi reached out and casually tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, and without meaning to, she sucked in a breath and leaned in to his touch.
His brow cleared, and his eyes turned to honeyed fire as they drifted down to her lips, which, she noted, were now parted. It was like her body was this traitor, acting without her brain’s permission. Especially considering what you were thinking earlier, that annoying voice tried to interject. Are you seriously going to let hormones get the best of you when there are important things to consider?
But when Rishi dipped his head down and pressed his mouth to hers, his rough stubble scratching against her chin in the most delicious way, her brain shut up entirely. His arms wrapped around her waist, cinching her to him, and she put her hands in his hair, feeling the silken strands between her fingers.
6. City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare: Clary and Jace
Could we write a list about kissing without Clary and Jace? Of course not. While our Shadowhunter power couple didn’t always have a straightforward path to love, their first kiss in the greenhouse at midnight is the one that started it all.
He’d called her beautiful. Nobody had ever called her that before, except her mother, which didn’t count. Mothers were required to think you were beautiful. She stared at him.
“We should probably go downstairs,” he said again. She was sure she was making him uncomfortable with the staring, but she didn’t seem to be able to stop.
The moon, directly overhead now, lit everything nearly to daylight brightness. In between one step and another she saw a white spark struck off something on the floor: It was the knife Jace had been using to cut apples, lying on its side. She jerked hastily back to avoid stepping on it, and her shoulder bumped his—he put a hand out to steady her, just as she turned to apologize, and then she was somehow in the circle of his arm and he was kissing her.
It was at first almost as if he hadn’t wanted to kiss her: His mouth was hard on hers, unyielding; then he put both arms around her and pulled her against him. His lips softened. She could feel the rapid beat of his heart, taste the sweetness of apples still on his mouth. She wound her hands into his hair, as she’d wanted to do since the first time she’d seen him. His hair curled around her fingers, silky and fine. Her heart was hammering, and there was a rushing sound in her ears, like beating wings—
7. Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian: Amelia and Grady
Every year Amelia works at the same ice cream stand, and is excited to finally take a leadership role this summer…but when she arrives, she finds that the late owner’s teenage grandnephew Grady is taking over instead. Things may get, um, heated.
It begins to rain. They stand in silence as the drops multiply. “Come on,” Grady says, taking her hand. “Let’s head inside.”
They look at each other at the same time and book it to the house, branches scraping at their legs as the sky opens up and the rain spills out.
Crashing through the back door, she’s hot and cool all at once. And completely soaked. Her hair sticking to her cheeks, her shirt clinging to her body. Grady, too, is soaked through, his hair in clumps of wet curls, his chest heaving.
He pulls her close to him and kisses her. Their wet bodies stick together. His hands are pulling at her, peeling her shirt up over her head. Then she peels away his. And they are kissing and walking, heading toward the living room couch half-dressed, the rain blurring the view out of every window. The room is dark with the storm until a crack of lightning flashes, brightening everything up.
8. Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi: Penny and Sam
Penny and Sam’s have a friendship conducted almost exclusively via text, and they rarely meet in person. But as they work through their anxieties and emotions, they are inevitably drawn closer together.
“But you know what I’m talking about,” she said. “You’ve known from the day we met. Even on text, where there are no inflections or nuance or tone for non sequiturs. You’ve always spoken fluent me.”
She slugged him on the arm. A meaty little thwock. Sam didn’t know what to read into it.
“I’m glad you didn’t talk about yourself in the third person just then, like ‘speaking fluent Penny,’” he said. “That would have been so gnar. What if all I did was—”
Before he could continue, Penny kissed him square on the mouth.
He didn’t have time to close his eyes, so he knew that she hadn’t closed hers.
Sam stared at her for a moment. Then he went for it.