If you have a quiet craving for more enemies-to-lovers romances…oh, do I have a list for you. 😌
It’s no secret that this is a very beloved trope. Oh the chemistry, the sexual tension, the angst! That question we all ask ourselves as we read: “WILL THEY KISS OR STAB??? WE DON’T KNOW!! EXCITING!!”
I do think there’s a lot of lures to this trope that makes it addictive to read. For instance:
➢ we have the good old “will they/wont’ they” going on which causes a lot of plot tension
➢ it generally equates two VERY opposite or VERY similar personalities, hence the clashes, and it’s fascinating watching two people learn to fit together, despite differences.
➢ often times it’s about overcoming a centuries old hate or prejudices, which can be powerful
➢ the rest of the time it’s just one person being super ornery and the other being a huge flirt 😘
➢ there’s usually BANTER; then the bickering turns to flirting
➢ just here for that moment when it turns from “I would kill you” to “I would kill for you”.
Give me a bejewelled sWORD, sir, and I shall ride into the wars for this trope.
Now before I go further, I do want to pause and talk about how this trope can be problematic and how there’s a difference between “enemies” of circumstance, etc, versus actual abusive relationships that are inherently unhealthy. When I say I love enemies-to-lovers, I’m N O T talking about a boy systematically abusing a girl because “he likes her”. I’d say you can take your toxic masculinity and pour it down the void, but even the void doesn’t deserve that mess.
Now that we have that cleared up… 🤗 onwards.
The Last Namsara | Goodreads
This series fills me with such pure delight because both it and the sequel have different versions of Enemies-to-Lovers and both are utter gold. In the first book we have Asha, who’s grown up forced to slay dragons to make up for a sin she committed as a child VS Torwin, a slave in her father’s household and is just going to charm her out of being an ornery thorn in his side. They’re both rather slaves to her father, the king, so there’s no problematic power dynamic. Just THEM; learning they need people on their side and you don’t have to fight the world alone.
Six of Crows | Goodreads
There are three romance threads in this but one is our fave Nina vs Matthais. A witch vs a witch hunter. It’s hugely about letting go of prejudices and being indoctrinated with hate as a child. And they also have the added bonus of Nina being super flirty and Matthias blushing if you suggested peeling an apple would make it naked. UGH I LOVE THEM. Forced to work together and realise their passionate hate is…not hate. 😍
Ruined | Goodreads
This is like a Soft version, because they’re only enemies by birthright: Em is a Ruined (her people have magic powers) and Cas is not (his people want hers dead) and she’s faking being his bride only to kill him. But Cas is like A SOFT CINNAMON ROLL and Em melts for him. She has that decision of kill-an-innocent-prince vs help-save-her-people. Which is always delightful.
An Enchantment of Ravens | Goodreads
Look my heart @ belongs to fairies so excuse me while I profess undying love for Rook x Isobel. She’s a human painter and he an Autumn Prince who commissions her for a portrait: but she paints him “too human”. So he whisks her off to his world for a trial for this offence..but hahhahahahhhah. They totally fall for each other along the way. It actually unpacks the difference between attraction/instalove vs actual love based on knowing a person. Also there are faeries. And Rook offers to fight a teapot for Isobel’s honour at one stage. I don’t know what to tell you except I love it.
The Cruel Prince | goodreads
Obviously we would be remiss to not mention one of the most famously hyped trilogy of late, with our iconic Jude and Cardan who (truly and genuinely) hate each other and it converts into a very problematic lust relationship. 🤗I know this one often gets slammed as promoting toxicity being romantic — but I believe it’s more than that. I think the whole series is a study in anxiety, in letting fear rule you until you chose to become “worse” than your fear. Jude’s mantra is “If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.“ And the book REALLY looks into that. There’s a lot of sexual frustration, naturally, but it’s also about vulnerabilities and feeling like love will destroy you if you admit that’s what it is.
To Kill A Kingdom | goodreads
I already mentioned this one in the intro BUT — here it is again. Just to confirm it is both splendid and darkly vicious. Siren hunter meets siren = ROMANCE. It’s got the kind of banter that you will die for; it’s just that funny. It’s also a bit of a Little Mermaid retelling! High stakes, magic, rogue princes, doomed lovers…pls read this and thank me.
Princess of Thorns | goodreads
Ahhhh I love this book. I did read it back in 2015 though so I’m forgetting details (tragic; i need to reread) but I remember absolutely ADORING the banter. Aurora is dressed up as a boy for a quest (to rescue her brother) and Niklass (a roguish youngest prince) ends up accompanying her and they BICKER the whole way. They also have a potato eating contest, if I recall correctly. In retrospect I don’t think either of them is entirely straight and this just pleases me more.
The Wrath And the Dawn | Goodreads
It’s a retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights were Shahrzad’s has to tell the sultan a story every night, but leave him on a cliffhanger so he doesn’t kill her in order to keep hearing the story. I mean SMART. I also would delay mass destruction for another chapter of a good book. Anyhow, we have the monstrous boy-king vs a smart girl here to kill him. Except there’s monsters BEHIND MONSTERS and honestly…it’s epic. 😏
Spin The Dawn | Goodreads
This is actually one of my favourites for this year because I am obsessed with Edan x Maia. It’s also a one-sided-enemies because she just hates him INSTANTLY for being a magician; whereas he is like “here is an entirely adorably cute crossdressing creature whom I am going to annoy into adoring me.” It also works. He does annoy her into liking him. He literally doesn’t shut up the whole book. He wears all black and yet is a popsicle of sass.
Carry On | Goodreads
Ok true; the beginning does read like Harry x Draco fanfic. Basically if you did wash Drarry had sailed, just go read this book. But Baz is a vampire and Simon is the “chosen one” (his opinion on that is “i don’t wanna”) and they are school roommates AND enemies AND…freak out when the other gets hurt. 😘I am so overdue for a reread with the sequel coming out so soon.
Starflight | Goodreads
Now let’s hurtle ourselves into SPACE to meet Solara who is a con running away who kind of kidnaps this extremely rich snob boy (stun guns him, we’re talking T R U E enemies after that). They end up accidentally on a whirlwind escape wherein he gradually gets soft and she gradually stops stun-gunning people and it’s altogether adorable. Also hilarious. 10/10 for the banter.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely | Goodreads
Of course Beauty & The Beast always champions this trope…with a side-dish of Stockholm Syndrome usually [eye twitches] But NOT SO here. Honestly Rhen (the beast) is so depressed by the time his kingdom kidnaps Harper from the “modern world” to see if she’ll be his true love to break the curse…that he doesn’t even try. He just follows around Grey saying “how do I make her like me” while Grey says “hm, not sure, why don’t you try BEING CIVIL TO HER”. Grey deserves a freaking medal in this book.
Linger | Goodreads
Look, this is cheating, since it is a sequel. But you should read the first book ANYWAY. But Cole x Isabel are absolute gifts to the snarky universe with their absolute disdain of each other. It’s the kind of hate-to-love that is just born of people who have really similar personalities and believe the other is so so so annoying. I love it. 😂I partially think they kiss just because they’re bored but you know. This SHIP. I swear.
Legendary | Goodreads
ANOTHER SEQEUL. But you know what? I just am the worst. 😘Anyway my heart belongs to Tella x Dante specifically because they both have such Slytherin souls and they are determined to BETTER than the other. More cleverer, faster, outwitting the other. The fall for each other while all the while being liars and I just 😫💛💛I STAN. It’s got to be one of my all-time favourite books!
Teeth | Goodreads
This is not, surprisingly, about dentists. Which tbh is a relief because that would be a traumatic story. Instead we have a quietly depressed Rudy who moves to this super depressing island because apparently eating fish will help cure his extremely sick little brother. No friends. No life. Nothing to look forward to. Except…the half-fish boy waging war on the sailors and being part legend, part abused, until he’s going to kill himself without help. It is softly gay and softly tragic and somehow also viciously toothy. I love love love this one.
White Rabbit | Goodreads
Look I’m counting this one but it’s technically LOVERS = ENEMIES = LOVERS. It’s set over the course of one night and Rufus is super super angry at his ex, Sebastian, but they get tumbled into this horrible mystery involving murder and drugs and Rufus’ sister is involved and ahhhhhh. He and Sebastian end up leaning on each other again and it’s just. 😭💛Also I’m not sure what your life looks like, but you definitely need more queer thrillers in it.
The Love Interest | Goodreads
I am waaaaay behind with reading this, because it was a 2017 release and I only read it this year. And I freaking LOVED IT. It’s such a satire, not not in an irritating way? It’s about two spy boy detectives, sent in to “woo the girl”. The bad boy vs the good boy. Loser gets terminated. So they’re in this contest to win this girl and they hate each other for survival reasons. BUT then…they end up helping each other out. I just laughed myself out of my chair when they’re like “We should practise kissing [nod nod] so we can kiss her better.” Yes you two are very straight for s u r e. Anyway it’s #ownvoices and really endearing as well as picks at old tropes.
Peter Darling | Goodreads
All I need to say is HOOK x PAN. And then you should be trotting off to find this one. It’s also #ownvoices for trans rep so, doubly important to support this author. It’s quite short too, practically a novella, and definitely twists the old Peter Pan story in ways you haven’t seen it before but that you really really deep inside wanted the story to go. 😌
Disruption | Goodreads
Again it’s been a long time since I read it…but I could swear it has a super good enemies-to-lovers. I just can’t remember WHY they hate each other lmao. (My memory has bucket sized holes.) Anyway read this though. It’s a 5-star (thanks for reminding me Goodreads) and features my favourite badass, totally terrifying girl who will stop at NOTHING to protect her family. And I believe she’s using Quentin for her masterplan but ends up kind of liking him (when he’s the son of the bad dude; therefore “should” be evil).
Letters to the Lost | Goodreads
ALL TIME FAVOURITE BOOK ALERT 🎉I swear I can’t love on this book enough. Plus it has a fantastic twist on the trope where Declan and Juliet are enemies in-real-life…but really close as anonymous penpals. And they’re only enemies IRL because of expectations. He’s known as the gruff, problematic loser who causes trouble and is doing community service. She’s the prissy “good girl” who is really standoffish. But what isn’t on the surface: both are suffering extreme loss and dealing with grief and depression. I sob over this book. Every time.
Making Friends With Alice Dyson | Goodreads
This one is like a very very Soft™ “enemies”…more like Alice is this Straight As perfect student and Teddy just ANNOYS HER by breathing wrong. And they do a spontaneous dance off in the street which goes a bit viral and she’s scared it’s ruining her image of being sensible. While Teddy is over here being a huge loveable dork. 😍This one is cute. Not hardcore like some on this list, but we are here for diverse types of this trope HURRAH.
When Dimple Met Rishi | Goodreads
Dimple wants a career and her parents are lowkey pushing her towards a Good And Nice Indian boy, aka Rishi. So look it’s an “enemies to lovers” based on circumstance; it’s not even personal the whole time. Dimple just doesn’t want to be TOLD to marry someone. Then the first time they meet, she throws her coffee at him. 🤗 So I don’t know what you’re waiting for but I am HERE to say this is a quality romcom where they are side-eyeing each other before…they realise they actually sort of quite like each other.
Blood Red Road | Goodreads
I cannot forget my absolute power couple of Saba and Jack. They’re in this rough post-apocalyptic world where it’s all desert, cults, and has a definite Mad Max vibe. Saba is off to save her family and she gets tangle dup with Jack and just hates him on principle. DO NOT TRUST STRANGERS. Especially smooth-talking sassy pretty ones. Obviously I ship them hard. I love the spiky girl x flirty boy trope. It just gives me life.
The Foxhole Court | Goodreads
And you better believe I saved the best for last because HELLO TO MY FOXES and the most inherently problematic Andriel (Andrew x Neil). You also really truly need to get through three books before it happens because this is like quality slowburn as well. The hate stems from just them both being so psychologically damaged and traumatised they can’t possibly trust anyone, let alone each other. But Andrew is the kind who will absolutely 100% either kill Neil or kill FOR Neil and even Neil isn’t quite sure at any time at all. I really like how the series unpacks PTSD and how love isn’t a cure = but being supported and finding a home, a family, is a good way to start learning to breathe again.
| what do you think |
please hit me with your favourite books with enemies-to-lovers in it too!! one can never have too many good recs