When it comes to
romantic tropes, it’s hard to beat an enemies-to-lovers arc. There’s just nothing like watching two people go from hating each other, to kind of liking each other, to falling head-over-heels . And rest assured, all of the enemies-to-lovers books listed below use this familiar storyline to great effect. in love with each other
One of the best things about about a
trope is that a book doesn’t have to fall into the romance genre to make great use of it. Stories in which two lovers start out hating one another appear not just in romance, but also in science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. This list has pulls from all of those genres, in both their YA and adult variations, so there’s something here for every reader to enjoy. No matter how you like your enemies-to-lovers romances served up, you’ll find plenty to love below.
So get ready for angst. Get ready for threats and sword fights and underhanded plots that give way to sweet-nothings and dances and steamy bedroom scenes. With no further ado, the 26 best enemies-to-lovers books.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 Pride
We all know that
Pride and Prejudice is the quintessential enemies-to-lovers romance, so it’s only natural that modern retellings of Jane Austen’s novel — like Ibi Zoboi’s Pride — would also be must-reads. Here, an Afro-Latinx girl growing up in Bushwick resolves not to befriend her wealthy new neighbors, the Darcy brothers. But when she finds herself slowly falling for one Darcy boy as her older sister becomes attached to the other, her promise becomes difficult to keep. 2 Tweet Cute
Pepper and Jack — high school enemies who also happen to be heirs to rival family businesses — are in the midst of a Twitter feud. Jack knows that Pepper’s family’s chain restaurant has stolen his grandmother’s recipe for the best grilled cheese ever, and he’s not going to let his deli succumb to Big League Burger without a fight. Meanwhile, on an anonymous chat app, he and Pepper think they’ve met the partners of their dreams. How long do you think it’ll take them to realize they’re chatting each other up every night?
3 The Wrath and the Dawn
In Renée Ahdieh’s
1,001 Nights retelling, a young archer named Shahrzad vows to avenge her best friend’s death at the hands of a murderous caliph. Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad has just volunteered to be the next calipha, hoping that the proximity to the caliph will give her the opportunity to strike. Knowing her new husband will likely attempt to murder her on their wedding night, she devises a plan to tell him stories that will force him to keep her alive if he wants to hear their endings — all so she can wait for the perfect moment to exact her revenge. But the caliph is not the man Shahrzad expected, and she quickly finds herself falling in love with him. 4 The Layover
Things go from bad to worse for the soon-to-be-ex-flight attendant at the heart of Lacie Waldon’s
The Layover. Ava is ready to give up her high-flying career and start a new life on the ground, but her last flight has just been interrupted by her archnemesis, Jack: an ex-pilot who’s spent years on Ava’s bad side. She tries to make the best of it, but when an emergency stop in Belize turns into a weekend layover, Ava starts to wonder if Jack might not be so bad after all. 5 These Violent Delights
Romeo and Juliet retelling centered around crime syndicates in 1920s Shanghai sounds like your bag, you need to pick up Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights. The young heirs to two criminal empires, Juliette and Roma, have a long and sordid history together — one that’s almost certainly tanked any hope they had of uniting their families’ power. But when a deadly outbreak causes a string of brutal deaths across the city, Juliette and Roma must let bygones be bygones if they want to save all they hold dear. 6 Red, White & Royal Blue
America’s First Son falls for the UK’s most eligible prince in
Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue. Alex and Henry are feuding off-camera during their families’ press tours, but when a wedding-ruining spat launches the two of them into the spotlight, they’re forced to play nice for a change. Will being pushed together breed contempt... or affection? 7 A Pho Love Story
Bảo and Linh know to stay away from one another. Their parents own rival pho restaurants in the same neighborhood, and fraternizing with the enemy is strictly forbidden. But when Bảo volunteers to help Linh on one very tough night and sparks begin to fly, the two teens realize that they’ll have to heal the rift between their families if they want their businesses to succeed.
8 Beach Read
January and Augustus couldn’t have less in common. Sure, they’re both writers, but she lives for a good happily ever after, whereas he has no qualms about unceremoniously murdering any character he likes. When their separate beach retreats put them in close quarters, January and Augustus swap genres in an exercise meant to get their creative juices flowing. After that’s finished, they’ll go their separate ways again. That’s the plan, anyway.
9 Crier’s War
Set shortly after humanity’s inevitable subjugation by robot overlords, Nina Varela’s
Crier’s War follows Lady Crier, the next ruler of Rabu. She’s been targeted for assassination by one of her closest servants, who’s determined to avenge her parents’ deaths at the hands of the Automae. As a web of political intrigue winds around both young women, they begin to realize that they’ll have to lean on each other in order to survive. 10 Act Your Age, Eve Brown
Jacob, the no-nonsense owner-operator of a B&B, gets more than he bargained for when he interviews Eve, the freewheeling ne’er-do-well of the Brown family. Eve’s first impression on Jacob could win awards for being an utter disaster, and that’s
before she runs over him with her car. Now, he’s got a broken arm and no choice but to hire her. Sparks will fly, but will they ignite a passion, or bring everything down in flames? 11 Captive Prince
C.S. Pacat’s erotic novel centers on Damen, an ousted prince traded to an enemy royal as a slave for his bedchamber. Damen must keep his identity a secret while he lives in Vere, but that will be a tall order when he and his Veretian master, Prince Laurent, are dragged into a plot to steal the throne.
12 May the Best Man Win
Last year, cheer captain and student body president Jeremy broke up with his boyfriend and came out as trans. Now, he’s determined to win Homecoming King, and there’s just one thing standing in his way: his ex, Lukas, who heads up both the football team and the Homecoming Committee.
13 This Is How You Lose the Time War
Red and Blue are mortal enemies. Caught up in a war waged across space and time, the two rivals leave taunting notes for each other hidden in the unlikeliest of places. But as their correspondence begins to grow more affectionate, both Red and Blue must decide what they really want to fight for
14 You Can Go Your Own Way
The son of a recently deceased pinball-arcade owner butts heads with the daughter of a gaming-café chain CEO in Eric Smith’s
You Can Go Your Own Way. The bulk of Adam and Whitney’s interactions have been carried out online, where they’re caught up in a testy social-media war. Something magical happens when they get snowed in at Adam’s dad’s arcade, but will it be enough to start a real-life relationship? 15 The Jasmine Throne
The lives of an exiled princess and a mysterious handmaiden collide in Tasha Suri’s sapphic fantasy novel. The Hirana was once a place of magic and meditation. Now in ruins, it’s the prison-home of Princess Malini, sister to the emperor. Everyone connected to the Hirana’s former glory is supposed to be dead, but Priya has managed to survive. Her job as Malini’s maid provides the perfect cover for her real work: rediscovering the font of magic inside the Hirana. But Malini’s about to see something she shouldn’t, and it will change both women’s lives forever.
16 The Love Hypothesis
Olive doesn’t believe love exists, and she’s got just the scientific know-how to prove it... or so she thinks. Wacky hijinks lead Olive to fake-date Adam, Stanford’s prickliest prof, all to prove that her best friend’s heartfelt belief in love is misguided.
17 The Worst Best Man
Though Carolina’s own love life isn’t flourishing, her career as a wedding planner is going great. Even better, a chance to plan ceremonies at one of the city’s swankiest hotels has just presented itself — but pursuing it means she’ll have to work with Max, the man who once successfully encouraged his brother to dump Carolina at the altar. Both of them stand to benefit greatly from their partnership, provided they don’t kill one another first.
18 We Set the Dark on Fire
Dani’s parents risked everything to send her to the Medio School, an elite training academy where prominent young women learn how to be sister-wives to the nation’s most eligible young men. As her husband’s Primera, Dani will be responsible for keeping his household running smoothly, while his other wife, the Segunda, raises their family. But what will happen when someone finds out who Dani truly is?
19 She Drives Me Crazy
Scottie’s already bummed after losing to her ex-girlfriend’s team, but her day goes from bad to worse when she crashes — literally — into her arch-rival. Now forced to carpool with Irene, Scottie’s living a life of misery... until she spies a chance to get back at her ex
and regain a little high-school dignity. She’ll just need Irene to pose as her girlfriend long enough to make it work. 20 Gearbreakers
In Zoe Hana Mikuta’s
Gearbreakers, two young women on opposite sides of a massive battlefield discover they’re secretly working toward the same goal. When a captured resistance fighter clashes with a mecha pilot, she discovers that her opponent is on the side of the angels as well. But can they forge a new alliance before it’s too late? 21 You Should See Me in a Crown
Liz never wanted to be prom queen, but when a scholarship set aside her school’s prom king and queen turns out to be her only shot at attending the school of her dreams, she throws her tiara into the ring. There’s just one problem: She’s falling for the competition.
22 TJ Powar Has Something to Prove
When she and her devout Sikh cousin, Simran, are featured in a nasty meme about women’s body hair, TJ — the popular and conventionally attractive star of her high school debate team — resolves to stand up for Simran by forgoing her hair-removal regime. Unfortunately, TJ’s self-esteem takes a nosedive when she begins to suspect that people only treat her well when she conforms to beauty standards… except for an annoying boy on a rival debate team, who seems to like her just the way she is.
23 A Love Hate Thing
When 17-year-old Trice is shot by his own father, his former employers — the wealthy Smith family — take him in for a fresh start. Adjusting to a new home is easier said than done, though. The Smiths’ affluent neighborhood is a far cry from Trice’s hometown of Lindenwood, and what’s worse, their daughter is giving him the cold shoulder. Back in the day, she was one of Trice’s favorite playmates, so why does she now loathe the idea of living in the same house?
24 A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
Kitty throws herself into the London season with a singular goal in mind: to find a husband whose wealth can rescue her debt-ridden parents and their reputation. She’s more than a little rough around the edges, but what she lacks in gentility, she makes up for in street smarts. Too bad one of the season’s most eligible bachelors can see right through her carefully laid plans.
25 For Butter or Worse
When Nina is offered a chance to co-host a reality cooking show, she’s over the moon. There’s only one problem: the other co-host — Leo, a cocksure celebrity restaurateur — is a real PITA. But when the two of them are caught in what looks like a romantic entanglement, and fans of the show begin to clamor for more, Nina and Leo will have to make nice for the cameras, even though they still hate one another behind the scenes.
26 Beating Heart Baby
Upon joining his new high school’s band, Santi receives a warm welcome from just about everyone. The lone holdout is Suwa, the band’s wunderkind, who doesn’t think Santi’s musical skills are up to snuff. But when the two boys realize they have more in common than meets the eye, what starts as a seething rivalry quickly begins to smolder.
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This article was originally published on
Dec. 9, 2021