Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soul mates and brain-twins, Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, New York Times, USA Today, and #1 international bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series. Some of their books have kissing. Some of their books have A LOT of kissing. Their latest book DATING YOU/HATING YOU goes on-sale June 6.
If you’re a fan of strong heroines — as we are — then no doubt you’ve read a hate-love story that has a revered spot on your favorites shelf. Ever since the days of Pride and Prejudice, the enemies-turned-lovers trope in romance novels has been a popular one. The sexual power dynamic in social circles, the workplace, and of course when falling love is one that has captured our reading fascination for centuries. And with good reason: at the root of these love stories is the acknowledgment that we want a partner who is our equal, both in the workplace and in the bedroom.
Want a little bit of friction with your swoon? Try one of these 10 favorites, if you haven’t devoured them already. And if you have read them already, give them a re-read by the beach this summer:
1'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen
Okay, yes, this one is a gimme because it’s unlikely that anyone reading this list has missed this book. But Fitzwilliam Darcy is the original hot curmudgeon, and Elizabeth Bennet is a power woman’s favorite heroine. If only Jane Austen knew what she’d started...
2'The Wrath and the Dawn' by Renée Ahdieh
If you haven’t started this series, then what are you doing with your time? This is the story of Khalid, who takes a new bride each night only to have her killed at sunrise, and Shahrzad, who marries Khalid to exact her revenge for killing her best friend. The trouble starts when Shahrzad begins falling in love with him. This series is a romance thriller juggernaut and we. are. obsessed.
3'The Hating Game' by Sally Thorne
Unless you’ve been off all social media for the past year, no doubt you’ve heard of this modern chick lit smash, published in 2016 and inspired by a single word: Nemesis. Joshua Templeman is the emotionally restrained hero, Lucy Hutton is the adorably quirky neurotic heroine. The pages open at the peak of their rivalry, where their work days are filled entirely with games designed primarily to annoy each other. So seeing Josh’s true feelings come out is so satisfying, it’s better than cake.
4'The Captive Prince' by C.S. Pacat
No, we will not shut up about this book! Not ever! Damen is the crowned prince of Akielos, but when his half-brother seizes power after their father’s death, Damen is sent as a pleasure slave to the enemy nation, Vere, to serve Prince Laurent. A fun twist? Damen killed Laurent’s brother. The biting dialogue and delicious tension between these two characters is unreal, and the political thrill of this book can’t be missed. This one is on our Forever Favorites shelf.
5'A Rogue by Any Other Name' by Sarah Maclean
Everyone loves a sassy heroine, but a sassy, smart, historical heroine is our catnip. Here, Lady Penelope is completely over living by the whims of the patriarchy; she has no interest in marriage, as much as society tells her she should. And Michael, her childhood friend, has lost everything, become cunning and cold, and is determined to earn his place back in society. He plans to do that by marrying Penelope and taking over her substantial estate. What is delicious is that Penelope’s stable strength allows Michael’s personal redemption — much more interesting and satisfying than his professional one. He is a Grade A asshole for much of the beginning, but when coming to terms with his own emotional vulnerability and need for Penelope, unsurprisingly he becomes a much better man.
6'Anne of Green Gables' by LM Montgomery
If you are one of the 12 romance fans who was not weaned on Anne of Green Gables, then get thee to a library or bookstore. While not a romance novel, per se, the dynamic between the imaginative and spirited Anne Shirley and witty Gilbert Blythe is so sweetly swoony that it’s nearly painful. Gilbert is so enamored with Anne, and she is so oblivious that when he makes fun of her red hair, she lashes out, having no idea that it is only a sign of his affection. All together now: AWWWWWW.
7'One Plus One' by Jojo Moyes
This book is so compulsively readable, we devoured the entire thing in less than two days. Jojo Moyes does a fantastic job here bringing together two people live in two entirely different worlds and who are completely down on their luck for entirely different reasons. Ed has made a huge mistake with his enormous fortune. Jess is a single parent struggling to get her precocious math genius to Scotland for a competition. In the end, the competition is just a backdrop for these opposites to come together and it’s done in such a sweetly realistic way that when the book is done, you want to email Ms. Moyes and ask for an update on the kids.
8'No Rest For the Wicked' by Kresley Cole
Who likes their paranormal with some serious heat? WE DO! The Immortals After Dark series is fantastically immense, but if we had to pick a favorite, this might be it. Sebastian Wroth is the tortured, self-loathing vampire who falls in deep, pining love with Kaderin the Cold Hearted — a ballsy, badass Fey who, wait for it, really hates vampires! Ugh, it’s awesomely painful because Sebastian is smitten, and Kaderin wants to bang and kill Sebastian in equal measure. Too. Much. Fun.
9'The Fever Series' by Karen Marie Moning
MacKayla Lane hops on over to Ireland to find her missing sister and ends up in a shocking paranormal world unlike anything she’s ever imagined, with a power she didn’t even know she had: to see into the realm of the Fae. Good thing Jericho Barrons — honest to God the hottest paranormal hero we’ve ever read—is around to alternately guide Mac and drive her absolutely insane. This series is a true epic, and the romance is slower than a slow burn but trust us, please, that it is absolutely worth your time.
10'Divergent' by Veronica Roth
Ugh, Four. Why are you so swoony? You’re cold and distant, tight lipped about that devastating history. You don’t even seem to like anyone, really ... well, except for Tris. But how much do we love that he doesn’t go easy on her? That his expectations for her are higher than they are for anyone? As far as swoony, tortured YA heroes go, Four is hard to beat. And Tris is scrappy, independent, and determined to break the mold her Abnegation roots have laid out for her. Give us a grumpy Tobias any day of the week.