Ah, the enemies-to-lovers trope. In my opinion, a true god-tier trope. Done well, this trope propels any book into the instant favorites list. And who doesn’t love a little animosity in the beginning of their favorite pairings?
One of my favorite examples of this trope is Shelby Mahurin’s Serpent and Dove series. In it, witch Louise LeBlanc and witch hunter Reid Diggory are paired together and forced into marriage. Despite literally abhorring each other’s existence, the two fall in love. Throw in some murder and mayhem, secrets and lies and you’ve got one of the best (if not complicated) YA love stories I’ve read in a long time.
Unfortunately, the trilogy has come to a close with Gods & Monsters and though we’re not able to spend time with Lou and Reid again, we thought we’d celebrate the series end with recommendations of other enemies-to-lovers books by some of our favorite enemies-to-lovers authors (including Shelby Mahurin herself).
Read on for some of the best books this addictive trope has to offer and be sure to check out the authors’ books who are recommending them if you haven’t already!
While it’s impossible to choose one enemies-to-lovers romance, a favorite of mine is The Hating Game. Lucy and Josh are such a comfort couple for me. Rivals within their publishing house, they compete for the same promotion while being secretly infatuated with each other. Their relationship is a masterclass in tension and chemistry and just kiss already! —Shelby Mahurin, author of Gods & Monsters
While it’s impossible to choose one enemies-to-lovers romance, a favorite of mine is the Shatter Me series. I can never say no to a bad boy love interest, and Warner certainly doesn’t disappoint. His attraction to Juliette is palpable from their first encounter—he’s the ruthless leader of Sector 45—which is made all the sweeter when she realizes he isn’t quite the villain she thought he was. —Shelby Mahurin, author of Gods & Monsters
If enemies-to-lovers is your bread and butter, then you need to read The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala. This Hindu mythology inspired high fantasy follows a cat-and-mouse game between a dutiful soldier and the rebel he believes murdered his General. I’m a huge sucker for the cinnamon roll/badass ship dynamic, and the tension between Kunal and Esha practically sparks off the page. The last book in the trilogy just came out, so you can binge the whole series now! —Roseanne A. Brown, author of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Ava Reid’s gorgeous and brutal debut, The Wolf and the Woodsman, is enemies-to-lovers at its finest. While Évike and Gáspár’s relationship delivers on all the angst and sexual tension the trope promises, it’s also achingly tender and thematically rich. As the two of them are forced to rely on one another and learn they have endured the same cruelties, they find belonging in their shared outsiderness. Oh—and did I mention there’s kneeling? —Allison Saft, author of A Far Wilder Magic
My favorite recent enemies-to-lovers book is Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray. It features rich, gorgeous worldbuilding, a fascinating magic system, and a gripping plot with unpredictable twists and turns—but I’m primarily a character reader, and I adored the two main characters Ekon and Koffi. They’re bitter enemies: Ekon an elite warrior, Koffi an indentured servant, who must team up to hunt a monster. Ayana is simply masterful at writing emotional scenes and portraying the tentative sweetness of young love. —Margaret Rogerson, author of Vespertine
I’m obsessed with Roseanne A. Brown’s A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, which is the perfect enemies to lovers romance and an incredible novel overall. If you ever wondered what would happen if Jasmine and Aladdin had to kill each other, then this book is for you. In addition to the swoony romance, Brown’s incredibly detailed West African-inspired fantasy world is brimming with magic and intrigue that I guarantee will absolutely sweep you away. —Swati Teerdhala, author of The Chariot at Dusk
As a self-professed collector of enemies-to-lover books, I feel I can speak endlessly to how much I adore this trope. My favorites–the ones I read and reread each year–are near and dear to my heart. Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series takes this trope and wraps it in delicious danger and bloody warfare. Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is a wonderful fantasy My Fair Lady, complete with dragons and a haunted wood. And lastly, Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince is the quintessential bad boy fae pitted against a merciless human with a penchant for knives. —Renee Ahdieh, author of The Damned
Sometimes enemies to lovers can stress me out because of the conflict but I just read Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle and fell in LOVE. The forced proximity trope made it even more enjoyable because they were constantly in each others’ faces. What I loved most was how, once the characters unraveled and we got to know them, there was so much more to them, and the story, than what we see on the surface. —Sophie Sullivan, author of Ten Rules for Faking It
My pick: She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
This book has all of the delicious romance tropes I love, wrapped up in a queer (f/f) romance! It’s about a basketball player and a cheerleader who are thrown together by fate, decide to work together for purely selfish reasons…and then fall in love! But there’s a lot of great commentary about what makes a romance a healthy relationship, giving their story even more emotional heft. Plus, it’s full of banter and sweet and sexy! —Tirzah Price, author of Pride and Premeditation