22 Enemies-to-Lovers Books That Turn Rivalry to Romance
Of all the popular tropes present in romance books, enemies-to-lovers is definitely one of the most popular, and with good reason! There are few things as fun as watching two characters insist they hate each other (or, in many cases, actually hate each other) while they fight a losing battle against the intense attraction between them. It's a recipe for delicious tension — and for incredibly fun, compelling, and angsty books.
The best enemies-to-lovers books can incorporate a wide range of dynamics. It might mean a clash of personalities between two people who are stuck with each other, like in "Well Met" by Jen DeLuca or "The Ruin of a Rake" by Cat Sebastian. It might be traced to long-ago grudges, like in "The Hookup Plan" by Farrah Rochon or "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston. Or, in some cases, these enemies are quite literally out for blood, like in India Holton's "The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels" or "Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros.
However you like your enemies-to-lovers books, you're sure to find something you love among our picks!
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston
Before the movie adaptation became the rom-com hit of 2023, "Red, White & Royal Blue" ($9, originally $17) by Casey McQuiston was a bestselling novel about two public figures whose simmering hate turns into a scandalous love affair. Alex, the First Son of the United States, and Henry, grandson of the British monarch, have loathed each other ever since a disastrous first meeting. When their enmity goes too far in public, they're forced to do damage control by faking a friendship. Over time, they go from fake friends to real friends to falling in love, but they'll have to decide if their romance can survive the harsh glare of the spotlight.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Destiny's Captive" by Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins, one of the true queens of the romance genre, delivers enemies-to-lovers excellence with "Destiny's Captive" ($9). Noah and Pilar's relationship starts with the exact opposite of a meet-cute: she steals his ship and leaves him tied up! Of course, he vows revenge and sets out to find her, but when he does, they can't help but realize they have more in common than they think, all while helping one another come to terms with the harsher parts of the past.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Book Lovers" by Emily Henry
"Book Lovers" ($10) by Emily Henry is a rivals-to-lovers romance for everyone who feels less like the wholesome rom-com heroes and more like the side characters who get left behind. Ambitious, cutthroat literary agent Nora doesn't get along with many people, and certainly not with brooding book editor Charlie. When Nora reluctantly agrees to accompany her sister on a trip to a touristy small town, she's horrified to run into Charlie there, too. But perhaps being out of the city will give this sharp-edged duo a chance to be the leads in their own love story for a change.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "The Hookup Plan" by Farrah Rochon
Farrah Rochon's "The Hookup Plan" ($10) combines enemies-to-lovers with another classic trope: no strings attached. Pediatric surgeon London does not expect attending her high school reunion will lead her to hook up with her archenemy, Drew. Now, their rivalry takes on new stakes when she finds out he's in town to decide if her hospital will stay open — and now that the attraction between them is out in the open, things just got a lot more complicated.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Well Met" by Jen DeLuca
If Ren Faires and pirate banter are the epitome of romance to you (or if you crushed hard on Captain Hook from "Once Upon a Time"), you'll love "Well Met" ($11) by Jen DeLuca. Emily comes to spend the summer in Willow Creek to take care of her injured sister, April, only to get roped into signing up for the local Renaissance Faire so that her niece can still participate. Almost instantly, she butts heads with Simon, the local English teacher and Faire organizer — until he turns up at the Faire as his sexy pirate character. Their characters flirt shamelessly, but it's still up in the air if Emily and Simon can get past their annoyances and baggage to make it work in real life.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "The Last Hellion" by Loretta Chase
Loretta Chase's "The Last Hellion" ($9) follows a devil-may-care duke and a crusading do-gooder as their purposes cross and their personalities clash. After a series of family tragedies, Vere finds himself the holder of a dukedom he never wanted, and he copes through extensive debauchery. When he accidentally ruins the plans of Lydia, a brave journalist trying to expose corruption and protect the powerless, they can't like each other any less. They battle each other every step of the way, frustrated by their feelings for each other until they just can't deny it anymore.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros
"Fourth Wing" ($17) by Rebecca Yarros has become one of the biggest hits of 2023, and the dragons-and-rebels romantasy also happens to be the kind of enemies-to-lovers where they actually might want to kill each other a little bit. Forced by her military mother to join the grueling Riders Quadrant, Violet has to fight for her life every single moment. It's made even worse by the enmity of several of her classmates, like Xaden, who are descended from rebels and full of hatred for her mother's actions. As new threats and alliances emerge, though, Violet and Xaden might find themselves on the same side and unable to ignore the spark between them.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Because of Miss Bridgerton" by Julia Quinn
If you loved Anthony and Kate's loathe-to-love arc in the latest season of "Bridgerton," explore Julia Quinn's Bridgerton-verse further with "Because of Miss Bridgerton" ($6). Billie Bridgerton grew up playing with the Rokesby boys, and now that they're all grown up, the likelihood is high that she'll marry one of them — as long as it isn't George, the heir to the earldom and her partner in mutual loathing. When they're unexpectedly thrown together, however, a different kind of spark flies between them, and it might turn out that they don't despise each other all that much after all.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels" by India Holton
"The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels" ($11) by India Holton serves up enemies-to-lovers excellence in a fantasy-tinged Victorian era where proper ladies are also skilled thieves and pirates, handsome gentlemen are the most polite of assassins, and assassination attempts really are more of a compliment than anything. Assassin Ned is hired by the shadowy and misogynistic Captain Morvath, who has a vendetta against the Wisteria Society, to take out Cecilia Bassingwaite. Instead, the pair find themselves reluctantly teaming up against Morvath to save the Wisteria Society — and falling inconveniently in love along the way.
"The Unhoneymooners" by Christina Lauren
In Christina Lauren's "The Unhoneymooners" ($10), a wedding gone wrong sends the maid of honor and the best man — who happen to hate each other — on a would-be honeymoon in paradise. When food poisoning takes out the entire bridal party except for Olive and Ethan, they reluctantly agree to do a big favor for the bride and groom: take their spots on the trip that was supposed to be a honeymoon so the money isn't wasted. As much as they loathe each other, Olive and Ethan slowly start to settle into their fake roles as happy newlyweds, but a new revelation of betrayal soon threatens their tentative truce.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Act Your Age, Eve Brown" by Talia Hibbert
"Act Your Age, Eve Brown" ($10) by Talia Hibbert starts out Eve and Jacob's enemies-to-lovers arc with a bang: he rejects her for a job, she (accidentally?) hits him with her car. As Jacob struggles to keep his bed-and-breakfast afloat, Eve sticks around trying to help — which, of course, only annoys them both more. Their personalities couldn't be more different, but the more time they spend together, the more the ice of their first meeting starts to heat up into something more.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "The Ruin of a Rake" by Cat Sebastian
A roguish aristocrat and a by-the-book gentleman clash (and fall in love) in Cat Sebastian's "The Ruin of a Rake" ($7). When Lord Courtenay's exploits become the fodder for a salacious novel, he finds himself shunned by society and forbidden even to see his beloved nephew. That's when he seeks out the help of Julian Medlock, the most prim-and-proper man in London — and not a fan of Courtenay's scandalous ways. Stuck together as they try to repair Courtenay's image, their mutual disdain turns into mutual attraction, but acting on it could bring more scandal than either could bear.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "So We Meet Again" by Suzanne Park
It's a childhood-enemies-to-lovers tale in Suzanne Park's "So We Meet Again" ($11). Investment banker Jessie gets laid off, then delivers an epic tirade on her way out after overhearing her former colleagues' bigoted comments. Now, she's back at home with her parents, making it the worst possible time to run into her golden-boy childhood nemesis, Daniel. When she relaunches her Korean-cooking YouTube channel, she reluctantly accepts his help, only for both of them to learn that there's much more to each other than the facades of perfection they try to put on.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "To Love and to Loathe" by Martha Waters
Diana and Jeremy, the bickering duo at the center of "To Love and to Loathe" ($9) by Martha Waters, aren't just enemies — they're enemies with benefits. Diana's much older (and much disliked) husband has died and left her a young widow, while Jeremy has just found out from an ex-mistress that his skills in the bedroom are disappointing. A wager soon turns into an unlikely alliance: they'll embark on a no-strings affair so Jeremy can hone his skills and Diana can signal her availability for a more long-term arrangement with discreet gentlemen. Of course, the spark between them in their banter carries over to the bedroom, and they might find less to hate about each other than they imagined.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "The Jasmine Throne" by Tasha Suri
If you like your enemies-to-lovers with a side helping of epic fantasy politics, "The Jasmine Throne" ($14) by Tasha Suri is perfect for you. Ruthless, exiled princess Malini is imprisoned by her authoritarian brother and spends her days plotting her revenge. What she doesn't know is that her servant, Priya, is actually a powerful priestess with a dangerous past and a desperation to save her family. When Malini accidentally uncovers the truth about Priya, the women's fates become entwined, and they'll have to put aside their enmity to achieve a common goal — and fall for one another along the way.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Devil's Daughter" by Lisa Kleypas
"Devil's Daughter" ($9) by Lisa Kleypas has a different backstory for its enemies-to-lovers arc. When Phoebe first meets reformed rake West, she marks him as an enemy for his role in bullying her late husband when they were schoolboys years ago. Unfortunately, she can't deny the attraction she feels for him, even though she wants to despise him, and she comes to realize that the person he once was — and, perhaps, the person she once was, too — don't have to define what the future can be.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "You, With a View" by Jessica Joyce
"You, With a View" ($15) by Jessica Joyce brings a "Letters to Juliet" vibe crossed with the age of TikTok. When Noelle harnesses the power of social media to try to find a mysterious man in an old photo of her grandmother, the man's grandson reaches out — and said grandson turns out to be Theo, Noelle's high school nemesis who still knows just how to get under her skin. Noelle embarks on the elopement road trip that her grandmother never got to take, both men in tow, giving her and Theo the chance to revise their relationship, if the secret he's keeping doesn't stop things in their tracks.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "With Love, From Cold World" by Alicia Thompson
Sometimes, enemies-to-lovers means competing over plans to save a quirky winter-themed tourist destination while also dealing with existential fears and family trauma — or at least, that's what it means in "With Love, From Cold World" ($11) by Alicia Thompson. Uptight bookkeeper Lauren and her lively coworker Asa find themselves locked in a rivalry to propose the best possible ideas to save the weird, wonderful Cold World. When they realize just how much danger the business is in, they'll have to put their heads together, surprising each other with how well they actually click.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "The Duke Gets Desperate" by Diana Quincy
A battle over the rightful ownership of a Scottish castle is the driving force behind the enmity in "The Duke Gets Desperate" ($7) by Diana Quincy. After the death of his estranged father, Anthony, the new Duke of Strickland, is horrified to find out that he's been disinherited, and his family castle has been left to his American stepmother. She, in turn, has also died, leaving her inheritance to her cousin Raya. As the duo clash over who truly owns the castle, they'll also have to work together to save the faltering estate, and the dislike between them soon turns into a spark of desire.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Better Hate Than Never" by Chloe Liese
Chloe Liese's Wilmot Sisters series puts modern spins on classic Shakespeare, and "Better Hate Than Never" ($15) gives us a "Taming of the Shrew" version that is less "high school English class" and more "10 Things I Hate About You" (yes, complete with a paintball scene). Kate and Christopher have loathed each other for years, but there's more to their disdain than just personalities clashing. When Christopher tries to bury the hatchet, Kate isn't sure she can trust him, but the inconvenient attraction between them means she just might give it a try.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen" by KJ Charles
"The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen" ($10) by KJ Charles takes its characters from lovers to enemies and then to lovers again. Lonely, newly minted baronet Gareth arrives in his strange new hometown, only to immediately find himself blackmailed and manipulated by the local smuggling clan, the Doomsdays, led by his ex-lover, Joss. The pair clash again and again until the ice starts to thaw between them, but even once they admit their feelings for each other are still there, the dangers of the mysterious Marsh could tear them apart.
Enemies-to-Lovers Books: "Born to be Wilde" by Eloisa James
Lavinia and Parth, the main characters of "Born to be Wilde" ($6) by Eloisa James, don't think very highly of each other, and they have no problem saying so. While Parth looks for a practical bride for himself, he reluctantly agrees to play matchmaker for Lavinia, too. As you might suspect, their constant proximity drives them batty at first, then starts to thaw the chill between them. Maybe their matrimonial plans will be better if they turn to each other instead?