We all have read our fair share of romance novels. It is an unsaid guilty pleasure for most of us, and a good romance novel is like a refresher. Yes, intellectual and deep, thought-provoking books are important. But once in a while, a steamy romance is a good change of things.
Good romance novels have two key things: good chemistry and the pining. More than the actual romance, the tension-filled building events before it makes a book spicy.
When we talk about slow-burn romance and pining, one of my favourite tropes is enemies to lovers. Enemies to lovers books are so popular among avid romance readers. And it happens to be because this is a very versatile genre.
Suppose enemies to lovers happens to be your favourite genre. Read this article to add the best enemies to lovers books to your reading list today!
Why are Enemies to Lovers Books the best?
Almost all romance tropes (not all of them) in books are things we enjoy immensely—best friends to lovers, Office romance, Fake friendship, Fake Dating.
Enemies to lovers’ books always start with a mutual hatred between two characters. And as you know, these characters have great chemistry and sexual tension between them. Their bickering and banter almost always have a lace of sexual tension in them.
Enemies to lovers’ books also don’t always have to be filled with angst. Some of the books are based on romantic comedy.
The spewing hate has a breaking point almost all the time, and then sparks fly between characters. Suddenly everyone is hyper-aware of their growing feelings. They say there is a thin line between hate and love. And it is certainly fun to read that threshold of the line breaking.
Sometimes the characters start on the wrong foot or a misunderstanding. This causes them to hold grudges and hate each other for the longest time until they are forced to interact with each other.
It is also fun to read enemies-to-lovers books where the rivalry thrives on a healthy dose of competition between characters. This is why enemies to lovers are also some of the best romance books.
Variety in Enemies to Lover Romance novels
Enemies to lovers romance in books is a specific trope. The excellent part about enemies to lovers books is they are not genre-specific. However, the genre can span multiple themes.
The possibilities of books with enemies to lovers romance are immense. It could be a fantasy book, contemporary literature, historical romance novels and much more. There are also coming of age, young adult reads.
So without much wait, let’s jump into our top picks for the best enemies to lovers books.
Best Enemies to lovers books
1. Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Growing up, the first interaction with the enemies-to-lovers trope has been chiefly through a famous book. In Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the brooding Mr. Darcy is still one of the most iconic fictional characters.
This book is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Zuri Benitez is pride. Her Brooklyn pride. Her family pride. Her Afro-Latino roots shape her pride.
But hell breaks loose when the wealthy Darcy family moves and comes to live as next-door neighbours. They are rich, and the kind of party Zuri doesn’t associate with.
But when her older sister seems to start falling for the older brother. Zuri also finds herself pulled towards the youngest son, the judgmental and arrogant Darius.
2. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Fans of Bridgerton, here is a book that you might like. The most eligible bachelor in town, Anthony Bridgerton, is here. But here is the catch, the bachelor is off the market now. That is right, and he has found the love of his life.
But what happens when his intended’s older sister becomes the thorn in the rose. Or is she the rose herself? Kate Sheffield has one thing determined in life: stop this betrothal. She might be one of the most meddlesome women in London.
But what happens when the groom has increasingly erotic dreams about the other woman?
Anthony is also determined to go over Kate’s antics. But things take a turn when the woman haunting his midnight dreams is none other than Kate.
On the other hand, Kate is also not alright with Anthony suddenly barging into her heart. She’s suddenly afraid, and there is only so much temptation she can resist.
This book has slow-burn romance, yearning and pining over one another. The more wrong the romance seems, the more tension increases, especially when the ones falling in love are not supposed to be.
This is one of the best enemies to lovers’ books you’ll get your hands on.
3. The Cruel Prince Jude by Holly Black
This book gives you the pair of Carden and Jude. It is a historical fiction romance novel set in royalty. There is so much tension between them that even a royal sword would not be able to cut through.
How does Jude meet the Youngest and Wickedest Son, Prince Carden?
The story revolves around Jude, whose parents were murdered when she was 7. On top of it, she and her two sisters were stolen to the treacherous High Court of Faerie.
But unlike the fey, Jude is mortal. And most of the fey despise humans—especially, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King, Prince Carden.
To win the court- she has to win over by defying him. And this sets sail to our lovers’ romance.
4. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
This story brings you a pair of twins, Olive and Ami. One extremely lucky and the other extremely unlucky. An entire wedding party where everyone gets food poisoning. Except for the twin Olive and the best man. Both of them hate each other to the bones.
This is a classic trope of fake dating/fake marriage bought to you—Olive and Ethan, who are sworn enemies, run at the chance of a free vacation. The only catch is they now have to pretend to be newlyweds to embrace this vacation.
And maybe also embrace what is looming secretly in their hearts. And it starts seeming to be that way when Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend anymore. Will sparks fly between these enemies? Read to know.
5. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
Two family’s pho restaurant. Neighbouring pho restaurants. And sworn enemies. A classic recipe of disaster and a perfect bowl of enemies to lovers romance. This is a classic retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Only with a better ending and between Vietnamese pho owners.
Mais and Nguyen have been sworn enemies for years. They share business in the same vicinity, sparking a rivalry. The daughter of the Mai family is the responsible one, that stays for decades.
Doing all for her family and restaurant, having no support in her surroundings, she finds it at the oddest of places from the most unexpected person, the feuding family son, Bao Nguyen.
Bao and Linh know better than to interact with each other. Their parent’s pho restaurant rivalry has shoved any possible friendship between them, let alone romance. Both swerve in the other direction if they ever cross paths.
However, one night, things begin to change. A chance encounter brings Linh closer to Bao.
Can these two teens win their love between feuding families and complicated histories?
6. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
This is one of the best books in the romance genre. Even better as enemies to lovers book. It might be one of the best enemies to lovers’ books set in an office romance. The book situates the office animosity between Lucy and Joshua.
There is constant competition between them to one-up the other. This especially comes to play when an office promotion is up for grabs, a dream job both of them want. But here is the catch, only one of them might be able to get it.
But soon, between their antics and playful hate, they start to realize there might not have been any hate to begin with.
Maybe this game isn’t just another game anymore. The Hating game suddenly turns into all-out emotional warfare. And witty office banter turns suddenly into flirting?
7. Beach Read by Emily Henry
You can not skip out on this book if you’re a romance novels fan. The main characters are a romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in writer’s block.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed literary fiction writer, while January Andrews writes the bestselling romance. While she believes in happily ever after, he is ready to kill off his entire cast.
This book is a complex read than a lighthearted romance. But it is equally interesting to read.
The characters take on a summer writing challenge. Augustus has to write a sappy sugar romance, and January prepares for the next great American novel.
During this challenge, January also takes him on trips that are very rom-com worthy. And obviously, this wouldn’t be a challenge if Augustus doesn’t take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult.
Amidst changed perspectives and romance writing, will they find love as well?
8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
This is the first installment in the series. A New York Times bestseller author writes a ravishing romance. The main characters include the headstrong Juliette Ferrars, who has gripping control over men.
Men who will worship her and bow down to her. With one touch, she can kill all. And nobody knows the secret to such incredible power. She has feared touching anyone since the one time she did. She had been locked up for murder.
The Reestablishment finds Juliette as a gift and intends to use her. But then she finds Warner. Warner is the one person who doesn’t shatter at her touch. He is a ruthless leader, but he falls short in front of Juliette.
And in exchange, Juliette shows him her true power. This one of the best enemies to lovers book is one of its unique read.
9. The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
Set in a Latino background, this is your one-of-a-kind fake dating trope set in an Office Romance. And the main character Aaron Blackford is the kind of guy that will sweep you off your feet.
Office going Catalina or Lina is a hard worker. She has worked her way to the top of her office. But the pain of her past sometimes holds her down. Lina is smart, beautiful and her life is almost normal. Who, for some unsaid reason, hates her. Except for her colleague, Aaron Blackford.
However, when a wedding back home is calling to her. Aaron surprisingly offers to be her plus one for the weekend.
This slow burn and funny book changes the game from enemies to lovers books and lovers romance. Truly one of a kind, Armas powers through in her debut novel.
11. Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey
This is a new age You’ve Got Mail crossover with Morgan Matson. Madeline Moore is set to take over her family’s independent bookstore. A banter-filled, fluffy romantic comedy with a twist.
And nothing was stopping her. Until a chain bookstore called Prologue surfaces out of nowhere right across the street.
The guy across the street, who Madeline is set to demolish, also seems to be ready to ruin her life in return. Jasper is smart and smooth, and if he wasn’t the enemy, probably Madeline’s type.
But for the sake of the story, this is war. And as they say, all is fair in love and especially wars. Because what is an enemy to a lover’s story without war?
12. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Have you ever heard of a Wedding Planner who has been left at the altar? We never thought we’d listen to that as well until Carolina. Despite this blip in her life, she has made it to the top of her career. When given an opportunity by a special client that could be monumental for her career, Carolina agrees in one shot.
Until she realizes she has to work with the best man. Who happens to be none other than her ex-fiance’s brother, Max.
Max might have grit his teeth for a week to win this client. Except he was the one who influenced his brother to run from the altar. And Lina knows how to make payback a bitch.
It almost seems impossible for things to escalate between these two any more than this. But it does, and in a way, both of them would never have expected.
13. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Alex Claremont-Diaz is a silver spoon son, born in the White House. However, his life is a marketing strategy orchestrated by his mother, The President.
However, an old leaked photo of his animosity with this friend Prince Henry of England, proves a blow to American-British Relationships.
A publicity stunt is pulled to show peace and harmony between the two lands—a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. But when hate turns to love. You’ll never know.
14. Fight or Flight by Samantha Young
Ava has enough on her plate. She has to fly back to Arizona to put an old friend underground. As if life wasn’t pulling enough shenanigans on her, a grumpy, arrogant brat steals her first-class plane seat right from under her nose.
When a coincidence puts Ava back on Caleb’s path, they decide to share company. It doesn’t take much and not after much consideration. Ava realizes she’s not that disturbed by Caleb’s presence.
When there is a chance for Caleb’s temporary stay to become permanent, it is Ava’s turn to decide whether she will fight for her feelings or take a flight from it?
15. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
This book is a fresh take on the idea of enemies to lovers trope. Naomi and Nicholas are the perfect couples. Nicholas reminds her that chivalry isn’t dead; they are ideal for each other.
And they are having their dream wedding. Nicholas is part of the upstanding society family that every woman wants to be a part of.
But the catch is neither of them wants to get married. Naomi looks for a way out, and just when she feels the guilt of this just being her.
She realizes this might be the only time Nicholas, and she is on the same page. But the twist comes when whoever cancels the wedding has to pay the non-refundable bills.
In a silly game of tug and war, playful banter and pranks. Naomi and Nicholas finally let go of the crafted personalities of each other. They’ve finally started to feel the love they have been looking for in each other. And maybe, just maybe.
16. Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne
A cynical divorce lawyer and a New York socialite are the last pairings one could think of. But this book brings you the pair of these fun enemies.
Popular party girl Georgianna Watkins is starting to feel the loneliness of her material life. The only source of entertainment her life has is teasing and bickering with her neighbour.
Her uptight neighbour, who happens to be a celebrity divorce lawyer, Andrew Mulroney. Georgiana is the walking image of everything that Andrew resents. Someone born with a silver spoon has been gifted everything in life instead of earning it.
But the one time that paparazzi’s catch a kiss between these two. An accidental kiss sets their story ablaze to a steamy romance.
So, here is a list of stories with various themes, variety, and takes on the popular trope. These are some of the best enemies to lovers’ books out there.
I hope you had a fun time reading this article and have found your next read!