24 Best Enemies-to-Lovers Books for Romance Readers of All Types
Pick up these enemies-to-lovers books when you're looking for a delicious love story filled with sizzling romantic tension
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Love to hate you
They hate each other. They love each other. They want to throttle each other … and make out? The best enemies-to-lovers books provide intrinsic tension within the interactions between the main characters, and readers can’t get enough. The trope (and its close associate, rivals to lovers) gives readers plenty of time to spend with the characters during the slow burn of a romance. And it sets up countless situations in which a nemesis can evolve into a strong and healthy partner.
Enemies-to-lovers books have been thrilling audiences for centuries, from Benedick and Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s classic tale Pride and Prejudice. Even the steamy second season of Bridgerton (based on Julia Quinn’s romance novel series) featured a hate-to-love romance between Kate and Anthony.
Need somewhere to start? We’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up dozens of books that provide maximum tension between lovers who begin as enemies. From books that have been or will be adapted for film to popular TikTok reads (it’s not just Colleen Hoover books over there!) to some of the most-anticipated books of the year, these are the best books featuring an enemies-to-lovers romance.
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1. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Mia Sosa’s 2020 title, The Worst Best Man, is a popular beach read, and for good reason. It’s pure delight. Wedding planner Lina is on the verge of landing a huge new hotel client, but to get the gig, she’ll need to work with the younger brother of the man who left her at the altar. Max is a marketing expert who’s joined forces with Lina despite her animosity toward him. (Not that she doesn’t have her reasons—after all, he was the one who told his brother to leave the relationship.) As the two begin to work together, new feelings emerge. But they’ll have to work through Lina’s refusal to open herself up again and Max’s desire to stay far out of his brother’s shadow.
2. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Sarah Hogle’s hilarious novel may have landed in 2020 just as the world was shutting down, but this slice of joy continues to provide new readers with a spectacular romance to root for. Occupying the somewhat rare position of a romance novel in which the protagonists are already together, You Deserve Each Other follows Naomi and Nicholas, a couple perching on the edge of an engagement collapse—as long as the other ends it first. After all, the one who calls it quits has to foot the bill for the wedding. As the two duke it out, trying to make the other as miserable as possible, their facades slip, and they finally get to know each other as they truly are.
3. Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Fans of reimagined classics might want to get their hands on one of the best fiction books of 2022, this TikTok favorite by Nisha Sharma. Dating Dr. Dil, a take on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, follows Kareena, who’s just learned that her father is selling their home (and has been ditched by a date to boot). She’s doing her best to get engaged in a bid to convince her father to gift her the house. In her way is a public argument she had with a TV doctor, Prem Varna, aka the man who abandoned her on their date. But he’s in search of funding for a community center, and Kareena’s aunties are the meddling type who think he’d be good with her … despite their opposing opinions on love.
4. The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
In addition to being a huge name in the romance world, Jasmine Guillory is the author of not one but two of the best enemies-to-lovers books ever written. So once you’ve finished the feel-good book that is The Wedding Date, scoop up the 2019 follow-up, The Wedding Party. The only thing that Maddie and Theo have in common—other than their dislike for each other—is their adoration of mutual best friend and soon-to-be bride Alexa. With the wedding fast approaching, and a mistaken but feeling-provoking kiss between them, they’re forced to spend more time with each other than ever. And well, let’s just say it leads to them sneaking off when no one is looking.
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It’s hard to imagine a world in which this absolute classic did not exist, and luckily, we don’t have to. Elizabeth Bennet is one of five daughters to a mother eager to find them matches. But the arrival of Mr. Darcy is less than welcome to Elizabeth, who quickly finds herself with a sour impression of the man. It’ll take time and evolution to change her mind about him. There is a reason the story of this 1813 couple has stood the test of time: It’s hands-down one of the best enemies-to-lovers books ever written and the inspiration for many a modern retelling. And don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a book for women; Pride and Prejudice is worth a read by everyone.
6. The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel
Biochemical engineer Liya is happily single, so when she realizes the dinner party her parents have invited her to is actually a setup to meet Jay, a man they’d love for her to marry, she immediately leaves. She’s certainly not expecting him to be the new lawyer hired to save her company, and he’s none too happy about seeing her after her disappearing act. Soon, late-night banter turns into something a little more romantic. Pick up this 2020 release next time you stop into a bookstore, along with these other great reads by Asian American authors.
7. The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite
Tired of male-female rivalries and ready for a same-sex pairing? Go with Olivia Waite’s The Hellion’s Waltz. Sophie’s family is restarting in Carrisford, England, after losing their London piano shop to a con man. But since the swindle, she’s extra suspicious—and certain something is up with Madeline Crew. Silk weaver Madeline is seeking one big heist to fund the weavers’ union, but that’ll be hard to do with Sophie sticking her nose into Madeline’s operations. The only option is for Maddie to seduce Sophie and convince her to support the heist, despite Sophie’s misgivings. Plenty of LGBTQ+ books with stellar romances await you, and this 2021 release is just one of them.
8. Wild Sweet Love by Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins is the queen of romantic historical fiction books, and this slow-burn novel from 2007 is just one example of why. Teresa is working as a cook for an elite Philadelphia family, leaving her train-robbing days in the past. Madison, her boss’s stuck-up son, is determined to keep a close eye on her—after all, he’s seen too many women take advantage of his mother’s generosity. That’s absolutely the only reason he can’t stop thinking about her. The fact that she’s always on his mind certainly doesn’t mean he likes her.
9. Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson
Here’s another pick for classics fans, this time for those who want the drama of Romeo and Juliet with much less tragedy. Ramón and Julieta are heirs to a family feud, brought about by a stolen taco recipe. After an unexpected (and anonymous) kiss on Dia de los Muertos, the two realize that he’s the new landlord of Julieta’s taqueria. A 2022 release from Latina author Alana Quintana Albertson, Ramón and Julieta is a great pick not only for Hispanic Heritage Month but all year long.
10. Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale
Kavya’s summer isn’t going according to plan: She and her boyfriend broke up (in front of her nemesis, no less!), and her party princess job cast her as Ariel instead of her beloved Belle. Plus, the guy playing Eric is none other than her sworn enemy, aka Ian. This 2022 YA rom-com is a charming and heartfelt teen read that combines a dose of rivalry with a romance that’ll make any day brighter.
11. A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera
Adriana Herrera’s 2022 historical romance, A Caribbean Heiress in Paris, debuted to acclaim from critics and readers alike. Then again, what’s not to love about a woman of color making her mark as an entrepreneur, a marriage of convenience and an international setting that comes alive? Luz has traveled from Santo Domingo to Paris, one of many merchants at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. She’s there to expand her family’s rum business, though trying to convince people to do business with a woman of color is tougher than she anticipated. James Sinclair, Earl of Darnick, has a passion for his whiskey brand, and he seems willing to help her. But her rule upon coming to Paris was to avoid falling in love.
12. A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
A Duke by Default, Alyssa Cole’s 2018 entry into her Reluctant Royals series is a perfect pick for fans of Outlander looking for a more modern Scottish hero to fall for. Here’s the gist: Portia is leaving New York City behind in favor of Scotland, where she has an internship with a sword maker. But Tavish isn’t interested in having an American socialite tell him how to run his own armory, especially considering how aggravating she is. And when she discovers he’s the secret son of a duke, she makes it her mission to smooth out his rough edges. The two clash like finely sharpened swords. When you’re done, check out these other great books by Black authors.
13. The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holton
In her 2022 novel, India Holton blends historical romance with the best parts of fantasy fiction to craft a wonderfully magical story. The League of Gentlewomen Witches follows a witch and a pirate with smoldering chemistry and pickpocket hands. Charlotte is part of the League of Gentlewomen Witches, a secret organization of women who use magic to make the world prim and proper. Alex is a decidedly disrespectable pirate, searching for the lost (and recently found) amulet of Black Beryl. Despite their clashing views, they decide to team up and steal the amulet before anyone else can.
14. After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez
Among the year’s plethora of incredible Latinx romance offerings is the family-centric gem that is After Hours on Milagro Street. Alejandra Torres is working to turn her grandmother’s bar into a thriving business. Unfortunately, Jeremiah Post, a professor whose apartment shares a wall with Alex’s, is standing in her way. He’s got the adoration of her lively family, and he’s concerned that Alex’s plan is not in their best interest. But an outside threat to the bar will bring the two together—and maybe give rise to new emotions for both.
15. TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo
Self-love takes center stage in this 2022 YA romance. TJ Powar is letting herself be hairy. After a meme circulates that makes fun of her Sikh cousin Simram, who doesn’t remove her body hair, TJ decides to do the same to prove a point. But as she begins to doubt her resolve, she discovers that one of the only people who seems to want to prove her right is a frustratingly annoying boy from a rival debate team. Want more page-turners? These summer reads are great all year long.
16. The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker
Lucy Parker has been a fan favorite for a while now, and 2019’s The Austen Playbook, inspired by none other than Jane Austen, is one of the best enemies-to-lovers books out there. Actress Freddy is taking part in a live TV event called the Austen Playbook, in which viewers are able to choose how each scene turns out. But the critic who seems to have it out for her performances, Griff, is now in charge of the estate where filming is taking place, and neither can fully concentrate while the other is lurking about.
17. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
This 2017 series starter from acclaimed author Alisha Rai is a steamy enemies-to-lovers read. Livvy and Nicholas are from two rival families and had an arrangement to spend one night each year together. That is, until the night she didn’t show. Now she’s back in town, and Nicholas is trying to concentrate on the empire he’s running. But neither can quite forget the pleasure the other provided … or the past. Find more greats by browsing this list of Kindle Unlimited books. If you subscribe to the service, you can read them all for free!
18. You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith
Want a guaranteed sweet romance? Pick up Eric Smith’s You Can Go Your Own Way, which centers on two rivals forced to spend time together. The last place Adam and Whitney want to be is trapped in Adam’s late father’s pinball arcade during a huge snowstorm. But alas, that’s where they’ve found themselves. Adam is stressing over the tech mogul who hopes to turn the arcade into a gaming cafe. Whitney, the daughter of said tech mogul, is running social media for the gaming cafes and publicly trading barbs with the arcade’s social media accounts—and Adam. But when they’re confronted with a night alone, each begins to thaw toward the other.
19. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Considering the mess that was 2020, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the release of some seriously great novels, like Adiba Jaigirdar’s The Henna Wars, which follows two teens with rival henna businesses. Nishat’s childhood friend, Flávia, has come back into her life, but she lands on Nishat’s bad side after entering a school competition with a henna business to rival Nishat’s. While reckoning with Flávia’s cultural appropriation, Nishat is dealing with her growing feelings for her old pal and working through family issues surrounding her own sexuality.
20. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
This bestselling trilogy opener, published in 2018, is one of the best enemies-to-lovers books in the fantasy book genre. Jude has lived in the High Court of Faerie for a decade, ever since she and her sister were stolen away. Desperate for a place among the human-despising fae, she does her best to worm her way into court—and into the orbit of Prince Cardan, the youngest son of the High King—in the midst of a fae court civil war. Filled with political maneuvering, this book is for you if you like your characters to truly act like enemies before they fall in love.
21. West Side Love Story by Priscilla Oliveras
The Battle of the Mariachi Bands is coming up in San Antonio, and two houses are competing for the prize. Mariana Capuleta and her sisters are hoping to win and help with the financial strain on their parents. But Mariana’s deep attraction to Angelo Montero, son of her father’s arch nemesis, makes competing against the Montero clan extra complicated. And Angelo knows well enough that Mariana is off limits, but all he wants is to pursue her. This 2022 romance is a must-read for fans of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story.
22. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
With a movie adaptation in the works, now is the time to read (or reread) this bestselling 2019 novel. Red, White & Royal Blue pairs the son of the U.S. president with the prince of England for one of the best enemies-to-lovers books in recent years. After an altercation between Alex and Prince Henry goes viral, the White House and palace concoct a plan to mend the rift between the two, at least publicly. But the fake friendship spirals into a secret romance that could make waves on both sides of the Atlantic if it got out.
23. Hold Me by Courtney Milan
A 2016 release from a romance favorite, Hold Me has the double pleasure of being both one of the best enemies-to-lovers books and a secret-identity romance. Maria is an anonymous blogger, whose apocalypse blog is verging more and more into the mainstream consciousness. She’s been interacting with a commenter for 18 months and slowly falling for him. Unknown to her, that commenter is Jay, who works in a lab and is friends with Maria’s brother. And in real life? The two hate each other.
24. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
You may recognize this 2016 title from the recent film adaptation starring Lucy Hale, but enemies-to-lovers aficionados are probably more familiar with the way the book ushered in a new wave of hate-to-love romances. A modern classic of the romance genre, The Hating Game transports readers to an office building where the annoying co-worker happens to be super hot. Lucy and Joshua are the executive assistants at a publishing company, working for the joint CEOs. They absolutely despise each other, especially since they’re now both up for the same promotion. But the battle between the two isn’t the only thing heating up.
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