You Deserve Each Other
In Sarah Hogle’s addictive debut (I inhaled this book during a cross-country trip, increasingly irritated when it was my turn to drive), Nicholas and Naomi are engaged, but the fire in their relationship has clearly dimmed to almost nothing. Neither of them wants to be the one to admit defeat and call off their wedding, so a battle of wits and wills ensues. This fiancés-to-enemies-to-lovers novel is a great twist on the trope, as we watch our couple get to know each other—and fall in love—all over again.
Paris Is Always a Good Idea
Talk about looking for love in all the wrong places! In Jenn McKinley’s novel, Chelsea travels the globe trying to recapture her spark: the person she was when she was young, before losing her mother to cancer stomped that spark out of her. Will she reconnect with one of her old flames, or will she find that she’s no longer the girl they knew? Will she instead find love with her annoying coworker, who has followed her on this around-the-world jaunt, seemingly just to get on her nerves? What do you think?
The Ex Talk
Rachel Lynn Solomon
I tore through Rachel Lynn Solomon’s adult debut, and it’s a delight! The fake dating trope is a tried-and-true pathway to get those enemies to be lovers, but Solomon takes it one step further with fake exes! Shay and Dominic clash as coworkers at a public radio station until they end up hosting a show together where they pretend to be exes. It’s full of banter, public radio nerdiness, and a very badly behaved dog that all but steals the show. This is already one of my favorite books of 2021, and I bet it’ll be one of yours too.
Ayesha at Last
Pride and Prejudice is the prototype for many an enemies-to-lovers story and serves as the inspiration for this novel by Uzma Jalaluddin. This modern-day romantic comedy puts a Muslim spin on the classic Austen novel’s tropes, with a progressive, modern heroine and a stuffy, conservative hero. They both struggle to remain true to themselves as well as their faith. Two people who seem like they’d never work out… until they do. Delicious!
The Wedding Party
Maddie and Theo can’t stand each other, but they both love their friend, Alexa. In this follow-up to Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date and The Proposal, these two enemies find themselves thrown together more and more as Alexa plans her wedding, and that can’t-stand-each-other tension boils over into a completely different kind of tension. The kind that involves kissing, which I will argue is my favorite kind! They decide to keep what’s happening between them both temporary—ending once the wedding is over—and a secret. I think we all know how successful they’ll be at both of those things, and how much fun it will be to read!
Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?
The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?
Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.
When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.
Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.
Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.
Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire—a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.
As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again…something that doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans–and open her heart–for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.
The enemies-to-lovers trope is my jam. Is there anything more delicious than watching two people dance back and forth over that line between love and hate? That moment of “you annoy me so much oh no suddenly we’re kissing” is one of my favorite things to read—and write. It’s one of the reasons that my debut, Well Met, is an enemies-to-lovers story: Emily and Simon get off on the wrong foot and everything they say to each other makes it worse… until the moment he reaches for her and she realizes to her horror that he’s kissing her and that there’s nothing she wants more. We can literally see the hate turn to love.
Here are some great hate-to-love romance books that feature those divine enemies-to-lovers plotlines if you want to experience that dance between love and hate over and over.
Featured Image: @mrspade85/Twenty20