We love it when a couple turns from vengeful enemies to caring lovers, because why not kiss and make up? There is nothing more entertaining than watching two people who completely hate each other realize that deep down their boiling hatred was actually sizzling passion. Prejudices are shattered, secrets are uncovered, and connections are strengthened as love conquers everything. After all, it has been proven that hate and love share the same physiological response, and many of us know first-hand that often when someone drives us completely nuts, it's only because we hate how vulnerable they make us feel. For fans of this titillating trope, these seven enemies to lovers books below feature some of the juiciest examples of hate turning into heat.
The Hating Game
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman totally and completely hate each other. As executive assistants to the co-CEOs of a publishing company, Lucy and Joshua are forced to share a cubicle space. Which would be fine...if they got along. Instead, the competitive pair resort to needling each other with antics like their "HR Game," in which each threatens to report the other to HR for minor infractions. Lucy can’t stand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, and meticulous nature. Meanwhile, Joshua is annoyed by Lucy’s overly-bright clothes, quirkiness, and excessive happiness. When the possibility of a promotion for one of them arises, Lucy and Joshua’s battles become all-out war. Neither one of them is willing to back down, causing a rise in tension… and some other surprising feelings. Maybe it’s not hate after all? Or maybe their surprising feelings for each other are just another game?
The childish, immature, and ridiculous way Lucy and Joshua spend their day is sure to give you some good laughs. This romance has it all: hilarious banter, crackling tension, tenderness, and passion! Joshua evolves from the nuisance that you just want to get rid of, to a dreamy, sexy, kind guy that is swoon-worthy. Even though he is pretty hard on Lucy in the beginning, he never crosses the line and—in his defense—Lucy is constantly provoking him. Most of the time they equally give and take in their competitive games. But when things begin to change between the antagonistic pair, it reveals how thin a line there really is between love and hate. You'll be aching to see these two blur the line and transform their pent-up aggression into heat.
This high-stakes romance features enemies on either side of a historic battle. As King James IV of Scotland sets out to vanquish English enemies, his trusty soldier Lachlan Maclean is prepared to fight by his side for his country. However, Lachlan quickly finds himself in a disastrous battle, with many casualties on both sides. With no recollection of who he is, Lachlan awakens to find himself being nursed by Kimbra Charlton. Little does he know that she is his sworn enemy: Kimbra's husband was viciously killed by a Scotsman. When she stumbles on the wounded Lachlan, Kimbra recognizes the Scottish armor and helmet of her enemy, but can’t find it in herself to abandon him. As Lachlan’s health improves, the pair must hide his true identity. And as they spend more time together, passion ignites, leading the enemies into uncharted territory.
As the novel takes us back to the wars between England and Scotland, it transports us to a time when loyalty was emphasized and brutally exercised in the combat between rival clans. Loyalty to the nation meant defending the kingdom in combat, and willingness to kill. Potter uses the turbulent historical times as a backdrop for the blossoming love between Kimbra and Lachlan. This brutal context heightens the stakes, and strengthens Kimbra and Lachlan's bond once they decide to go against all they know. Despite boundaries, culture, and longstanding loyalties, love is able to peek through the cracks. This epic story of love and sacrifice will have you rooting for enemies from across the battlefield to find love in a hopeless place.
If you love the magical world of Harry Potter, this book is like that...but not. In the author’s note, Rowell states that the novel is meant as her own version of the “chosen one”. Rowell's unforgettable worlds feature distinct and diverse characters, such as Simon and Baz. Simon, Baz, and their friends attend Watford, a magical school in England, where they must learn how to work their magic properly. There, Simon must also defeat the evil force Insidious Humdrum, who has been wreaking havoc on the World of Mages for years by creating magical “dead spots” where magic no longer exists. As the “Chosen One,” Simon fights off evil, but his life is otherwise a mess. And to top everything off, his roommate Baz is completely evil.
If you love shipping couples, these two will quickly make your list. Rowell does a great job with the relationship between Baz and Simon, so be warned that you will find yourself squealing and smiling from ear to ear while reading. At first, Baz comes off as a condescending snob. But with time, Simon—and readers—fall head over heels for this immaculate, flawless, well-mannered, and mysterious man. We get the appeal and soon we find ourselves swaying to their keep-your-enemies-close dance. Baz and Simon are at total opposites, which only makes their romance all the more fascinating. You'll love the building-up of passion—masked as hate—until the dam breaks with the first, unforgettable kiss that Simon and Baz share.
Pride and Prejudice
This classic novel made us want to find our own Mr. Darcy—one to hate and love. Elizabeth and Darcy meet for the first time at a ball, but their initial introduction is anything but romantic. Darcy declines to dance with Elizabeth because she is not pretty enough; Elizabeth takes this lightly and jokes about it with her friends. She is well aware of Darcy’s reputed wealth, but his haughty and aloof attitude is enough for Elizabeth to maintain her distance. However, this won’t be the last time they see each other: the pair meet again soon after, and Elizabeth stands defiantly against the prideful Darcy. What follows is a barb-filled courtship between two wildly smart individuals who are terrified to admit their true feelings for each other.
Darcy and Elizabeth initially resist each other in part because of the restrictions and pressures of society. After all, there is no reason for either one of them to get caught up in their emotions or attraction for one another if they are only allowed to meet someone who is in their same social class. Darcy’s moody and arrogant exchanges aren’t due to his pride, but to his distaste of the society that has shaped him and its values. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s social standing has caused her to perceive people of higher ranking as incapable of sharing her own sensibilities. Because of these social pressures, when Darcy and Elizabeth finally give in to their feelings, the release is truly delicious and freeing. Their false perceptions of each other slowly vanish: Elizabeth’s prejudice deteriorates as she sees through Darcy’s false pride, and Darcy ignores his relatives’ warnings and accepts his attraction to Elizabeth. Austen provides her own critique of the society of her era by advocating for social mobility and real love.
The Wrath and the Dawn
What really makes someone your enemy? Is it because you don’t get along, or because that person is absolutely annoying? Sometimes it’s someone who seems incapable of treating others nicely. Shahrzad considers Khalid, Caliph of Khorasan, her enemy. Why? Khalid married Shahrzad’s best friend, only to have her beheaded before sunrise. That seems like a good enough reason in our book! Now Shahrzad has vowed to exact her revenge for killing her best friend. She is determined to stay alive and completely terminate the caliph’s terrorizing reign forever. Shahrzad enchants Khalid through charming storytelling, and it’s through the stories that Shahrzad is able to survive each dawn. As they begin to spend more time together, something unexpected occurs: Shahrzad uncovers a tormented heart in the monstrous Khalid. Soon Shahrzad realizes there’s another problem...she has begun to fall in love with Khalid. The palace of marble and stone houses betrayal, secrets, stories, and love.Will Shahrzad find retribution there? Or will she be sentenced to a life of damnation?
The dynamic between Shahrzad and Khalid is interesting, and unlike any of the characters from the previous books on the list. Ahdieh does a flawless job of using the trope to drive the story and simultaneously draw the reader in. By adding Khalid’s callous act, the reader is left wondering how a possible romance can bloom between a murder and a vigilante. Ahdieh produces intrigue as the reluctant characters begin to develop a relationship. In the end, the pair realizes that there's more to each other than meets the eye, and they can no longer deny their feelings for each other...but their love won't be easy. Between Shahrzad’s fierceness, Khalid’s tragedy, and life-threatening secrets, this is not your average fairy tale.
Lady of the Glen
This fictional recount of the Massacre of Glencoe follows Catriona Campbell, an awkward and uncomely girl raised by her drunken father. When she meets Alasdair Og MacDonald and he shows her more kindness than anyone ever has, Catriona falls for him, despite the fact he's from an enemy clan.
Alasdair shows young Catriona kindness in a harsh and violent world. Their story spans over 10 years, but their love only strengthens over time, even as the world around them falls apart. Dutch King William conspires against the Scottish rebels, who seek to return the exiled James to the throne. Catriona and Alasdair are soon caught up in this devastating war.
The obstacles that are placed between Catriona and Alasdair make their romance particularly compelling. Because of the setting, their separation is understandable — both are expected to favor and defend their family name, despite their own sentiments. Catriona and Alasdair really have the odds stacked against them, so when they share moments together it is all worthwhile, and all the more moving for us readers.
Dating You/Hating You
Busy L.A. agents Evie and Carter are set up at a Halloween party. Although both embarrassed by the arrangement, they hit it off, and tentatively decide to begin a relationship. Then the merger happens. When their firms merge, the pair are pitted against each other for the same position. It is here that they find themselves in a difficult position, attempting to reconcile their romantic feelings with problems in their work life. What could have been a blossoming romance turns instead into an all-out war of sabotage. Add a pompous boss who stokes the competitive fires and perpetuates a sexist environment, and Carter and Evie are left to raise their hackles and prepare to outdo their opponent. In the end, will Evie and Carter be able to put their differences aside in order to get their Hollywood ending, or will they find themselves in a war movie instead?
This a great choice for fans of The Hating Game, as both delightful books follow an office romance. The relationship between Evie and Carter will be relatable for those who have to tackle the hardships of modern love. As millennials, we are desperately trying to take the reigns of our lives with determination and ambition. However, it all seems to be one big ol’ mess—just look at Evie and Carter. The pair are forced to decide between two integral parts of being a human: love or work? No matter how hard we try, our generation can’t have it all, and we can barely balance different aspects of our lives. It’s nice to see the progression of Evie and Carter’s relationship shift from the other couples in this list; instead of going from enemies to lovers, Evie and Carter went from dating, to enemies, to...you'll just have to read it to find out. Like life, their romance doesn't follow a neat linear progression, because sometimes you find things where you least expect them.
This post is sponsored by Open Road Media. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for A Love So True to continue publishing the romantic stories you love.
Featured photo: Frank McKenna / Unsplash