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13 enemies-to-lovers romance books that have everyone talking

Paige Allen|2024.05.23

We all have a person that just…bothers us. They’re annoying, frustrating, and sometimes rude. Or maybe they’re perfectly nice and that makes us even MORE annoyed because we can’t figure out why we don’t like them. Then suddenly everything changes. And mayyyyybe that sworn enemy isn’t that bad after all.

Enemies-to-lovers books serve up all the laughs, steam, and emotions we’ve come to love from romance books with a hefty serving of tension, annoyance, angst, irritation, and chemistry. These characters have found one of life’s rarest gifts—true love!—and they’re ANNOYED by it because WHY did it have to be THIS person??

The enemies-to-lovers trope brings a “who did this to you?” energy—they can pick on you and rile you up but no one else can—that’s irresistible. There’s just something poetic and hopeful about the idea that your greatest nemesis can become your greatest ally and protector at the drop of a hat.

The joy is in the journey, not the destination, so grab your popcorn and prepare to witness the sparks fly with 13 of the best enemies-to-lovers romance stories packed with love, hate, and everything in between.

1. “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston

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Alex is the first son of the president of the United States and Henry is the prince of England. The story picks up a few years after Alex and Henry’s first chilly meeting and things haven’t gotten any friendlier between them.

Things come to a head at Henry’s brother’s wedding, when a misunderstanding sends Alex and Henry to the floor covered in wedding cake. To help smooth things over, the pair are forced to go on a press tour to show the world that they’re actually friends, and they develop a tentative friendship.

Told from Alex’s POV, we get a front row seat as he figures out his sexuality and whether love is worth risking it all. It’s sweet, it’s funny, and I’m obsessed with how much these two love each other. And while, in my opinion, books are always better than the movie, this adaptation on Amazon Prime is phenomenal. Plus, there’s a movie sequel coming!

2. “Beach Read” by Emily Henry

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In college, January and Gus were rivals. But that was a while ago, and she hasn’t thought about him since. Well…not that much. Only when she sees his books on the shelves of bookstores everywhere while hers aren’t taken as seriously since they’re romance (cue eye roll—ROMANCE IS SERIOUS!).

January is on deadline to deliver another happy beach read rom com love story but she’s struggling with losing her dad AND coming to terms that her dad was having an affair. She goes to the lake house he owned (and she didn’t know about) to try to process everything.

Her next door neighbor? None other than broody, infuriating Gus. Like, she’s trying to GRIEVE and here is her RIVAL. Can she not get a moment of peace? They sort of bury the hatchet but forever the rivals, they challenge one another to a writing competition. As they spend more time together, we learn bits about each of their pasts, the times their paths crossed in college, and what they’ve been up to since. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s steamy—it’s a perfect beach read.

3. “The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas

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Lina is in a bit of a predicament: She’s supposed to be traveling from New York to her sister’s wedding in Spain with her American boyfriend in a few weeks. The only problem? The “American boyfriend” was a little white lie that spiraled out of control. Now she has to find a date or risk being embarrassed in front of friends and family.

Enter Aaron Blackford, coworker and workplace nemesis who she’s had bad blood with since her first day. Aaron overhears Lina’s plight and offers to be her date, allowing her to save face with her family. It’s got fake dating, family drama, and stolen glances. You might have trouble putting this down—I stayed up until 3 a.m. reading this and had zero regrets.*

  • OK, I did have regrets but only because I can’t bounce back from a sleepless night like I did in college! Learn from my mistakes and read this one at a reasonable hour OR make sure you have an XL coffee on hand.

4. “Wings of Winter” by Dipsea

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A 13-part high fantasy romance with faeries? Sign me up! Fantasy books and romantasy are having a MOMENT (seriously, bookstores in my city opened up for a midnight release for Iron Flame!). “Wings of Winter” centers around Rowan, a fae, who feels a magnetic, captivating, protective pull to you (yes, the story is told like you are the main character!) and he’s so annoyed about it. You’re dismissive and aren’t intimidated by him and he’s annoyed about that, too.

It reminded me a lot of Edward and Bella from Twilight and how annoyed he was that he felt such a pull to her. So if a tortured immortal reluctantly falling in love with a human, all while fighting in a Hunger Games-esque battle, sounds like something you might like, then you’re in for a treat with Wings of Winter. In this spicy audiobook, each part is about 20 minutes and let me tell you, it’s impossible to stop after just one!

Check out the behind the scenes of how we made “Wings of Winter!”

5. “Brutal Prince” by Sophie Lark

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Coming from rival mafia families, Callum and Aida aren’t just enemies, they are ENEMIES. If the rivalry between their families wasn’t bad enough already, Aida makes things worse by setting a fire (it was small!) while crashing a party at Callum’s family home.

Their families decide that the only way to stop a full-on crime war that would crush them all is to join forces. And what better way to marry their families than through the arranged marriage of Callum and Aida?

Neither one is pleased and they are each hellbent on driving each other crazy. But if there’s one thing they didn’t count on, it’s how quickly their warfare turns into a game they both love. It’s got some dark moments and a serious plotline but it’s also not as dark as some romances can get, making it a great entry-level mafia romance or dark romance novel.

6. “Reckless” by Elsie Silver

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Winter is a true ice queen. I mean, her name is literally Winter. Theo is a bull rider who rattles her—and she never gets rattled.

This might be the slow burn to end all slow burns, where the story fades to black in the beginning and then uses flashbacks to tell the story of their first fateful night together. There’s so much tension, emotion, growth, and healing that you’re rooting for literally everybody at the end: a perfectly executed enemies-to-lovers story.

7. “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne

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What’s not to like about this book?? Lucy works in publishing (as book lovers, it’s so fun to dive into the book world in books!) and used to have her dream job until a stupid merger left her stuck working with Josh, who is sterile, uptight, and curt.

She’s about to like him even less, because they’re competing for the same job and she refuses to lose to him. But as they spend more time together, she starts to see Josh might be a human underneath all that icy indifference.

This book has competition, workplace drama, family drama, angst, a splash of fake dating, steam, and moments that make you want to kick your feet screaming, “eeeeeeeeek.” It’s joy in book form. Run, don’t walk.

8. “Love on the Brain” by Ali Hazelwood

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Bea and Levi have had beef (well, Impossible Beef, since Bea is vegan) since grad school but she hopes they can bury the hatchet as they team up for a dream project at NASA. But things in Houston aren’t all sunshine and roses, because Levi is as adversarial as ever. He even takes the only vegan donut!! Who even does that!!!

Ali Hazelwood is the queen of writing women in STEM and the men they hate to love. This book is no exception. It’s funny, silly, and will have you swooning (and wondering if your work rival is actually the love of your life).

9. “The Fake Out” by Stephanie Archer

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Hazel’s a physical therapist for a professional hockey team. Rory’s the NHL badboy who just got traded to the team. Hazel was Rory’s tutor in high school, so they already have awkward and antagonistic feelings when PLOT TWIST, Hazel’s icky high school ex-boyfriend gets traded to the team (side note—how do so many people from one high school land on the same professional hockey team?).

Hazel fakes being in a relationship with Rory to make the ex jealous and she learns that underneath his tough-guy exterior, he’s got a heart of gold. If you’re a fan of Nathan and Haley from One Tree Hill and Taylor Swift’s “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can),” then this book recommendation is a must-read.

10. “You, with a View” by Jessica Joyce

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Noelle is down on her luck and living at home (look, we’ve all done it, there’s no shame there!) after a layoff. She took all the right steps and STILL ended up jobless, dejected, wondering how she can feel sad about losing a job she didn’t even like to begin with, and panicking. She’s also grieving the loss of her grandmother, who was her closest confidant. Safe to say, our girl is in crisis.

Noelle learns her grandmother had a fiancé Noelle knew nothing about. After finding a photograph and love letter from her grandmother to a former fiancé, Noelle makes a TikTok in search of her gran’s mystery man. She finds him (yay!) but also finds herself face-to-face with Theo, her high school nemesis…and mystery man’s grandson. He has an incredibly flourishing life that she’s not at all jealous of!

The unlikely trio embark on a road trip, leading to lots of tension and sparring between Noelle and Theo. This is a textbook rivals-to-lovers story that’s funny, witty, spicy, sad, and heartbreakingly beautiful.

11. “Things We Left Behind” by Lucy Score

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Don’t let the flowers on the cover fool you: This book has some serious drama. Sloane and Lucian were close in high school, then Something happened and they’ve hated each other ever since.

Sloane is the human equivalent of sunshine and Lucian is…well, Sloane calls him Lucifer, so naturally these two get along like oil and water. Can they go back to the friendship they used to have or are they destined to hate each other for all time?

If you like small town, dramatic, second chance, grumpy/sunshine, steamy stories with a side of criminal drama, then this one’s for you. This book is the third in the “Knockemout” series that all takes place in the same small town, but it can be read on its own. You could also check out “Things We Never Got Over” and “Things We Hide from the Light” first if you want to fully immerse yourself in the town of Knockemout.

12. “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren

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Olive’s the maid of honor, Ethan’s the best man and they Do Not get along. A tale as old as time! In a cruel twist of fate (or more accurately, a cruel case of food poisoning that spares only them) they have to go on the honeymoon together as stand-ins for the happy couple. Not ideal, but putting up with Ethan is worth it for a free trip to Hawaii, right? Wrong!

Olive and Ethan immediately run into Olive’s new boss. Desperate to start her new job off on the right foot, she convinces Ethan, her sworn nemesis, to pretend to be her doting new husband. To her shock, he agrees. Let the games begin!

13. “Twisted Hate” by Ana Huang

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Josh and Jules have been at each other’s throats from the moment they met. He’s her best friend’s brother. They’re both smart, competitive, and driven. On paper, they should be friends but to each other, they’re public enemy number one.

After one night together that they definitely didn’t hate, they decide to be friends enemies with benefits. How could this go wrong?

This book is interconnected with the others in the series, but it’s a standalone story. “Twisted Hate” (and the whole “Twisted” series) flirts with some of the elements of dark romance without being too dark and scary.

If you liked these book recs, check out more spicy enemies-to-lovers audiobooks on the Dipsea app.

Enemies to Lovers

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