The best enemies-to-lovers books to read right now

Bestselling author Olivie Blake introduces her favourite romance trope, and we recommend some of the books that execute it best.

Olivie Blake is the author of bestselling fantasy series The Atlas Sixand fatalistic new fantasy romance, One for my Enemy. Here, she explains why she can't get enough of the enemies-to-lovers romance trope, followed by our top hate-to-love story arcs to get you hooked, ranked by rancour-level.

Here’s the thing about enemies-to-lovers: the stakes are beautifully, unavoidably high. These are enemies, not rivals – rivals can coexist in the workplace or classroom, but enemies cannot coexist at all without violence. These are two people who, by the very nature of their positions on opposing sides, must destroy either each other or themselves. The very existence of the enemy implies an end for the self, which invokes the natural romanticism of certain doom. You know, like fate, only deadly. 

Tell me that’s not a little sexy, right? Now, I understand, for all its complexity love is ultimately quite simple, and choosing to fall for an enemy must mean accepting that the perspective of the enemy is worthy and/or morally right. Except – and hear me out – it doesn’t. Because what is a love story if not a tale of transformation? What is love if not the kindling of a fire on which a person’s prior selves begin to burn? Of course there will be enemies we shouldn’t fall for because they have reprehensible beliefs, but a well-crafted enemies-to-lovers enemy is not just any monster. They’re the monster who transforms, the beauty living within the beast, which can only be revealed by virtue of collision. If in this particular tropeverse the prospect of doom is sexy, then the inevitability of change is miraculous. It means that because the enemy has met their enemy, they can no longer go on as they were.

The truest thing I can say about my deepest loves is that they have changed me, shaped me, and remade me – and there is nothing like the thrill of a book that shows me just how bright a love like that can burn.

Our suggested reads, in order of vitriol

Worryingly lethal

One For My Enemy

by Olivie Blake

Ruthless crime bosses and a shadow, magical Manhattan, create the perfect setting for this most devastating example of a truly murderous enemies-to-lovers story. The Antonova sisters are beautiful, cunning and ruthless; their mother the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants. Their rivals, the influential Fedorov brothers, serve their crime boss father, whose enterprise dominates the shadows of magical Manhattan. A fraught twelve-year stalemate between the two families breaks, just as internal conflicts could destroy each of them from within, and fate draws two from each family together. Will anyone survive?

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We Hunt the Flame

by Hafsah Faizal

Two reluctant heroes are sent on the same mission by opposing sides. Zafira is the Hunter: forced to disguise herself as a man, she risks everything to provide for her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death: a feared assassin who is forever bound to the command of his father, the sultan. Both have killed before. Will they be forced to kill each other? This high fantasy epic is the first of a duology inspired by ancient Arabia. 

Ancient grudge breaking to new mutiny

These Violent Delights

by Chloe Gong

Book cover for These Violent Delights

Romeo and Juliet meets 1920s Shanghai in this tale of death, betrayal and, of course, romance. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city in chaos. But when a deadly madness strikes gangsters on both sides, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, and a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns aside and try to work together.

A threat to UK/US relations

Red, White & Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

These two hate each other so much they provoke a diplomatic incident. Alex Claremont-Diaz is handsome, charismatic, a genius – pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House ever since his mother first became President of the United States. He has, unfortunately, just been captured in the British tabloids having a fight with Henry, the Prince of Wales. As relations between the two countries falter, the two men are forced into a state-dictated performative truce which requires them to spend a lot of time together. . .

Feels like life or death

She Drives Me Crazy

by Kelly Quindlen

Outside of SFF, it's hard to imagine an environment in which the rivalries are as toxic and all-consuming as in a high school – making it the perfect setting for an enemies-to-lovers romance. Enter Irene. Scottie hates Irene. She's beautiful and mean, and Scottie stays out of her way as much as possible. Until she crashes her car into her. Unhappily, and acerbically, forced to carshare every day to school, Scottie and Irene's hard exteriors start to crack when presented with an opportunity to get back at Scottie's equally hated ex. Somehow now embroiled in an elaborate fake-dating scheme, the two start to share some very real feelings. 

Extreme glowering

The Roughest Draft

by Emily Wibberley

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten book topping bestseller lists. Then they fell out. Massively. And hope never to see each other again. Except, they have one final book due. . . Being forced to work together, and therefore forced to rake through their dislike, isn't easy. But maybe their first go at friendship was just the first draft of a relationship that could be even more.