The “enemies to lovers” trope is one of the most popular romance tropes out there. Similar tropes that fall under this umbrella are “rivals to lovers.” The two characters start with hating each other for some reason and then end up falling in love with one another. You’ll find a lot of “UST” or “unresolved sexual tension” on top of their constant bickering, making for an amusing and engaging story.
There are times when the dislike for each other goes back to an incident in the past or takes place during the book. Whatever it is, the two main characters find themselves being thrust together for some reason, and they start changing their relationship from enemies to lovers.
One of the more popular pairings to fall under this enemies-to-lovers trope is Buffy and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Rey and Kylo Ren. Both halves of these pairings start as enemies, eventually being forced together for some reason.
If you like reading stories focusing on a pair that can’t stand each other but slowly start to fall in love, then this article features some of the best enemies-to-lovers books out there you can read this year!
Best Enemies to Lovers Books in 2023
1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Meet Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, and they are not fans of each other. They are coworkers who serve as executive assistants to the two CEOs of the publishing company they work at. The two of them have hated each other since the moment they met.
Lucy thinks Joshua is too much of a stick-in-the-mud who wouldn’t know fun if it bit him in the butt. On the other hand, Joshua thinks Lucy is much too bubbly and finds her cheeriness annoying.
When the two of them end up going for the same promotion, their dislike of each other intensifies. Neither of them is going to back down, of course. However, sometimes such intense hatred can hide a person’s true feelings. Could Lucy and Joshua fall into this category?
2. The Risk by Elle Kennedy
The daughter of a college hockey coach has noticed Jake Connelly, who is from Harvard. He’s a very attractive guy, but with him being the star of a rival hockey team, there is no way she can so much as look in his direction. Her father, college, and friends would see it as a betrayal of what their college Briar stands for.
Things change when the young woman realizes she needs Jake’s help to get an internship that could be the start of a fantastic career. The help she needs involves Jake being her fake boyfriend, but he wants real dates rather than fake ones.
The more time they spend together, the more difficult it becomes to resist Jake’s annoying charms. She doesn’t know how much longer she can resist them.
3. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
This is a good choice if you want to read the best enemies to lovers books. Twins Olive and Ami couldn’t be more different. While Ami is very lucky, Olive isn’t blessed with it. She has been unlucky in every aspect of her life. When her sister announces she is getting married to her now fiancé, Olive is resigned to the fact that she will never find anyone and will die alone.
It gets worse when Olive realizes her sworn enemy is the best man of her sister’s fiancé. She is determined to make the best of it, but then the entire wedding party gets food poisoning. Olive and Ethan are the only two who don’t end up sick because they didn’t eat the food.
Eventually, they decide to take advantage of an all-expenses-paid honeymoon to Hawaii. Someone might as well take advantage of the trip! However, when she runs into her future boss, Olive gives the impression that she and Ethan are married. Thus begins Olive’s fake newlywed life.
4. From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
Jasmine Santos has been competing in Figure Skating for as long as she can remember. It’s on the ice where Jasmine feels most comfortable and at home. However, she’s been doing this for seventeen years now. Being in such a sport gets difficult the older you get. She’s suffered so many broken bones, taking its toll on her body.
She could never make it big—not the way she wanted. Seventeen years of Jasmine’s life went down the drain; all she’s left with now are huge regrets. However, she receives an offer from Ivan Lukov, a man she thinks is an entitled idiot. It’s an offer she’s been waiting for… and the last one Jasmine will ever have.
Either Jasmine has to let go of her hatred for Ivan, which has existed for a decade, or give in and accept his offer.
5. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Alex Claremont Diaz didn’t have an average upbringing. This is because he is the son of Ellen Claremont, the President of the United States. His closest friends are his sister and the Vice President’s granddaughter. They are often known as the White House Trio. It’s not the easiest life, but Alex tries his best to cope with her mother’s high-stress job and the position it puts it in.
When Alex argues with his enemy Prince Henry, the tabloids are quick to get involved. This leads his mother and others to create a fake friendship between Alex and Henry.
Alex knows his mother’s motivation for doing this is because she is about to announce her re-election campaign. However, one thing leads to another, and the two end up getting closer… closer than Alex ever imagined they could be.
6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen is one of the most well-known romance authors, and this classic from her is and will always be among the best enemies to lovers books. Her period novels are still considered classic works and are read by millions of people every year. One of these books is Pride and Prejudice, which also inspired a popular movie released in 2005 starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen.
This novel follows Elizabeth Bennet, a very opinionated woman of her time. When she meets Mr. Darcy, the two instantly clash. She can’t stand him and finds him to be most irritating. However, the more time passes, the more Elizabeth falls for him. The feeling appears to be mutual, but Elizabeth doesn’t want to accept this.
How could she fall for such a frustrating and annoying man? Indeed, there must be some other explanation besides love.
7. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Louise le Blanc is gifted in magic, but one day she had no choice but to swear magic off and leave her beloved coven. She ended up running to Cesarine and struggled every day to survive. One thing she couldn’t do was magic within the city’s walls because anyone who practices magic there is hunted. And what happens to captured witches? They end up burned.
The last thing Louise wants anything to do with is the Church which is very happy to burn witches. However, everything changes when she meets Red Diggory, a man who has dedicated his life to the church. A situation forces them into marriage, something neither of them wants.
She intended to avoid the church but is now thrust into its innermost workings. All you can do is keep looking over her shoulder where enemies lie in wait.
8. The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
Catalina Martin has found herself in a difficult position. She needs a date for her sister’s wedding. This isn’t because she would feel ashamed to show up dateless, but because she has repeatedly lied to her family about having a fiancé. The reason for this lie was to save face towards her ex and his new fiancé, who will sadly be present at the wedding.
She has four weeks to find someone to pretend to be her boyfriend at her sister’s overseas wedding. Eventually, Catalina can find someone to help her, but this comes in the form of Aaron Blackford, a man she cannot stand. He is her colleague and the most irritating man she has ever met.
She wants to say no but finds that she has no choice but to accept Aaron Blackford’s offer because there isn’t enough time to find someone else.
9. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Kate is unhappy with Anthony Bridgeton choosing her younger sister as his betrothed. The man is not someone who can make her sister happy; to add to that, he is a snake… one who will ruin her sister’s reputation and life.
Thus begins Kate’s campaign to stop the engagement. She intends to pull out all the stops to ensure Anthony doesn’t so much as get one step toward the altar with her sister.
The feeling from Anthony is mutual. He despises Kate as much as she despises him but refuses to give up. He will marry her younger sister… though when he starts having dreams of Kate at night, it does begin to complicate things.
Throw in a sudden kiss between the two, and it’s about as complicated as possible. Will the two be able to resist each other, or will they give in to those feelings?
10. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Carolina Santos does weddings for a living. She plans them for other people, and she is a damned good one at that. People everywhere flock to DC to get her to plan their wedding. However, her own wedding is not spectacular because her fiancé leaves her at the altar.
After this, Carolina throws herself into her job. When she gets the chance of a lifetime, she jumps on it. The only problem is she will have to work side-by-side with her ex-future-brother-in-law, whom she never got along with.
Max Hartley, brother of Carolina’s ex, is also unhappy about this, but if they can work together and create a great presentation, their careers will be made.
The more they work together, the more they realize there is a spark there. Will Carolina and Max give in to the spark, and where will they take it if they do? Read this novel to find out why I consider it one of the most amazing enemies to lovers books to read this year!
11. Fight or Flight by Samantha Young
After Ava Breevort is forced to bury a childhood friend, she ends up on a flight delayed due to a natural disaster. All Ava wants to do is get back to Boston. To make matters work, on the plane ride home, she bumps heads with Caleb Scott, who is more than happy to steal a first-class seat, which should have been hers!
One thing leads to another, and they end up sleeping together. Ava regards it as the best sexual experience of her life but figures she will never see him again… until Caleb shows up in Boston. He suggests they start hooking up regularly until he has to return home overseas.
Ava agrees, and the two regularly enjoy each other’s company in the intimate sense. However, Ava is thrown for a loop when Caleb announces he is staying in Boston for good.
12. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Jude and her two sisters were living a normal life until her parents were murdered by the Fae. The Fae then decided to take the three girls to live in the High Court of the Faerie, a terrifying place to be. A decade later, Jude had made the place her home despite how she came to live there. All she wants is to be welcomed by the Fae, but it’s difficult when they hate humans.
If Jude wants to get a place in court, she has to defeat Prince Carden, the youngest son of the High King. However, in the world of the Fae, nothing is as it seems, and it quickly gets very complicated. This puts Jude in the strange position of needing to ally with someone to save her sisters and the entire Fae species.
13. The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen
A first kiss is precious, and this is very true for Francesca Rossi. She has dreamed of her first kiss, first love, and husband one day. For a young woman in her position, she has little else to hope for but a marriage to a decent man.
Her first kiss was not with someone she loves but someone at a masquerade. It gets worse when she is promised to Angelo Bandini, heir to a powerful family in Chicago. Just when Francesca starts to accept her reality, Senator Wolfe Keaton tries to force the young woman into marriage.
She and these two men’s lives end up entwined in the strangest ways. Francesca doesn’t know what is going to happen next, but she is sure of one thing… she will be the one who will dictate how her story ends and not anyone else.
14. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Poppy has lived a lonely life. After she was chosen to be a Maiden, she spent most of it alone because no one was allowed to interact with her. She can’t even enjoy life like a normal person and has to just sit around and wait for Ascension to come.
The entire kingdom is looking at Poppy, putting their future on her shoulders. It’s a heavy burden for the young woman to carry. When Hawke, a guard supposed to ensure her Ascension starts watching over her, Poppy begins to question everything. He makes her feel it is okay to be angry at her current situation. Finally, Poppy feels like she is being heard.
Soon Poppy is unsure of what to do. She feels duty-bound to save her kingdom, but she wants so badly to have a life outside of being a maiden.
15. Beach Read by Emily Henry
Writer’s block can hit anyone at any time, which is the central theme of Beach Read, a book by Emily Henry. The thing about it is that it does not discriminate at all. If you are a writer, chances are, at some point, you will be hit with something that all writers dread.
Two writers currently dealing with this are Augustus Everett and January Andrews. Augustus is a famous literary fiction author who often writes dark stories, while January is a romance writer who always writes happy endings.
The two are currently neighbors in the beach houses they are staying in for the next three months. They hope to get those creative juices flowing again, but after one random evening together, they end up striking the strangest deal. Augustus will write a romance novel, and January will write a piece of literary fiction.
Ultimately, they will both end up getting over their writer’s block… and something more than neither of them expects.
16. Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Kareena Man isn’t having a great time with her love life right now. It’s a huge disaster, so she decides to focus on herself and her hobbies. When her father tells her he’s going to sell her mother’s home, she panics. This is her mother’s home! There is no way some stranger can buy it and move in. It makes her create a deal with her father that if she can get engaged in four months, she gets the house, thereby saving her mother’s memory.
Everything is going according to plan until she ends up in an argument with Dr. Prem Verma, who hosts The Dr. Dil Show. It goes viral, making it impossible to get anyone to pay attention to her for the right reasons. The doctor doesn’t have it much better, though. He wants to build a local community center, but after that viral argument, no one wants to work with him at all.
When Kareena’s aunties tell Prem they will fund his building if he convinces Kareena he is her soulmate, he agrees because he needs the money. However, the more time he spends with Kareena, the more he falls for her. Is the feeling mutual?
17. The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Warrior Princess Lara has been trained to fight against King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom since birth. It will be she who ends his life. To get access to King Aren, she is forced to disguise herself as an offering. They are offering Lara as a bride as a show of peace. It’s demeaning, but Lara will do whatever it takes to end that man’s life. Her kingdom demands it of her.
She starts to doubt her mission when Lara starts spending time in the Bridge kingdom. Not only does Lara begin to feel at home here, but she starts to grow feelings towards Aren, which is the most surprising thing of all. It puts her in the difficult position of having to choose between her heart and head.
18. Vicious by L.J. Shen
Emilia and Vicious don’t have a great past. In Emilia’s eyes, he is a terrible man who is the reason she had to run from their small town a decade ago to seek refuge in New York. He’s haunted her ever since and brings out both hatred and love in her. It makes things very confusing for her. When he shows up, announcing his intention to bring her with him, she is thrown for a loop.
In Vicious’s eyes, there is no one in the world like Emilia. When they met 10 years ago, it was a whirlwind, and then she was forced to leave because of what she had done. Despite Emilia being his best friend’s ex-girlfriend, he is still determined to chase her and bring her with him. She is like a drug that he can’t ignore.
19. The Layover by Lacie Waldon
Ava Greene has lived a pretty amazing life. She’s flown all over the world because of her job as a flight attendant. However, after a decade, she’s ready to retire from the business and find something that doesn’t require her to travel. So, Ava has one last flight, and then she is officially done as a flight attendant. What makes this last trip difficult is that Jack Stone is on the flight, a former pilot she’s had a grudge against for years.
One thing leads to another, and they are forced to stop at Belize for a few days while the plane undergoes repairs. They end up being put up in a resort, and the last thing Ava wants is to be forced to spend the next few days with Jack Stone hanging around.
Despite her attempts to avoid him, they ended up spending time together. The more time they spend together, the more interested Ava becomes in him, much to her dismay.
20. It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi
Kiran Noorani is floored when her sister Amira announces she is dating someone and might move across the country with him. The last thing she wants is for her family to be broken apart again. It happened after her mother passed, and it seems like it might happen again with her sister’s sudden decision.
To make matters worse, Amira is dating Faisal Malik, the brother of Kiran’s ex-boyfriend Deen Mailk. They didn’t end in good circumstances because four years ago, after dating for a while, Deen suddenly started ghosting Kiran. She was floored and hurt.
Deen had his reasons for doing such a thing; the last thing he wants is for Kiran to find out why he did what he did.
21. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Naomi Westfield and Nicholas Rose seem to have the perfect relationship. People look at them and are envious of their relationship. They are incredibly envious of Naomi because Nicholas is a very hilarious man and seems to care for her very much.
The secret? Naomi is unhappy and wants out. Funny enough, the feeling is mutual, but neither is willing to break up with the other. The reason for this is that whoever ends the engagement will have to pay for their upcoming wedding, which is non-refundable. A battle of wills ends up being fought between them, and the winner will not have to spend their hard-earned money.
However, now that the truth is out, Naomi starts enjoying her time with Nicholas, which is something she has not done in ages. What will ultimately become of their relationship?
22. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Malik desperately wants to leave his home with his sisters. They live in poverty and desperately want to seek refuge in the city of Ziran, where anything is possible. Things get complicated when a cruel spirit kidnaps his younger sister Nadia. Then the spirit offers him a deal. If he kills Karina, the Crown Princess of Ziran, then he will get his precious sister back.
Karina, herself, also has ambitions of being a dangerous neighbor. With her mother now dead and a potential mutiny happening in the court, Karina decides to resurrect her mother. The only thing is she needs the beating heart of a king.
It is at the Solstasia where both Mailk and Karina want to finish their lofty goals, but once they meet, sparks fly.
23. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
In 1926 gangs ran rampant in the city of Shanghai. Juliette Cai is a girl who once ran from the fact that she is the heir of the Scarlet Gang. However, now she is ready to accept her position. The biggest rival of their game is the White Flowers, whose heir is Roma Montagov, the man who used to be Juliette’s first love.
When gang members in both gangs start acting mad, Juliette and Roma have to work together. They need to try to stop whatever madness is taking over their beloved city because it might eventually consume them if they don’t.
24. Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey
Madeline Moore will one day take over Books and Moore, a bookstore that has been in her family for years. Eventually, she intends to take over from her aunt, but then a chain bookstore opens on the same street. It’s called Prologue, and it might put them out of business, much to Madeline’s horror.
She instantly clashes with Jasper, the guy who works at Prologue. He doesn’t seem to care what Prologue is doing to her family’s business, and despite this, Madeline is starting to think the man is pretty cute. Could she feel any more conflicted?
25. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Juliette’s touch is deadly. We mean this literally. If she touches someone, then that person will die. So, Juliette is now locked up for murder by The Reestablishment, even if what she did was an accident. She didn’t mean to kill the person.
Outside of her prison, life isn’t going any better. The world is being destroyed by diseases, lack of food, and pollution, to name a few things it’s suffering from. When people keep dying, and a war threatens to break out, The Reestablishment comes up with a plan. They will take Juliette out of prison and use her power.
It’s ultimately this choice that Juliette has to make, and what a difficult one it will be that will share her life for the rest of the books in the Shatter Me series!
26. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Welcome to Ketterdamn, a city where anything is possible. It’s a huge international trade hub, so there is a lot of money to be made. One man who wants to make money off this city is Kaz Brekker, who is a criminal prodigy. You may have heard of art, music, and math prodigies but never a criminal prodigy. This is just what Kaz happens to succeed in.
He soon has a chance to get involved with a heist that could make him very rich. To do this, Kaz has to assemble a team of six people who are all strange and dangerous in their way. Together, he and this crew he had put together will try to complete this heist. You know if they can bother to get along for more than five minutes at a time.
27. The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker
Freddy Carlton plans to participate in The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event. Views are the one who chooses the outcome of each scene. She needs to focus on her lines, but it’s difficult when James “Griff” Ford Griffin keeps calling her a terrible actor. It’s a huge blow to her self-esteem.
Unknown to Freddy, Griff has problems of his own. His family is suffering from financial difficulty, and this is the only reason he agreed to let The Austen Playbook be filmed at his family home. However, he finds himself constantly drawn to Freddy.
The more he tries to distance himself from her, the more he is pulled toward her. It’s almost like fate is trying to push them together or something.
And here you go, all you enemies-to-lovers fans out there! There are many tropes in romance novels, and it doesn’t get more classic than the enemies to lovers. It’s even found in genres where romance is not the main one.
All the enemies to lovers books featured on the list are the ones I believe are the most unique and stand out the most. There are more out there, but I am sure some of these on this list will interest you! So, let me know which book you are starting with. Also, let me know if you have a favorite book you’d want to see on this list!