Enemies of Lovers is a popular trope, especially in science fiction and fantasy novels. How can you bring your couple together and get readers to submit them?
Out of many romantic tropes, lovers’ romance enemies may reign supreme. Whether they are YA romantic comedies or period dramas, these novels feature a romance between two opposing characters. We’ve seen this in movies – that is, in all 90s high school plots – but you’ll get the full enjoyment of a slow romance through the book.
Below, you’ll find the best from enemies to lovers books who will itch their itch, from classics to new summer readings.
As a Church hunter, Reid Diggory lived his life on one principle: You shall not let a witch live. He literally grew up believing them to be bad. Enter Lou …
Lou is a criminal he apprehends, and a witch, without his knowledge. She is in hiding from her mother and her clan, but survival on Cesarine’s streets takes her straight into Reid’s clutches. And by an unexpected turn of events, they end up getting married. For her, it’s security. The other witches will not hit him in their enemy’s base. For him, it’s a puzzle. She is loud, vulgar, funny and fierce. He is calm and correct.
They obviously hate each other, and that’s without even knowing his true identity. But the more time they spend together, the more their walls crumble. And the more their walls crumble, the more they realize that those strong feelings might not be end-to-end hate. They could be something more.
As long as Lou’s mom doesn’t kill them both first.
After Kiran Noorani’s mother died, Kiran vowed to keep her father and sister, Amira, close. Then, out of nowhere, Amira announces that she is dating someone and can move across the country with him. Kiran is thrown.
Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother Faisal has found a great girlfriend, even though he is getting serious quickly. Perhaps now your parents’ focus shifts from Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect child.
When Deen and Kiran come face to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago – before Amira and Faisal met – Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen fantasized Kiran without any explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from getting to the truth. While the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them break down your walls?
The cat and mouse chase in Tiger of Midnight is so thrilling! Kunal and Esha are from two warring countries, and from the first time you meet we can fill the tension. Kunal goes from being intrigued and swept away by her beauty, to finding his Uncle dead with clues that Esha is in fact the culprit. What? He goes on a hunt to find her, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat every step of the way trying to see what will happen between those two!
When Esha and Kunal’s paths cross one fated night, an impossible chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces.
As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both the soldier and the rebel must decide where their loyalties lie: with the lives they’ve killed to hold on to or with the love that’s made them dream of something more.
There is mail for you meet Morgan Matson in this clever, joke-filled romantic comedy with a bookish twist.
Nothing will stop Madeline Moore from taking over her family’s independent bookstore after college. Nothing, that is, until a chain of bookstores called Prologue opens across the street and threatens to close them.
Madeline sets out to demolish the competition, but the guy who works at Prologue seems intent on ruining her life. Not only is he taking his clients, he has the incredible audacity of being … extremely nice.
But it does not matter. Jasper is the enemy and will be destroyed. After all, everything is fair in love and (book) war.
Persephone is the goddess of spring by title only. The truth is, ever since she was a child, her flowers have withered at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a deadly journalist. Hades, the god of the dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are said to be impossible.
After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead, and conditions are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet, however, does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows, and it is forbidden.
When we first heard about this book, it was accompanied by a joke that described it as “a little bit of Aladdin and Jasmine, but if they had to kill each other.” There is nothing wrong with that, but A Song of Ghosts and Ruins is more than that.
To save the only family she has – or the one left – Karina turns to dark magic, and the king’s heart is behind it. So, as Crown Princess Zirana, she offers her hand in marriage to the winner of the Solstasia competition.
Little does she know that Malik has struck a fatal deal with a vengeful spirit outside the city. He needs to kill Karina so that his sister can get freedom.
As the demands of their future draw them closer together, Malik and Karina discover that their original goals will not be facilitated by the strong emotions between them.
After the War of the Kinds, the Automata, designed to be the playthings of royalty, usurped the properties of their owners and bent the human race to their will.
And Ayla, now a humble servant, wants to kill Lady Crier, an Automa, to avenge the death of her family. But then he meets her. And, slowly, he gets to know her.
It turns out that Crier is different. She was made to be beautiful, to be flawless, to carry on her father’s legacy. But she is also suspiciously more complex than that. And all these expectations? She adapted it before her engagement to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she began to suspect that her father was not the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.
Lush and chilling, with razor-sharp edges and an iron soul of hope, this fascinating and powerful novel about two girls battling the violence the world inflicts on them will stun and enchant readers.
The girls disappeared into the woods …
When Natasha’s sister goes missing, Natasha desperately turns to Della, a local girl who is said to be a witch, in hopes that her magic will bring her home.
But Della has her secrets to hide. She thinks that the beast responsible for her disappearances is her mother, who has been transformed into a terrible monster by a magic gone wrong.
Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose. Both are the other’s only hope.
A romance writer who no longer believes in love, and a literary writer who has fallen into routine, take a summer challenge that may simply turn whatever they believe into a happy life.
Augustus Everett is a recognized author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes a bestselling romance. When he writes happily ever after, he kills his entire cast.
They are polar opposites.
Actually, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months they live in neighboring houses on the beach, broke and stuck in a writing block.
Until one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they contain a deal that is meant to get them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will write another American novel. She will take him on tours worth every editing in a romantic comedy, and he will take her to interview surviving members of the death cult in the backwoods (of course). Everyone will finish the book and no one will fall in love. Really.
A wedding. A trip to Spain. Most annoying man. And pretend for three days. Or in other words, a plan that will never work.
Four weeks wasn’t much time to find someone ready to cross the Atlantic – from NYC to Spain – for a wedding. Not to mention someone eager to join my charade.
But that didn’t mean I was desperate enough to put the 6’4 blue-eyed pain up my ass in front of me: Aaron Blackford. The man whose main job was getting my blood to boil had just offered himself as my date after sticking his nose into my business and calling me delusional and himself my best option.
Was it worth the suffering of bringing my co-workers and the curse of my existence as a false friend to my sister’s wedding? Or was it better to stay clean and face the consequences?
The lover’s enemy trope is when two characters start out as enemies and, over the course of a book or series, end up in a romantic relationship. These “enemies” have to overcome their differences or misconceptions about each other and in doing so they fall in love.
The type of “enemy” they are can range from real enemies to mere competitors. It could be a pair of prince and thieves. They could be soldiers from warring countries. Maybe they are rivals in a competition and they both want the top prize.
However, at the beginning of the story, they have to work together for a common goal. This collaboration acts as a catalyst for their relationship to move out of the “enemy” phase and move on to something more.
You go from enemies to lovers
The length of your trope depends on your goals, the plot, and how you structure the relationship. I’ve seen this unfold on a pound or four.
Either way, when you write a story arc from enemies to lovers, there will be some points in the story that build that relationship.
Start by knowing why the characters are enemies. Define what makes them angry and you can even show readers on the page. If he’s a mercenary hired to find a fugitive, let’s see him in action.
Then highlight why they are meeting. Often, these “enemies” find that they have to work together for something. In science fiction and fantasy, which is the bulk of what I edit, the characters have to pursue a quest together.
You also want to highlight any physical attraction in the beginning. It can be incredibly subtle. Maybe one character has dimples and the other notices them. Perhaps one notices that the other has very shiny hair. It can be more blatant, but subtle can be fun.
As the story continues and the characters become suspicious of each other, it begins to put them in situations where they can build trust. Maybe one saves the other’s life and the other returns the favor later. Maybe they are camping for the night, and one shares that they are afraid of the dark, so the other lights a bigger fire. These little moments of give and take – and vulnerability – begin to sow the seeds of trust.
Eventually, something arises that challenges that loyalty they have begun to build. Perhaps a secret is revealed or a character has to choose between his enemy turned ally and an old “friend”. It varies by storyline, but there is usually a test on the new relationship.
And finally, the characters have their defining moment when they realize they have fallen in love with each other. Your character from the point of view may realize this before admitting it out loud, or maybe it happens spontaneously in a dangerous situation. Whatever way you set up the big turn, it should end up showing up on the page.
After the breakthrough, they have to decide how they want to move forward.
This is a general pattern of events, and a lot of things will happen in between. As you write, think about the impact of each action, reaction, and decision on the state of that relationship.
Beware of toxicity
The give and take, the “They’ll want it, they won’t” kind of dynamic from enemies to lovers is what makes it so fun for readers. This constant tension can keep readers hooked and wanting more.
However… lovers’ enemies are not as simple as “they were enemies and they fell in love”. There is more nuance than that.
The enemies of the love trope, especially in YA fiction, easily fall into the category of “toxic relationships”. After all, two people who don’t love each other … How do you make them go from this distrust to love? It’s not easy for authors, and it’s not always easy for readers either.
The trope of lovers’ enemies, after all, is not about two characters who torture and intimidate each other because they “love” each other. Think of the stereotype of a guy pulling braids on a girl at school because he likes her. This is not how someone should treat another person, let alone someone they love romantically.
As I said at the beginning of this article, lovers’ enemies are a captivating way of saying that your characters need to overcome their differences / misconceptions. That doesn’t mean they’ll get along well at the beginning of the story, and they definitely won’t be best friends right away, but they don’t need to resort to bullying or drama to be seen as enemies.
In the healthier representations of the trope, the characters do not manipulate each other. They become allies, even for what they think is a short time, but this leads to dispelling their misunderstandings and increasing their attraction to growth.
That’s not to say you can’t purposely display a toxic enemy to trope lovers. It can also be a teaching time if you are attentive to your depiction of events.
Responsibility of the author
How you build that dynamic and how the characters come out on the other side is important to what your audience will draw from your story. As writers, we must recognize that our readers are likely to identify the underlying message of our work.
We cannot guarantee exactly what they will take away from history, but it is always our responsibility to try to make our message clear.
If you are going to use enemies for lovers, pay attention to the message you send through the actions and reactions of the characters. You can use this beloved trope without romanticizing the toxic potential that lurks beneath the surface.
Show the tension and conflict in enemies to lovers
Since you probably don’t want to show characters opposing each other, consider other ways to highlight tension and conflict. Here are some examples:
There are many ways to show them how to overcome conflicts. Much of this will come from conversations, necessary apologies, and lessons learned.
Show their connection and form bonds
And since every relationship is conflictual, you also need to show why the characters share a growing bond. This is especially important for lovers’ enemies, as these commonalities are the catalyst for the characters to move away from this “enemy” dynamic.
Here are some examples:
And by the way, this all applies to relationships outside of the romantic couple you’re writing about. Friendships, alliances and all the other relationships on the page will require this kind of give and take, big or small!
Once you know what these characters have in common, you should also introduce small displays of friendliness and affection. Some ideas include:
Think about how we build friendships and relationships in real life. Big gestures are all fine, but usually it’s the little moments of connection that form the basis of all our relationships, romantic or not.
Your enemy couple in love also needs a set of rules and boundaries for their relationship. Since for some reason they will work together and usually don’t get along, they may need to be in a relationship