We've read this story before. The protagonists meet, there's an instant dislike or conflict, sparks fly, sexual tensions rise, and in the end they admit their love for one another.
Cue the eye roll. Stripped down to its elements, the Enemies to Lovers trope seems simple and silly. After all, how often would this actually happen in real life? Yet, it's as old as Shakespeare (I'm sure even older), a simple trope repeated in books, movies, TV shows. If it didn't hit home, it wouldn't be used over and over again.
What is it about this plotline that people adore?
Reason #1: Loved for who you really are
If someone loves you after they've seen your worst, then it has to be true love, right? After you've ranted and raved, maybe said things meant to wound, or at least said things that were hurtful, and they still fall in love with you? It must be because you're worthy of that love. They've seen the 'good' and the 'bad' and love you even more because of it.
Reason #2: It gives us hope
We can feel anger, angst, even moments of hatred. But on the other side of those feelings can be deep love.
Of course, ALL romance gives us hope, doesn't it? Hope not only for love and that Happy Ever After (HEA), but hope in transformation. With Enemies to Lovers, there's a change that happens - both characters have to reflect and learn in order to open themselves to love. If that can happen between two people who begin as enemies, perhaps there's hope for the world.
Hell, I'm still holding out hope for Rey and Kylo Ren in Star Wars.
First, the Movies
So besides Pride & Prejudice by Janes Austin and (maybe) the latest Star Wars installment, what are some other well-known Enemies to Lovers stories?
10 Things I Hate About You An adaptation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things stars Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. It became a teen favorite when it was released in 1999. Sadly, the passing of Heath in 2008 has cemented this movie as a classic.
Ella Enchanted An adaptation of the delightful book by Gail Carson Levine, Ella was one of our household's favorite movies to watch. Starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy, it's a light-hearted, funny romp.
The Ugly Truth In all honesty it's not the best movie, though the two protagonists definitely start out with a ton of animosity. However, Gerard Butler is the main dude and I LOVE Gerard. So, The Ugly Truth is on this list.
Romancing the Stone This movie HAS to be on the list. Not only are Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner perfect for one another (they get that hate to love thing perfectly!), but Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen) is a romance author! So yes, Romancing the Stone gets 20 thumbs-up.
The African Queen An adaptation of the novel The African Queen by C. S. Forester, the movie was released in 1951 and stars Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. I saw this as a kid and hated the movie because I couldn't understand what Rose (played by Katharine) saw in Charlie. He was crotchety. Grunted. And he wasn't cute. It wasn't until I was older, more seasoned, did I appreciate their relationship. Just as Rose did, I ended up falling in love.
The Sound of Music What is NOT to love about this movie? I grew up on The Sound of Music and loved it tremendously (though in all honesty I usually stop watching it after the van Trapps are married - because what's the point?). That scene in the gazebo when they sing Something Good is so sweet.
Finally! The Books!
There are soooooo many books with this trope! We're featuring a few here, all from LoveRomanceReads authors. Let us know which of your favorite you'd include on this list!!! Who did we forget??? If you could recommend ONE Enemies to Lovers books, which would it be?
by Mariah Ankenman
The world of the supernatural is real and living among us, a fact Tabitha Culver knows all too well.
Ten years ago, evil supernatural creatures she never thought existed attacked Tabitha. Now, she works for the Supernatural Council to defend humanity against the malevolent forces unknowingly hunting them. A new darkness has risen up in the form of Kakodaemons.
Tabitha, a by-the-books straight arrow is teamed up with the Euadaemon Kiernan, a bend-the-rules, sexy bad boy. With Tabitha and Kiernan the sparks fly, sometimes literally! To take down the bad guys, they have to put their differences aside and work together. However, a dark secret and sizzling attraction could prove to be distractions they can’t afford. Tabitha must learn to trust her partner, and her heart, in order to eliminate this new threat to humanity.
The Queen of Paradise Valley
by Cat Dubie
Diana Rennie, daughter of a wealthy rancher, attempts to persuade mystery man Del Russell to leave his grievances behind and forgive her father for past mistakes. Her careful plan goes awry and results in a shotgun wedding and a prison sentence for Del.
Four years later, Del is back in her life with a vengeance—back for his rightful share of Diana's ranch, back to prove he isn't the criminal she thought he was, back to finish what the two of them started years ago in a passionate daze. And he isn’t going anywhere, no matter what beautiful, treacherous Diana does or says to try to get rid of him.
Save the Last Dance For Me
by Candy Caine
Evie Bennington and Dillon MacAllister sizzle on the dance floor. And between the sheets. The green-eyed hunk professes his love for Evie and promises never to leave her. Then suddenly, inexplicably, Dillon disappears. Evie is devastated and wonders if her mother’s warning about trifling white men is true after all.
In time Evie picks up the pieces when a handsome, bronzed EMT named Ty woos her. She determines to forget about her passionate love affair with Dillon and give Ty a chance. Then Dillon reappears. The circumstances surrounding his earlier disappearance are tragic. And he wants her back. But even though just the sight of Dillon makes her quiver with longing for his lovemaking, how can Evie choose between two men who mean so much to her?
The General's Wife: An American Revolutionary Tale
By Regina Kammer
An English Lady and a handsome American Patriot in a battle for her heart - will she submit to the enemy?
A War Zone
Seduced into marriage by the wicked British general Lord Strathmore, Lady Clara Hastings is forced to leave her beloved England for the shores of the uncivilized American colonies. They arrive upon the outbreak of that young nation's struggle for independence.
Kidnapped and held for ransom by Strathmore's enemies, Clara learns of her husband's debauched pleasures and sadistic past, and discovers her own sensual needs and carnal desires.
A Quest For Freedom
Escaping captivity, Clara is taken by patriot fighters. In their clutches, her beliefs are challenged, her values are threatened, and she is caught up in a battle for her heart in the arms of a handsome American revolutionary.
By Reese Ryan
Falling for the boss, or taking him down?
Savannah Carlisle had the perfect plan. By infiltrating the Abbott family’s Tennessee bourbon empire as their events manager, she’d be one step closer to claiming half of the business they stole from her grandfather. Now she’s not so sure. Because sexy Blake Abbott, heir to it all, is simply intoxicating. He’s supposed to be the enemy. But after one long, stormy weekend, she’s pregnant with his child…
Fools Rush In
Donna S. Frelick
She thought she had the toughest job in Rescue--
until the day she had to convert a pirate into a hero.
Interstellar Rescue “conductor” Rayna Carver is deep undercover on a slave ship bound for an isolated region of space when the ship is attacked by pirates. Her liberator is Captain Sam Murphy, a man known in the spacer bars to love only profit, adventure and women.
But Murphy hates a few things, too, chief among them slavers. Will it be enough to gain his help for Rayna’s mission—ferreting out two spies bent on sabotaging an arms factory to turn the tide in an alien civil war?
With the aid of an inexplicable but opportune superpower, he's determined to conquer any hurdles to gain back his freedom. Except one hot mess of an obstacle he can't get around.A terrorist attack poisons the water and leaves hundreds of thousands of Americans dead. Countless more are left with diminished brain function. As the government seizes control, order is restored in the country but freedom is taken away. A nation is quarantined, all citizens regulated to stay within the borders.
For Riley, a genius hacker, that lack of freedom, particularly travel restriction, is not acceptable. When he suddenly develops a bad-ass power and learns he can manipulate electricity, he sets out to use that power to gain back control. The discovery of a murder forces Riley to team up with Danika, an enigmatic woman with her own freaky power and scary secrets. When they find that the dead scientist was working on a machine to uncover more people with superpowers, the adventure begins as they attempt to track the device.
Death and danger shadow the pair as they travel to the waterways of Florida, the mountains of Colorado and places in between. With each of them following their own agenda but compelled to work together, they search for answers in a world shaped by devastation, and discover love, and buried pieces of themselves along the way.
A Kiss of Cabernet
Napa Valley vineyard manager Paige Reynoso is furious. After a six-year absence, her boss—big-city entrepreneur Jake Madison—has returned, only to announce he's selling the vineyard. Paige has always dreamed of buying Garnet Hill, which sits on land where her ancestors first settled, but without the cash, she's out of luck. And then there's an even bigger problem…she has a serious thing for the surprisingly tempting man who's just destroyed her dream.
Jake's in a tight spot. With his other business ventures struggling, he needs cash--fast. The last thing he needs is the too-lovely Paige convincing him the grapes are an effective long-term investment. Or needing Paige herself, whose spirit and heart bring his to life. But as their attraction grows, Jake knows he's not in a position to offer her anything beyond this moment. Because Jake has a big secret…and it has nothing to do with sour grapes.
SHE’S RUNNING FOR HER LIFE
Framed for espionage, reformed hacker Valerie Sanchez has no choice but to run. Worse, when the proof of her innocence is destroyed, things turn deadly. Can she trust the sexy terrorist hunter who mysteriously turns up to protect her, or is he the real threat?
HE’S HOT ON HER TRAIL
Former Marine sniper Scott Kramer’s job was supposed to be easy. Follow the hot computer geek who stole plans for classified weapons until she meets her buyer, then let law enforcement take over. But when Valerie becomes an assassin's target, Scott's gut says she’s innocent. Now, he must risk his life—and his heart—to keep her safe.
Dishonored by a raging force he can't control, he has one chance to make amends.
When Grant loses control of a freakish telekinetic power and is kicked out of the Army, his dream of becoming a cop and upholding the family tradition is destroyed. Unless he follows a government mandated program, he's screwed. But he's vowed to protect his country, and if that means jumping through hoops and teaming up with a crazy woman in anger management class, so be it.
A road rage incident lands Zoe in trouble with the law, slowing her plans. Zoe's mission; find the man who drugged and attacked her, and stop him from hurting anyone ever again. Court-ordered counseling sucks, and playing nice with her mandated jerk-partner, Grant, sucks more. But when she discovers the jerk has skills to help find her attacker, she'll do whatever it takes to convince him to work with her.
The last thing Grant’s life needs is Zoe, but his force reacts to her and desire builds. A murder, and the theft of a priceless violin, brings more questions, and more time spent together in close proximity. As lust intensifies to something deeper, two wounded, angry souls must learn to trust.
Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.
Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret, and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red-haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.
Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?
In Death's Shadow
After three hundred years, Princess Maia is done with dryads.
Imprisoned by the wood folk for a crime she didn’t commit, Princess Maiasora Silvercloak wants her life back. If she finds the Key to the Twelve Realms and returns it to the dryads by the summer solstice, she’s free. Too bad she has no clue where to look. And the dryads’ solution might kill her.
Master Assassin Quinn Talen wants safe passage across the dryads’ forest after his last contract put him in the crossfire. The dryads offer him a deal: Escort a princess on her quest to find a magical artifact and he’ll be released. One catch: she’s the daughter of the king who killed his brother.
Spell-bound together, they must scour the world for the pieces of this artifact without getting killed or killing each other. Falling in love isn’t part of the plan as they race against time to secure the Key before the deadline. But nothing’s ever simple when magic is involved and death isn’t the worst outcome if they fail to find the Key.
[Siren Allure: Erotic Futuristic Romantic Suspense, M/F, HFN] Bounty hunter Adria Yuan is hot on the trail of her final hit: a notorious hacker wanted by the city's elite. With the reward, she can pay for her brother's surgery and finally get out of Basilica City. Trouble is, her line of work's not exactly legal, and she's barely staying ahead of the cops who want her target, too. Detective Rhys Carver may be a little unorthodox, but he's a good cop. Born and bred in Basilica, he does his part to keep his city clean. As clean as it gets, at least. And with Adria suddenly in his sights, it's going to take more than falling in love for him to let her go. As the pair close in on their mark, they are unwittingly drawn into a high profile conspiracy that could thrust the whole of Basilica into chaos. Can Adria and Rhys set aside their differences, and their desires, to save the only home they know? ** A Siren Erotic Romance
Stake and Dust
Karen Michelle Nutt
A Lamia, a sea creature worthy of John Keats' prose, teams up with a vampire with serial tendencies. When young promising artists are found dead, the Preternatural Bureau sends Cassandra Hayes to the Hamptons to help a fellow hunter track down this lethal duo. She's only spoken to Mr. Green once on the phone and when she meets him in person, he is not what she expects. His hunting skills are spot on, but there is something the man is hiding, and she's determined to find out what it is despite the attraction developing between them.
Tremayne Graystone, a vampire from one of the oldest septs, is not pleased when he finds a dead hunter left on the doorstep of his pub. He should have never answered the hunter's phone, but someone is trying to frame him and he wants answers. Surely he can masquerade as Mr. Green, the hunter Cassandra is supposed to meet, before she figures out his true identity and stakes him. She's a Hayes, from a long line of vampire hunters, and fraternizing with the enemy is simply not done, but as they work together and follow the clues, the lines become blurred when he falls for the hunter's charms.
Loving Nick... Again
Claire Vincent’s unexpected encounter with old flame, Nick Sheridan threatens her hard-earned independence and the life she’s created for herself and her young sons. She is determined that nothing will take that independence away from her, not even Nick.
Nick is licking his wounds after a messy divorce. When he sees Claire for the first time in fourteen years, the passion he once felt for her, passion he thought died long ago, is reawakened.
Is he ready for a new relationship and an instant family?
Will Claire learn to trust her heart to Nick a second time?
Goldie's Locks and the Three Men
From bestselling author Liz Adams comes this modern erotic retelling of the Fairy Tale Goldilocks, a Spicy Reverse Harem Tale.
What if the only way to find the right man was to instead find the right men? As a thief, Goldie is always on the run so she can never settle down with one lover. But when she tackles one final job, could the three bearish men inside the mansion she's staking out promise her more than she could ever dream possible. Goldie's Locks and the Three Men, a modern erotic fairy tale fantasy for women. Her locks and her men, she sure knows how to pick 'em.
WARNING: In this modern erotic fairy tale, Goldie is a thief that has a way of unlocking men’s hearts and stealing their money and clothes. In her search to find rich men to swindle, she instead finds a heart-pumping, thigh-squeezing fantasy for women like herself, including: solo M, M/F, F/F, light B&D, and lots of bare-chested men to enjoy. For 18 years and older.
At First Sight
When Autumn Stiles lands the advertising job of her dreams, it’s the happiest day of her life. She doesn’t count on the tall, handsome, dreamy-eyed Stuart Tanner doing this best to get her to quit.
When Tanner learns the newest employee at the advertising agency where he works comes from a privileged background, he makes it his mission to get rid of her. She’s obviously just another pampered rich girl playing at a job she thinks is easy and glamorous.
But soon the heat sizzles between them and he determines he will never give in to his desires.