Book Recs: Enemies to Lovers

We all know how good a trope enemies (or rivals) to lovers can be when it’s done right. It has that perfect intensity and tension, and the point where they realise that actually they don’t hate each other any more and you get pining? Absolutely brilliant. So, of course, I had to do a rec list (and also, this was what was voted for on Twitter). There’s actually a lot of overlap between this list and some other ones, mostly because when a book has one of my favourite tropes it tends to hit a few more at the same time. And also. Because it’s a favourite trope, if the book is good it normally rockets onto my favourites shelf.

So, without further ado, the list.


Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked



S. J. Goslee
Rep: bi mc, gay li

Mike Tate is a normal dude. He and his friends have a crappy band (an excuse to drink cheap beer and rock out to the Lemonheads) and hang out in parking lots doing stupid board tricks. But when Mike’s girlfriend Lisa, who knows him better than he does, breaks up with him, he realizes he’s about to have a major epiphany that will blow his mind. And worse–he gets elected to homecoming court.

It’s like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin’ cheerleaders.

With the free spirit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the raw voice of Winger, and characters reminiscent of Freaks & Geeks, this debut YA offers a standout voice and a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.

Why Should I Read It?

The way this book just gets a bisexual awakening, while being really funny and occasionally heartbreaking, is truly amazing. Mike has such a great voice, and his relationship with Wallace is one of my favourites. And ignore what the blurb says about Mike being gay. He’s bi and the book thankfully makes sure you know that.





Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Rep: wlw mcs

Earth sucks.

The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the World Government Alliance watching over them. Uma Akkolyte is a girl who shoots first, leaps before she looks, and is desperate for any means to leave her planet behind. And so she does. When Uma jacks an alien spaceship and punches through the stratosphere she sets forth on an adventure with an unlikely crew who are totally not ready for all the good, bad, and weird the universe will throw at them.

From writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Batman and Robin Eternal, Grayson) and artist Marcus To (Nightwing, New Avengers), Joyride is a rebellious love letter to the sci-fi genre, exploring what happens when nothing stands between a group of teens and their freedom amongst the stars.

Why Should I Read It?

Slowburn enemies to lovers (detouring via friends), while having adventures in space? Joyride has got you covered. Plus Marcus To’s art is always a reason in itself to read a comic.


Red, White & Royal Blue



Casey McQuiston
Rep: bi Mexican-American mc, gay li (lgbt author)

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

Why Should I Read It?

Okay, true, this is a pre-release rec. But. Trust me. You’re going to want to read this. It’s such a good and soft rivals to friends to friends with benefits to lovers story, and every time I think about it I want to reread. Although I’m still not convinced them being rivals isn’t just all in Alex’s head.


Holly and Oak



R. Cooper
Rep: gay mcs

Once a year, the town of Ravenscroft celebrates the winter solstice by watching the Oak King symbolically slay the Holly King to ensure the death of winter. To most people, it’s a pagan ritual that has lost all meaning in the modern world, harmless fun during the week of Christmas. To the coven who founded the town, it’s a magic so important they entrusted it to the two strongest witches in generations.

Will Battle and Chester Sibley are opposites in every way, or so Ravenscroft residents insist. Quiet, polite Will is the town’s beloved adopted son, popular and admired. Defiant, outspoken Chester is disliked and avoided despite being a direct descendant of the town’s founders. It’s no wonder Will is the embodiment of spring and life as the Oak King and Chester was given the cold, dark Season of Holly. No one in town seems to realize their nice, well-mannered Oak King has iron at his core and their fearsome Holly King only wants to make people happy. Perhaps that’s also why not even the other witches suspect that Chester has been in love with Will for almost his entire life.

That’s how Chester wants it. He might dream of Will, but he’s learned to keep his dreams to himself. The trouble is Will. For all that he smiles and nods, Will has started quietly rebelling against both the town and the coven. With only days until the winter solstice, he issues Chester a challenge—to finally ask for what he wants. If Chester tells the truth, he risks losing Will and upsetting the ritual that has made the town prosperous. But there is more between them than magic, no matter how powerful or ancient, and Chester would do anything for Will, even, just maybe, coming in from the cold.

Why Should I Read It?

Can you believe R. Cooper is such a good author as to be able to develop a rivals to lovers storyline in such a satisfying way in so short a time? Me neither, but she does.


Running with Lions



Julian Winters
Rep: bi mc, gay British-Pakistani li (lgbt author)

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.

Why Should I Read It?

Enemies to lovers is good, but when it comes with the baggage of being best friends when they were younger? That gives some unique and satisfying angst to get through before the friends point can even start, let alone the lovers.


Compass Rose



Anna Burke
Rep: lesbian mcs (ownvoices)

Rose was born facing due north, with an inherent perception of cardinal points flowing through her veins. Her uncanny sense of direction earns her a coveted place among the Archipelago Fleet elite, but it also attracts the attention of Admiral Comita, who sends her on a secret mission deep into pirate territory. Accompanied by a ragtag crew of mercenaries and under the command of Miranda, a captain as bloodthirsty as she is alluring, Rose discovers the hard way that even the best sense of direction won’t be enough to keep her alive if she can’t learn to navigate something far more dangerous than the turbulent seas. Aboard the mercenary ship, Man o’ War, Rose learns quickly that trusting the wrong person can get you killed—and Miranda’s crew have no intention of making things easy for her—especially the Captain’s trusted first mate, Orca, who is as stubborn as she is brutal.

This swashbuckling 26th century adventure novel is smart, colorful and quirky, yet it manages to deliver a healthy dose of heart, humor, and humility on every single page.

Why Should I Read It?

Okay, take out the hate to love aspect, and this still sounds like it’s an amazing book (it is, trust me). Add in hate to love romance? And you got yourself a winner. Even if I am still just a tiny bit bitter the ship I was rooting for wasn’t endgame.


Peter Darling



Austin Chant
Rep: gay trans mc (ownvoices), gay li

Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

Why Should I Read It?

I bet you never thought about Peter Pan/Captain Hook as a ship until you read this synopsis (aged up somewhat of course). But then you read it and you’re like this just makes sense. I don’t know how Austin Chant did it but. It made sense.


The Fever King



Victoria Lee
Rep: bi Jewish mc, gay li (lgbt author)

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Why Should I Read It?

Another pre-release rec, sure, but this one is actually out pretty soon (less than a month!) so it doesn’t really count. Anyway, the romance is so satisfyingly slowburn and intense you just have to read this.


Stag’s Run



Zaya Feli
Rep: bi mc, gay li

Ren Frayne is the bastard son of the Queen of Frayne, a title he’s more than comfortable with when it brings him limited responsibilities and all the luxuries of life he could ever want. But when the king and Ren’s half-brother, Crown Prince Hellic are brutally murdered, Ren is accused. Now, he is forced to flee the city together with the mysterious prisoner Anik who may know how to survive in the wild, but who seems to have an agenda of his own, one that may spell danger for Ren.

Ren’s accuser now sits on his family’s throne, and things are about to get much, much worse. It may be time to seek help in unexpected places.

Why Should I Read It?

One thing I’ve been asked a lot about this one is how similar it is to Captive Prince. It’s not similar. Stop. No comparisons allowed. It’s great in its own right and such a quick read (and also I love Anik and Ren with my whole heart).


Hold Me



Courtney Milan
Rep: Mexican-American trans mc, Thai-Chinese bi mc (lgbt author)

Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.

But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…

Why Should I Read It?

Enemies to lovers, Courtney Milan style. Which means an excruciating slowburn and so much tension you don’t know what to do with yourself. And then the conclusion? Exquisitely satisfying.



Okay, well, that’s all I have for now. Sorry again about the overlap, but I have kind of high standards for enemies to lovers and 90% of books don’t bother with a slowburn, just go straight into hate sex, so like. These are the best of them that I’ve read so far. Have you read any of the ones on here? Are there ones you’d rec that aren’t on here? Let me know!charlotte

5 Replies to “Book Recs: Enemies to Lovers”

  1. Enemies to lovers is probably my favourite trope so I’ll be sure to check these out. I already loved Stag’s Run and Peter Darling, the rest are hopefully just as good. TheAbyss Surrounds Us fits the list too though I haven’t read its sequel…
    Can you read Holly and Oak on it’s own? I saw it’s part of a series.


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