Enemies (and rivals) to lovers is most definitely my favourite trope. There’s just something about hate to love which just SOARS above the rest: the intensity, the passion, I just love it!! I did plan to do one post featuring all of my favourite tropes. But there were so many enemies to lovers favourites that I decided to split the post. So today you get my favourite enemies to lovers, and tomorrow you get all my other favourite tropes! (And a further update at the time of scheduling: I actually ended up having to break these down even further because I have too many books and too many favourite tropes so prepare for three days of tropey fun!)
Crier’s War by Nina Varela
What could I start with but the epic sapphic enemies-to-lovers fantasy that is Crier’s War?! (With the additional trope of ‘there’s only one bed’ to really make this the best book it can be!) Blending science fiction and fantasy in a Made versus Human post-war world, where Made rule over the human population, and the heir to the Made empire falls in love with a human servant. This is full of action and drama and tension which is everything we want in an enemies-to-lovers ship.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
Pretty much my favourite book ever, it’s no surprise The Fever King has my favourite trope ever. On one side, Noam, son to immigrant parents who wakes up with magic after a virus outbreak. On the other side, Dara, the adopted son to the most powerful man in Carolinia, Calix Leher. Noam and Dara are full of mistrust and anger at each other, their positions and just how exactly they want to overthrow the government, but that results in such an intense and powerful romance that it literally breaks my heart every time I read.
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
I think I hear much less noise about this book than I do Crier’s War, which makes me rather upset because this is just as amazing a sapphic enemies-to-lovers (in fact I think I prefer We Set the Dark on Fire). In We Set the Dark on Fire, two wives fall in lover with each other instead of the husband they’re supposed to serve. There’s also lots of discussion about immigration, it’s a very relevant book that compares to situations on the US-Mexico border today which makes it so poweful a book and one I really wish I heard more people scream about.
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Sterling
If The Fever King is my favourite enemies-to-lovers then this is a close second! This is an absolutely terrifying, claustraphoic read about a caver who gets trapped in a caving system. She’s trying to find a way to escape, with only the help of the woman on the other end of her headset who’s monitoring her caving suit. It’s so tense and panic-inducing with just two characters and one, very tight setting, with a character who begins to lose control of reality, no longer sure what is real and what isn’t.
Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir
We all know Gideon the Ninth is one of the highlights of the enemies-to-lovers trope. In Gideon, we have pretty much mortal enemies: Gideon, a cavalier, and Harrowhark, bone witch necromancer who wears a corset of bones and skull facepaint. The two must work together to help Harrowhark be chosen as the Emperor’s necromancer with a series of challenges and mysteries that require a mastermind to solve. Enter Harrowhark’s clever brilliance and Gideon’s brash ‘charge into battle without a thought’ness.
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
Not much could get more enemies to lovers than ‘human and the robot alien who’s overtaken Earth’. But that’s what we get in The Sound of Stars! This is a YA science fiction dystopia about an alien race called the Ilori who overtake Earth and outlaw any form of human expression (including books and music). When Ellie is caught with a private library, she and her captor must work together to save Earth.
Beyond the Black Door by A.M Strickland
Beyond the Black Door is a lush and gorgeous fantasy with a villain romance and asexual heroine. It’s a beautiful world where Soulwalkers exist, people who can travel into people’s souls whilst they sleep. Kamai is a soulwalker, but in everyone’s soul she walks, a black door follows her. And Kamai wants to know what’s behind the black door.
Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough
Amelia Westlake is such a funny, feminist, and sapphic Aussie YA about rivals Will, the school bad girl, and Harriet, the golden girl and prefect of Rosemead Grammar. The two join forces to try expose the blatantly misogynistic practices at the school. And obv, fall in love, because this is a list about enemies (or in this case, rivals) to lovers.
Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
Another excellent sapphic rivals to lovers YA contemporary! This one features a budding film director and the school’s cheerleader captain (YESSS QUEER CHEERLEADERS) who are forced to work together to create a film even though they hate each other.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
If you want epic time travel + spies + sapphic enemies to lovers, then this is the book for you. Blue and Red are spies on opposite sides of a war across time. The two write letters to each other growing from battlefield taunts to a love that will cross time and space itself to survive. (God that was cheesy. But it’s so true).
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
I don’t think you can get much more enemies-to-lovers than a Captain Hook x Peter Pan romance. In Peter Darling, Peter Pan is returning to Neverland years later, now all grown up. But when he gets back, things have changes, the Lost Boys have grown up too and now their tricks are more like war, and Peter’s old rival is suddenly like super hot?!
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Pirates and monsters and boats oh my. This enemies-to-lovers sapphic adventure follows Cassandra, who has spent her whole life breeding and training monsters to protect ships. But then she’s kidnapped and forced to raise a monster pup for a pirate ship, and kinda-also-sorta has feelings for one of the pirates.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
With a book that opens with the two main characters having a fight and knocking over a very expensive cake at a wedding, you know it’s going to be a brilliant rivals to lovers book. Especially when the two characters are the Prince of England and the son of the President of the United States.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
A recent 2020 release, The Henna Wars published in May this year. It’s a YA contemporary with two girls who set up rival henna businesses for a school project, but one is appropriating the others culture. But when the competition is sabataged, the two’s lives are further entwined and one just can’t quite get over her crush. I’m planning on reading this one this and am so excited as it’s one of my most anticipated releases of the year!
The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska
Yes this list is heavily sapphic and I do not apologise for it, especially when they all sound this fucking good. The Dark Tide is a soon to be released (already released in Australia, August 4 US release!) sapphic enemies-to-lovers featuring a Witch Queen who must kill one innocent life every year to stop her island from sinking, and the girl who sacrifices herself to the Witch Queen in exchange for her friend’s life. As the two fall for each other and the dark tide floods the streets of the island, the two must decide whether to save each other, themselves, or the island residents.
Do you love this trope as much as me? What’s your favourite enemies to lovers book?