Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Don't get me wrong. All romance tropes are great. Bestfriends to lovers? Yes, please! The grump and the sunshine? Favourite, right there. Fake dating? Well. Sign. Me. Up. However, there is something to be said about the timeless and exceedingly entertaining enemies-to-lovers narrative. The mere idea of two individuals who just can't see eye to eye yet harbour deep, unresolved feelings for each other (Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy, looking at you) is thrilling and sufficiently complex to stay invested. A lot of things can go wrong in a mutually untrusting relationship. And they do.
Then, of course, the sexual tension is thrilling to read. Throw in some biting banter and quick wit, and you probably have yourself a bestseller! But what most tugs at the heartstrings when adversaries fall in love is their ability to see past each other's flaws and presumptuous notions. Those welcome little surprises that come with the close discovery of a person? The little moments? The vulnerability? The acknowledgement of one's deep-rooted prejudice and the courage in moving past those doubts to build something better? Life-affirming and incredibly relatable.
The following contemporary romances are replete with exquisite flavours of drama, deceit, banter, and life-changing love. And they will most definitely have you regretting not having an arch-nemesis to secretly dote over.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
Published on August 9, 2016 by William Morrow. Jacket copy sourced from Goodreads.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They're polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Published on May 18, 2020 by Penguin. Jacket copy sourced from Goodreads.
Layover by Lacie Waldon
After ten years as a flight attendant, Ava Greene is poised to hang up her wings and finally put down roots. Unfortunately, she's working her last trip with Jack Stone - the absurdly gorgeous, ridiculously cocky man she's held a secret grudge against for years.
When their plane encounters mechanical problems, what should have been a quick stop in Belize suddenly becomes a weekend layover. Getting stuck on a flight with her nemesis was bad enough. Being stranded with him at a luxury resort in paradise? Even with the sultry breeze and white sand to distract her, it will take all the rum punch in the country to drown out his larger-than-life presence.
Yet the more time Ava spends with him under the hot Caribbean sun, the more she begins to second-guess everything she thought she knew. Soon, she might have to choose between keeping her feet on the ground or her head in the clouds
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
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.
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. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
Published on June 19, 2020 by St, Martin's Griffin. Jacket copy sourced from Goodreads.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Meet Pepper, swim team Captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running big League burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, Class Clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn't trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when big League burger steals his grandma iconic grilled cheese recipe, he'll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jackson spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they're publicly duking it out with snarky memos and between battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the Internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Published on August 3, 2020 by Macmillan USA. Jacket copy sourced from Goodreads.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong. So she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It's time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she's not entirely sure how…
Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.
Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore... and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.
Published on March 9, 2021 by Avon. Jacket copy sourced from Goodreads.
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can't imagine working anywhere else. But lately it's been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who's fresh off a journalism master's program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.
When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it's this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it's not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.
As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.
Published on January 26, 2021 by Berkley. Jacket copy sourced from Goodreads.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.
Published on May 14, 2019 by Gallery Books. Jacket copy sourced from Goodreads.
by Abhivyakti Singh