There’s just so many. I’m going to try to limit it to my top five, which, like, don’t quote me on this later saying that these are my top five because there’s always something new that I haven’t realized that I love, or something that I’ve forgotten about. And look, three of these are basically the same, let’s not talk about it, especially since those three are also just basically RWRB repeated over and over, I AM PREDICTABLE AND IT’S GREAT.
enemies to lovers DUH
That duh should tell you enough. Enemies to lovers is my jam. It used to be my favorite kind of blank to lovers, but the best friends to lovers below has since taken the spot as my number one fave, enemies was just the first trope I thought of because duh. I mean, is there someone who doesn’t like enemies to lovers? There’s so much potential in it, and I’m so mad at myself for including Cardan/Jude in the featured books for this one, but they’re a perfect example of talking about when this trope does & doesn’t work.
You’ll notice that I very specifically chose The Wicked King to feature and NOT the trash fire that is The Cruel Prince. Cardan & Jude are straight up enemies in the first one, and they want nothing more than to hurt each other in the worst ways possible. Their romance scenes are a bit appalling, and I don’t even want to call them romance, honestly. They’re very, very toxic, and even as the series progress, they stay toxic, just with a helping of healthy on the side, and while they’re by no means a good couple to model yourself after (unholy Satan do not do that), they’re a good example of enemies to lovers. TWK has a bit of a different vibe, though, because while they’re still enemies, they’ve got a sort of grudging respect for one another that isn’t heavily layered with violence, and that is where the good stuff comes in..
Gosh, the enemies to lovers in Kingdom of the Wicked is just so good. Anytime you pair witches with demons/witch hunters, it’s going to be a good time, and that natural, inherent enemy vibe is my bread & butter. And you know, the second that enemies have to start working together, that we’re going to fall into all the tropes below.
And though I didn’t intend this post to be about talking about specific books, I can’t continue on without pointing out that Cemetery Boys is not a true enemies to lovers since it’s more just annoyed acquaintances forced to work together, but the vibe sticks. And Wicked Saints is honestly probably the most toxic out of all of these, but you can pray Malachiasz out of my cold, dead hands. (He’s probably the reason they’re cold & dead, though.)
but there was only one bed
I think I mostly cheated with all of these? It occurs to me, belatedly, that I’ve never actually read a but there was only one bed story. Cemetery Boys employs it, but they never actually sleep in the only one bed, and it’s not actually an issue ever, so it didn’t feel right. Although, honestly, it’s still probably way more right than any of these. Both The Wrath & the Dawn and Serpent & Dove are definitely but there was only one bed books, but they also fit into enemies to lovers, so it’s an interesting combo. The only one bed isn’t the only thing that gets to these enemies, but it’s certainly one of the top, though. I mean, just think of how Shahrzad starts waking up wondering where Khalid is, or even looking at him while he’s sleeping and seeing something so much softer than his waking face. Lou revels in the fact that Reed has to sleep next to her, and I’d say her naturally annoying nature is what brings them closer because she employs that in the only one bed.
The Bedlam Stacks and Winterwood are perhaps one of my favorite versions of only one bed, though. Because, much like with Cemetery Boys, the characters don’t actually utilize the only one bed, but, unlike Cemetery Boys, it’s something that sneaks up over and over. When Merrick is constantly thinking about Raphael sleeping, and when he eventually goes into Raphael’s room, or every time he sees him sleeping and just stares at him–ugh. The fact that there is, truly, only one bed, but they don’t use it, but they’re both obviously thinking about it all the time. That’s the goods right there. And, with Winterwood, it’s the same deal. Nora & Oliver are on entirely separate floors of the house, but neither of them sleep that well because they’re always thinking about the other person, sleeping just near enough to hear, but too far to actually see. I guess what I really like here is not even the but there was only one bed, but the longing of thinking about someone while you’re trying to sleep and knowing that they’re probably doing the same thing.
Man, I should write one of these.
best friends to lovers
THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE, AND IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY! I love best friends to lovers more than anything else in the whole world, and you can blame that on Felix Ever After. It is single-handedly responsible for why my love of enemies switched over to best friends because damn. SPOILERS. (Although, given that I’ve put the book under best friends to lovers, that’s already a spoiler in and of itself?) I am never going to get over Felix & Ezra’s relationship. It just absolutely destroyed me, time and time again, even though I could see it coming from so far away. I was just weeping into my pillow at 1AM at the beauty of both their friendship and, later, love. END OF SPOILERS. Best friends to lovers is so good, though, because sometimes sitting with that violence and hatred of enemies is just a lot, and instead you want the angst of not being sure if this is the right more, or if you’re not only going to lose crush, but the person you count among the closest to your heart. Best friends to lovers has the potential to just totally & completely emotionally wreck you in a way enemies doesn’t.
And gosh, isn’t that a perfect transition to just scream into the abyss over Newt & Evander from Beneath the Citadel? I don’t even know if I’d call them best friends rather than slowly becoming best friends, but emphasis on the slowwwwwww, and while this is by no means a slow burn, it’s definitely got that vibe, and it probably would’ve continued to lean that way if, you know, the world wasn’t at stake. That’s the other good thing, too, with best friends to lovers because it’s almost always a slow burn, and I don’t care who you are, we’ve all craved a 100k+ word fic that’s tagged with a big ole capslock SLOW BURN.
Ninth House, too, is definitely not a best friend thing, and I can’t even really say it’s a lovers thing, but if you’ve read it, you know where I’m getting this vibe because it’s totally there. Alex may just have a grudging respect for annoying scholarly Darlington, but they’re nowhere near enemies, and she definitely trusts him. And while there’s some things standing in the way of potential romance (HA, she says, some things), the romance is still there. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about one of my favorite crush to best friends to lovers to enemies to maybe friends to lovers that is Enne & Levi in Queen of Volts. Really, just the whole trilogy is a weeping ode to the beauty that is both tropes because it just weaves in and out in such a realistic and heartbreaking way.
Because the thing is, the reason that we love best friends to lovers so much, the reason it works more than enemies to lovers does, is because of all those sticky emotions that are built up between friends. I tell my friends everything. Things I would never dream of telling a significant other. Your best friend is practically your diary, and to bring love into that is scary as heck.
Look. Red, White & Royal Blue fits for nearly every single one of these tropes. The only one it doesn’t fit into is the but there was only one bed, and that’s because Henry & Alex literally live on separate continents, but you can bet your bottom dollar if they lived closer, McQuiston would’ve found a way to employ that trope, too. Because enemies to lovers, duh, but also, eventually, best friends to lovers, and HELL YEAH fake dating, that’s the entire point of the book, and, from below, there is so much yearning & longing throughout this entire glorious book. You’re just lucky I haven’t been talking about RWRB for this entire post, but if you want some fake dating, do yourself a favor and check out this fake friendship, which is almost worse (in all the best ways).
Actual fake dating, though, is heavily prominent in The Shadows Between Us, An Enchantment of Ravens, and Empire of Sand. They’re all such vastly different takes on the fake dating trope, which is really interesting, and I love each of them for vastly different reasons. Shadows had the full fake dating trope with the two MCs, who I cannot remember the names of for the life of me, literally start courting so that other people will leave them alone, and it was wonderful. There was a bit of enemies to lovers with them, too, which just made it even better, but fake dating is just the cherry on top. Like, you already know that you’re in it romance, and you’re wondering how it’ll evolve, and then the two MCs have to pretend to like each other? YES, GIVE IT TO ME.
The fake dating in Enchantment and Empire was a little bit more dangerous since there were literally lives at stake, and, half the time, I’m not even sure I’d call Enchantment fake dating rather than just trying desperately to survive, but there’s just so much wrapped up in Rook & Isobel, and wow, it’s been so long since I read a Margaret Rogerson, I should remedy that. I love Empire‘s trope, too, for much of the same reasons that I like Wrath & Dawn. They don’t want to be married, and all the odds are stacked against them, but not being married would mean their lives ending, and watching them learn how to be tender and careful with each other was just beautiful. Fake dating definitely has a lot of the same elements as enemies to lovers, and I think they make a great pair, and now I need to read one of those. Recs, please?
There’s so many books I could put here. Shiver was definitely the first one I thought of because Sam & Grace’s entire relationship is built on several years of yearning when Sam is a wolf & Grace is a human without anyway to cross paths, and it’s just beautiful. Gosh, I’ll never forget the scene in the candy shop when Sam tells the cashier that they’ve been together for six years or something, counting all the years before they actually knew each other, when they were just staring longingly out at each other as wolf & human.
And while I do love that kind of yearning, and Sam Roth will forever be one of my favorite love interests ever–and just favorite characters ever–the yearning that’s in books like Girls of Paper & Fire and As the Shadow Rises just gets me. Man, how many more times do you think I can talk about Katy Rose Pool’s phenomenal series before I convince all of you to read it as soon as possible? I’m gonna keep going until it’s over this autumn, and then I’m going to spend at least several months weeping about it being over. But that kind of yearning, when one MC believes that they shouldn’t love the other, not for homophobic reasons, just for all the other life reasons, but they’re drawn to the other person anyway, over and over, until they finally, finally, give in. OH, THAT’S THE GOOD STUFF.
I also really like the yearning & longing in The Faithless Hawk, which is brought upon by distance because it’s a whole other level on top of what’s already amazing. Because the characters are already together, so you’ve already got the good stuff, but then you just add wanting more of the good stuff on top, and that’s like candy for a baby. My metaphors are horrible today, I’m sorry, I’m still cringing over the fact that I said bread & butter earlier.