This week’s That Artsy Reader Girl topic was one that I immediately knew which trope I was using because truly what is better than friends to lovers? Sure, enemies to lovers is great, there’s a fantastic level of angst going on there, but friends to lovers is my jam. It’s also almost primarily what I write into my own books, so vamos!
We’re starting off on a good foot with one that could probably be more considered unfortunate acquaintances to lovers, but I truly think Zoya just buries all of her emotions under snark, and thus really was always fond of Nikolai, and the arc of their relationship in King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo to Rule of Wolves was next level. My favorite thing in the world is to introduce new people to the Grishaverse and listen to them go from hating on Zoya to absolutely shrieking with me when her & Nikolai finally start falling for each other. UGH IT’S JUST SO GOOD.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender is, hands down, one of my favorite contemporaries ever, and a solid reason behind that is the Felix & Ezra relationship. Their friendship is honestly goals, and they’re so damn sweet together, but when they level up to lovers after Felix finally gets his head out of his ass? My dudes, I cannot. And I love it so much because they’re friends first, because they have that foundation of trust and honesty and forever love that comes with friends, which is really just why I love the trope altogether.
We’re doing that thing again where I start talking about Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi at every given moment because I haven’t read it in a while, and I really need to reread it because it owns such a large part of my heart, and I miss it. Penny & Sam are probably one of my top three favorite couples in young adult contemporary, and I am never not going to want to absolutely just drop dead in joy over their text conversations. They’re so damn cute, and this cover is still so damn good years later, and I just love them, okay.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver is another that I’d like to reread soon, though I’m a little nervous because of how much it wrecked me the first time. The careful foundation of friendship that Ben & Nathan build over the first half of the book, but they get anywhere near anything that might even be kind of constituted as lovers, is more than the word beautiful will ever be able to describe. Their friendship is so sweet and careful and wholesome, and I love it so damn much.
Coming at you with another ehhhhhh but does this actually fit–These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong! Hear me out, Juliette & Roma are childhood friends before they fall for each other, and though that happens well before we even get to this story, it’s such a huge part of why we’re where we are when we start this story, and their journey from childhood best friends to lovers to enemies to tenuous allies to lovers again is just UGH. The ending of this duology slayed me, and I will read everything Gong ever releases forever and always. (Lolllllll, not me realizing I still haven’t preordered Foul Lady Fortune.)
There is truly so much that I love about The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning, and all of that begins & ends with the friendship turned romance between Amarande & Luca. Like, what a power couple, just look at them. I mean, The Princess Bride is already one of my all-time favorite stories, and this levels it up in such a way that I was going to love it no matter what, but Henning really went that hard with this story, and I’m so grateful.
Somehow, every time I talk about Chloe Gong, I also talk about A Phở Love Story by Loan Le, which makes sense given they’re both Romeo & Juliet retellings, but it just makes me cackle every time because wow, what opposite ends of the spectrum these are. I also read them around the same time, too, which honestly probably influenced how much I loved each of them individually. Anywho, Bảo & Linh never enter into the enemy territory that Roma & Juliette do, which makes this a sweet, sad, and so damn adorable story that I now want to reread right this second.
I could honestly pick any of the relationships from One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston to talk about since they were all friends before they were lovers, but August & Jane are obviously my favorite. Their subway friendship is so interesting and fun to watch develop, especially because both of them feel so out of place for such different reasons. And I love when it starts to become obvious to the reader that it’s so much more for both of them, but we all know it’s still going to take an arm and a leg to get them anywhere near close to lovers so that, when they finally do, it feels like the best payoff ever.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey is about as cute as it looks. We all know, right from the start, that Lila is going to fall for Orion, but their friendship in the beginning as Orion tries to show Lila around and convince her that England is not an awful place to be is so wonderful, and it makes for such a cozy & fun story.
It was a no brainer for me to include Mik & Zuzana from Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor because duh. I specifically chose this book, too, because while it is their first date, and thus we don’t see the friends part, their relationship is so sweet, and this novella is such a joy to read. Annnnnd now I want to reread DOSAB, too, I was not ready for this to be what happened with this whole list, haha.