We’ve been in a love/hate mood these past couple of weeks at Romantic Fantasy Shelf, and it’s because we’ve been debating the enemies-to-lovers trope! They hate each other, they don’t love each other, and then they do… Enemies To Lovers stories involve two characters usually on opposite sides of a conflict, making them clash. They fall in love and usually end the conflict. And sometimes start new ones!
Do you love that juicy smolder of two people who hate each other, tension so thick you can cut it with a knife? Do you relish the anticipation of when that thin line between love and hate blurs, and all that intensity turns from hate to love?
Oh you do, huh? 😉 Well, then we’ve got your enemies-to-lovers TBR covered!
Set in a complex world, Poppy, our Maiden and Heroine, bears the future of an entire kingdom on her shoulders as well as satisfying gods who have abandoned her people. But her life gets increasingly complicated with each passing day as she must deal with her feelings for a treacherously charismatic Hawke. Their intense chemistry with one another grows despite the betrayal and tension that haunts their every step. From Blood and Ash takes you through passion to rage to all the steaminess that happens afterward, with a pairing that crackles with chemistry, conflict, and contentiousness. It just gets better as the series continues, so make sure you lock in for a full binge.
Set in a fantasy world modeled after western Europe during the Spanish Inquisition, Serpent & Dove drops you into a story rich with dark magic and powerful magic practitioners. Louise had to flee her coven and pretend to possess no magic because of the hunters pursuing her. Most notably Reid Diggory, the Captain of the Chasseur, who truly believes she must die. But things take an awkward and tension-filled turn when the two of them must get married. To make matters even more complicated, feelings are starting to develop (but if he learns the truth about her being a witch, he’s going to have to kill her). With dual POVs between the snarky-but-charming Louise and the stolid-but-handsome Reid, you get the full spectacle of this slow-burn enemies-to-lovers with all the tension and intrigue you’d expect from this setup.
There’s a very good chance you’ve already heard of this dark faerie romance featuring a bully faerie prince, Cardan, and a human girl named Jude who was stolen away as a child to live among the fair folk. Arrogant Cardan ticks all the boxes for an intriguing romantic interest who exudes tension with the fiery Jude in every scene, even as the two conflict and clash. (And if you’ve read Holly Black’s other stories, there is a fun cameo from her Tithe novels.) This is a dangerous world full of betrayal, machinations, intrigue, and cunning. Just make sure you include plans to read the rest of the series because Cardan and Jude’s story continues on, and it crackles with even more tension and threats than the first.
Lara is both a princess and a deadly spy, sent in marriage to the Bridge Kingdom to bring it to its knees in this new-adult romantic fantasy. Her father had painted a villainous portrait of her new husband-to-be, King Aren, but what she finds is an honorable man, and her own torn loyalties between her family and her husband as well as his people. If you haven’t yet read this heart-pounding, sensual fantasy ideal for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove, do yourself a favor and dive in now. (Bring a paper bag for edge-of-your-seat hyperventilating!)
In this romantic fantasy series, Haven, a pink-haired warrior, must find her way through complicated situations if she hopes to ever succeed in rescuing the prince. Of course, the great challenge she faces is that Stolas is not only devious in his cunning and the cause of many problems, but he is also quite handsome and charming in his own way. Handling her own forbidden magick is hard enough without adding her heart into the mix. This is a slow-burn romantic fantasy that carries out over multiple books, and Stolas just gets more and more compelling as he goes. Not that you should trust him. Of course you shouldn’t trust him. But it’s hard not to want to. Or at least to see what happens.
In this young-adult romantic fantasy duology, Kazi is sent on a mission by her queen to capture a traitor, and Jase is the leader of an outlaw family harboring that traitor. Political conflict, adventure, and intrigue abound as our heroine learns about her past and that the new leader of the infamous Ballenger empire might be more than he seems. Full of emotional fights and betrayals and sizzling tension, the hype for these books is real, and be prepared to set aside all your work and responsibilities to keep turning these pages…
If you’re in the mood for a pirate versus a pirate hunter, then look no further. In the first book, we meet Lady Vice, a cunning and powerful captain who possesses weather magic and other uncanny skills. She finds herself forced to work with the handsome Knigh, a member of the Royal Navy with particular skills all his own. All this closeness and tension brings these two together in multiple passionate clashes, but at heart, who they are still adds conflict, calling everything into question with intrigue and conspiracies in this lush and gorgeously detailed world. (Also, one especially phenomenal section…the glowworm cave…yes. Not going to say any more than that except that, well, it’s easy to see why Knigh and Vice’s relationship is so addictive and why we are definitely staying on this high-seas adventure with the rest of the books!)
Alessandra is determined to seduce Shadow King Kallias, marry him, then kill him and take his kingdom, but there’s one problem… and this is an enemies-to-lovers list. xD Although Alessandra is out to kill Kallias, he has a lot of enemies, and through the course of their involvement, she finds herself protecting him from them and… falling for him. Often described as a “Slytherin romance,” The Shadows Between Us promises a cunning character caught by her heart. The heroine of this standalone young-adult romantic fantasy is unapologetically cunning, and Kallias is the dark, broody hero you crave after your Folk of the Air binge.
In this beautifully written fantasy romance, a servant slave girl named Martise is sent to assist (and spy on) mage and reincarnated-god-avatar Silhara, in exchange for him helping her awaken her gift. Among the darkness in this tale is some very heavy sexual tension and some truly smile-inducing moments. The angst and stakes get high in this one, so prepare your nail file for the inevitable biting and maybe a box of tissues (just in case anticipation and tension kill you!!!), but rest assured, you’re in for a satisfying (this is double entendre, okurrr?!) Happily Ever After.
You want enemies to lovers? I’ll freaking give you enemies to lovers. The heroine in this adult romantic fantasy, Amelia, is out to save the worlds–yes, worlds–and the hero (can we call him that? Let’s say that we can…), Naatos, is out to conquer them all. They clash like ice and fire, and in a slow burn, Amelia washes our intimidating warlord into a redemption arc as these enemies begin to see each other with a flicker of something more in their eyes. Full of deep worldbuilding and complex intrigue reminiscent of the Black Jewels trilogy in the best ways possible, if you want to bury yourself in a satisfying slow-burn romantic epic, jump into this one. Trust me.
Inspired by Greek mythology, this adult fantasy romance follows Cat, a soothsayer in hiding from her kingdom, and Griffin, who wants her as a powerful tool for his newly conquered realm. He kidnaps her, and while Cat fights him at every turn, their walls come down as her painful mysterious past comes up. Cat is a feisty heroine who takes no crap, and Griffin is her strong, stubborn match. Well-researched, intense, and with a scorching-hot romance, A Promise of Fire definitely belongs on your enemies-to-lovers shelf.
In this standalone romantic fantasy, Crown Prince Eruz has conquered the land, and Rashali’s people suffer greatly under his family’s rule. They both want what’s best for the land and its people, but they have different ideas about what that is; those differences come to a head when they meet by chance, and sparks fly. Amid a backdrop of war, squabbling gods, and intrigue, a sensual hate-to-love romance unfolds, ideal for fans looking for a taste of The Wrath and the Dawn with a bit more epic feel and some spice.
With very detailed worldbuilding, this first book in an adult romantic fantasy series introduces Lia and Conri, two rulers devoted to their lands and rebelling against the emperor. Amid a backdrop of deadly political intrigue, an alliance is natural and yet neither can trust. There’s some cat-and-mouse and testing one another, all with the fire of desire in their eyes. (Yes, please.) With lush descriptions and a slow burn, take your time and enjoy this swoony, rich enemies-to-lovers story spanning multiple books.
This romantic fantasy features a human girl forced to marry a fae king she hates during the Hundred Year Reaping, where two human women are sent to the faelands. That wasn’t the initial plan, of course. But few things go according to plan for Evie. It’s a fast-paced story with a fair amount of steam and heat as she finds herself drawn ever closer to the treacherous fae king. But she must be cunning and wise, regardless of how she feels, or an ancient war shall return, and far more than her heart may be lost.
In an ancient Arabian-inspired fantasy world, Zafira is a hunter who disguises herself as a man as she seeks to help her people. And Nasir, the Prince of Death as well as an assassin, is on his own quest. They both have their own secrets that if exposed would result in dire consequences. Of course, the fact that there’s tension between them makes this all the more complicated, and the heat rises as the pages turn. Just as vital to this narrative, the story features a fair amount of Arabic within the story, beautifully integrated and flowing throughout. The world itself is stunningly realized, and the characters themselves will have you delighted to be along for these enemies who begin to share something quite beautiful together.
In this sweet young-adult romantic fantasy, Violet is the daughter of a rebel lord who is executed by the rightful king, leaving her brother as the new lord. When she’s then taken hostage to ensure her brother’s loyalty, she starts off hating King Edward… but this is an enemies-to-lovers list. (I’ll give you a second to do this romantic math.) Full of mystery, intrigue, and a dash of historical fantasy flavor, Vi will warm your heart as she navigates the complex political situation, while Edward will drive you mad and crazy in turns (in the best of ways).
If you’re in the mood for a dangerous princess and a cunning crime lord who wind up falling for one another despite their better judgment, then oh, do we have the story for you. Blood Heir features Ana, a cursed princess who is framed for the murder of her father, and her quest to clear her name and bring the actual killer to justice. As complicated as life is within the palace, it is even worse beyond those protective walls. To beat her true enemies, Ana must find someone more corrupt and terrifying than all of them. That leads her to none other than Ramson Quicktongue, who has his own agenda, of course. Still, it’s hard for both to resist the allure of the other, especially as it turns out both are more than they seem and are capable of more love and feeling than they believe. A perfect fit for a fast-paced enemies-to-lovers story complete with multiple fight scenes and an epic dungeon crawl.
For young-adult fans who enjoy juicy, juicy angst (but no on-page smashing), The Cup and the Prince is a promising slow-burn romantic-fantasy read that blends inspiration from Throne of Glass, The Hunger Games, and Minecraft in its worldbuilding. Zora takes the place of her philandering boyfriend in the Royal Games, to free her village from dark magic. Be ready for the sizzle of Prince Griffin, Zora’s rival who both wants to win and pushes her to quit the competition in the beginnings of a hate-to-love arc.
In this well-written romantic fantasy, healer Iminique is protectress to a princess she saved at birth. She finds herself at odds with Quentyn, an embittered mage with nefarious plans. In this blend of Game of Thrones’ gritty historical fantasy and Philippa Gregory’s complex courtly politics, readers describe the hate-to-love romance between Iminique and Quentyn as beautiful and terrible in turns, making for an intense read.
Aria is kidnapped by fae soldiers and taken to the Fair Realm in this young-adult romantic fantasy perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. In keeping with our enemies-to-lovers theme, she grows close to one of her fae-soldier captors, Prince Xander, and oh boy, do the sparks fly! Angst and juicy romantic tension abound. As they navigate a war and a prophecy to end it, Xander begins to question whether his mission is worth betraying her trust. With Aria prophesied to be a queen and delicious hate-to-love goodness, you’ll want this on your shelf if you enjoy Clare’s fae realms and The Cruel Prince.