Enemies to lovers is a popular trope, but I’ve gotta say… it’s one of the most difficult tropes to do well.
Readers, myself included, love a good enemies-to-lovers romance. But how can you bring your pair together and make readers obsessed them?
What is Enemies to Lovers?
The enemies-to-lovers trope is when two characters start off as enemies and, over the course of a book or series, end up in a romantic relationship. These ‘enemies’ have to overcome their differences or misconceptions about each other, and in the process, they fall in love.
The type of ‘enemies’ they are can vary. Maybe it’s a detective and a thief pairing. Perhaps they’re soldiers from warring countries. Maybe they’re rivals in a competition, and both want the grand prize. No matter which one you chose, the conflict between the two characters should be believable and relatable so readers understand why they don't like each other, but it can’t be unforgivable! The best enemies to lovers stories have plenty of romantic tension between the two characters. This tension should build up gradually over time until it reaches a climax when the couple finally confesses their feelings for one another. This moment should be powerful and emotional, making readers feel invested in the couple's relationship and rooting for them until the very end and it all begins with these key elements.
5 Key Elements of a Good Enemies to Lovers Romance
1. Tell Us Why They Hate Each Other: Whether it's due to past experiences or simply because of their opposing personalities, it's important that you decide what makes these two characters clash with each other. Their beef can’t be something solved by one conversation or based on misconceptions that are easily disproved. Around these parts, we call that a bad first impression. That’s not significant enough to keep them from getting along for a large portion of the book. This will add tension and drama to your story and make it more interesting.
2. Tell Us Why They Remain Enemies: Once you’ve shown why these characters can’t stand each other, you have to make sure that hate is present on the page. We need to see their hatred in action! Make sure you include scenes where they argue or fight with each other. This will help readers understand why these two characters don't get along and why they need to overcome their differences in order to achieve their goals (and fall in love, obviously).
3. Force Them Together: Maybe your characters already hate each other, or maybe their beef is established in the opening scenes. Either way, these two would rather dine in the seventh layer of hell with Dante than spend time together. Give us a good reason why they can’t avoid one another while still attempting to achieve their individual goals, whether they have opposing goals or share a common one.
4. Writing a Heartfelt Apology Scene: We love a good grovel, don’t we? A heartfelt apology scene is essential in any enemies-to-lovers story because it shows that both characters have grown and changed over time, which is necessary for them to become a couple at the end of your book. Typically, one character has been more wronged than the other, but this grovel can be mutual. Hm, I don’t think I’ve ever read a memorable one like that!
5. Have One (or Both) of Them Confess Love: This is an important moment in any romance, but especially in an enemies-to-lovers one because it shows that despite all their differences, these two characters still care deeply about each other and are willing to take a chance on love despite all odds being against them.
These five elements are essential for writing a good enemies-to-lovers romance novel that will keep readers hooked until the very end! If you're looking for a romantic read featuring African American and interracial couples written by Black authors who start as enemies, there are plenty of great books to choose from.
Here are some popular African American and interracial enemies-to-lovers romance novels:
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The Hook-up Plan by Farrah Rochon
Successful pediatric surgeon London Kelley just needs to find some balance and de-stress. According to her friends Samiah and Taylor, what London really needs is a casual hookup. A night of fun with no strings. But no one—least of all London—expected it to go down at her high school reunion with Drew Sullivan, millionaire, owner of delicious abs, and oh yes, her archnemesis.
Now London is certain the road to hell is paved with good sex. Because she’s found out the real reason Drew’s back in Austin: to decide whether her beloved hospital remains open. Worse, Drew is doing everything he can to show her that he’s a decent guy who actually cares. But London’s not falling for it. Because while sleeping with the enemy is one thing, falling for him is definitely not part of the plan.
Angie Blake and Preston Reid are oil and water, fire and ice. Whether it's in the courtroom, where they're always in opposition, or in their personal lives, they don't mix.
Nearly two decades have passed since they were high school sweethearts and split in an emotional firestorm, but their best friends are dating, and now engaged so they haven’t had a moment’s peace from each other. And they won’t get one since the soon to be newlyweds have roped Angie and Preston into planning their destination wedding. They've been tasked with organizing the most romantic, memorable event of their lives without tearing apart the lifelong foursome in the process.
Angie and Preston are wise to this game. This clever ploy to push them back together in the hopes that their long-dead romance will rekindle couldn’t possibly work.
There’s a thin line between love and hate.
Work-Love Balance: An Enemies to Lovers Romance by Nicki Night
What happens when workplace enemies discover an undeniable attraction? Find out in Nicki Night’s latest!
Her new boss is infuriating, off-limits…
And the most desirable man she’s ever met
Ivy Blackwell is perfectly capable of managing her thriving social media brand. But when gorgeous producer Jordan Chambers offers the high-profile influencer the chance of a lifetime—her own show—she can’t resist the tempting offer. Nor can she resist Jordan, a determined self-made man…or the delicious desire he ignites behind closed doors. Mixing business with oh-so-much pleasure is a terrible idea. So why is Ivy falling hard and fast?
I Wanted to Forget You: An Enemies to Lovers Romance by J. Nichole
He was the last person she ever wanted to see.
Especially not on a Monday morning. But when Harmony walked into the corner office, he was on the other side of the desk.
Still sexy, still witty — but still the last man on earth she wanted to be around. It had been years since they saw each other, but he was unforgettable.
She thought she was too.
Except, when he spoke, it was like they had never met. It was like he forgot the last time they saw each other, years before, didn't involve a shouting match.
Could the long nights in the office be just what they need to forget they hate each other?
Power. Passion. Betrayal.
Raised to rule, bred to lead and weaned on a diet of ruthless ambition.
In a world of haves and have nots, my family has it all, and I want nothing to do with it.
My path takes me far from home and paints me as the black sheep. At odds with my father, I'm determined to build my own empire. I have rules, but Lennix Hunter is the exception to every one of them. From the moment we meet, something sparks between us. But my family stole from hers and my father is the man she hates most. I lied to have her, and will do anything to keep her. Though she tries to hate me, too, the inexorable pull between us will not be denied.
And neither will I.
A Reunion of Rivals by Reese Ryan
Sparks in the boardroom and the bedroom! Indulge in this sexy workplace reunion romance from Reese Ryan, part of The Bourbon Brothers series.
She can’t let anything derail her passion project, not even a second chance with the sexiest man alive…
The deal that could bring Quinn Bazemore’s career back from the brink has one catch: she must partner up with her ex-lover Max Abbott. Quinn can’t forget the pleasure-filled summer they shared. But now she’s butting heads over business strategy with the mouthwatering marketing VP, even as their reawakened desire threatens to expose her deepest secrets…
The Beauty Within: An Enemies to Lovers Romance by Savannah Frierson
As far as impressions go, this first one is catastrophic . . . but that doesn’t stop them from wanting a second chance at it.
I’m having the day from hell. Then she walks in.
All curvy and plump and glorious—and off limits.
She’s a client. I’m already with someone.
So I take my bad mood out on her, just an awful beast.
She gives it back as good as she got . . .
Right before leaving, never to set foot in my gym again.
I want more. Of her. From her. With her.
But how can I convince her to know the real me?
Everything’s Better With Lisa by Lucy Eden
When I first noticed Lisa Betancourt, she threatened me with a baseball bat.
To be fair, I deserved it.
But none of that mattered when I found out I had a baby brother—a brother who is now left to my care. Too bad I don’t know the first thing about parenting. If I have any hope of not ruining this poor kid’s life, I need Lisa’s help. She quickly becomes my salvation, my heart. And even though our timing is all wrong, I can’t help but wonder how I can convince her to stay with me—with us—forever.
Cole Simmons is just my insensitive jerk of a neighbor.
Or, that’s all he used to be.
Now he’s in completely over his head, taking care of an adorable child that I’m getting way too attached to way too fast. And the scary part? I’m starting to get attached to Cole, too. After my nasty divorce, I was sure I’d never risk falling in love again—but Cole has me questioning my resolve at every turn. Frankly, I’m starting to wonder if Cole isn’t the only one who is in completely over his head.
Neither of them was looking for love or a ready-made family. But what will they do when they realize they’ve stumbled head-long into both?
Crimes of Passion by Jack Harbon
Emery Thompson hates Calvin Chamberlain. From the way he acts like he’s better than everyone to the way he moves through the world thinking his podcast is the cream of the crop, every little thing about the man gets to him. Even that dashing, oh-so-confident smile. He’d rather be caught dead than be around the man any longer than necessary—or admit that last part out loud.
Calvin Chamberlain hates admitting defeat. It’s hard enough losing sponsors for his historical crime podcast while obnoxious pop-culture ones like Emery’s only gain more, so it’s a particularly cruel twist of fate when a late fan’s request for a collaboration with Emery lands in his lap. He’s in no position to turn down the plea, and with no way out, Calvin reluctantly agrees.
But keeping things purely professional turns out to be a challenge when these two make it to the studio. Their chemistry crackles through their microphones, and soon, their numbers begin to skyrocket. Can these two make a killing off what they once thought was a death sentence—and more importantly, will Calvin and Emery give into the heat of passion?
Mia and Peter couldn’t be more wrong for each other but trying to fight their undeniable attraction for each other leaves them…in the weeds.
High Powered Attorney Peter Stone needs more than legal prowess when he attempts to go head to head with strong-willed, sarcastic botanist turned activist, Mia George, but is he willing to go all in for her heart.
Mia has learned her lesson about trusting possessive Alpha males like her ex-boyfriend, but Peter’s surprisingly generous nature and down-to-earth charm leaves her wondering if her feelings for the enemy are growing out of control.
In the Weeds is a short, steamy and swoony, kindle burner filled with opposites attract, enemies to lovers, instalove, sexy Alphas and is safe with no cheating.
In the Weeds is book 2 of 6 in the Hearts of Stone series & can be read as a standalone.
Readers, did I miss anything? Are there more than these five elements in a good enemies to lovers romance? Let me know in the comments!