As I said in Part One, friends to lovers is absolutely one of my favorite tropes and this time around, I’m talking about the friends to lovers novels where one person has been in love with the other one for a while, but for whatever reason thinks they can never be anything.
1) Scoring Off the Fieldby Naima Simone
This is probably my favorite friends to lovers with unrequited love that I have ever read in my entire life. It is so wonderfully written and I kind of wanted to cry because of how real it felt. Scoring Off the Field follows Dom, a NFL quarterback dedicated to football, and his best friend and personal assistant, Tennyson. Tenny has been in love with Dom for years, but he remains oblivious. She confessed her feelings for him drunkenly one night, but they brushed it off. When Tenny tells Dom she’s quitting her job as his personal assistant, things really take off. Suddenly Dom is looking at Tenny a little bit differently and also he cannot fathom his life without her in it. There is so much angst. SO MUCH ANGST. It’s glorious.
2) Play of Passionby Nalini Singh
This is the ninth book in the Psy-Changeling series, which follows Drew and Indigo, two SnowDancer wolves. Indigo is a lieutenant and a dominant female and Drew is a couple of years younger than her. Drew has decided on Indigo, but Indigo is not really having it, in part because she is convinced that relationships don’t work if the female is more dominant than the male in a relationship. Drew launches an all out charm assault on her and it definitely does not come across as too pushy or creepy in the book as it is sounding as I type this! I actually really liked the way the balance of power and negotiating boundaries and rules of their relationship worked in this book. It was interesting to watch how Indigo’s perspective of Drew changed from that of a friend, to someone she was wary of, to someone she was falling for. Basically, if you haven’t read the Psy-Changeling series yet, you really should!
3. The Countess Conspiracyby Courtney Milan
This is one of those books where I don’t want to give a full synopsis because I don’t want to spoil the experience of reading this series in order, and, even though this could be read as a standalone, I would highly recommend you read the entire series. That also means, I’m very reluctant to give you details about the plot because it spoils an element that’s really fascinating to watch play out. So what I will say is this, Violet is a widow who suffered under the hands of her dead husband that no one should ever have to (CW: miscarriages, trauma, abuse). One of her closest friends is Sebastian Malheur, a notorious rake and scientist. Sebastian would do just about anything for Violet, but Violet is in a place where she doesn’t really feel like she can trust in love or people, and maybe not even herself. This book is marvelous and I loved it so much. Writing this blurb up is making me want to re-read it, actually… Alas, so many books and so little time.
4. Wanna Bet?by Talia Hibbert
Spoiler alert to my ContemporaryAThon blog, but this book is utter perfection and if you take only one recommendation from this list, let it be this one. Wanna Bet? is pretty angst filled with both Rahul and Jasmine dealing with some issues that leave them sometimes feeling too many things and trying to bottle those up. Rahul has been in love with Jasmine for pretty much the entire history of their friendship, but Jasmine does not mix friends and sex. And, if she’s honest, she’s really good at maintaining friendships that are pretty one sided, as in the other person can need her and that’s fine, but Jasmine cannot express any sort of need of someone else. This book is Talia Hibbert so it’s obviously sex positive, Jasmine is a plus sized babe with small boobs (shockingly rare in literature, tbh), and THERAPY IS GOOD. Oh, it’s brilliant. I just… Ahhhh. Read this one.
5. Blurred Linesby Lauren Layne
Aside from my intense dislike of the title of this book because I think that the term blurred lines has been co-opted to excuse individuals from not getting consent, blurred lines in this case refers to that sometimes blurry line between best friends and more than friends. It’s a fun New Adult read that does friends to lovers by way of friends with benefits with platonic best friends and roommates, Parker and Ben. Parker gets dumped by her long time boyfriend and somehow this leads to Ben and Parker hooking up for the first time. They decide this is a system that works for them, but are careful to keep the boundary clear. Until, that is, the boundary is really amorphous and neither is really sure where they stand with the other. I do want to include a content warning that Parker’s mom has breast cancer, just in case that’s something that you would find difficult to read at the moment.
How do you feel about the friends to lovers trope? Love it or hate it, let me know! And if you have any favorites, definitely leave those in the comments below!