Wow, has it been a while since I’ve done a trope talk! I think it’s because if I was making a pattern this post should be a list of books I liked with a trope I hate, but, um… So aside from second chance romance, I genuinely dislike accidental pregnancy stories and that is usually a spoiler and also, I don’t have five that I’ve liked. I am at two though, I think? I keep tripping and falling into books like that. ANYWAY, so instead of worrying about patterns, I’m just skipping to my other favorite trope: hate to love. Hate to love encompasses both enemies to lovers (which to me is more of a fantasy/PNR concept) and just general dislike to love. My favorite to end all favorites of this is childhood friends turned hate turned love because that gives me the perfect combination of my two favorites and if you have any recommendations, please, please share. Today I’m focusing on mere hate to love, so contemporary and historical rather than PNR or fantasy. Let’s dive in, shall we?
1. Her Best Worst Mistakeby Sarah Maybury
Violet has known Martin for six years, during which time he dated, proposed to, and was left by her best friend. She has hated him that entire time. And then, now that Martin is heartbroken, Violet begins to discover that Martin is like… a real person. I really enjoyed this one and the way the characters have to reveal themselves a layer at a time to each other. Also, with the added bonus of holy cow, Violet’s dating her best friend’s ex-fiancé. Really not sure how that would go over in my friend group… For bonus analysis, listen to the Fated Mates podcast episode with Joanna Shupe!
2. The Sum of All Kissesby Julia Quinn
Hugh and Sarah’s romance in The Sum of All Kisses absolutely delights me. The two, um, didn’t hit it off, to put it mildly. Hugh finds Sarah impossibly irritating and Sarah is still holding a grudge from the duel she blames Hugh for that put a strain on her family. When they’re trapped together for a house party for a week, things get pretty intimate between them and I was all for it.
3. Trade Meby Courtney Milan
Trade Me is one of the best romance novels ever written and Tina Chen really, really doesn’t like this rich kid in her class who has had everything handed to him on a silver platter while she’s struggling to get through college. Of course, Blake thinks Tina’s a genius and really likes her so you’re really only getting the hate on one side, but y’all. This book is so good. Blake suggests they literally trade places because he just needs a break (TW: eating disorder; grief). Tina’s skeptical, but if she can live in a home where she can have multiple appliances running at the same time, she’s on board. This book is so, so good and has so much commentary and I just really love it so much. You should definitely try it if you haven’t!
4. Lord of Scoundrelsby Loretta Chase
This is a beloved older romance in Romancelandia and when I read it, I was like three pages from throwing it across the room and screaming at everyone who recommended it to me when the hero got his shit together and started groveling. I think if read in the wrong mood, this one will not work for you. Jessica is determined to save her brother from Sebastian Ballister’s influence and she takes on that task by directly confronting the man people are pretty much terrified of. I love Jessica. Sebastian takes some work to become a good hero, but I really adore the way their relationship grows and develops out of Jessica’s derision and anger that he’s this horrendous influence and Sebastian’s surprise that this woman is talking to him like this. I definitely get why it’s so loved by readers of the genre!
5. Never Sweeter by Charlotte Stein
Ever time I think about Never Sweeter, I marvel over how this book should not work for me and yet hits me right in the feels and leaves me wanting more. I think about this book a lot and re-read it late last year. Essentially, Letty was relentlessly bullied in high school to the point that her three bullies one day hit her with a car and caused her to fall off a cliff, resulting in brutal injuries. Tate Sullivan was one of those bullies and now he’s back in her life at the local community college. At the outset, she’s on the verge of a panic attack every time she sees him, but slowly the two start to come together. I love this story so much. It’s definitely a great take on the hate to love trope!
Honorable Mentions go to Act Like It by Lucy Parker (which I usually slot more into fake dating), Hold Me by Courtney Milan (but there’s another trope for that one too!), Rock Hard by Nalini Singh (which I would put in a different trope predominantly, but is also hate to love), and Truth or Beard by Penny Reid. What are your favorite hate to love books? I’m always looking for more!