Enemies to lovers is a popular trope in the Young Adult genre. It typically involves two people who don't like each other when they first meet or people who have stopped liking each other only to be brought back together. When I've searched for YA books that fall under this category, there are many I've personally read that rarely or never get mentioned. This article will introduce you to books you may not find on other lists. A few of these books don't strictly fall under enemies to lovers but come close. So, if you've exhausted the books on other enemies to lovers lists, I hope you'll find something new here.
"I will hunt you down. I will scour the streets of Los Angeles for you. Search every street in the Republic if I have to. I will trick you and deceive you, lie, cheat, and steal to find you, tempt you out of your hiding place and chase you until you have nowhere else to run. I make you this promise: your life is mine."
Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu
When June Iparis and Daniel "Day" Altan Wing first meet, she's undercover, looking for the person she believes murdered her brother. June is a fifteen-year-old who scored a perfect 1500 on her Trial, a test everyone takes on their 10th birthday. Because she has a perfect score, she's being groomed for military leadership and she becomes the youngest agent in the history of the Republic.
When she goes undercover looking for Day, the suspect in her brother's murder, June takes a liking to a boy who rescues her from a fight. After they kiss, she begins to suspect the boy is Day. She arranges his arrest during which Day's mother is killed. He and his brothers are taken into custody.
When June interrogates Day, she abuses him and threatens to torture his brother. But he is so insistent he didn't kill her brother, she begins to have doubts. When she discovers he's innocent, she plots to free him before his execution.
Throughout the Legend trilogy, June's involvement in the arrest that killed Day's mother continues to come between them even though they can't live without each other.
Books in the Series: Legend, Prodigy, Champion, Life After Legend, Rebel
“I feel the pulse of our bond and history and love through our hands, like a wave of magic, the return of a long-lost friend. Of something meant to be. The feeling brings tears to my eyes. Perhaps we can take a step forward together.
'Hi,' he says. 'I'm Daniel.'
'Hi,' I reply. 'I'm June.”
“Where will I sit?”
Sit? Why, on this comfortable chaise lounge I’ve carried here for you in my pocket, Your Highness, so glad you asked.
The Starbound Trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
These Broken Stars - Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen get off to a very bad start. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. She rudely rejects Tarver, a war hero, who has no idea who she is when he approaches her. When the luxury spaceliner the Icarus is yanked out of hyperspace, they escape in a pod together and crash land on a terraformed planet. Barely tolerating each other, they must trek across the eerie and difficult terrain of the uninhabited planet to call for help.
This Shattered World - rebel Flynn Cormac meets military captain Jubilee Chase when he kidnaps her.
Their Fractured Light - Sofia Quinn and Gideon Marchant don't trust each other, but they must work together anyway.
Books in the Series: These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light
“She smiles, lightning quick, then squeezes my hand harder, holding on like she’s afraid someone will come and pull us apart.
“Your days of villainy are over, Nightmare.”
She scoffed. “You sound like you've read too many comics.”
“You sound like you think that's a bad thing,” he retorted.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
In Renegades, the main characters Adrian Everhart and Nova Artino are both enemies and lovers throughout the three books in the series. The story takes place in the City of Gatlon in the aftermath of a war between the superhero Renegades and supervillain Anarchists. Nova is an Anarchist who infiltrates the Renegades. Adrian is the son of Hugh Everhart (Captain Chromium) and Simon Westwood (The Dread Warden) who sit on the Renegade Council. Nova likes Adrian but has to suppress her desires for the sake of her mission to bring down the Renegades. Unknown to Nova, Adrian is the dreaded Sentinel, who keeps showing up at the wrong time, messing up her plans. Unknown to Adrian, Nova is really Nightmare, an assassin who attempted to kill his father Captain Chromium.
Books in the Series: Renegades, Archenemies, Supernova
“First," said Adrian, "you missed a sprinkle." He reached out and brushed a thumb across the corner of Nova's mouth. She froze, the touch sending a quiver through her insides. When he pulled back, a small orange sprinkle was resting on the pad of his thumb, which he popped into his mouth, eyes teasing. "Second, you're absolutely right.”
He was tired of General Hackett humiliating his father, and his father submitting to the abuse. He swore he would never stand for such disrespect. Now the young princess had humiliated him, and there was nothing he could do but remain respectful in her presence. He wasn't so polite in his mind. He cursed her.
The Girl at the Well by J.C. Ahmed
Before he liked her, Malthus wanted to kill her. Liralexa Abbingdon, the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of the Nine Regions, lives a life of oblivious joy. That all changes when she discovers a portal on the palace grounds, which takes her to an area called the Step Region. It's there that she meets Malthus West and his friends who reveal that her parents are despots who routinely have people killed. Refusing to believe her beloved parents King Cameron and Queen Stella are tyrants, she returns home angry and bitter. When she learns the truth, she returns to the Step Region and falls for Malthus. Plotting to kill her parents, he takes advantage of her affection for him.
"I think you will be a great queen someday. That heartens me," Malthus said. She smiled at him. "You have a beautiful smile."
She blushed. "Do I?"
“You’re the Aska, then?” Her gaze dropped down, inspecting the arm still wrapped to my chest. Her lips pressed together. “What happened there?”
My eyes moved to Fiske, who leaned against the wall, eating.
“I shot her.” He didn’t look up from his bowl.
The woman’s eyes widened. “And then you bought her?”
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Described as Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings, Sky in the Deep tells the story of a young warrior named Eelyn. Her clan, the Aska, has an ancient rivalry with the Riki. During one battle, she sees her brother, who she believed had died five years before, fighting with the Riki. When she encounters him again, the Riki capture her. Now a prisoner, she learns her brother joined the enemy when a Riki warrior named Fiske saved his life. Eelyn becomes Fiske's property. When threatened by a tribe determined to wipe out both the Aska and the Riki, they must learn to put aside their ancient hatred and work together.
“I don’t belong to you.”
“Yes, you do.” He pulled the hair back out of my face so he could look at me. “Like I belong to you.”
“I would never lie—”
The words faded. She had lied. Everything he knew about her had been a lie.
“I’m so sorry,” she finished, the words falling lamely in the open air.
Kai peeled his eyes away, finding some place of resignation off in the glistening garden. “You’re even more painful to look at than she is.”
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella in a futuristic setting where the moon has been settled and is now being ruled by the evil Queen Levana. The Lunar Chronicles might better be described as lovers to enemies to lovers. In the first book Cinder, Prince Kai falls for the teenage cyborg Linh Cinder, unaware she is a cyborg, a class of people who are discriminated against in New Beijing. Queen Levana is determined to marry Prince Kai. He is determined to take Cinder to the ball, to avoid Levana as much as possible. Everything becomes complicated when Cinder discovers who and what she really is and Prince Kai no longer wants anything to do with her.
Books in the Series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Stars Above
“Before she knew what she was doing, she was storming after Kai. She grabbed his elbow and spun him back around to face her. Without hesitating, Cinder wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.”
You picked a hell of a day to dump me, Kades.
Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Illuminae - Kady and Ezra have just broken up when they find themselves thrown back together. They're barely even talking when BeiTech Corporation invades their planet Kerenza. They escape together and evacuate on a science vessel with a hostile warship in pursuit. Then she puts her life on the line to save him. Or so she thinks.
Gemina - Spoiled rich girl Hanna Donnelly and criminal Nik Malikov aren't enemies, but they do have a falling out that threatens their mission to thwart the BeiTech invasion of their home, the Heimdall space station.
Obsidio - Asha and Rhys meet again after several years, but now they're on opposites sides. She's trying to survive under the brutal BeiTech occupation of Kerenza while Rhys is a BeiTech soldier there to enforce that occupation.
Books in the Series: Illuminae, Gemina, Obsidio
All he cares about here on the edge of forever, is her. He does not want to die. Not because he is afraid. Simply because he cannot bear the thought of leaving her behind
"Oh, poor Archer," she sneered. "Did I make a mess for you? I guess that's what you get for going along with framing an innocent person instead of telling the truth from the start."
Elemental Thief (Ridley Kayne Chronicles) by Rachel Morgan
Archer Davenport represents everything Ridley Kayne hates. He's rich. She's a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to help the poor. Ridley is convinced a murder pinned on her friend was actually committed by Archer. She also believes he's a threat to people like her. Ridley is an elemental, a person with magic powers. Having magic powers is dangerous in a world where magic is outlawed. When she steals an ancient figurine from Archer's family, they must team up to get it back. If they don't, many lives will be endangered.
Books in the Series: Elemental Thief, Elemental Power, Elemental Heir
"Ridley..." His hand that wasn't encased in plaster reached toward hers.
She's a virus. Her entire family is. They've infected the country with a special brand of intolerance that masquerades as religion.
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
The Book of Essie is more accurately enemies to friends, but I'm putting it on the list because it's about two teens pretending to be a couple. Esther Ann Hicks, the daughter of an evangelical preacher, is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality TV show. While many idolize the family, Essie also must deal with people who despise her and her family's intolerant beliefs. Desperate to escape the hidden dark side of the Hicks family, and make a lot of money while she does it, Essie hatches a plan to marry Roarke Richards, a boy at her school. Essie knows Roarke is in the closet, but makes it very clear to him their marriage will be a short-term financial arrangement. Roarke is initially hostile toward Essie, the proposed marriage, and making appearances on Six for Hicks, but the financial payout is too good to turn down.
I realize that whatever it is that is between them, even if it's not love, it is just as real.
She stares at me a beat longer, then two, her angry gaze measuring me, and finding me wanting in every possible way.
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Not exactly enemies to lovers. More like a couple who initially don't trust each other, and then have a falling out when she's forced to pretend she's betraying him. Jules Addison is a scholar interested in protecting the culture of ancients aliens called the Undying. Amelia Radcliffe (Mia) is a scavenger who wants to loot their artifacts. An encounter with hostile 'scavvers' on Planet Gaia forces them to form an uneasy alliance.
Books in the Series: Unearthed, Undying
My heart's slamming against my chest, and it's not just that I'm holding her in my arms again, that I'm gazing down at her, her mouth only a breath from mine.
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