This YA Friday was written by guest blogger, TeenHQ Intern Beth
There’s nothing quite like the slow, agonizing burn of enemies who reluctantly fall in love. In the enemies-to-lovers trope, two people who have every reason to hate each other – due to politics, class lines, or other petty squabbles – overcome their prejudices to realize that they are, in fact, destined to be together. Some of the most famous pairings in literary history have fit into this trope – Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, anyone?
Notably, there’s a difference between enemies-to-lovers and abusive relationships. The enemies-to-lovers trope is so universally compelling because, fundamentally, it is based on a mutual (albeit grudging) respect. The love between the two characters develops because they realize the other person is able to challenge them in ways that no one else is able to do, creating a unique compatibility. Eventually, when the two overcome their prejudices and set aside past grievances, they join together and become a Power Couple.
As the characters fight their growing feelings, readers can expect to enjoy some sizzling chemistry, witty banter, and hilarious shenanigans. In no particular order, here are my top eight pairings of enemies-to-lovers in YA fiction.
I Can't Stand Them, But I Can't Stop Thinking About Them
The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black
Pairing: Jude Duarte and Cardan Greenbriar
Recommended for fans of: high fantasy, faeries, political thrillers, seriously badass heroines
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her sisters were stolen away in live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. A decade later, Jude desperately wants to belong, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans – especially Prince Cardan, the High King’s youngest and wickedest son. To win a place at Court, Jude agrees to go undercover and subsequently becomes embroiled in palace intrigues. When betrayal threatens to drown the Court in violence, the ensuing chaos gives Jude the perfect opportunity to claw her way up the Court’s rigid hierarchy, shocking even herself with her capacity for bloodshed. The Folk of the Air is one of the most-hyped YA fantasy series of the past decade, so be sure to follow up The Cruel Prince with its sequels, The Wicked King and The Queen of Nothing.
Favorite Quote: “The odd thing about ambition is this: You can acquire it like a fever, but it is not so easy to shed.”
Kissing Ezra Holtz (and Other Things I Did for Science) by Brianna R. Shrum
Pairing: Amalia Yaabez and Ezra Holtz
Recommended for fans of: romantic comedies, contemporary YA
Seventeen-year-old Amalia Yaabez and Ezra Holtz may have grown up together, but that doesn’t mean they have to like each other. Years of Hebrew school, synagogue, and youth group couldn’t bring them together, and it seems that nothing ever will. The two couldn’t be more different – she’s a rule-breaking artist, while he’s the stuck-up scientist. When they’re unhappily paired up on an AP Psychology project, they come across an old study that posits that anyone can fall in love with anyone, if you put them through the right scientific, psychological steps. They decide to put that theory to the test for their project, matching couples from different walks of high school life to see if science really can create love. As they go through the whirlwind of the experiment, Ezra and Amalia realize that maybe it’s not just the couples they matched who are falling for each other . . .
Favorite Quote: "That’s when he kisses me. It’s not tentative, it’s not a question mark, but of course it isn’t; Ezra hates question marks."
Serpent and Dove (Serpent and Dove, #1) by Shelby Mahurin
Pairing: Louise le Blanc and Reid Diggory
Recommended for fans of: fantasy, witches, romance, witty banter
Louise le Blanc hasn’t used magic since she fled her coven two years ago and took shelter in the city of Cesarine. But the city poses its own kind of danger for someone like Lou – in Cesarine, witches are not just despised, they are hunted. Without her brethren to protect her, Lou struggles to survive, living off whatever she can steal.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and both sides intend to win, no matter the cost. But after a wicked stunt and a cruel twist of fate, Lou finds herself betrothed to a Chasseur called Reid Diggory, one of the Church’s glorified witch-hunters. If Lou’s true nature is discovered, she’ll be burned at the stake; meanwhile, her most dangerous enemies threaten a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
Favorite Quote: “You're to be my wife." Catching up to her in two strides, I reached out to grab her arm, but stopped short of touching her. "That means you'll obey me."
"Does it?" She raised her brows, still grinning. "I suppose that means you'll honor and protect me, then? If we're adhering to the dusty old roles of your patriarchy?"
I shortened my pace to match hers. "Yes."
She clapped her hands together. "Excellent. At least this will be entertaining. I have many enemies.”
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Pairing: Nyx and Ignifex
Recommended for fans of: Greek mythology, romance, espionage, suspense
Seventeen-year-old Nyx’s doom is set in stone. Her father has promised her as a wife to the feared demon known as the Gentle Lord, who rules her world through cruel tricks and duplicitous deal-making. She has spent her life training to kill him and liberate her homeland from his tyranny, knowing she will have to offer her own life as sacrifice. Yet as she spends more time in his maze of a castle, uncovering his secrets, she discovers two things: firstly, the truth of her world’s fate is not all that it appears to be, and secondly, her husband is not the monster she expected. As the two draw closer, Nyx is faced with a terrible choice: fail to fulfill her duty, condemning her world to a terrible fate, or kill the man she has, reluctantly, fallen in love with. Loosely inspired by “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and Greek mythology, Cruel Beauty is ambitious, intense, suspenseful, and romantic, and sure to please any fans of the enemies-to-lovers trope.
Favorite Quote: “They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense. But now I knew that every mad word was true.”
Carry On (The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow, #1) by Rainbow Rowell
Pairing: Simon Snow and Baz Pitch
Recommended for fans of: mystery, contemporary fantasy, comedy-drama
Simon and Baz may be roommates, but they are definitely not friends. If you ask Baz, Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen. And while Baz may be evil and a vampire and a complete git, even Simon admits that he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he’s setting something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he was here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up. In his quest to understand what went wrong, Simon will be reluctantly drawn into a surprisingly hilarious world of mystery, monsters, and ghosts. Follow it up with the sequel, Wayward Son. The final book in the trilogy, Any Way the Wind Blows, is coming soon!
Favorite Quote: “Just when you think you're having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.”
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Pairing: Khalid and Shahrzad
Recommended for fans of: political intrigue, romance, fantasy
Inspired by “The Arabian Nights” – the fairytale that brought us “Aladdin” – The Wrath and the Dawn takes place in a dangerous kingdom that is ruled by the young and cruel King Khalid. Every day, he takes a new bride, only to execute her the next morning. After Shahrzad’s best friend becomes his latest victim, she boldly volunteers to be his next wife. Seeking revenge, she beguiles him with enchanting stories, though she always ends each night on a cliffhanger. In order to satisfy his curiosity, Khalid allows her to survive another day. As the days pass, Shahrzad increasingly finds herself drawn to him, and becomes determined to uncover the truth of the murdered women. Could Khalid, the boy-king she loves, really be capable of such senseless cruelty? In this dangerous world of magic, love, and betrayal, nothing is as it seems.
Favorite Quote: “My soul sees its equal in you.”
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Pairing: Lira and Elian
Recommended for fans of: fantasy, sirens/mermaids, suspense, drama, romance
The siren daughter of the Sea Queen, Princess Lira is the most dangerous thing under the waves. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. But when a twist of fate compels her to kill one of her own, the Sea Queen punishes Lira by transforming her into a lowly human and robbing her of her lethal song. Unless she can deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen by the winter solstice, Lira will be trapped in her human body forever.
For Prince Elian, the ocean is the only place he can call home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Charming, devious, and deadly, Elian prefers to spend his days hunting sirens. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—but can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
Favorite Quote: “Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.”
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Pairing: Solara Brooks and Doran Spaulding
Recommended for fans of: sci-fi, ensemble casts, adventure stories, space pirates (yes, really!)
Solara Brooks is willing to do whatever it takes to escape her life on Earth and its surrounding colonies. After being kicked out of her orphanage and physically branded as a felon, her prospects for survival are slim. Her only choice is to flee to the outer realm – the new Wild West, where laws and morals are subjective at best. Solara is so desperate to get there that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, her former classmate and rival, in exchange for passage to the outer realm.
But after a twist of fate, Solara and Doran find themselves not aboard a luxury spaceliner, but a run-down vessel called the Banshee, which is staffed with an eclectic (and criminal) crew. Meanwhile, Doran discovers that he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their own lives, but the fate of everyone in the galaxy.
Favorite Quote: “She’d learned that home was a fluid thing and whether on a planet, a satellite, or a rusted bucket of a ship, this crew was her home.”