Romance is my favorite genre, and as I started looking through my reads for 2020, I realized that I had really added a new trope to the regular tropes I like to read.
I have often said that I don’t like the rivals-to-lovers trope because there’s too much tension between the characters, but that said, I found eight books that I had read and enjoyed this year that explore the rivals-to-lovers trope in various ways. Here they are (in the order I read them in this year):
Well Met is really as much an enemies-to-lovers as it is a rivals-to-lovers. Not everyone feels that there is a difference, so I’m going to included it here. Simon is in charge of the Renaissance festival. It’s Emily’s first year volunteering, but she sees some areas where the festival could improve. Simon refuses to change a thing, and he’s infuriating. Still, when he’s in renaissance costume, he is a flirt who sets her heart pounding.
Another fun rivals-to-lovers book is Beach Read. January and Augustus are both writers, but Augustus has attained way more critical success than January has. They went to graduate school together, and January remembers the stinging remarks he made about her writing. When both are staying at neighboring beach houses, and they are both struggling with writers’ block, January suggests that they both write a novel that is more the other person’s style, and that they give each other weekly lessons on how to write in that style. What could go wrong?
Tweet Cute is a really feisty YA rivals-to-lovers romantic comedy. Pepper and Jack are both running their family’s social media accounts. Both families own casual eating establishments. When Jack feels that Pepper’s family has stolen his family’s classic grilled cheese sandwich recipe, he starts a Twitter war to end all wars. This one has snappy banter and plays such a fun homage to You’ve Got Mail that I have had a hard time putting this book down.
A Rogue of One’s Own is a second-chance romance is some ways, but it also plays very strongly to the rivals-to-lovers trope. Lucie’s group of suffragists have banded together to own 50% of one of London’s famous publishing houses. They think it is enough to control the press until Lucie’s childhood nemesis, Tristian buys up the other 50%. Now, it’s a struggle to figure out whether or not this will destroy the ability of the suffragists to advance their cause. Tristian might be willing to hand the controlling percent over to Lucie–if she’ll spend a night in his bed.
What You Wish For is another second-chance romance that is also a rivals-to-lovers romance (I wonder how many second-chance are also rivals-to-lovers.). Samantha and Duncan used to work at the same elementary school together, and he was wonderful. So, when Duncan is hired to be the new principal at the school she works at, Samantha thinks it’s going to be great. Until he shows up with a completely changed (and awful!) personality. Samantha is thrown into the position where she finds herself combatting most of the changes that Duncan wishes to make at the school.
The Hating Game is a classic rivals-to-lovers trope. Joshua and Lucy are competing executive assistants for competing co-CEOs. They hate each other. There’s so much banter and so many good scenes in this book. It’s tense and sexy, and I was tense the entire time I read this book. There’s so much to love about this book, but my favorite moment may be when she admits to herself that she doesn’t hate Joshua Templeton anymore.
Although it’s not a romance, I think A Deadly Education deserves a rivals-to-lovers mention. After all, the first line of A Deadly Education has the narrator planing to kill Orion Lake for saving her life. At first, she’s using him to social climb, and she’s resentful towards him for the accolades that he receives. However, as the novel goes along, El realizes that she’s starting to catch feelings for Orion. This is the first book in a trilogy though, so I don’t know how the romance is going to play out, but I really like Orion and El as a couple.
While I was reading Christmas romances this month, I also read Sweet on You, which is a rivals-to-lovers romance. Sari runs a coffee shop based in an open-air mall. When Gabriel opens a bakery right next door to Sari, she doesn’t like it all. After all, she sells baked goods in her coffee shop and worries that his shop will cut into her sales. So begins a prank war between them. At first their goal is to annoy each other, but before long, the pranks are beginning to turn friendly, and the other shop owners are cheering for their relationship to turn to love. This is a great book for Christmas, and Sari and Gab’s relationship is perfection. Also, as an aside, all the different foods and coffees described are just as sparkling as the characters in the book.
So, these were my favorite rivals-to-lovers books this year. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you have any recommendations for me?