Trope-off: Enemies to Lovers vs. Friends to Lovers in YA Romance

It’s February, which means it’s time to talk about love, baby. 😉

Love them or hate them, romance is a big part of young adult books. Most of these books follow some popular tropes – such as the popular jock falling for the class nerd, or the hidden magic-user falling for the one hunting them.

So we’re going to talk about two of the most popular tropes of all when it comes to YA romance – Enemies to Lovers, and Friends to Lovers.

list of YA romance books

This post is part of the Blog Hop hosted by the YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Addicts  group. Each post has a fun freebie, and a chance to win big in a giveaway! (yay!)

Blog hop

Check out all the other amazing blogs and articles that are part of the hop:

Nice Guys Finish First:  My Favorite YA Book Boyfriends

YA Dystopian Book Boyfriends

10 Amazing Indie Young Adult Books to Read If You Adore Clean Romance

Printable Bookish Valentine’s Cards

Diversity and YA Romance

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Book Lovers in Love

Apollo – the Anti-Book Boyfriend

Happy Palentines – the Best YA Book Friendships 

Love Triangles: Love Them or Love Them Not?

February Blog Hop: Edgy or Safe Love Match?

F/F Couples That Are Goals

Trope-off: Enemies to Lovers vs. Friends to Lovers in YA Love Stories

May The Best Friend Win – Favorite Friends to Lovers Books

Fall In Love With Diverse Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books

Enemies to Lovers vs. Friends to Lovers in YA Romance

Trope break down: Enemies to Lovers

Enemies to Lovers is allll about the delicious drama. The two characters in the relationship are set against each other at the beginning of the book – they may be class rivals, competitors, or on opposite sides of a conflict, they may belong to opposing families or factions. Sometimes, they have a long history of conflict with each other.

On the plus side, there is often a lot of bickering and a lot of romantic tension. On the negative side, this is a very hard trope to do correctly, easily falling into the abusive/toxic relationship model. (No, bullying someone, causing them harm, controlling, or isolating them is NOT a sign of love.)

But when done right, the enemies to lovers trope is a slow exploration of two people who are diametrically opposed slowly becoming allies, then friends, before turning into something more. It’s an exercise in trust-building and shifting loyalties and it can be addictive to read.

Examples: Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games

Warner and Juliette in the Shatter Me series

Trope break down: Friends to Lovers

Friends to Lovers is the opposite of Enemies to Lovers – two people who start as friends end up becoming romantic partners. This relationship is usually full of missed connections and pining when one character realises before the other that they feel something more.

It’s also got all the potential for a lot of drama and angst – what if the friendship is affected? What happens if one friend doesn’t feel the same way? This can be worse if the friendship is decades old and rock solid otherwise.

Friends to Lovers is more rooted in reality, too. There’s little chance we’re going to lead a rebellion and fall in love with the tyrannical leader’s only child, but we’ve all had crushes on our friends.

And that’s how most romances start – the characters find things in common, become friendly, and then realise that hey, maybe there’s something more here.

Examples: Highlight to read spoiler (Alina and Mal) from the Grishaverse

Ron and Hermione in the Harry Potter series

Trope-off: Which do readers prefer, Enemies to Lovers or Friends to Lovers?

I ran a poll with the awesome readers on my newsletter – if you haven’t joined yet, sign up now – and grab a clean paranormal romance novella. I also asked the YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Addicts  Facebook group.

I asked them: Which do you prefer in your YA love stories, Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, or do you not prefer love stories?

The winner was clear.

  • Enemies to Lovers got 70% of the votes
  • Friends to Lovers – 23% of the votes
  • Neither – 5%
  • Others – 2

Indie book recommendations for YA romance

Enemies to Lovers

  • Shadows of Secrets and Lies by Dawn Brazil (Shadows Series, Book 1)

In this dystopian thriller, Mandalyn and her school rival, William, fall for each other.

YA romance enemies to lovers

At eighteen, Mandalyn is ready to take her rightful place among the greatest minds her society possesses. When she learns William is considered dangerous by their society’s standards, she confronts him. William shocks Mandalyn by revealing she’s equally dangerous.

Will and Mandalyn are joined by two other students with deadly traits. With their newfound abilities, they’re able to see the future. In one potential future, they die and in the other, they kill everyone.

They must untangle the lies to determine which future will belong to them. And find out why the organizations tasked with bringing order to the world don’t want them to exist in the perfect world they’re trying to create.

  • Finding Eden by K. R. S. McEntire (The Eden Saga. Book 2)

She’s a mutant. He’s the guy hired to hunt people like her. A gripping dystopian adventure, perfect for fans of Delirium, Shatter Me, Divergent, The Darkest Minds, and The Hunger Games.

YA romance enemies to lovers

Escape the city. Conceal your powers. Don’t catch feelings for your assassin.

Lilah has heard rumors of a garden paradise known as Eden somewhere out in the wilds. Forced out of post-apocalyptic Chicago when her mutant abilities come to light, it’s her only hope of safety.

But she’s not the only one roaming the wastelands.

On Adam’s first mission as a newly-qualified Warden, he is tasked with finding and destroying the heart of the Resistance – the paradise called Eden.

When Lilah’s and Adam’s destinies collide, neither can deny the spark of attraction between them, but how long can they journey together before their secrets come to light?

When Lilah lets down her barriers, Adam sees her for who she truly is and is faced with an impossible choice between duty and his heart.

  • Notorious by Sudha Kuruganti (Legend Valley Academy, Book 1)

Mal Jones is the new kid in magical school. On her first day, she has a meet-cute with a swoony shifter prince, and sparks fly. But then Korou finds out who Mal’s dad is, and dumps her like a hot potato. Turns out, Mal’s deadbeat dad isn’t just famous. He’s notorious.

Legacies meets Buffy with a dash of Bollywood in this tale of screw-ups and second chances. Rated ‘Five stars’ by Readers’ Favorite.

magic academy fantasy inspired by Indian mythology clean romance

She’s just looking for somewhere to lay low…even if it’s a magical academy.

As the only child of a broke single mom, Mal Jones doesn’t mind breaking the law for cold, hard cash. But when a streak of bad luck leads to the local police almost busting her, Mal’s only escape is to accept a place at Legend Valley Academy, a paranormal boarding school.

Her mom doesn’t want her to go, but with a criminal on her tail—who thinks she’s a snitch—a magical Academy in another freaking dimension is the best place to hide. Right?


All she had to do was keep her head down and wait this year out, but not standing out is harder than Mal thought. Turns out, her deadbeat dad is more famous than she knew.

And something horrible is going on at the Academy.

The worst part: Mal is one of the only witnesses…

Dive into this engrossing supernatural world for an intriguing mystery, slow-burn romance, and mythical monsters and creatures from every culture in the world!

Friends to Lovers

  • First Shift by A J Skelly (The Wolves of Rock Falls, Book 1)

A combination of friends-to-enemies-to-lovers, featuring a small town werewolf pack.

YA romance friends to lovers

Sam Wolfe has been in love with Megan Carmichael for years. Too bad she’s off-limits.

She’s human. He’s not.

When an accidental slip of his teeth endangers Megan and his entire werewolf pack, it’s up to Sam to find a solution.

Unbeknownst to them, Sam’s bite has thrust Megan into the crosshairs of a killer. Sam and Megan must work together to find the threat, protect the pack, and maybe fall in love.

But they better do it before the next full moon.

  • Keeper of Shadows by Scarlett Kol

They were friends once upon a time, then he became the bad boy and she remained the perfect prom queen. If you’ve ever wondered what Dean Winchester would look like as the broody hero in a YA novel, this enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance is your new favorite read. Full of magic, mythology, and even a witch, this dual point-of-view YA romance will give you all the feels.

YA romance friends to lovers

When you find something worth fighting for, giving up is not an option.

Kellan Casey gave his heart to a girl, but he ended up cursed. When his neighbor, popular girl Abby Marino, accidentally uncovers his secret torment she insists on helping him—even if he doesn’t want her to.

As the fatal end of the curse looms closer, any hope of finding a way out will mean working together. Except if they fail, Kellan won’t just lose his life.

He might lose the one girl he’s willing to die for.

  • Blood of Beasts by Rebecca Lemke (Geneshifters, Book 1)

Featuring found family and slow-burn childhood friends-to-lovers romance, Blood of Beasts is perfect for sci-fi and dystopian lovers.

YA romance friends to lovers

This one was truly powerful. Dangerously perfect.

Humanity has fallen, decimated by biological warfare. Survival is only afforded to the elite. Super soldiers were created to protect the vulnerable remains of the United States.

Titania has been in hiding since she escaped the program. For years, she has kept her origin secret, even from her best friend, James.

When she is forced to manifest her power, she and James must flee from her creator. As forces work to tear them apart, they must find a way to stay together and answer the question: Can you love someone who isn’t human anymore?

Freebie download – clean paranormal romance

YA romance paranormal romance inspired by India mythology

Sparks will fly when East and West collide…

India, 1851

When the British first arrived, Meera saw them for who they were: ruthless invaders who cared nothing for the land and the people who called it home.

Captain Michael Dalton proved her wrong.

But as the Guardian of the Forest, she can’t afford to let her walls down, even if this kind-eyed English soldier stirred her heart in ways she had never experienced before…


Michael Dalton thought the secret forest was a dream—a lush woodland, hidden just a few miles from their barracks, full of fragrant blooms and aromatic fruit…

And then she had appeared.

Long, dark hair. Stunning amber eyes, huge and ringed with kohl.

He has to see her again.


When Meera meets Michael, the attraction between them is undeniable.

But what Michael doesn’t know is that there’s more to Meera than meets the eye…and her secret could end up being the death of them both.


Link to giveaway: https://kingsumo.com/g/8jazcf/we-love-books-win-an-amazon-gift-card 

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