Let’s talk about hate-to-love for a hot minute here, shall we? It just so happens that this is easily my favorite trope to read…EVAH. No joke. Something about the banter, that repressed sexual tension, the sparks that fly between the H & h when they argue yet you know they’re probably 2 seconds from jumping each other. *shivers* Delicious. So obviously what this means is that I’ve read a lot in this genre…like a lot. So much so, that when I started to put together my list, my brain began to hurt. There are so many books that I wanted to put on this list, but they’ve also been in my previous ones and so I decided not to mix genres. A lot of the hate-love I read in my dark romances, but since that’s not everyone’s cuppa and I already made my ultimate list of Anti-Heroes, I decided not to be redundant and skip this particular genre. If you’re curious about the Anti Hero list, you can read it HERE.
If you’re new to my blog, my Ultimate List is a monthly feature that I do on the last Saturday each month with my favorites in various categories, tropes, and whatever else. If you’ve missed any of my previous ones, you can read them all here:
But let’s get back to hate-to-love. You’ll notice my list is random and features books that were recently published and some from quite a while ago. I’ve read all the books on the list and they’re my go-to recs for this trope. I loved them! Of course there’s probably plenty that I haven’t read yet, so I’d love to hear about any of your favorites that I may have missed in the comments below. Now without further ado, let’s get to the list!
IT HAD TO BE YOU by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
GOODREADS | AMAZON
“I must have your promise, Coach, that you won’t hurt her.”
“You spoke a bit too quickly for my taste. I don’t quite believe you.”
“I’m a man of my word, and I promise that I won’t hurt her.When I murder her, I’ll do it real quick, so she won’t feel a thing.”
Viktor sighed. “That’s exactly what I was afraid of.”
This book is an absolute classic. What I mean is that this is probably the first contemporary I read with hate-to-lust and absolutely fell in love with it. Phoebe, the heroine, is such an endearingly sassy thing. And the coach? Just. Yum. Spark don’t just fly between them, they explode!
BET ME by Jennifer Crusie
GOODREADS | AMAZON
“Statistics show that men are interested in three things: careers, sports, and sex. That’s why they love professional cheerleaders.”
Cal put down his fork “Well, that’s sexist.”
“Yes I know,” she said. “But it’s true isn’t it?”
“What?” Cal tried to find his place in the conversation. “Oh, the sports and sex thing? Not at all. This is the twenty-first century. We’ve learned how to be sensitive.”
“Sure,” Cal said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t get laid.”
OK so while it’s not quite hate-to-love, I had to include this one for the banter alone. No it’s not the typical super steamy romance I gravitate towards, but the witty banter and the humor kept a smile on my face the entire time I was reading it. The perfect opposites attract story that I recommend to all readers!
WALLBANGER by Alice Clayton
“Fucking Wallbanger,” I hissed, frozed on the spot.
His grin slid off as well as he played place-the-face for a moment. “Fucking Pink Nightie Girl.”
If you haven’t met Nightie Girl and Wallbanger yet, you really haven’t lived. True story. Between laughing fits that hurt my stomach and a smile that was permanently etched on my face while reading this, I’m not sure what other reason you need. Oh yes! The hate-lust thing these two neighbors have going on while they annoy each other. The whole set up can be summed up in just one word: DELICIOUS.
CATCH A MATE by Gena Showalter
“If it’s true that we are what we eat, then I could be you by morning.”
I’m a huge fan of Gena’s PNR books, but surprisingly this was the very first book I read by her. I’m not sure why I’m saying it’s surprising, but let’s just go with it.
Allow me to set the scene: The heroine works for a service that catches cheaters. As in they get hired by significant others that are suspecting their mates to entice them to cheat. Sounds messed up? Kinda. But it’s also funny as hell. The hero is the heroine’s new boss and it’s hate at first sight with these two. The snark, the sarcasm, the banter. I was on pervy cloud nine with this one!
LOVE IRRESISTIBLY by Julie James
He’d come here, to her office, to ask for her help. Now he was threatening her with obstruction of justice charges – and most annoyingly, he was doing it with a smile.
So she returned the favor. “That is nice, Mr. Morgan. Because in response to your tough-guy speech, I, in turn, would’ve had to give you my tough-girl speech, about where, exactly, federal prosecutors who come to my office looking for assistance can stick their obstruction of justice threats.” She smiled ever so charmingly. “So I’m glad we were able to sidestep that whole ugly business. Whew.”
First of all, if you haven’t read this amazing author and series yet, you are seriously missing out. Her contemporary romances are full of wit, banter, and they’re sexy to boot. Love Irresistibly is book 4 in the series, but may easily be read as a standalone and there wasn’t one part of this book that I didn’t absolutely adore.
MISCONDUCT by Penelope Douglas
“Oh God, I fucking hate you.”
“As long as you fucking fuck me, I don’t care.”
To be honest, I should probably just put Penelope’s entire backlist on here because if there’s one thing this woman can write it’s one hell of an alpha-hole and some delicious hate-to-love. But that would get to be one very long list, so I’ll stick to my top 2 favorites by her.
Misconduct is a contemporary standalone and I loved every page of it. The heroine is a middle school teacher and her student just so happens to be the son of a very prominent politician that she has some fiery sparks with. The hate love force is strong with these two.
BULLY by Penelope Douglas
“You were my tempest, my thunder cloud, my tree in the downpour. I loved all those things, and I loved you. But now? You’re a fucking drought. I thought that all the assholes drove German cars, but it turns out that pricks in Mustangs can still leave scars.”
In the theme of Penelope Douglas, let’s talk about Bully. Because not only is it one of my favorite hate-to-love tropes but it also happens to be one of my very favorite books. Ever. Seriously. This book is what New Adult romance is all about. The angst, the feels, the sexual tension and oh my god the hate lust is absolutely incredible here! If you haven’t read this yet, I can’t recommend it enough, along with the rest of this fantastic series!
THE DEAL by Elle Kennedy
“Just out of curiosity,” she says, “after you wake up in the morning, do you admire yourself in the mirror for one hour or two?” “Two,” I reply cheerfully. “Do you high five yourself?” “Of course not.” I smirk. “I kiss each of my biceps and then point to the ceiling and thank the big man upstairs for creating such a perfect male specimen.”
Since we’re on the subject of New Adult, let’s talk about The Deal because… Garrett. No really. Garrett Graham is enough reason to read this. But since you’re greedy and want more, I’ll appease you. Manwhore. There. Nailed it.
THE HOOK UP by Kristen Callihan
“I’m not going to say it was love at first sight. No, it was more like oh, hell-yes-please, I’ll have that. With a helping of right-the-fuck-now on the side.”
I have two words for you: Drew Baylor. Bam! Ovaries within the next 100 mile radius are fluttering just at the mere mention of his name. True Story. But seriously though, if we’re talking about favorite NA romances, this is another auto buy on my list. I loved this entire series, but the hate-lust in this one did it for me big time. If you haven’t read this or at least heard about this book yet, I’m fairly certain that you’ve been living under a rock. How’s the weather there anyway? 😉
LEAD by Kylie Scott
“Do you actually expect me to jump around like an idiot?”
“It would amuse me.”
“Don’t make me kill you at this hour of the morning, Jimmy. It’s not civilized.”
If you’ve been following my lists, then you’ve already seen Jimmy make an appearance on my Ultimate List of Rockstars. However, since I loved the hate lust between him and Lena, I feel it fair to give him a second mention. The beauty of this series is that each book can easily be read as a standalone. In my favorite fashion, I read it back asswards. I started with book one, skipped to three, went back to one, then read four. I’ll give you OCD people a few minutes to hyperventilate and calm your tits.
NEIGHBORS FROM HELL SERIES by R.L. Mathewson
“He glared accusingly at her while he made short work of his clothes. “You didn’t wake me up.”
She rolled her eyes as she speared a piece of sausage with her fork. “I did wake you up. Three times in fact. Each time you threw something at me and went back to sleep.”
Jason gaped at her. “And you gave up? You know our routine, woman. You have to keep at it until I’m forced to get off the bed to find something to throw at you.”
Yes, I know I have 4 books up there. That’s because I count these 4 as one. They ARE one specific series, so yeah. I’m sticking with that. But if you’re looking for hate to love and hilarious banter? This is a must read. I’ve only read the first 4 books, so those are the only 4 I can speak for but I loved each one. So. Freaking. Good.
ON DUBLIN STREET by Samantha Young
“Just for that, I expect you to wrap that dirty mouth of yours around my cock tonight.” He narrowed his eyes on me.
I couldn’t believe he’d just said that to me in a fancy restaurant where anyone might overhear. “Are you kidding?”
“Babe,” he gave me a look that suggested I was missing the obvious, “I never kid about blowjobs.”
Our waiter had descended on us just in time to hear those romantic words and his rosy cheeks betrayed his embarrassment. “Ready to order?” he croaked out.
“Yes,” Braden answered, obviously uncaring he’d been overhead. “I’ll have the steak, medium-rare.” He smiled softly at me. “What are you having?” He took a swig of water. He thought he was so cool and funny. “Apparently sausage.” Braden choked on the water, coughing into his fists, his eyes bright with mirth as he put his glass back on the table.
“Are you okay, sir?” The waiter asked anxiously. “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
Oh I’m sorry? Were you not sold from the quote alone? And if you haven’t read this book yet, you’ve probably been living under the same rock as those that haven’t read The Hook Up. Do you guys meet up for a weekly convention? Come over to the light. We don’t bite…hard.
HERO by Samantha Young
“Tomorrow you’ll receive your employment contracts. Once you sign those I’m your boss.” When I didn’t answer he said, “That means you act the way I want you to act. That means you shelve your attitude and the twenty questions.”
“Should I shelve those next to ‘personality’?”
Since we’re on the subject of Samantha Young, we can’t skip this book. On Dublin Street is book one in her On Dublin Street series. Hero is a full contemporary standalone. The hero is utterly delicious. You know I love me my sexy grumpy men in suits. I absolutely adored the heroine. She’s sassy but not in an OTT way. Just enough to give as good as she gets.
REASONABLE DOUBT by Whitney G. Gracia
“Thank you for telling me that my dick is in your prayers. I’d prefer if it was in your mouth.”
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember Andrew graced my list as one of my favorite Ultimate Dirty Talkers. He is definitely that. The mouth on this man. *pervy shiver*
But it’s not just the seriously ovary exploding dirty talk that made this book. No, m’am. It was the seriously delicious hate-lust thing the H/h had going on. They lusted, they hated, they banged, they banged, they hated, they lusted. Oh the sweet deliciousness of it all.
BEAUTIFUL BASTARD by Christina Lauren
“If only he would keep his mouth shut, he’d be perfect. A piece of duct tape would do the trick. I had some in my desk that I’d occasionally pull out and fondle, hoping someday I could put it to good use.”
Since we’re on the subject of the hate sex…no one does it better than Bennett and Chloe. Seriously. If these two weren’t arguing, they were banging. And if they weren’t banging, they were arguing. On and on and on and on and on and 0- oh you get the point. There was a whole lot of hate sex going on in here is what I’m trying to get at. At points I didn’t know whether I was turned on, wanted to laugh at it all, or turned on again. This book gave my ovaries whiplash FFS! But it’s not one I’ll be forgetting any time soon.
AFTER THE NIGHT by Linda Howard
“You haven’t listened to my… suggestions yet.”
“I don’t intend to, either. Go back to your table and leave me alone.”
“I’d planned on doing the first.” He stood and trailed a long forefinger down her cheek. “There’s no way in hell I’ll do the last.”
After The Night is another one of those “classics”. It’s probably one of my favorite Linda Howard books. Sure, the cover doesn’t have a naked or suited stud on it, but don’t let it fool you. Not only does it have one of my favorite alpha-hole heroes, it also has some of the best hate-to-love I’ve read. Seriously delicious. The heroine has been in love with the hero as a child, but now she’s back to the town he’s basically royalty in in order to clear her mother’s name and therefore the reputation of her family. Sparks commence.
ISN’T SHE LOVELY by Lauren Layne
“It’s just that I think you forgot to change out of your country club uniform.”
“Does the surly mood come with the goth outfit? Or do you have to buy it separately?”
“Could you please watch where you’re pointing your teeth? The glare from your caps is hurting my eyes.”
I love all things Lauren Layne, but this book is what started it all. A New Adult take on Pygmalion,this book hit all my yes boxes. Witty banter? YES. Swoony hero? YES. Terrific Writing? YES. Sassy heroine? YES. Awesome hate-to-love? YES YES and YES!
WHERE I BELONG by J. Daniels
“The girl I once couldn’t get far enough away from had become the woman I couldn’t get close enough to.”
Did you know I’m obsessed with all things J. Daniels? No? Cause you do now. The woman gives good romance. Where I Belong is book one in her Alabama Summer series and what ultimately began my obsession. I seriously love her Bama boy. And while Luke and Reed will always be my number 1, Ben is right up there too.
Luke’s book had a bit of hate-lust, but it was more a second chance romance. Ben and Mia were pure hate-to-love. Ben made her life miserable when they were kids, but boy do things take a turn when Mia comes back to the little town she grew up in and Ben realizes the woman she’s become.
ASKING FOR TROUBLE by Tessa Bailey
“You’re testing my patience here, duchess,” he growled. “If you have any doubt about my ability to fuck the ever-loving sarcasm right out of you, I’ll be more than happy to clear it up.”
I knew from the very first chapter that I would love this book. Nothing I love more than the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope. And when it came to Brent and Hayden, you could just feel the sexual tension behind every insult. It was absolutely delicious!
For Hayden and Brent, it was hate at first sight. While they may have to tolerate each other since their best friends are dating, it doesn’t mean they have to like it. But beneath the barbs and insults that they’re constantly throwing at each other, there’s a strong undercurrent of something else: lust. And boy was it yummy!
PRICK by Sabrina Paige
“He’s a crude, caustic prick who can’t keep his dick in this his pants.
The problem is, I just can’t stop thinking about that prick.”
So here’s the thing; I’m not really a fan of the whole stepbrother trend. It doesn’t really do anything for me. But the synopsis for this book was just too good to resist and because I have zero impulse control, I gave in…and enjoyed the absolute hell out of it. Total guilty pleasure read. Enemies-to-lovers at it’s best plus the hero is a manwhore, so WINNING. You know I love me those manwhores.
PLAYING WITH FIRE by Kate Meader
“I despise you right now, Cooper.”
“Coming through loud and clear.”
“I may punch you, bite you, crush your nuts between my thighs. It’s going to be the best hate sex I’VE ever had. And YOUR survival is not my first concern.”
A sassy female firefighter and the mayor that sets her loins on fire almost as much as her blood. Did I actually use the word “loins” in a sentence? I totally did. BOOM. But I digress…
This is book two in Kate’s Hot in Chicago series, which I just so happen to be obsessed with. It’s also easily read as a standalone.
EVEN THE SCORE by Kate Meader
“When not thinking of imaginative ways to murder her, he’d be consumed with conjuring up even more imaginative ways to screw her brains out.
Fast, slow, all night long.”
Can I sum up this book in one word for you? YUM. This is the book that first put Kate Meader on my radar and I haven’t looked back since. The woman gives good hate lust. And these two had it in spades? When they weren’t snarking at each other, they were screwing each other’s brains out. And this girl? Was enjoying every single page of it.
FERAL SINS by Suzanne Wright
“I’ve met guys like you before. They talk the talk but, well… talking doesn’t exactly get people to orgasm, does it?”
Trey smiled wickedly. “When I fuck you, Taryn— and make no mistake about it, baby, I will fuck you— the only talking you’ll be doing is begging me to let you come. And don’t doubt that I’ll make you come. Not just the once. You’ll come over and over again, until I decide you’ve had enough. Until I decide that I’ve had enough.”
Let’s talk some PNR for a change of pace here. If we’re talking about my top favorite hate-lust in PNR this book is IT. It had THE best banter and THE hottest sex I’ve ever read. Seriously. Read it. Do it right now!
LOTHAIRE by Kresley Cole
“I never knew I could hate someone as deeply as I do you.”
“I often help others discover the outer limits of their hatred. It’s a talent of mine.”
Since we’re on the subject of PNR, I can’t NOT mention a book from one of my very favorite series and authors. Firstly, if anti-heroes are your thing, this is a must read. Secondly, the hate-to-love in this book was AH-mazing. The heroine had a backbone made of steel and I loved how she gave as good as she got. Plus the snark and the banter! OMG the snark and the banter!… and the hot sex. Can’t forget that.
SEDUCE THE DARKNESS by Gena Showalter
“I don’t hate you.. I just don’t like that you exist”
Speaking of snark, no one does it quite like Gena Showalter and this steamy little number sure packed on the snarky hate-lust. Oh man but I loved it. The hero also happens to be a manwhore to beat all manwhores but I absolutely loved that the heroine was almost cockier than him. It was perfectly balanced and utterly delicious.
This is from Gena’s Alien Huntress series which I was just as obsessed with as her LotU series. It’s book 4 in the series, and while reading it in order will help understand the world a little better, you can try it as a standalone as well.
ALL JACKED UP by Lorelei James
“You looking for a firsthand demonstration of my heterosexual prowess, cowgirl? Because I’m more than up for a challenge.”
I LOVE this deliciously smutty series with dirty talking cowboys and super hot sex. Like a lot. This book, though? Easily my favorite in the series. The hero isn’t a cowboy, you get a cowgirl instead. The hero just happens to be her older brother’s friend so it has an added incentive.
These two snipe at each other so much it just made the sex between them hotter. So. Freaking. Good. Don’t be intimidated by the number of books in this series. There’s a reason the author has an actual family tree for the McKay’s on her website. They reproduce like bunnies. But the beauty of these books is that each of them is easily read as standalones.
THE BOSS serial by Cari Quinn and Taryn Elliott
“He was every sin I never knew I wanted.”
Admittedly I’m not a reader that typically enjoys serials. My ADD kicks in and I tend to lose interest by book two. Yet something about this particular serial just does it for me. It is NOT meant to be read as a standalone and there are 6 parts in all. The characters are multifaceted and the story is gripping enough for me to continue to be hooked on it four books later.
It’s more than just mindless smut too which I can appreciate. Book 1 in the serial is the one that has the enemies-to-lovers thing going though it continues a bit throughout the next book as they get to know each other. It’s this I hate you but I can’t stay away from your nether regions sort of thing. Clearly I likey verra much.
TANGLED by Emma Chase
She stalks back around my desk toward the door.
“Here? Now?” I look up at the ceiling, like I’m debating the prospect. “Well…okay. But be gentle. My couch is a virgin.”
So I’m just gonna assume you’ve all read this book and you know exactly why it’s on my list. Unless you haven’t read this book, in which case I need to ask you, how do you all fit under that rock along with the people that haven’t read The Hook Up or On Dublin Street. Seriously. That has to be one freakishly large rock. Heeee! I’m kidding…well mostly.
Tangled gives you the enemies-to-lover thing told exclusively in the male POV, Emma Chase style. You haven’t lived till you met Drew. True story.
APPEALED by Emma Chase
Arguing is our foreplay. One time, she was so worked up she hauled off and took a swing at me- and my reaction was a boner that wouldn’t be denied.
Since we’re on the subject on Emma Chase, we can’t NOT talk about Appealed. Because what’s better than enemies-to-lovers? Second chance romance enemies to lovers. A double whammy of awesome is what I call THAT. If Drew is my number one, Brent is definitely right up there with him. Not many times you’ll read about cocky lawyers with prosthetic legs.
This book also has some of the best banter all served up to you in Emma Chase’s usual all male POV style. WINNING.
That makes it for my list! Phew. That was a long one and I still can’t help feeling like I may have left some books out. If you notice I didn’t include a few favorites that were dark-romance and that’s because that will be a feature all of it’s own and I’m saving them. If there are any that you didn’t see on my list, drop me a comment and tell me all about them! I love me some book recs <3