There’s something really fun about a fake dating romance. For those of you who aren’t sure what I mean, these are books where two characters pretend to be dating (for some reason specific to both of them), but they aren’t actually dating. The sweet and romantic twist, of course, is that they start to develop feelings for each other. But, if the whole relationship is based on pretend, how does one go about making it real?
On the flipside, there are also enemies to lovers romances. These stories involve two polar opposites who can’t stand each other, slowly falling in love. But, with big emotions (and big egos to match), will romance have a chance to blossom before its completely snuffed out?
Since these romantic tropes often intersect, this list will include books that feature one or both of these tropes. I hope you find a book to fall head-over-heels for!
2023 Reading Challenge, these books will complete the prompt: “An ‘enemies to lovers’ or ‘fake dating’ romance”
Just weeks before she leaves DC for good, Solange Pereira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin with her latest job. It’s an easy gig, helping with a random wedding. But, Solange becomes increasingly convinced that the couple are not meant to be, so she decides to crash the wedding and make sure that the groom doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life. Dean Chapman, meanwhile had his whole future mapped out, until he learns that his potential new job is conditional on getting married. Since his marriage prospects have gone up in smoke, Dean panics and claims to be in love with the wedding crasher, Solange. Which means he has to beg for her to to play along and pretend to be his girlfriend. Solange feels bad, so she agrees, but there’s no way that these polar opposites could really make it work…could they?
After her older sister refuses to go to an arranged marriage meeting with Takane Saibara, the heir to a vast business fortune, Hana Nonomura acts as a stand-in, to save her family the humiliation of snubbing the influential Saibaras. But, while Takane is incredibly handsome, he’s also insufferable and rude. And their meeting ends in an explosive manner that has Hana convinced that she’ll never see him again. But, Takane is intrigued, and determined to see her again. And even though Hana cannot stand him, she starts to wonder if this hilarious rivalry could potentially lead to love.
Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships. She’s too busy working on her PhD to have time for that. But, her best friend is a hopeless romantic who won’t get off her back. The only way to convince Anh that she’s actually happy is to pretend to be in a relationship. But, when proof is required, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees: Adam Carlson, young hotshot professor, and a real jerk. Which is why Olive is shocked when he agrees to go along with her charade. But, when a big science convention goes haywire and Olive’s career is in peril, Adam surprises her again and again, by stepping in to offer his support. Their game starts to feel a bit too real, and Olive realizes that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is what happens when you put your own heart under the microscope.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than a trained killer, but as an Executive Protection Agent (aka, “bodyguard”), she’s got to be prepared to use whatever force is necessary to protect her client. And she’s just been hired to protect famous actor Jack Stapleton from a stalker. The thing is, a few years ago, Jack disappeared from the public eye, following a family tragedy. And now, he’s planning on a return visit to his ailing mother. The catch? No one can know about his stalker. So, Hannah must pretend to be Jack’s girlfriend, so that his family doesn’t get suspicious. What could possibly go wrong?
Fashionista Iris Blakely dreams of using her talents (and her friendship with the queen of the African island Oloro Ilé) to help her start a business that will provide aid to impoverished citizens. But, when she discovers that her business partner is none other than Ekon Diallo, the man who betrayed her best friend, it seems like her dreams might fall apart before she even starts. Ekon Diallo has lost everything: his princely title, his friends, and all his possessions as punishment for his actions against Oloro Ilé. Forced to assist the charismatic Iris Blakely, Ekon must remember to keep his heart from getting in the way of regaining his status.
Olive has never been lucky: in a career, in love, or in anything. But, her identical twin sister, Ami, is the luckiest girl alive. Her story about meeting her fiancé is adorable (gag) and she managed to finance her opulent wedding by winning a series of internet contests (double gag). But, worst of all, she’s forcing her sister to spend the entire day with her sworn enemy: Ethan, who happens to be the best man. Olive braces herself for 24 hours of wedding hell, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning (except for Olive and Ethan), the pair find themselves unexpectedly in possession of an all-expenses-paid Hawaiian honeymoon package. Putting aside their mutual hatred for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan are determined to make the best of a bad situation. But, when Olive drops a little white lie to her future boss, she and Ethan have to pretend to be loving newlyweds. But, shockingly, instead of feeling disgusted, Olive actually feels…lucky?
When eligible bachelor Charles Bingley moves into the neighborhood, the Bennet sisters are overjoyed at the prospect of his marrying one of them. And certainly, there appears to be a connection between Bingley and eldest sister, Jane. But, when Bingley’s best friend, the stuck-up Mr. Darcy insults Jane’s sister, Lizzie, she vows to never associate with someone as rude and insensitive as him. But, with Jane and Bingley’s relationship threatened, the Bennets facing the possibility of losing their estate, and a handsome stranger who knows the secrets of Darcy’s past courting Lizzie, will she and Darcy ever reconcile their differences? Or will pride and prejudice rule the day?
Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially since her little white lie about an American boyfriend has spiraled out of control. Now, everyone she knows, including her ex and his new fiancée, will be at the wedding and they are all eager to meet him. The only problem is, he doesn’t exist! She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic to aid in her deception. New York to Spain is no short flight. And her family will be tough to trick. Enter Aaron Blackford, her tall, handsome, and condescending colleague–the most aggravating person she knows. Surprisingly, Aaron offers to help out. Honestly, Catalina would rather refuse, but she’s pretty desperate. As the wedding draws near and the pair play their parts, she begins to realize that Aaron might not be as terrible in the real world as he is in the office…