My First Crush Inspired My Enemies-to-Lovers Romance

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Many people who read romance will tell you they have favorite tropes, or reoccurring themes. Secret babies, fake relationships that lead to genuine love, modern twists on classics, fated mates. The list goes on and on. Like most romance readers, I have favorite tropes as well. The one I gravitate to most is the enemies-to-lovers plotline.

What do I mean by enemies-to-lovers? It’s just as you would imagine. The protagonists begin the story hating each other for valid reasons, but they end up falling in love. One of the most enduring examples is that of Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

When I hear about a new enemies-to-lovers romance novel, my one-click finger immediately starts to twitch. Why do I love this trope so much?

I blame it all on Shane McKenzie.

Shane McKenzie was one of my first crushes in grade school. By the way, I’ve changed his name to protect his identity and not embarrass the poor guy.

Shane was the class clown. I sat next to him in grade five. He teased me and he pulled pranks. He always had a mischievous glint in his eye. He even got me in trouble with the teacher once during a test because he wouldn’t stop chatting. In short, Shane drove me up the wall.

But one day, I looked at him, armed with a glare and a sharp word, and something strange happened. I suddenly noticed how his blue eyes sparkled. I was pretty much a goner after that. Let’s just say I didn’t mind Shane teasing me from that point onward.

In that moment, I think I realized the potential of an enemies-to-lovers romance. All the tension I’d felt around Shane transformed into something mellow and warm. What began as conflict turned into the spark of attraction.

Now, of course, this is an innocent example. Most enemies-to-lovers romances hit harder than my grade five flirtation with Shane McKenzie. In many of these romances, the reader sees real conflicts at work. The protagonists may be competing for the same job or they may be on opposing sides of a political squabble. Sometimes the stakes are high, with life-or-death consequences. What I love about this trope is that it lends itself so easily to the various subgenres of romance as well. We see it in contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance and so on. It is the gift that just keeps on giving.

The most delicious moments in these romances, in my opinion, is the inevitable surrender. We have two characters who despise each other, who would do anything to be able to stop obsessing about the other. But then, little by little, they learn about each other’s pasts and motivations, and something snaps. They begin to see each other through a flattering new filter and the reader swoons. When they finally give into temptation, it’s a sweet reward for both character and reader. After holding our breaths, we can finally sigh and relax. All that tension can now manifest as passion.

I couldn’t resist writing a couple of enemies-to-lovers romances. The one closest to my heart is Vice, Vegas Sins 1.

In this romance, the hero Liam is a Las Vegas casino hotel owner. The heroine Kate is a woman who runs a support group for families of compulsive gamblers. This story was inspired by my own family’s struggles and my emotions surrounding my father’s gambling addiction. Kate thinks Liam is basically the devil and comes up with the idea to protest the opening of his latest casino. I don’t think I could have conceived of two characters who are so vehemently opposed to one another. But somewhere in that clash of personalities and values, they get a glimpse of each other’s souls. When the surrender happens, they know there is no going back. The spark has taken hold and this fire will not be extinguished. 

Want to load up your ereader with some great enemies-to-lovers romances? I have some recommendations for you! Be sure to try An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles, Undone by the Ex-Con by Talia Hibbert, Love Game by Maggie Wells, Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan, and Toxic Desire by Robin Lovett.

And get ready for some sweet conflict!

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