The Holiday Survival Guide centres around one of the best romance tropes – enemies to lovers. I don’t think there is anything more delicious than the combination of two people who have good reason to hate each other and are plagued by an attraction they don’t want to feel and can’t seem to control.
Where the friends to lovers trope (which I also adore) has angst, the enemies to lovers has anger. There’s such hot frustration to be found in it, which makes it just as much fun to write as it is to read. In The Holiday Survival Guide, the heroine Erica is a tabloid journalist who has built a career out of exposing the cheating spouses of the rich and famous. She has her feet firmly planted on the moral high ground, and has every intention of staying there. But not everyone likes what Erica is doing, and Nathan Wilde is no exception. When Erica books herself on to one of his survival courses, he finds himself having to take care of a woman he really doesn’t want to be around – a woman who publicly humiliated him when she revealed that his wife was sleeping with someone else. Does Nathan want to spend time with her? Hell no, especially not given how hot she looks in a snow suit. As far as Erica is concerned, Nathan should be thanking her for what she did. She finds his dislike infuriating, and is determined to make him see sense. There’s a lot of snow and a lot of sexual tension and denial.
The real attraction of an enemies to lovers story is that it is so much about the ability to forgive, to say sorry, to move on from the past and look forwards instead. There’s also the scorching sexual tension that comes from wanting someone you can’t stand – hate sex FTW!
So in celebration of the enemies to lover’s story, here are a few of my favourite couples who love to hate each other.
Liberty Jones and Gage Travis in Lisa Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy. Naturally suspicious of Liberty’s relationship with his father. Gage has to deal with the hate and the attraction, and he isn’t particularly nice to Liberty when they first meet. But by the end, he’s desperately in love with her. Swoon.
Buzz Lightyear and Woody. OK, so they’re not lovers (although I’m sure if you google it, you’ll find some disturbing fanfic in some dark corner of the internet), but their move from enemies to friends is funny, hard fought and at times, very touching.
Jane O’Reilly started writing as an antidote to kids’ TV when her youngest child was a baby. Her first novel was set in her old school and involved a ghost and lots of death. It’s unpublished, which is probably for the best. Then she discovered contemporary romance, and that, as they say, was that. She lives near London with her husband and two children.