Enemies to Lovers: kiss or kill?

by Alyssa J. Montgomery

To kiss or to kill – that is the question.

Maybe that might have been a line Shakespeare could have used, because the Enemies to Lovers trope has age-old popularity and he certainly used it to effect in Much Ado About Nothing. Certainly there have been great romances since then, which have absorbed us as readers and entertained us in theatres.

JK Rowling is a more modern exponent of this trope with Ron and Hermione in her Harry Potter series. She could have used the Friends to Lovers trope and had Harry and Hermione falling in love, but somehow to me the whole scenario of antagonists becoming lovers makes things much spicier and far more fulfilling. Using the premise that all is fair in love and war, Enemies to Lovers can be highly entertaining with a great deal of sexy—and sometimes hilarious—one-upmanship.

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Alex and Leah in Mistaken Identity are enemies because each is playing to win a high-stakes game with single-minded determination, where their agendas conflict. To make matters more complicated, their goals are vitally important to each of them because they involve safeguarding the personal happiness of their siblings. So, when they meet sparks fly. There’s loads of energy and antagonism leaping from the page and an imperative need for them to resist the slow-burning sexual attraction they feel. Throw in an identity swap, a dangerous drug dealer and a kidnapping, and there’s a roller-coaster ride that rivals a theme-park attraction.

I love the challenge of bringing the hero and heroine together in this trope – of having them overcome all the obstacles lying between them that made them enemies at the outset. In fact, I love it so much that I can’t, at this point, ever see myself writing a Friends to Lovers trope.

It takes some crafting to shape enemies into lovers so their characters grow believably and don’t switch too dramatically. I think the best authors do this gradually by peppering little signs through the dialogue or plot as the story progresses. It should be a slow transition to bend the mindsets of the hero and heroine so they start seeing characteristics in each other that they can admire, respect and grow to love. There needs to be a very good reason to get rid of their prejudices apart from just giving in to the sexual chemistry between them. If done well, the slow build up to the HEA ending makes the resolution much more satisfying.

The lines-drawn-in-the-sand, hands-ready-at-holsters, obvious friction can also lend itself to some dynamic, snappy dialogue, which is also fun to write and to read. Toward the end of Mistaken Identity, it seems as though Alex has won the battle but lost the war. But the slow burn that was ever-present between him and Leah simply will not be extinguished, and the walls are finally broken down, proving that the making up can be very sweet.

I hope you enjoy reading Alex and Leah’s transition from enemies to lovers in Mistaken Identity. I’m fairly certain it won’t be my last foray into this trope!


mistaken An irresistibly indulgent novel about identical twins, an autocratic tycoon, and the sensual, sophisticated Greek seaside.

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