Although romances are an extremely common element in books, they are not always an aspect that people enjoy. Recently, I have seen quite a few online comments who are quick to identify relationship-related tropes as some of their most hated parts of a book. Love triangles and insta-love seem to be the most widely hated tropes, but personally I don’t mind them much as long as they are written well. The one trope that most people actually seem to enjoy is a “hate to love” relationship, where the two people involved start out as rivals or enemies, but ultimately end up falling in love.
When looking back at some of the books I’ve read to find examples for this post, I found surprisingly few even though this is a trope I tend to enjoy. One of my all-time favourite couples, who are definitely a hate-to-love relationship, are Buffy and Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think these kinds of relationships tend to be more interesting because there is an extra layer of complexity to them. It is not quite as simple as “A and B meet, fall madly in love, and live happily ever after.” Instead, there is usually a lot more character development, and often some amazing witty banter.
**Disclaimer: Given the nature of the topic, it is pretty much inevitable that there will be spoilers about who ends up with who. I actually think many of my choices are fairly obvious, but there is one who might be spoilers for those who haven’t read the Shatter Me series yet. I will leave that one for last, so if you haven’t read it yet and don’t want to be spoiled, please skip that last part.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
This book seems to be the quintessential example of a hate-to-love relationship. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy can’t stand each other when they first meet. He snubs her at a dance and makes rude comments about her appearance, which she then holds against him as evidence of his arrogance. At the same time, he is hesitant to admit his feelings for her because of her lower social standing, and especially higher society’s negative opinion of Elizabeth’s family. Throughout the book, Elizabeth tends to find Darcy arrogant and condescending, only changing her mind later after his superiority complex is confronted and as she learns the reasons for some of his more objectionable actions. I have always found this couple very interesting, and it is definitely a key example of a hate-to-love relationship.
2) Lucy and Joshua (The Hating Game)
I feel like I’ve been talking about this book a lot lately, but it was one of my favourites of the year so far! I almost never read these kinds of fluffy romance books, but this one was so much better than I expected. It is obvious immediately even from the title what will happen, but I loved reading about the interactions between Lucy and Joshua, who are rivals up for the same promotion at a publishing company. After their two companies merge, they are forced to share office space and end up in constant competition with each other through little “games” they play to try and one-up each other. It is predictable, but it was a very fun and entertaining read. They definitely had a lot of witty banter, and I thought their relationship worked surprisingly well.
3) Anne and Gilbert (Anne of Green Gables)
This one is more of a one-sided hate than the others mentioned above, but I think it still fits. Even though the characters are young in the first book, it progresses into a much more mature relationship later on in the series. In the first book, Anne despises Gilbert because he pulls her hair and calls her “carrots,” playing on one of her biggest insecurities. She spends the rest of the book holding a major grudge against him, refusing to speak to him or even mention his name, while at the same time actively competing to best him in every way possible. It seemed that Gilbert fell for Anne almost from the start, so I’m not sure if it is a true hate-to-love relationship, but considering how Anne treats him for so much of the first book, I would say it qualifies. Anne and Gilbert are an interesting match.
4) Lou and Will (Me Before You)
Can it count as a ship when the couple doesn’t really get together? I know I’m in the relative minority who loves this book, but I thought Lou and Will had a very interesting dynamic. When they first meet, Will hates Lou for her over-the-top, kind of eccentric, and overly sunny attitude, and I think there is definitely some resentment there about her “wasting” her life not doing much while he was so limited himself. Lou hates Will at first for his rudeness and anger, which although understandable given his situation, still makes him very unpleasant to be around. Over time, they learn to understand each other and be a bit more open-minded. I absolutely loved their interactions and the friendship that developed between them. It is still one of my favourite books of the past few years.
5) Juliette and Warner (Unravel Me)
To be fair, I haven’t finished this series yet so I’m not 100% sure whether this relationship actually happens, but given some of what I’ve heard online about it, it seems that this is the favourite ship from the series. I didn’t get a very strong sense of it from the first book, but it definitely took off in Unravel Me. Juliette is a teenager whose touch causes immense pain or even death to anyone she touches, and Warner is the son of the Supreme Commander of the Reestablishment, an organization that is trying to recreate and “improve” the world. Warner initially wants to use Juliette as a weapon for his cause but has also fallen in love with her and thinks they could make a kind of power couple ruling over the new world. In Unravel Me, the relationship develops a bit further with Juliette constantly conflicted about her feelings for Warner, who she always thought she hated. I would love to see how it plays out in the next book.