Trope Talk: Enemies to Lovers

There’s a good reason why I’m tackling this trope first, while I’m still new to blogging and before I’ve worked out all the kinks of how to express my thoughts in concise and interesting ways! Because it’s my favourite one, duh. So let’s butcher it, shall we?

“Enemies to Lovers” encompasses a ginormous shitload of things. Anything from the romanticization of abuse and Stockholm Syndrome, to funner things, like assassins trying to kill each other and ending up banging instead. It might be clear to you by the language I use where my biases lie.

Dark themes are my jam.

But that term is vague as well, isn’t it? When I say ‘dark’, I mean ominous. I mean mystery and suspense. I mean justifiable violence: a vampire bites to feed or a vigilante murders to avenge a lost love or to save a life. It’s about blurred moral choices. It’s about macabre and the occult. It’s about monsters and the things that go bump in the night and finding beauty and love among them.

Enemies come in many forms. Especially in genres like horror and thriller. Hate and love can be so tightly wound, and produce the most exhilarating relationship dynamics at messy, angry, ugly levels that things like friends to lovers or strangers to lovers don’t quite reach.

I understand the objections. The abuse one is the most obvious, but enemies-to-lovers is not inherently about abusive relationships, and I avoid the stories that are as much as I avoid the abusive relationships in friends-to-lovers and any other ship trope. Violence and darkness doesn’t have to mean one part of the relationship is the victim of the other. It doesn’t have to be manipulative. Terror doesn’t have to be answered with torture, and if it is, ideally it’s consensual.

Some people don’t believe two people who hate each other could ever want to bang, but sex isn’t always about love. It can be about so much more. It can be politics or stress relief or revenge.

I’m dying for some good m/m Enemies-to-Lovers books, if any of you out there have recommendations! Throw em into the comments, or DM me on twitter! If you have thoughts on the subject you’d like to contribute, I’d love to hear that too!

There’s a lot of passion in there, whether it’s for hate or for love. And this… this obsession that enemies usually show the protagonist. They’re not just happy with stopping the hero, no. It has to be more. It’s stopping them at every corner. Thinking steps ahead. They mess with the hero’s feelings. They kidnap and hurt people the hero’s close to, and not always to bargain. They want to be noticed.


I mean, I’d think that the reason it works so well is because of the strong feelings already present. Hatred and love being different sides of the same coin. And people do like their happy endings. It’s just a small lick away from entangled limbs and hot breath in the crook of the neck.


More by Sam Clover

Sam Clover is a published author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.

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