The Hating Game is an entertaining, escapist romantic comedy–an enemies-to-lovers story about two coworkers competing for a promotion. Lucy and Josh have palpable chemistry and delightful banter. The best romances are those that keep us guessing even when we know our characters will end up together in the end. If you’re looking for similar storylines with humor and heartfelt emotion, check out these contemporary romance novels with this well-loved trope.
1. The Unhoneymooners, by Christina Lauren
After Olive’s twin sister Ami and all her wedding guests come down with food poisoning, Olive redeems the all-expenses-paid Hawaiian honeymoon. The only catch is that she’s sharing the vacation with the best man, Ethan, who can’t stand her. He’s always critical and judgmental of snarky, free-spirited Olive. They’re determined to keep their distance, but a comical series of events has Olive and Ethan pretending to be a happy newlywed couple. It’s a will-they-won’t-they romance in paradise, with witty banter and chemistry that rivals even that of Lucy and Josh. The Unhoneymooners is laugh-out-loud funny, but gives us a heartwarming story about two people who learn that their differences are not so polarizing after all.
2. The Ex Talk, by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Shay does not get along with her new coworker Dominic, an annoyingly handsome know-it-all who’s managed to steal the limelight. It’s their verbal sparring that ropes them into co-hosting a radio show together, and even worse, pretending to be exes giving relationship advice. Shay is lying to their listeners, catching feelings for her irritating coworker–what could go wrong? The Ex Talk is a funny and charming workplace romance. Shay is relatable as a woman in her late 20s dealing with conflict at work and at home, juggling her career aspirations with her growing attraction for a man she initially disliked.
3. Beach Read, by Emily Henry
January is staying at her late father’s beach house on Lake Michigan to finish writing her next novel. But the words won’t come, because her belief in “happily ever after” romance was shattered by the secret that came to light at her father’s funeral. To make matters worse, she learns that her grumpy neighbor for the summer is literary author Augustus Everett, her college nemesis. Gus challenges her to a bet–they’ll swap genres for the summer to break their writer’s block. As they spend more and more time together, their friendly competition rekindles romantic feelings and challenges Gus and January to see the world through each other’s eyes. Beach Read is a sweet, slow-burn romance about healing after heartbreak.
4. Well Met, by Jen DeLuca
What could be more entertaining than finding love at a small-town Renaissance Faire? Emily is a tavern “wench” for the summer, having been roped into volunteering alongside her niece. She enjoys being a part of the community–making new friendships and flirting with the hot kilt-wearing gym coach. On the other hand, she’s determined to avoid Simon, the local English teacher who takes Faire too seriously and seems to criticize everything she does. Though Emily and Simon don’t get along, sparks fly between their alter egos “Emma” and sexy pirate “Captain Blackthorne.” Well Met is an adorable rom com with a fun setting and quirky characters. Eventually, Emily and Simon must decide if their romantic chemistry can survive outside of the magical summer Faire.
5. Better Than the Movies, by Lynn Painter
When Liz’s childhood crush moves back to town, she turns to her longtime nemesis and next door neighbor Wes to help her catch Michael’s attention. Guided by her intimate knowledge of rom coms, Liz orchestrates scenarios that are meant to put her in Michael’s path–and somehow finds herself fake-dating Wes and spending more time with him than her crush. Even worse, she begins to realize that her assumptions about her obnoxious neighbor may, in fact, be wrong. Better Than the Movies is a YA contemporary with nods to classic rom coms and the enemies-to-lovers trope we know and love.
6. A Rogue of One’s Own, by Evie Dunmore
This is the second novel in Evie Dunmore’s A League of Extraordinary Women series, following Lady Lucie, the bold unmarried woman at the helm of the women’s suffragist movement in Oxford, England. Lucie’s entire life is devoted to the “cause.” When ladies-man Tristan Ballentine stands in the way of her plans to acquire a publishing house, Lucie loathes him more than ever. She and Lord Ballentine attempt to out-maneuver one another to get what they want in a match of wits that’s similar to The Hating Game. A Rogue of One’s Own is a steamy historical fiction set against the backdrop of late 1800s England and the battle for women’s rights.
7. What’s Not to Love, by Emily Wibberley
High school seniors Alison and Ethan are academic rivals vying to be top of their class. Their rivalry is so heated that even their teachers can’t wait for them to graduate. When the principal pairs them to plan an alumni reunion, Alison and Ethan are determined to one-up each other at every turn. Alison can’t wait for an Ethan-less college experience, but as their competition escalates, she realizes it’s… fun? Life without their games of one-upmanship may not be what she wants, after all. For those who loved the flirtatious teasing and competitive spirit in The Hating Game, you won’t be disappointed by What’s Not To Love. The romantic tension between Alison and Ethan reminds us that “hatred” can just as easily be passion.
8. Dating You/Hating You, by Christina Lauren
Writing duo Christina Lauren makes the list twice with this workplace romance about two love interests vying for the same promotion. Like The Hating Game, a company merger turns high-powered Hollywood agents Evie and Carter into fierce competitors. Navigating office politics is difficult enough already. Now Evie has to turn off her feelings for the man who’s standing in the way of her career advancement. There’s tension, hilarious pranks, a difficult boss… Dating You/Hating You is a funny, earnest contemporary with relatable characters you want to root for even when they go toe-to-toe.