Hello friends! Giving you book recommendations based on some of my favorite tropes has been incredibly fun, so I’m back with another recommendation post. This time, I brought you eight novels that make excellent use of the friends to lovers trope, also known as one of the softest tropes known to man. 🥺
I feel like I have a bit of a mixed relationship with this trope. Half of me has written it off as boring while the other half is screaming and pointing at some of my favorite romances which contain this trope and are far from being boring, as you’ll hopefully see.
Besides including the blurb and a few of my thoughts, I also tried my best to include trigger/content warnings for each novel, as well as the age group and genre they belong to. I can’t promise you that I haven’t missed any triggers, as I read many of these novels ages ago and I had a hard time finding TWs for many of them. I apologize for any mistakes and feel free to let me know about any additional TWs in the comments! 💛
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
🌸 Age, Genre: YA Contemporary | Content warning: transphobia, homophobia, racism, drug and alcohol use, cyber bullying
🌸 Felix is one of my favorite characters this year. He’s so kind and wonderful, I spent much of the novel wanting to give him a hug. 🥺
🌸 I’m not a fan of love triangles – and that’s an understatement – and yet, I found the love triangle in Felix Ever After realistic and thoughtful. It made sense for Felix to develop feelings and to question what he feels for these two people, and these feelings were handled with a lot of care.
🌸 All in all, Felix Ever After is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2020 – it’s well-written, beautiful, and it made me feel all the feels.
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.
The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.
The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.
Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?
🌸 Age, Genre: YA Contemporary
🌸 All of Emma Mills novels are quiet, comforting reads that feel like a warm hug, and that includes Lucky Caller.
🌸 One of the best thing about Emma Mills’ books is that she puts a massive emphasis on friendship and family, two of my favorite parts of any novel.
🌸 Lucky Caller has one of the best examples of friends-to-lovers: Nina and Jamie are visibly into each other, which everyone can see but these two fools. Adorable.
Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl
When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.
Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.
🌸 Age, Genre: YA Contemporary | Content warning: being pressured into sex
🌸 Don’t let the godawful cover fool you, Have a Little Faith in Me was one of my favorite books of 2019, and it’d easily make it onto my all time favorite contemporaries list.
🌸 Have a Little Faith in Me is sex-positive in a way few books are and the way it discusses sex is very inclusive.
🌸 The friendship CeCe develops with her cabin-mates melted my heart. 🥺 These girls were pretty different from each other, but they fit together as a group nicely.
Every Breath by Ellie Marney
Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.
James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who’s also a genius with a passion for forensics.
Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He’s even harder to resist when he’s up close and personal – and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.
When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer’s trail, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…
🌸 Age, Genre: YA Mystery-Thriller | Content Warning: murder, blood, death
🌸 This trilogy has my heart, I tell you. It’s incredibly well-written; I was always at the edge of my seat, eagerly waiting for the conclusion to the mysteries.
🌸 Besides the romance – which is cute at first, but becomes more complicated as the series progresses – I also loved Mycroft and Rachel’s friends.
🌸 The only negative I can mention is that the final novel doesn’t live up to the rest. It introduces an unnecessary and frustrating love triangle, and it has a rushed as hell conclusion.
Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley
Katie Hammontree and Sarah Cooper have been best friends since the 2nd grade. Katie’s welcoming, tight-knit family is a convenient substitute for Sarah when her distant parents aren’t around, and Sarah’s abrasive, goal-oriented personality gels well with Katie’s more laid-back approach to life.
But when a misunderstanding leads to the two of them being mistaken for a couple and Sarah uses the situation to her advantage, Katie finds herself on a roller coaster ride of ambiguous sexuality and confusing feelings. How far will Sarah go to keep up the charade, and why does kissing her make Katie feel more alive than kissing her ex-boyfriend Austin ever did? And how will their new circle of gay friends react when the truth comes out?
🌸 Age, Genre: YA Contemporary | Content Warning: homophobia
🌸 The idea of two straight girls pretending to be together for attention is horrendous, but it is well-handled here. Not only is this an #OwnVoices novel, but it also handles the subject with lots of respect and caution.
🌸 As the (terrible) cover suggests, Dating Sarah Cooper is an entertaining, comforting novel even as it deals with tough issues, such as the sexualization of female/female couples.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.
Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.
And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.
Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?
🌸 Age, Genre: YA Contemporary | Content Warning: aphobia,
🌸 The friends to lovers is so, so, so soft here, folks! Paul is a this adorable ray of sunshine and I loved seeing his budding feelings for Tash.
🌸 In general, the characters are all well-done! We have a big-ish supporting cast because of the web series and they all felt fleshed out.
🌸 One of the best things about Tash Hearts Tolstoy was seeing Tash and Jack’s love for their web series. I love when characters have a hobby, job, or something else they can pour their heart and soul into.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
🌸 Age, Genre: Adult Romance | Content Warning: death of close family members, anxiety
🌸 As per usual, Talia Hibbert brought us another delightful and meaningful romance novel in Take a Hint, Dani Brown.
🌸 The novel is filled with laugh-out-loud funny scenes, starting on the first page. Dani is a hilarious characters, especially if she’s with her best friend, Sorcha.
🌸 For those who’ve read the first in the series, this is a must read! The previous protagonists, Chloe and Red, make iconic appearances. I love them so much. 🥺
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.
Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.
So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership… even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.
🌸 Age, Genre: Adult Historical Romance | Content Warning: miscarriage
🌸 I think I’ve never talked about this novel on here before!? I really need to make a “why I love” post for Courtney Milan, because this woman has written some of the best romance I’ve ever read. 🥰
🌸 The Countess Conspiracy features a scientist heroine, which is something we still only rarely see in books, especially in historical fiction.
🌸 The friendship – and romance – between Violet and Sebastian warmed my otherwise cold heart. They’ve loved and supported each other through everything and they deserved nothing but happiness.
Do you enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope? Why? What are your favorite examples of this trope? Do we have any favorites in common?