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Loathe at First Sight

"What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?"
-Benedick, Much Ado about Nothing, Act I, scene 1

Beatrice and Benedick. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Leia and Han. Swoon-worthy couples and romances for the ages, all of them, but what else do they have in common? At the beginning of their stories, each of these couples absolutely detested each other.

To be clear, I'm not referring to impersonal enmity, here-- these are (for the most part) not people placed at odds by warring nations, class conflicts, or clan feuds. (You'll note Romeo and Juliet didn't make this list-- they had family problems, sure, but they loved each other straight away). No, I'm talking about couples who pretty much do the opposite of "hitting it off" when they first meet. This is the classic "enemies-to-lovers" trope, and it's one of my personal favorites.

Why do I love "loathe at first sight" stories so much? Two words: romantic tension. Oh, alright, two more: witty banter. I admit, I adore a good bout of verbal sparring, and some of the best to be had is from these warring not-yet-couples. For all they profess (loudly and frequently) their mutual disdain, they can't quite seem to quit each other-- if only so they can get in the last word. Couples of this sort tend to be very well-matched and balanced, too-- a contentious pairing just doesn't work they're unwilling or unable to give as good as they get.

And of course, there's passion and explosive chemistry from the very start; they wouldn't be at each other's throats if they didn't get under each other's skin. There's often attraction there, too, although they'd die before admitting it. If anything, that hidden attraction serves as fuel for the fire-- there's nothing more frustrating than being turned on and ticked off at the same time. (Why does such a sleaze/prig/shrew/jerk have to be so good-looking, anyway?)

Of course, since this is a romance, you know the duo striking sparks off one another is going to wind up together somehow. Personality differences will be resolved, misunderstandings straightened out, crow will likely be eaten, and the make-up se-- ahem, session will be spectacular. But oh, the fun in getting them there!

Looking for a good take-no-prisoners romance? Check out one of these!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Reading List Austen)
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh (Fiction Balogh)
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (PbkRomance Banks)
Think of England by K. J. Charles (LGBT Charles)
Tangled by Emma Chase (PbkRomance Chase)
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (PbkRomance Chase)
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (PbkRomance Clayton)
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (LP Crusie)
Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare (PbkRomance Dare)
Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran (PbkRomance Duran)
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (YA Elkeles)
Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson (PbkRomance Gibson)
Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke (PbkRomance Guhrke)
To Scotland, With Love by Karen Hawkins (LP Hawkins)
The Best Man by Kirstan Higgins (PbkRomance Higgins)
Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard (LP Howard)
The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter (PbkRomance Hunter)
Catch a Ghost by S. E. Jakes (LGBT Jakes)
When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (PbkRomance James)
Suddenly One Summer by Julie James (PbkRomance James)
Wrapped and Strapped by Lorelei James (PbkRomance James)
The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries (PbkRomance Jeffries)
It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas (PbkRomance Kleypas)
Made for You by Lauren Layne (PbkRomance Layne)
The Revenge of Lord Eberlin by Julia London (PbkRomance London)
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean (PbkRomance MacLean)
Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell (Fiction Mansell)
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (PbkRomance McGuire)
Playing with Fire by Kate Meader (PbkRomance Meader)
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville (PbkRomance Neville)
Kiss Me If You Can by Carly Phillips (LP Phillips)
Ain't She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Fiction Phillips)
The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst (PbkRomance Probst)
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (LP Quinn)
A Tale of Two Lovers by Maya Rodale (PbkRomance Rodale)
Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare (822.33 Sha)
Anything but Sweet by Candis Terry (PbkRomance Terry)
Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas (PbkRomance Thomas)
Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux (LGBT Urban)
The Last Man on Earth by Tracy Anne Warren (PbkRomance Warren)

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