Today at Kirkus: Friends to Lovers Plots

Book CoverI’m over at The House of Kirkus today talking about Friends-to-Lovers plots, and the various pitfalls that could happen to the hero and heroine on their way from friends to friends-with-benefits all the way to friends-with-happily-ever-after.

There’s the type in which one person is secretly in love with the other, while the other remains ignorant of all that ardor. I call this One Pines and One is Clueless.

Then there’s the type where one or both Wake Up (often at about the same moment) and See Something More in the other person that wasn’t so obvious before.

Both plots can be very satisfying, but there are pitfalls to each—it’s easy for the book to go off the rails or for the characters to lose the reader’s respect regardless of what path they take.

I loooove friends-to-lovers plots, like The Kiss Test and the slightly-more-a-boss-nanny-than-friends-to-lovers story Not Just the Nanny, because when that “something changes” happens, it can be explodey with the joy and possibility, and then there’s pages and pages to explore that possibility.

What are your favorite friends-to-lovers plots? Share share, please – I’m loading up the digital reader for the long weekend today!


The Link-O-Lator

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    MichelleKCanada says:

    I loved Maya Banks’ “Be With Me”
    They are friends to lover(s)(s)(s)(s) hee hee

  2. 2
    kristen says:

    Ooh! My favorite friends to lovers book is Anything for You by Sarah Mayberry.

    Sam and Delany are best friends but Delany has secretly loved Sam forever and can’t take it anymore. So she decides to cut him out of her life for the sake of her stalled love life. Her withdrawal knocks Sam out of his complacency and suddenly he finds himself having impure and lusty thoughts for his best bud. :) A cute yet hot romance. SO fun to watch Sam fall apart. (g) Yup. Loved that book.

  3. 3
    jayhjay says:

    If you like m/m, Promises by Marie Sexton has great friends to lovers in the “One Pines the other is clueless” category.  They are not long-time friends, but the first part of the book develops their friendship and the second their relationship. Complicated by the fact that one of the guys has never seen himself as gay.  Really wonderful book and great start to a really great series.

  4. 4
    Lyssa says:

    Hitting one of my favorite series, Suz Brockmann’s Troubleshooters featured several books that dealt with ‘Sophia and Dave”. Sophia started out with a traincar full of luggage, but Dave had known her in a professional basis as a CIA informant. Dave had his own luggage and over several books they became friends. He was the person she turned to when she moped over another man. He was that quiet man who was always there. Then they finally got together, and in the end she realized that what she needed all along was the quiet man who was solid as a rock when it came to their relationship.

  5. 5
    Sarah W says:

    Just to prove that Jennifer Crusie is my answer to darn near any question asked on this blog:

    Anyone But You.  You’ve got two piners here, each afraid to make a move.  Nina is ten years older than Alex, so she thinks they should remain friends, because he dates gorgeous women and she’s . . . forty.  Alex thinks Nina is sexy and mature and deserves better than an emergency room doctor, so he’s afraid he’ll ruin their friendship if he makes a move.

    And even when Alex makes a move, these misperceptions don’t just go away . . .

    It’s awesome.

  6. 6
    Lyssa says:

    Oh btw one of the things I loved about the “Sophia/Dave” match up, neither one was clueless. Dave did not stalk; he was there, but he got on with his life too.  Sophia knew Dave liked her, but she kept their relationship as friends for years. Brockmann portrayed the way adult relationships can roll out.

  7. 7
    Newf Herder says:

    Lucy and Ethan from The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins.

  8. 8
    Tina C. says:

    Finally read Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase and that was a “both wake up about the same time with these omg-we-have-to-stop-this feelings” plot and just wonderful.  I really loved Olivia.  Lisle bugged me with some of the stuff he said to her in his “omg!” panic (and never really apologized for) but, all in all, it was simply one great book.

  9. 9
    toni says:

    Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie is one of my favorites. I lurve this plot.

  10. 10
    AgTigress says:

    Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie is one of my favorites.

    Crusie also used this approach to excellent effect in Manhunting, which remains one of my favourites even though it is very early in her oeuvre.

  11. 11
    Kelly Bishop says:

    When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn.

    Michael grew up very close to his cousin, they were more like brothers. When the cuz dies suddenly, he not only inherits the earldom but now his cousin’s widow is available and he can do something about the feelings he’s hidden for her for years. Nope there’s nothing in his way now – except a boatload of guilt.

    I don’t often cry when I read a book but this one really had me bawling. I really felt for him and although his guilt was misplaced it was very understandable and believable.

  12. 12
    R,J, says:

    Suzanne Brockmann’s Body Language.

  13. 13
    Cat Marsters says:

    Julie Cohen’s One Night Stand. Hero has loved heroine for years, but she’s only just waking up to her own attraction to him. (Wow, I’m recommending Julie all over the place today. She should pay me commission) Kristan Higgins also did a lovely friends-to-lovers in Just One of the Guys, where heroine has been nursing a crush on her friend for a long time without knowing he feels the same. Both of these books are written 1st person from the heroine’s POV, so you only begin to discover how the hero feels when the heroine does.

  14. 14
    Newf Herder says:

    Kristan Higgins also did a lovely friends-to-lovers in Just One of the Guys, where heroine has been nursing a crush on her friend for a long time without knowing he feels the same.

    Ooh, another good one by Higgins!  Funny that I overlooked that one, it’s my favorite Higgins book.

  15. 15
    SonomaLass says:

    This is one of my favorite romance types because I lived it. And it was (still is!) awesome.  Many of the examples above would be on my list (with the exception of Higgins’ The Next Best Thing, which I didn’t like, for reasons having nothing to do with friends-to-lovers).  I haven’t read the Julie Cohen, though, or the Carina Press book pictured, so both of those go straight on the list.

  16. 16
    Buffy says:

    @ kristen YES! I rarely read the Harlequin Blaze series, partly because they always include men of authority (not my bag), but that was a great book. I’ve even reread it a few times.

    My suggestions are Midsummer Madness by Christine Rimmer and of course When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn.

  17. 17
    Alley says:

    Oh, Connie Brockway’s As You Desire.  Harry and Desdemona have such a friendly (and awesomely snarky) rapport with one another.  Harry being desperately in love with her and Desdemona slowly waking up to the fact that something in their relationship has changed is so much fun to read.  It also helps that I’m a little in love with Harry.

  18. 18

    I really enjoyed Nathalie Gray’s METAL REIGN (Samhain). The hero is a ship’s cook, no less!

  19. 19
    jinni says:

    I second, Anything for You.  One of the best in recent years.  On my keeper shelf, and revisited often.  Love this trope.  Either One Pines, or Both Wake Up work for me – though I think I like pining better.  The reason this works for me for romance is that the characters have some backstory – and don’t just FALL IN LURVE in 200 pages.

  20. 20
    Nadia says:

    I’ve always liked enemies-to-lovers over friends-to-lovers, guess the complete turnaround and “hey, all that snark and nastiness was just foreplay” does it for me.  But the first friends-to-lovers that popped into my head was Donna Kauffman’s Sleeping With Beauty.  The heroine goes through a life and body makeover for her high school reunion, gets the attention of the old crush, but the best friend always thought she was great the way she was.

  21. 21
    Liz says:

    one of my favorites is Secrets of the Heart by Candace Camp.  The hero and heroine are already married but because of something that happened before they got married they weren’t really husband and wife.  Michael loves Rachel from the very beginning, but Rachel has no clue.  Then, when Rachel realizes she loves him, he is clueless!  Eventually they both figure things out and end up happily ever after.

  22. 22
    Lindsay says:

    I have no titles to recommend off the top of my head, but I have to say, my favourite friends-to-lovers plot is the one where both are simultaneouly secretly pining and clueless. The awkward moments! The angst! I eat that stuff up with a spoon.

  23. 23
    Colonel Angus says:

    London Season by Joan Wolf – they are friends from age 6!
    Goddess of the Hunt – He’s the friend of her brother
    In the thrill of the night – he’s friends with the widow and her dead husband
    Lucy Sullivan is getting married – great great book
    Eye Candy by Dorie Graham – reading this right now, so far so good. . . They’ve been friends since middle school.

    I love lists! I can’t wait to reread what everyone posts

  24. 24
    K. O'Docharty says:

    I really loved Nora Roberts “Bed of Roses” for a “friends to lovers” book.  I’m not generally a big NR reader (very hit or miss for me), but this book was plain ‘ol romantic and the ensemble quality of the story added to it by leaps and bounds.  Loved, loved, loved it! :)

  25. 25
    Lynn S. says:

    For the first type In Bed with the Boss by Susan Napier and for the second type Playboy Boss, Live-in Mistress by Kelly Hunter.  Category fiction, notwithstanding the egregious titles,  does a great job with the friends to lovers theme and the Napier book is one of my all-time favorites.  I’m not a fan of Julia Quinn (just don’t get the fascination) but When He Was Wicked sounds like my kind of book. 

    For Nadia on the enemies to lovers theme, I’d recommend Can’t Get Enough by Sarah Mayberry.

  26. 26
    Elisa Beatty says:

    A third vote for Kristan Higgins The Next Best Thing!

  27. 27
    JamiSings says:

    Unless you count Col. Brandon/Marrianne from Sense & Sensibility – which I don’t since she really didn’t like Brandon much until after her illness – I really don’t like the friends to lovers plots. They all read like a bad teenage rom-com to me.

  28. 28
    jerzee says:

    When he was wicked is one of my fave, fave, faves.  I’ve been trying to convince a friend to read it but she wasn’t all that into the other bridgerton books.  keep insisting this one’s different.  had me bawling as well, but in a good way!

  29. 29
    redfullmoon says:

    Julie Cohen’s One Night Stand. Hero has loved heroine for years, but she’s only just waking up to her own attraction to him. (Wow, I’m recommending Julie all over the place today. She should pay me commission)

    oooh I just recommended this for a HaBO yesterday, although this book seems more fitting for this entry. I second the reco! :D

    I also recommend Cat Johnson’s “Friends with Benefits”. It’s just a short story, I think it’s one of those free ebooks over at allromanceebooks. Like the title says, they’re friends with benefits but then once heroine finds out hero has slept with another girl, she feels hurt and pissed. Also brought tears to my eyes, but I like how she was playing it all cool like “So we could date each other exclusively. Or not. Whatever. I don’t care either way.” while she’s all pining for him inside hee <3

    consider92 – what is up with 92, this number’s been haunting me every time I write a post here. consider reading that erotic novella first, it’s less than 92 pages :D

  30. 30
    Cakes says:

    My favorite, too! I especially love the friends to lovers thing b/c my husband and I were best friends for 11 years before making the move. I just downloaded the Kiss Test. Looks like a fun one!

↑ Back to Top