• June 25, 2022

When it comes to romance tropes, friends-to-lovers is definitely a distinct fan favorite. The mutual pining, the insecurities, the misunderstandings, the inevitable confrontation — there is so much to love and be excited about.

If you want to read more of this trope but you’re unsure where to start and how to find good books, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best friends-to-lovers books that you can feast on this year.

Best Friends-to-Lovers Books: Editor’s Picks

1. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

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Emily Henry is one of the most popular contemporary romance authors at the moment, and it is not difficult to see why. Her books are heartwarming, her characters relatable, and her stories hook you from the very first line.

People We Meet on Vacation follows Poppy and Alex, the unlikeliest of best friends. She is a wild spirit who loves to travel, explore, and party. On the other hand, Alex is quiet, introverted, and would rather stay at home with a book than go out.

Still, a fateful car ride brings these two together, and their friendship persists for well over a decade. They live completely different lives, but they come together once every year to take a vacation together. Everything is perfect — until one of their trips takes a disastrous turn, and they never speak again.

Two years later, Poppy wants one last chance to make things right. So, she takes a leap of faith and invites Alex to come with her on a summer trip. Miraculously, Alex agrees, thinking it is time to lay everything to rest and resolve their issues finally.

What follows is a week of tension, misunderstandings, and one glaring truth that stares both protagonists in the face all the time. Can they overcome their fears and finally admit how they truly feel? And what happened on that fateful trip that made them fall out?

If these questions intrigue you, you should definitely pick this book up. You’ll be in for a treat — from steamy scenes to a heart-wrenching confession of love; this story has everything that a romance fan could wish for.

2. When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

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Avery Spark has it all. She’s finally running her family business, working with her sisters, and feeling happy about her life. In addition, she shares her place with her best friend Declan, meaning that she has more than enough money to live comfortably.

However, after a serious accident leaves Avery immobile and in need of serious aid around the home, her perfect life comes to a sudden halt. Luckily, Declan is there to help her, and he makes sure she has everything necessary for her recovery.

But caring for the woman he used to like proves a bit too difficult for Decan, and the lines between friends and lovers begin to blur pretty quickly. Suddenly, the feelings Declan has pushed down his whole adult life come rushing back. In the midst of it all, he is torn between being there for Avery and protecting his own heart.

Heartwarming and incredibly witty, this book will have you squealing into your pillow with every page. Declan and Avery will win you over effortlessly, as will Hunting’s signature humorous writing style.

3. Emma by Jane Austen

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For all intents and purposes, Emma is the first friends-to-lovers romance book ever published. However, don’t let the publication date fool you — the story is just as fresh and interesting today as it was in the 19th century.

Austen’s main protagonist is Emma Woodhouse, a rich young woman who spends her days gossiping and matchmaking. However, Emma is sweet and caring, and she only wants the best for those she cares about. Unfortunately, her meddling nature usually leads to trouble, no matter her actual intentions.

When Emma decides to find a husband for her good friend Harriet, she disregards Harriet’s own feelings. A lot of hilarious events ensue, and Harriet and her suitors and potential husbands all suffer at the hands of one rather confused matchmaker.

The trouble grows ever more when Harriet sets her eyes on Emma’s best friend, Mr. Knightley. Her interest makes Emma look at Knightley in a completely different light as well, and she realizes her true feelings a little too late. Will Emma be able to resolve her mess and get the man she loves, or has she ruined her chances forever?

Needles to say, this book is full of plot twists, humorous one-liners, and sweet romance scenes that will make you swoon. If you want to see where your favorite romantic trope stems from, this novel is a must-read.

4. The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

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What most people love about the friends-to-lovers trope is the inevitable pining. After all, one person is usually already aware of their feelings, and they are just staying quiet because they don’t think the other reciprocates. If you love this unrequited love vibe, you will adore The Cheat Sheet.

The book’s main character is Bree Camden, who’s hopelessly in love with her best friend, a star quarterback Nathan Donelson. However, she will never admit it to him, as he clearly only wants to be her friend. Instead, Bree watches him date one girl after the other and tries to convince herself that having him as a friend is still better than not having him at all.

Then, one drunken night leads to Bree accidentally admitting her feelings to a journalist. Suddenly, the whole world knows her deepest secret, including Nathan. What follows is a hilarious PR stunt where Nathan and Bree fake date to improve Nathan’s public image.

Bree agrees to this, as does Nathan. But as always, fake dating the person you are actually in love with isn’t as easy as it appears. Tensions rise and lines blur, leading to an epic confrontation that could make or break Bree and Nathan’s relationship.

If you love romantic comedies, you should read this book, as the humorous element is rather strong. In addition, The Cheat Sheet will become your new favorite if you’re into first-person narration and fast-paced plots.

5. My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

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If you are a fan of romance novels, you probably know that Christina Lauren is a pen name. It is used by two best friends who love reading and writing books. While many of their novels are big favorites within the genre, fans are usually most excited about their friends-to-lovers stories.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand is one such book, and it is a real delight. The novel follows Millie Morris, a UC Santa Barbara professor. At first glance, she has it all: a good job, more money than she needs, and a great group of friends.

However, she is hopeless at dating, and her fear of intimacy dooms all her relationships before they even start. Luckily, her four best friends, who are also her coworkers, are quite the same. They are married to their job, and they have no issues staying that way forever.

But as fate would have it, one half-night stand between Millie and Reid, one of her friends, changes everything. Suddenly, they are thrust into a world of online dating, fake catfishers, and feelings that threaten to ruin everything they have worked for.

At first glance, this book appears like a fun and lighthearted story about two friends finding love in the unlikeliest of places. However, the novel is much deeper than that, as it tackles issues such as fear of commitment and intimacy, past trauma, and the reality of working in academia.

6. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

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The Brown Sisters trilogy is something that every romance fan should read at least once. Aside from steamy scenes that will make you blush, these books also offer a diverse cast of characters. They include LGBTQA+ heroines, characters living with chronic illness and learning disabilities, as well as people of different ethnicities and religions.

The second book in the series follows Dani, a hot-shot uni professor who loves her job more than anything. She has no time for romance, so she only has casual relationships that simply satisfy her physical needs.

However, not all friends with benefits can remain casual, as Dani is about to learn. Though her relationship with her friend Zaf starts out as something purely physical, it quickly turns into something Dani could never have anticipated. Can she let go of her fears and insecurities long enough to accept the love she so clearly craves? Or is it really impossible to have a thriving career and a good love life at the same time?

If you want to read this book without checking out the rest of the series, we have good news! Though the novels feature the same set of characters, they are, essentially, stand-alones. Thus, you don’t have to read the first part to enjoy Take a Hint, Dani Brown.

7. Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday

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Are you looking for a friends-to-lovers book set during the holidays? If so, this book will check all the necessary boxes.

The main protagonists are Maximillian von Hansburg, a duke-to-be who is being forced to find a wife, and Dani Martinez, a New Yorker that has sworn off love. Though they come from different backgrounds, their shared disdain for relationships brings them together.

As they grow closer as friends, their undeniable attraction increases as well. One night, they end up in bed together, starting a whirlwind romance that neither can escape. But when their passion and lust subside, they are left wondering whether they can really fit together. After all, their worlds are so vastly different.

Duke, Actually will warm you up on a cold winter night during your Christmas break. In addition, it will remind you that miracles really can happen during the holidays, only if you are brave enough to let them.

8. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

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If you’re into YA books, there is no shortage of novels that you can check out if you need that friends-to-lovers fix. Jenny Han has written some of the best of them, and The Summer I Turned Pretty is definitely a must-read.

In the mind of the main protagonist, Belly, everything great happens during the summer. Honestly, the rest of the year fades compared to the magical weeks between June and August.

This summer, Belly finally gets what she has always wanted: friendships, acceptance, and love. The novel follows her and her strange group of friends on an adventure that will change their lives forever. You are invited to come along, and you will surely enjoy the ride.

9. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

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This novel features two characters that seemingly have nothing in common. Evvie is a widow still grappling with the sudden passing of her husband, though a lot of time has already passed. On the other hand, Dean Tenney is a Major League pitcher who has lost his mojo and desperately needs to change something in his life.

The connection between these two? They were best friends in childhood until Dean left home to pursue his career. Meanwhile, Evvie stayed in their small town in Maine and got married.

Now, fate brings them together once again, as Dean comes back home to try and make some sense out of his life. As their lives intertwine, the lines between friendship and something more become incredibly blurred. In the end, our heroes have to think about what they truly want from life and whether they both deserve a second chance at happiness.

Lighthearted but infinitely deep, this book will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. The approach Homes takes to grief is remarkable, as she shows that moving on and trying to be happy again isn’t a betrayal to the ones we lost.

10. The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

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Kristen Petersen is a happy woman. She has great friends, a job she loves, and a supportive family. However, she’s not really into dating, especially because she had to undergo a medical procedure that made it impossible for her to have kids. After all, every guy she has met wanted a family of his own, and she just can’t give them that.

Luckily, she gets to throw herself into planning her best friend’s wedding. The ordeal proves to be a good distraction, up until Kristen meets Josh, the best man. He is sweet, charming, and pretty much everything she has ever wanted in a man.

But of course, there is a catch. He is a family man, and he simply cannot wait to have kids. Thus, they have to remain friends, or so Kristen thinks.

What follows is a heartwarming story of true love, coming to terms with one’s own destiny, and accepting love even if one doesn’t think one deserves it. Moreover, the book takes an excellent approach to infertility and what living with it means, making for a truly meaningful read.

11. Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

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As a wide-eyed sixteen-year-old, Emmi Blue decides to do something fun and freeing. So, she takes a note, writes down her email address, her name, and a deeply guarded secret she’s never admitted to anyone. Then, she attaches the note to a red balloon and releases it into the sky.

Several months later, Lucas Moreau discovers the balloon at a beach in France. He messages Emmi right away, and they begin a friendship that will span 14 years. Now, as Emmi turns 30, she is desperately in love with Lucas and lives her life hoping that he will notice.

When Lucas messages her saying that he has something important to ask her, she thinks fate is finally on her side. However, things rarely go the way one intends. Unfortunately, Emmi soon finds out that her dreams might be too far-fetched after all.

This book will fill you with warmth, make you laugh, and remind you to always take care of your inner child. Honest and hilarious, Dear Emmie Blue is a perfect choice for all fans of Gail Honeyman and Linda Holmes.

12. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

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If you are in love with the hit Netflix series Bridgerton, this book must go to the top of your to-read list immediately. In recent interviews, the creators have announced that the third season would focus on Colin and Penelope. The two are best friends, and everyone can see that Penelope wants more. Everyone but Colin, that is.

In preparation for this new season, you should read the book the showrunners will use as a basis. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton is funny, lighthearted, and filled with so much pining and tension.

You will laugh, squeal, and cry as you follow the two friends navigating their confusing feelings and society’s often cruel expectations. But are their friendship and budding love strong enough to survive their secrets? And what is the rest of the Bridgerton family up to besides meddling in the couple’s business?

This novel offers Julia Quinn at her best. Witty and infinitely romantic, this historical romance will become one of your favorites after only a few chapters.

Janet is a post-doctoral research candidate working as a freelance writer. She also moonlights as a doodle artist and wishes to publish her own comic book inspired by her life story one day.