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Academic rivals to lovers books are incredibly popular in romantic literature, they never fail to captivate readers.
It’s an extremely fun romance trope to read because of the angst, competition, love and hate relationship between two often talented and studious individuals.
To help you pick the perfect academic enemies to lovers novel, I have compiled this list of academic rivals to lovers books that will keep you hooked until the very end.
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What is Academic Rivals to Lovers?
In the academic rivals to lovers trope, we see two characters compete against each other for academic success only to fall in love unexpectedly.
From intense debates to heated arguments, the sparks fly between them. Books with this trope usually occur in a school, university or college settings.
16 Academic Rivals to Lovers Books
Romance tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Academic Rivals to Lovers.
If You Could See The Sun is a debut novel where Alice Sun has always felt like an outsider at Beijing international, an elite boarding school, until one day she turns invisible.
Upon hearing that her parents cannot afford her tuition, Alice’s newfound extraordinary power gives her an idea: she could sell scandalous secrets.
Alice’s rival, Henry, is also a Beijing international student who loves getting on her nerves. Over time the pair realises there is much more to their relationship than just rivalry.
This dark academic novel focuses on the grime side of elite schooling and racism. A dash of romance and fantasy is thrown in which makes this one of the best YA academic rivals to lovers fantasy books.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers, Boy falls first.
If you want to read academic rivals to lovers YA books where the male love interest falls in love first, this is binge-able series is the perfect pick!
Set in the Victorian era, Stalking Jack the Ripper is based on a real-life serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
We follow Audrey Rose Wadsworth, a seventeen-year-old who leads a secret life. Against her father’s wishes, she sneaks away to her uncle’s laboratory and studies forensic medicine.
To Audrey’s surprise, her uncle is teaching another student, Thomas Cresswell. Desperate to prove herself no lesser than a man, Audrey and Thomas’ rivalry begins.
A new killer is on the rise and he is leaving behind gruesome notes for the police. Audrey must catch him before more women die.
3. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
If you’re looking for one of the most intense academic enemies to lovers books, try reading Fourth Wing.
Violet Sorrengail was never meant for war because of her weak muscles and ligaments has trained her whole life to be a scribe, just like her father.
However, her mother is the General and demands her to join the Riders’ Quadrant.
Violet is warned by her sister Mira to stay away from Xaden Riorson, Fourth Wing’s wingleader as he has motivation to kill Violet as her mother executed his father during the rebellion.
Although Violet and Xaden aren’t exactly rivals in the same batch, they do have classes together. Because of the forced proximity, unexpected feelings start to brew between the two.
Romance tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Academic Rivals to Lovers.
Leela Bose, a Desi American teenager, is a proud speech competitor at a public school. Upon hearing the news that she will be debating against Firoze Darcy, an elitist private school student, she is infuriated. She cannot stand his personality.
Their paths will cross during the state league debates and Leela is ready to win no matter what. She soon learns a few secrets that threaten to change her entire view of Firoze.
Romance tropes: Forced Proximity, Grumpy-Sunshine, Academic Rivals to Lovers.
January Andrews is a romance writer who doesn’t believe in love anymore. At twenty-nine-years-old she ends up broke, single and almost homeless.
January’s writer’s block isn’t helping either so when the opportunity to stay at a beachside house arises, she says yes. She finds out her neighbour is the insufferable Augustus Everett, a fellow fiction author and her once-upon-a-time high school rival.
Despite their mutual disdain for each other, January and Augustus form a pact where he will write a happy rom-com novel and she will write the next Great American Novel.
As they embark on their literary journey, they are in for many surprises that challenge their assumptions about themselves, their writing, and their relationship.
Romance tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Forced Proximity, Academic Rivals to Lovers.
Not Here to Be Liked follows Eliza Quan who is sure she will be the next editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, until Len DiMartile, ex-jock, decides to run for the position too.
Suddenly Eliza is no longer a great candidate for the position because of Len which causes her to rant in an essay that goes viral in her school. Before she knows it, a feminist movement has started and to quieten the crowd the school requests Eliza to work alongside Len.
The more time Eliza spends with Len, the more she sees beyond their banter and heated debates. Losing her heart to him now would be catastrophic.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers, Slow Burn Romance.
In Today Tonight Tomorrow, Rowan Roth and Neil McNair are seniors who are about to graduate soon. They’ve competed against each other for four years whether it’s during gym class or student council elections.
Now life has given them a final game to compete in, a scavenger hunting game of Howell that will take the seniors all over Seattle.
Upon learning a group of students has banded together against Rowan and Neil, they decide to form a temporary alliance until it’s just the two of them standing. Then they’ll take each other out.
Readers loved the slow-burn romance between Rowan and Neil as it gave them more time to challenge each other.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers, Forced Proximity.
My Mechanical Romance follows Bel who isn’t interested in doing extra school work. When she uncovers her hidden talent for engineering she has no choice but to join the club.
Mateo Luna, captain of the engineering club, wants Bel on his team no matter what. He loves the way she challenges and rivals him like no one else.
Mateo is ready to show Bel her potential in STEM even if it means getting into heated arguments with her.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers, Forced Proximity, Enemies to Lovers.
As If on Cue follows Natalie and Reid, who have been rivals since they first met in school and have competed with each other ever since.
Due to their school’s tight budget for its clubs, either Natalie can get funding for her theatrical play or Reid for his band.
Their only solution is to team up and put on a musical theatrical play. They must set aside their rivalry and sell out a show so everybody wins.
This novel is one of the best rivals to lovers books if you are looking for something binge-able, light and sweet!
Romance tropes: Forced Proximity, Academic Rivals to Lovers, Enemies to Lovers, Slow Burn Romance.
Love on the Brain is an academic rivals romance book that follows Dr Bee Königswasser, a neuroscientist, who is determined to thrive in the STEM world. When the opportunity to co-lead a project at NASA arises, she cannot refuse.
To Bee’s shock, her project partner is her grad school archnemesis, Levi Ward. Things aren’t looking great for Bee as the faculty staff starts ignoring her and her research equipment goes missing.
Levi, despite his grumpy personality, cannot see Bee suffer anymore. So he decides to step in and help her through this sticky situation.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers.
In The Atlas Six, every decade, six candidates are chosen by the prestigious Alexandrian Society.
This time it’s Tristan, Callum, Parisa, Reina, Libby and Nico. Each candidate has unique magical powers which they’ll use to compete against each other.
One student won’t make it to the second year as the rest continue to prove themselves worthy of studying at the Alexandria Library. With loyalties betrayed and foes turning into friends, nothing is certain in this secret society.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers, Enemies to Lovers, Forced Proximity.
In this academic rivals book, we meet Alison Sanger, who wants nothing more than to avoid her archnemesis, Ethan Molloy, till graduation. They have competed against each other since high school and now Alison is done with him.
However, Alison’s principal wants Ethan and her to plan a ten-year reunion for a previous class.
Their principal promises to get them a place at Harvard if they say yes to this project. Now, that’s an opportunity Alison can’t let slide, even if it means dealing with her rival.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers, LGBTQ+ Romance.
If you liked reading books like Red, White & Royal Blue, you’ll enjoy this one as it’s by the same author.
If you’re looking for academic rivals to lovers books that aren’t too heavy on romance then this novel is a great pick.
Chloe Green has successfully avoided all kinds of gossip at her high school for years, her only goal now is winning valedictorian. Shara Wheeler, prom queen, is the only obstacle in her path.
A month is left till graduation when Shara unexpectedly kisses Chloe and vanishes. To her surprise, she isn’t the only one Shara has kissed. Smith, Shara’s boyfriend, and Rory, her bad-boy neighbour, are just as confused as Chloe.
Shara has also left Chloe, Smith and Rory notes. The trio must work through the puzzles and clues to find her in time before graduation so Chloe can win against her fairly.
Romance tropes: Forced Proximity, The Chosen One, LGBTQ+ Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Academic Rivals to Lovers.
Simon Snow is certain he is the worst chosen one ever. Even though it’s his last year at Watford School of Magicks, he can’t make his magic wand work and his mentor is avoiding him.
To add to his despair, a magic-eating monster that looks just like Simon is terrorizing students.
Meanwhile, Simon’s roommate, Baz, is enjoying his misery. He knows how to get on Simon’s nerves easily. Readers loved their witty banter and jabs at each other.
Romance tropes: Second Chance Romance, Academic Rivals to Lovers
In Winner Take All, Nell Becker will do whatever it takes to win any competition, especially if her rival is Jackson Hart, the privileged king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy.
Over time, Nell and Cedar’s rivalry turns into something more as sparks fly between them. A little romance wouldn’t hurt in Nell’s life even if her lover is her enemy.
She is proven wrong when a secret unravels. Heartbroken but more determined than before, Nell is ready to defeat her rival.
Romance tropes: Academic Rivals to Lovers.
If you love books with academic rivals to lovers trope and fantasy elements then this is the perfect novel!
A Deadly Education is about El Higgins, a witch studying at Scholomance. It’s a deadly school where dark magic is taught to even deadlier students.
El is determined to leave this school alive but when Orion Lake saves her life twice, she is furious. Everyone loves Orion and his skilful combat magic which makes El hate him even more.
The school wants to see El rage so they can prove she’s a bad witch. She must pass her time quietly and prove them wrong unless Orion gets on her nerves again, then she is killing him.
Wrap Up: Academic Rivals To Lovers Books
These are some of the best academic rivals to lovers books!
With so many great books on this list to choose from, you can easily find a story that will capture your heart and leave you rooting for the protagonists to overcome their challenges and find their happy endings!
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