These 10 friends-to-lovers books will feel like a warm hug
BFFs to baes – a book list for the believers (and cautious cynics)
“To meet a beautiful woman is one thing, but to meet your best friend in the most beautiful of women is something entirely apart,” said Duke Simon Basset on Bridgerton. Cue the swooning. Back home, it was Rahul from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai who said pyaar dosti hai. And then, there’s Monica and Chandler, Harry and Sally, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker. Iconic reel and real-life couples who make the friends-to-lovers trope believable and inspire you to wonder if the flutters you’re feeling over pizza with your BFF are courtesy of the spicy bhujiya you’ve been chomping on or something more.
When the dating pool is murkier than mud, every failed romance leaves you dejected. But is it possible that love has been standing by, watching you swipe right on strangers all this time? If you’re a mushy sentimentalist, the idea of a casual pizza and movie night turning romantic, lingering eye contact, longing, the fear of losing the friendship and the eventual confession in a heated argument thrills you. Cynics, you’re far more likely to be convinced that friends could organically fall in love than believe that you’ll bump into your soulmate while Diwali shopping at Croma or at a house party you nearly didn’t show up to.
The numbers support this theory. Research has found that two-thirds of romantic relationships start as platonic friendships, while an article on Refinery29 highlights what happens when friends fall in love. It makes sense – ranting about failed romances, making ‘when we turn 30 pacts’ and sharing your deepest darkest vulnerabilities at 3 AM are good groundwork for romantic relationships.
The familiarity and possibility of a friends-to-lovers romance is a sizzling recipe for a book plot, too. Even if, in real life, dropping a pickup line on your bestie might unleash spirals of laughter, with a book, you can experience the thrill sans the awkwardness.
If you’re looking to curl up with something warm as the temperatures drop, these 10 friends-to-lovers romance books will be there for you, just like your 2 AM friend. Wink, wink.
These friends-to-lovers books will nourish your inner romantic
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
A decades-long friendship, a road trip and an ‘incident’ that threatens to ruin it all. If you’re old enough to remember When Harry Met Sally, the original ‘friends-turned-lovers’, then you will likely devour this updated version of the classic trope – for its familiarity and freshness. And if the Gen Z within has no idea what we’re talking about, this slow-burn romance set across dual timelines will draw you in with its relatability, wit and steamy, tension-filled moments.
From their first meeting as University students in Chicago, to annual reunions across the decade, to the incident in Croatia that threatened to ruin a solid friendship, follow along to the present day in Palm Springs, where travel journalist Poppy and teacher Alex reunite for a summer to salvage their friendship. While the romance remains at the heart of the story, conversations about careers, the angst of growing up, and fun flashbacks to prior vacations make Alex and Poppy the perfect people to take on vacation with you.
The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams
A star quarterback and a ballerina star as best friends in this sports romance. Bree and Nathan have been friends, in love, since school – except neither has admitted it. After a drunken night, Bree reveals more than she should to a reporter. Now, they have to fake date for three weeks till his final match courtesy of a contract.
Nathan’s friends convince him this is the best way to test the waters without ruining anything. They draft a romance cheat sheet with hilarious prompts like a food fight, surprising her at work, holding hands and the like, for him to flirt his way into Bree’s heart. Once Nathan starts blurring the boundaries, Bree can’t help but fall for her best friend. If you identify with saying too much or the wrong thing, the excitement of being wooed, or need a playbook to enhance your wooing skills, then this is the cheat sheet for you.
Romancing Mr Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Did you miss the phenomenon that inspired Shonda Rhimes’ hit Netflix show, or want to dive deeper into that steamy world? Here’s what you need to know – Author Julia Quinn wrote eight Regency romance novels that follow the eight siblings of the noble Bridgerton family as they navigate London high society looking for love and happiness. The fourth in the series, Romancing Mr Bridgerton, focuses on Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton, her best friend’s brother and long-time friend.
Colin is tired of everyone thinking of him as only a charmer. Fascinated by the world, he travels frequently to escape matchmaking mamas. Penelope, categorised as a wallflower and spinster by society, has given up on ever finding a husband.
But on Colin’s recent trip back home, he starts seeing Penelope in a different light even as Penelope tries to keep her feelings for Colin from boiling over. As the romance between the two heats up, their secrets threaten to snatch their promise of a happily ever after. Colin and Penelope’s story is a tale of yearning, desire and acceptance of what the other person truly is. To know whether they get their HEA, read the book.
Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
Best friends fated to fall in love. An unexpected pregnancy. A long-distance friendship. Torn apart by his father’s new job, childhood best friends Alex and Rosie find themselves on opposite ends of the globe just as they begin to fall for each other.
Written as a series of letters, emails, and messages, the book takes the two from childhood to sixty as they navigate new loves, life and everything in between. Hinging on the hook of ‘right person, wrong timing’, heartwarming and heartbreaking all the same, this book will make your head spin with the number of missed opportunities and beg the question, when will Alex and Rosie finally be together, if ever?
Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
‘We’re just friends’ is the staple answer you get from people harbouring secret feelings for each other. Fox and Hannah are no different. Fox is a chronic flirt, and Hannah knows nothing can happen between them because of that very reason. Instead, she seeks his help to impress a colleague she is crushing on.
When Hannah crashes at Fox’s house, denying their feelings becomes harder. As Fox begins to imagine a forever with Hannah, the lines between friendship and something more start blurring. We loved that instead of focusing just on the female protagonist, the book gives us an inside look at the male lead’s character development. We fell for it hook, line and sinker.
A Long Time Coming by Meghan Quinn
If you loved Julia Roberts trying to break up her BFF’s wedding in My Best Friend’s Wedding and Patrick Dempsey proving to his bestie he’s her perfect match in Made of Honor, you’re in for a reader’s treat. A Long Time Coming features Lia and Breaker, best friends for 10 years. Now that Lia is getting married to someone else, she asks Breaker to be her Man of Honour, and he agrees.
As wedding planning begins, Breaker realises his feelings for Lia, and finds himself trying to prove to her that he’s the better man for her. Among the looming nuptials, Lia’s fiancé and to-be mother-in-law hovering over her, Breaker and Lia have to decide the weight of their feelings quickly. Read it for the slow burn that reaches its volcanic peak as the wedding approaches.
The Summer Girl by Elle Kennedy
The Summer Girl is the story of Cassie and Tate, set in the beach town of Avalon Bay. Cassie’s back in town after a long time and is looking for a memorable summer fling before she goes to college, and Tate seems like the perfect candidate. But the moment they meet, Tate knows his attraction to Cassie isn’t just lust, so he friend-zones her to avoid feelings and heartbreaks.
But rarely do our plans unfold the way we want them to. As the story progresses, Cassie and Tate struggle with their growing feelings for each other but discover that they have bigger problems to deal with. Avalon Bay is full of mysteries that are starting to surface and might drown their blooming love. If you love romance with a side of family drama, this book will not disappoint. Legacies, reconnections and small-town romance, The Summer Girl makes for a speedy day off read. It also has just enough smut to make you giggle like a teenager.
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich
Falling for a friend can be complicated. It gets messier when you’re a musical sensation in a popular band. Ruben, Zach, Jon and Angel are best friends and part of a big-time boy band, Saturday. But fame is a heavy burden to carry, especially when you’re pressured to stay in the closet by the management. This, and dealing with cracks among the band, push Ruben to confide in Zach.
When they go on tour to Europe, Ruben and Zach’s friendship begins to blur into romance. While Ruben knows about his queer side, the readers follow as Zach discovers his own beyond-platonic feelings. When they come out to their management, everyone seems hell-bent on breaking them apart. They need to decide if they will step up for their relationship regardless of the (alleged) impact on the band.
If you have been an ardent fan of a certain popular boy band that broke up a few years ago, this book will feel like all your musical romance dreams came true.
Just Friends by Madison Wright
Asking your best friend to set you up on dates when every touch you share with them is electric has to be the first clue that it’s definitely not just friendship. After getting cheated on, Hazel decides to let her best friend Alex set her up on blind dates to filter through the ‘shark-infested dating world.’ Alex sneakily only agrees to help her to prove that he’s her perfect match. With every date Hazel has, her feelings for Alex grow.
If you love a good romance where the man falls first, Just Friends will warm your heart with its slow burn. It’s giving a throw, some hot cocoa, rains and a long autumn evening of reading Just Friends.
Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
Platonic friendship, fake engagement, real love. This book checks off all the boxes of a classic romance novel. Audrey and Clarke have been BFFs since school without any hint of romantic attraction. Audrey is Clarke’s go-to card to escape his matchmaking mother, and it’s during one of these times that he announces they’re engaged. From pretending to be in love to actually catching feelings, Audrey and Clarke’s journey is the familiar tale of childhood besties turning lovers.
Most friends-to-lovers stories feature at least one of the characters harbouring secret feelings from before. But this book gives you a peek into the expansive journey of two friends going from being completely platonic to developing romantic feelings. If you enjoy the journey as much as the destination, this one’s for you.