Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Rom-Coms with Witty, Bickering Couples

Share Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Rom-Coms with Witty, Bickering Couples

Martha Waters is a librarian and the author of To Have and to Hoax and To Love and to Loathe. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @marthabwaters.

For those of us who love romance novels, there’s nothing better than getting to spend 300-plus pages watching two people who are so clearly(!) meant for each other fall in love. And, for this particular romance reader, the only thing that can possibly improve that reading experience is when the couple spends the entire book bickering—right until the moment they start kissing instead.

My new Regency rom-com, To Love and to Loathe, features a couple like this; Jeremy and Diana, my hero and heroine, are frenemies who love to bicker and banter and try to best each other, even as they slowly come to realize that there’s more to the other than meets the eye. And fortunately, given my deep love of this romance dynamic, there are plenty of rom-coms out there that scratch this particular itch. Here are six of my favorite bickering literary couples.

Shipped
by Angie Hockman

This debut features a hero and heroine on a cruise to the Galápagos Islands, competing against each other for the same promotion at work. Sparks fly amidst all the competition, and it’s even more satisfying to watch their arguments give way to romance when the setting is so vivid and memorable.

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Shipped
Angie Hockman

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

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Ten Things I Hate About the Duke
by Loretta Chase

Revered historical romance author Loretta Chase writes some of the best dialogue in the business, and that skill is on full display in her latest book, which is a Regency retelling of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. The spirited heroine and rakish hero are perfectly matched, and it’s wonderfully satisfying to watch him struggle to turn himself into a man who deserves her.

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Ten Things I Hate About the Duke
Loretta Chase

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The Hating Game
by Sally Thorne

Thorne’s debut is one of the books that started the trend for rom-coms, and it’s such a great example of how to execute the enemies-to-lovers trope to perfection. Lucy Hutton is certain of one thing—that she hates Josh Templeman—and watching them argue and banter their way to love is truly swoon-worthy.

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The Hating Game
Sally Thorne

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The Viscount Who Loved Me
by Julia Quinn

The second book in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series will be the source material for the forthcoming second season of the wildly popular Netflix series, and it’s a delight—it features a heroine who despises everything about the hero, who is courting her sister, and it also stars an overweight corgi. What more could you need?

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The Viscount Who Loved Me
Julia Quinn

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Dating You / Hating You
by Christina Lauren

Sparks fly from the beginning of this workplace enemies-to-lovers rom-com, but they’re quickly quenched when the two agencies merge, causing Carter and Evie to compete for the same job. The Hollywood setting makes for a really fun dynamic, and the book is chock-full of Christina Lauren’s trademark wit and steam.

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Dating You / Hating You
Christina Lauren

Everyone knows that all’s fair in love and war. But these two will learn that sabotage is a dish best served naked.

A sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love, Dating You/Hating You by New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren is the story of what two high-powered agents will—and won’t—do to get everything they ever wanted.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending, or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, hilarious story of romance in the modern world.

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The Wedding Party
by Jasmine Guillory

Readers familiar with Jasmine Guillory’s debut, THE WEDDING DATE, will recognize the stars of her new book, Maddie and Theo, the always-arguing side characters. Watching them navigate their shifting feelings for each other as they’re flung together in the lead-up to their best friend’s wedding makes for a perfect, fast-paced, and utterly fun rom-com.

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The Wedding Party
Jasmine Guillory

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To Love and to Loathe
by Martha Waters

TO LOVE AND TO LOATHE comes out on 4/6!

The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.

After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.

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To Love and to Loathe
Martha Waters

The author of the “hilarious...joyful, elegant” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) To Have and to Hoax returns with an effervescent, charming, and swoon-worthy novel about a man and woman who never agree on anything—until they agree to a no-strings-attached affair in this Regency-era romp.

The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.

After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.

With Martha Waters’s signature “cheeky charm and wonderfully wry wit” (Booklist, starred review), To Love and to Loathe is another clever and delightful historical rom-com that is perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Evie Dunmore.

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Chris Gaudio | June 16, 2021

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By Holly Claytor | June 15, 2021

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By Off the Shelf Staff | June 14, 2021

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By Emily Austin | June 10, 2021

10 Audiobooks to Help You Crush Your Reading Goals

By Kelly Dasta | June 9, 2021

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