Opposites attract romance novels bring out the best in characters. By all accounts, these are characters who shouldn’t be friends, let alone romantically involved. But, because they are going to fall in love anyway, we might as well read about it.
Let me be completely honest. Opposites attract is one of my favorite tropes. I love it when unlikely people are falling in love. Sure, at first I gasp and say, “It will never work.” All the while, I secretly know it will, though. Somehow, these two silly beans are going to find out why their opposing attitudes, interests, and/or behaviors are fascinating. They are going to fall in love. It’s just up to the readers of opposites attract romance books to see how it’s all going to happen.
Opposites attract romance novels tend to work for me in romance where they may not in real life. Because a Happy for Now (HFN) or Happily Ever After (HEA) exists in a romance book, I can believe that a long-distance relationship between two people with different interests and/or personalities can work. Even if that sounds like maybe a bad idea, a good opposites attract romance book will make me believe otherwise. It really is incredibly impressive.
There are a lot of opposites attract romance books I absolutely adore, but for the sake of time, I’ve gathered up a hot dozen. Here, there are some contemporaries and historicals. Lucky for you, I’ve also included some science fiction and fantasy romance books too. Now, all you have to do is go pick them up and have a grand time.
Contemporary Opposites Attract Romance
The Comeback by Lily Chu
A Chinese Canadian lawyer falls in love with an international K-pop idol, and she doesn’t even know it. Ariadne Hui has tirelessly worked to make partner at her firm, so much so she rarely has time for movies, music, or gossip columns. So, when her roommate’s cousin stays in their apartment while she is out of town, Ari has no idea he’s famous. Jihoon is just a very attractive, shy man who is making his way into her heart. But when his identity is revealed to the press, Ari’s careful plans fall to the side, and they both must redefine what they want from their careers if they want to make their unlikely relationship work.
Content Warnings: racism, misogyny
All the Feels by Olivia Dade
When Alexander Woodroe almost destroys his acting career, the showrunner of the internationally famous fantasy TV show he stars in assigns him a no-nonsense bodyguard. Lauren Clegg is a burnt-out ER therapist who is now in charge of making sure the charismatic and unpredictable neurodivergent actor in her care doesn’t cause waves. But, when Alex finds himself in even bigger trouble, Lauren no longer has an official job at his side. As they travel without the guardrails of their former arrangement, they may just discover their incompatible lifestyles may be more compatible than they thought.
Content Warnings: mentions of past domestic violence
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Eve Brown is in search of a job that fits her brand of chaos. Jacob Wayne is in search of an employee who can handle his binder of hospitality guidelines. But when Eve comes to Jacob’s B&B to interview for a job without an appointment or any experience, he does not hire her. That is, until she accidentally hits him with her car and breaks his arm. Now Jacob needs help, and Eve is looking to make amends. In an adorably sincere romcom with two autistic leads, this ray of sunshine has met her grump, even if they haven’t quite realized it yet.
Content Warnings: ableism, past child neglect
Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Finding a new nanny for her 6-year-old twins felt like an impossible task for Dr. Sloan Copeland. But, when Rafe Whitcomb shows up for the job, she knows she’s found the best person for the job. These two hypercompetent people have very different yet complementary skill sets. So, it’s no surprise that when Rafe moves in to take care of the children full-time, they develop a relationship based on their growing attraction.
Content Warning: past domestic abuse
The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann
Joy is an asexual former marine biology major turned dancer turned nightclub office manager and current fashion influencer whose many skills don’t include romance. She has been in love with her ace best friend Malcom since college, and when he invites her to a weekend away, she believes she finally has a chance at his heart. Instead, Malcom tells her he wants to introduce her to his new love interest, Summer. To make bad news even worse, he wants her to occupy Summer’s friend Fox, a furniture maker and social media luddite, the whole time. In a last-ditch effort to date Malcom, Summer and Fox fake a relationship that doesn’t stay fake for long.
Content Warning: acephobia
Something Wild & Wonderful by Anita Kelly
During a journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, two hikers form an unlikely partnership and fall in love. The quiet and careful Alexei Lebedev lost contact with his family after coming out as gay — and he lost his job. With no one to miss him, Alexei is ready to do the solo hike he always dreamed of. The loud and charismatic Ben Caravalho is taking a pause after graduating before he becomes a nurse full-time. When they meet on the trail, they unexpectedly fall into step and discover the joy of comfortable silence, companionship, and understanding amidst a physically grueling journey through the wilderness.
Content Warning: homophobia
Historical Opposites Attract Romance
Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins
On an 1800s trip from D.C. to Wyoming, a Black sundown reporter is thrown from a horse, breaks his leg, and is rescued by the future love of his life. Spring owns her own ranch and is happily single, but when she rescues Garrett from the snow, his patiently caring personality wins even her over. He will only live with her until her brother, the local Black doctor Garrett came to interview in the first place, can get to her ranch. But by then, her heart will be long gone.
Content Warnings: racism, discussion of sexual assault
We Could Be So Good by Cat Sebastian
Nick Russo is the gruff Italian American reporter from Brooklyn who worked his way up from the mailroom. He has no business being best friends with the upper-class son of the newspaper owner, Andy Fleming. Even still, Nick finds himself watching over and working with Andy on almost every story — and falling for him, too. Andy doesn’t want to run the paper his father is giving to him, but when he starts falling in love with his job and his co-worker, he comes to terms with the idea that he must take the job and all its complications. They could be so good if only they could find a way to be together in late 1950s New York City.
Content Warnings: homophobia, police violence
Something Spectacular by Alexis Hall
In this regency romance with two nonbinary leads, a member of the British upper class falls for a famous opera singer. Peggy Delancey goes to London to help the best friend she is still in love with, court the flamboyant soprano Orfeo. Instead of helping her friend or falling deeper in love with her, Peggy finds herself falling for Orfeo. She doesn’t know anything about music or art, but they have an undeniable connection that feels impossible to fulfill. If Peggy and Orfeo can get over their disparate dreams, they could have a chance to secure the future they need.
Content Warnings: gender dysphoria, misgendering, arophobia, homophobia
Science Fiction & Fantasy Opposites Attract Romance
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
If the Iskat Empire wants to maintain galactic power, Prince Kiem must marry the recently widowed Thean ambassador, Jainan. But it turns out the death of Jainan’s former husband and Kiem’s cousin, Prince Taam, might not have been an accident at all. Now, in an arranged marriage where both Kiem and Jainan are under the incorrect belief that they are a burden to the other person, must work together if they want to survive a series of assassination attempts. The outgoing prince and introverted ambassador may just find the time to discuss their relationship amidst the slew of increasingly deadly politically motivated attacks.
Content Warning: past domestic abuse
A Rival Most Vial by R.K. Ashwick
Longtime potion shop owner Ambrose Beake immediately dislikes the affable owner of the new potion shop across the street. Ambrose is known for his scholarship and his excellent potions, not his customer service, but his approach may have to change if he wants to keep up with Eli’s business savvy. Eli knows if he can just make it another month, all discounts will pay off. He just has to deal with the inscrutable Ambrose. They both need the mayor’s upcoming commission, so when they get an offer to work on a potion together, they cannot say no. Who knows? These rivals might end up brewing more than the perfect potion.
Content Warning: past child neglect
That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming
When an adventure-adverse spice farmer accidentally saves a demon who wants to save his people, she finds herself on a journey (and in a relationship) she never asked for. Cinnamon may not want an adventure, but when she learns the supposed Goddess is enslaving demons across the land, she knows she must put a stop to it. Plus, after saving Fallon, he immediately starts romantically perusing her with a single-minded passion and protecting her with “touch her and die” energy. Fantasy romance legend Kimberly Lemming brings readers a funny, romantic, action-packed little book that brings a new meaning to the attract part of opposites attract.
Content Warnings: animal death, racism
What More Can You Want In an Opposites Attract Romance?
Opposites attract romance books may not be for everyone, but they are definitely for me. If you happen to be looking for more romance tropes that are up your alley, try some of these road trip romances, these second chance romances, or these hidden identity romances. I hope you fall in love with these books, too.