The snark, rivalry, and tension between Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman makes The Hating Game a favorite enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance. Whether you’re looking for a new read with that same tension or adore the forced proximity trope that adds such spice, these 14 books like The Hating Game will be perfect for your next read.
About The Hating Game
The Hating Game took the online book world by storm following its debut in 2016 and has withstood the recent surge in romance novels as a firm favorite. Author Sally Thorne employs some of the most beloved tropes such as enemies-to-lovers, close proximity, co-workers, rivals, and competitors. It all culminates to an endearing story that has given many readers the warm fuzzies.
The book revolves around Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, and the palpable tension between the two. Co-workers at a publishing company, Lucy firmly believes Joshua hates her and he constantly antagonizes her. This results in ritualistic passive aggression throughout their workdays.
Lucy loathes Joshua’s meticulous approach to the job, and Joshua doesn’t understand Lucy’s quirkiness and exuberance. They’ve settled into a competitive rivalry in office-based games to one-up the other when a lucrative promotion arises. Now their battle of wills has come to a head.
But tension can easily swing from hate to love, unless this is all just another game.
The popular book has also recently been adapted into a movie starring Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell: The Hating Game. The 2021 adaptation has been hailed as faithful to the source material.
Sally Thorne lives in Canberra, Australia. The Hating Game was Thorne’s debut and is available in more than 25 countries. She has a new book, Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match, available on September 6, 2022.
14 Books like The Hating Game
But let’s dive into the books that will evoke a similar atmosphere as The Hating Game. The books in the below list all hit on various tropes that are used throughout The Hating Game. However, all the recommendations have two snarky lead characters that creates a palpable tension, just like Lucy and Joshua.
1. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
The first book on our list of books like The Hating Game is another viral sensation within the online book community.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood is a standalone. While it doesn’t feature co-workers as such, it does enforce the close proximity trope within an academic setting with a PhD candidate and a professor.
As a third-year PhD candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships. But her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation.
Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks. That’s because scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor — and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is shocked when he agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
2. It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
Next is another popular offering from the beloved romance author Tessa Bailey. It Happened One Summer is the first book in the Bellinger Sisters series.
Just like The Hating Game it embodies the enemies-to-lovers trope. This book has also been compared to the popular TV show Schitt’s Creek.
Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar…in Washington.
Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives.
How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather — and the hot, grumpy local — that she’s more than a pretty face.
Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions. Especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time.
Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan — and this town full of memories — may have already caught her heart.
3. Shipped by Angie Hockman
Our next recommendation for books like The Hating Game also features two rival co-workers up for the same promotion. Except this couple must go one a cruise together in the pursuit of the new role.
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?
4. From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
The next book on our list is a contemporary sports romance. But, just like The Hating Game it delivers on enemies-to-lovers and an epic slow burn.
If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.
After seventeen years — and countless broken bones and broken promises — she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.
But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.
Including Ivan Lukov.
5. Headliners by Lucy Parker
This next recommendation for books like The Hating Game to add to your TBR is another workplace enemies-to-lovers romance, but between two feuding TV presenters.
For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off.
They can barely be in the same room together. But these long-time enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.
With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking.
And someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.
Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves — quelle horreur — working together to hunt down the saboteur. They also discover they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.
The public might not be wrong.
Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.
6. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
The biggest difference between this book like The Hating Game and Sally Thorne’s debut is that things weren’t always so hateful between these two protagonists.
While Poppy and Alex have nothing in common, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they were the very best of friends. Poppy, a wild child with insatiable wanderlust and Alex, who prefers to stay at home with a book.
She’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown. So, for most of the year they live far apart. But every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together — lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
7. Work For It by Talia Hibbert
In the words of author Talia Hibbert, Work For It is about prickly characters who hate each other…until they don’t. Which makes it perfect if you’re looking for more books like The Hating Game. This contemporary workplace romance is also an LGBTQ+ romance, and potential readers should check out the trigger warnings before picking up this read.
It begins with the village outcast: Griffin Everett. He’s a scowling giant who prefers plants to people. But then he meets Keynes, a stranger from the city who is everything Griffin isn’t: Sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful.
For a few precious moments in a dark alley, Keynes is also Griffin’s…until he crushes him like dirt beneath his designer boot.
Then, Keynes shows up at Griffin’s work the next day and Griffin isn’t sure if he wants to strangle him or drag him into bed. Probably both. But Keynes makes it painfully clear he isn’t there for the likes of Griffin. With everyone else at work, he is all gorgeous, glittering charm — yet when Griffin gets to close, he turns vicious.
But Griffin can’t stay away. Because there is something about this ice king that sets him on fire. A secret vulnerability that makes his chest ache. He’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again.
The last thing Griffin expects is for Keynes to ruin him.
8. The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel
This is the first in The Trouble with Hating You series. Just like The Hating Game it pulls two seemingly unwilling characters together and leaves them reeling as emotions come into play.
Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, take-out enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash.
So, imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later. The new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: He’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.
Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating.
As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?
9. Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting
Just like the previous recommendation on this list of books like The Hating Game, Kiss My Cupcake sees two polar opposites who must put aside differences for a common goal. However, this isn’t an office romance as the protagonists are competing shop owners.
Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success.
From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry.
When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.
10. Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon
This next recommendation also features two rival business owners. And just like The Hating Game these two enemies are competing for a lucrative deal that would advance their businesses respectively. Making things slightly more complicated is that our protagonists once hooked up before starting their business ventures, and now find themselves renting offices next door to one another.
Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”
High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful — and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers.
And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest. A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat.
As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile — and monumentally more successful — didn’t already make her stomach churn.
But as the two rival app developers clash again and again — and again — Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow.
Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?
11. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
This next book on our list of books like The Hating Game is another workplace enemies-to-lovers romance. The Ex Talk is also Rachel Lynn Solomon’s debut. It has a touch of a mystery in addition to its steamy romance.
Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade. She can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.
When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other.
While neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.
As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.
12. Mischievously Mine by Leigh W. Stuart
Like a few other recommendations on this list of books like The Hating Game, Mischievously Mine also features a journalist as one of its main characters. And, also just like The Hating Game, this book features two rivals competing for an elusive title. But only one can come out on top…
Sandra Kelly has a take-no-prisoners policy when reporting the local news — and for getting what she deserves. For instance, first place in the Townsperson of the Year contest, and a promotion at the station. Except, one man stands in her way.
Cooper Hall needs to win the upcoming Townsperson contest for reasons of his own. And a certain sexy journalist won’t stop him. No prank is too complicated, no scheme too elaborate, and her red lace panties will not distract him. Much.
They signed a peace treaty years ago and swore they’d never speak of the pranks again. But when they both set their eyes on the same prize, their prank war rekindles. This time, they aren’t stopping at tighty-whities on flag poles and stuffed tarantulas, either. Love has no place in war, and these two enemies play to win.
Mischievously Mine is the second book in the Sycamore Cove Games series, but the books can be read as standalones.
13. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
As we near the end of our recommendations for books like The Hating Game, it would be remiss not to include Sally Thorne’s follow-up novels to her debut. While 99 Percent Mine doesn’t share many of the same themes as The Hating Game, it is a great next read if you love Thorne’s writing. It also features a touch of forbidden love and forced proximity, just like The Hating Game.
Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99 percent. So, Darcy’s had to learn to settle for good enough.
When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy doesn’t plan to stick around, but before she can leave, she finds a familiar face on her porch. House-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.
Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again.
Soon sparks are flying — and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.
14. Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
The final recommendation for books like The Hating Game is Sally Thorne’s most recent publication.
Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work. Until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.
Meanwhile Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years generally not taking life too seriously — something his father can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up.
He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home. But only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees, but Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.
Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad seeking a new personal assistant. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.
But Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again.
But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.
Final thoughts on books like The Hating Game
So, there you have 14 books like The Hating Game to add to your reading list. If you enjoy romance novels full of tension due to close proximity, rivalry, and competition then you will love the titles on this list. Many, just like The Hating Game, feature co-workers and all feature an endearing enemies-to-lovers couple.
Looking for more book recommendations?
Check out this list of 15 books like The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.