Author Guest Posts, Pop Culture Recaps

Author Penelope Janu On Her Top 8 Enemies To Lovers Books, TV Shows & Movies


Author Penelope Janu On Her Top 8 Enemies To Lovers Books, TV Shows & Movies

Penelope Janu’s book In At The Deep End (out now with a brand-new cover) is a classic enemies-to-lovers tale, so we asked her for her favourite pop-culture recommendations for fans of the trope!

What I love most in a romantic comedy is when you know the characters are going to end up together but the first time you meet them you think …

HOW ON EARTH are they ever going to end up together?

Which is exactly what happens with Harriet and Per in my novel In at the Deep End. She’s an Australian environmentalist, he’s a Norwegian naval commander, and they meet in the Southern Ocean when her ship collides with an iceberg. He’s furious. She’s narky. But notwithstanding the antipathy and freezing conditions, sparks fly!

Here are some of my top enemies-to-lovers stories (in no particular order as I love them all!)


Clueless (1995, based on Jane Austen’s Emma) starring Alicia Silverstone as Cher and Paul Judd as Josh. Besides oh-so-serious and condescending Josh’s occasional longing looks and kind and funny Cher’s penchant for annoying him, at the start it’s hard to see how these two can work together, but when they sit on the staircase at the end of the movie …



10 Things I Hate About You

In 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), a movie based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Julia Styles plays the feisty Kat and Heath Ledger is a drop-dead adorable Patrick. Kat doesn’t want any man, particularly not Patrick, and Patrick is only dating Kat for money, but by the end of the movie it’s clear they are great together. Patrick’s rendition of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You’ is not only hilarious but romance gold!

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days


The movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) stars Kate Hudson as Andie and Matthew McConaughey as Ben. This movie is about doing whatever you can NOT to fall in love, yet that’s exactly what happens. Neither Andie nor Ben want a relationship, in fact Andie does all she can to jeopardise it, yet the more time they spend together, the more obvious it becomes that they’re made for each other.

North and South

North and South, written by Elizabeth Gaskell is not only a brilliant novel, but there’s a stunning 2004 BBC adaptation to enjoy as well. Margaret Hale (Daniela Densby-Ashe) is the middle-class daughter of a vicar from the south of England who travels to the industrial north, and John Thornton (Richard Armitage) is a mill owner and self-made man. John’s brooding awareness of Margaret, his feelings of inadequacy, the way he expresses his love. Just … yes. These two are such a great couple—and the train scene in the last few minutes of the TV series is pretty much to die for.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers sets up the enemies-to-lovers plot from the very first chapter. Hot-shot literary agent Nora Stephens takes an instant dislike to tall, dark and brooding book publisher Charlie Lastra when they meet to discuss her client’s latest novel. He declares it unreadable and she decides he’s a ‘self important arse hat’. The fun continues from there with Nora and Charlie meeting again two years later in his home town where she has gone on holiday. The banter flies as the two of them engage is a push-pull will-they-won’t-they scenario that is laugh-out-loud funny and at times sensationally sizzling. I love, love, love this novel!

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game is not only a wonderful novel, but an excellent 2021 Netflix movie starring Lucy Hutton as Lucy and Austin Stowell as Joshua. The whole premise of this novel is enemies to lovers, and don’t Lucy and Josh have to work hard for their happily ever after? There are a number of standout scenes, and one of them is the first kiss in the lift. They’re still enemies at this point, but who says enemies can’t lust after each other?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a well-loved novel, and there is also a 1995 BBC TV adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and Colin Firth as Darcy. Lizzie and Darcy start off hating each other (Darcy’s proposal is a how-to on how-not-to), but by the end of the story, when they meet again at Pemberley, Elizabeth had never seen Darcy ‘so desirous to please, so free from self-consequence or unbending reserve, as now …’ Darcy’s new demeanour (and, as Elizabeth jokes with her sister Jane, seeing the beautiful Pemberley …) sets their relationship off in a totally different direction to the way it started out!


Romancing the Stone

Romancing the Stone (1984), an action-adventure romantic comedy, is a long-standing favourite. Kathleen Turner is a vulnerable yet tough Joan Wilder, a successful historical romance novelist. And Michael Douglas is a perfect Jack T Colton, an adventurer bad boy. They start off as two people with nothing in common, but in the course of the movie (something all good enemies-to-lovers stories have in common) they come to appreciate that they didn’t see the qualities the other had. When they do … they fall in love!

When Joan says to Jack ‘You’re the best time I’ve ever had’, he responds, ‘I’ve never been anyone’s best time before’ The love story, the action, the laughs—there is so much to enjoy in watching and re-watching this movie!

In at the Deep End

In my book In at the Deep End, Harriet and Per are both environmentalists and should like each other more. The trouble is, Harriet and Per have different ways of doing things. Harriet is a communicator. Per is … extraordinarily grumpy.  It’s only after they spend a winter in Sydney, where Per attempts to help Harriet overcome her terrible fear of water, that they learn to appreciate one others’ qualities and fall in love.

Enemies to lovers is my catnip! There’s tension and heartache and lust and more tension and more heartache and more lust but …

Ultimately, there’s a happy ending.


Penelope Janu lives on the coast in northern Sydney with a distracting husband, a very large dog and, now they’re fully grown, six delightful children who come and go. Penelope has a passion for creating stories that explore social and environmental issues, but her novels are fundamentally a celebration of Australian characters and communities. Her first novel, In at the Deep End, came out in 2017, followed by On the Right TrackOn the Same PageUp on Horseshoe HillStarting from Scratch and Clouds on the Horizon as well as a novella, The Six Rules of Christmas. Penelope enjoys riding horses, exploring the Australian countryside and dreaming up challenging hiking adventures. Nothing makes her happier as a writer than readers falling in love with her clever, complex and adventurous heroines and heroes. She loves to hear from readers, and can be contacted at

Love enemies to lovers? Don’t miss In At The Deep End

Opposites attract in this charming, funny Australian-set coastal romance about losing your cool and finding your place in life.

What woman doesn’t love a real-life hero? Harriet Scott, for one. The fiercely independent daughter of famous adventurers, she grew up travelling the world on the environmental flagship The Watch. So when Harriet’s ship sinks in Antarctica and she has to be rescued by Commander Per Amundsen, an infuriatingly capable Norwegian naval officer and living breathing action hero, her world is turned upside down.

Like their namesakes, the original Scott and Amundsen who competed to reach the South Pole first, Per and Harriet have different ways of doing things. Per thinks Harriet is an accident waiting to happen; Harriet thinks Per is a control freak. But when Harriet realises that Per is the only one who can help her fund the new ship she desperately wants, she is forced to cooperate with him.

Per refuses to assist unless Harriet allows him to teach her to swim. But there is more to Harriet’s terrible fear of water than meets the eye. Can Harriet face her fears and come to terms with the trauma and loss of her past? And will she begin to appreciate that some risks are well worth taking-and that polar opposites can, in fact, attract?

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