New Romances Featuring the Grumpy/Sunshine Trope

When grumpy meets sunshine, love ensues in these four forthcoming romances, including two debuts.

When grumpy meets sunshine, love ensues in these four forthcoming romances, including two debuts.

Hubscher, Libby. Play for Me. Berkley. Jun. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9780593547229. pap. $17. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

In this closed-door romance, Sophie is the team trainer for the Boston Red Sox, which is her dream job, but when their loss of the World Series is blamed on her, she loses her job and her boyfriend. Her best friend comes to her aid and helps her secure a trainer job at a private boarding school in New Hampshire. Always optimistic, Sophie hopes this will be a fresh new start, but the only apartment she can find comes with roommates, including grumpy orchestra teacher Jonas. Even though Sophie doesn’t know how to handle Jonas’s hostile attitude, she finds herself drawn to him. As Sophie starts to find her way at the school, she’s also dealing with the loss of the life she knew and being away from her ill father, who just moved into assisted living. While coming to terms with all of this, she discovers Jonas is also dealing with difficulties in his past. As the two grow closer, they seek to support each other’s dreams. VERDICT Give Hubscher’s latest (after If You Ask Me) to fans of enemies-to-lovers stories and those looking for humor in their romance.—Tegan Beese

Joyce, Jessica. You, with a View. Berkley. Jul. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9780593548400. pap. $17. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

DEBUT While grieving the loss of her beloved grandmother, Noelle Shepard is shocked to find a love letter hidden in Gram’s possessions, along with a photo of her with a man who is not Noelle’s grandfather. When the TikTok that Noelle creates to find this long-lost love goes viral, she is shocked to find out that Paul, the man in the photo, is the grandfather of her former academic and athletic rival, Theo Spencer. Noelle decides to take Gram and Paul’s thwarted honeymoon road trip, but Paul insists that he and Theo go along for the ride. Noelle is convinced that the trip is going to be a disaster, but sparks quickly fly between she and Theo, even though they’re keeping big secrets from each other and Theo remains guarded. Some of the secondary characters could have been a bit more well-developed, but readers will adore this grumpy/sunshine, second-chance pairing and the richly described national park settings. VERDICT Joyce’s delightful debut is perfect for fans of road trip romances and Sarah Adler’s Mrs. Nash’s Ashes.—Whitney Kramer

Parker, Lucy. Codename Charming. Avon. Aug. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9780063040106. pap. $18.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Petunia “Pet” De Vere and Matthias Vaughn both play integral, if sometimes opposing, roles in their jobs for the newly royal-by-marriage, sweet but accident-prone Johnny Marchmont. Matthias is his ever-present and ever-serious bodyguard, whose personal experiences in loss on the job have led to his strict enforcement of protocol. Pet, as Johnny’s personal assistant, understands the new royal needs to break free of the confines occasionally and makes decisions accordingly—usually against protocol. When rumors start to fly that Pet and Johnny are having an affair, action must be taken, and the easiest, for everyone else, is to have Pet and Matthias fake a relationship for the tabloids. They know this is probably the fastest way to make the rumors disappear quickly and decide to play along. But neither could have predicted that spending time together would require participation in a heist, solving a decades-old mystery, or really falling in love. VERDICT Parker returns with an endearing and equally humorous follow-up to Battle Royal with a serious but gentle bodyguard, an adorably sunny assistant, and a cast of secondary characters who deserve books of their own.—Kellie Tilton

Soto, Julie. Forget Me Not. Forever: Grand Central. Jul. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781538740880. pap. $16.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

DEBUT A cheerful wedding planner who doesn’t believe in commitment gets a second chance at love with a grumpy florist in Soto’s debut. Ama Torres started designing weddings for her oft-married mother when she was still a teenager; now she owns her own wedding planning and design business. When celebrity influencer Hazel Renee chooses Ama to run her wedding, she is excited to take her business to the next level of success, but this opportunity also forces her into close proximity with a man she never expected to see again. Elliot Bloom is a reclusive, tattooed florist who works magic with his floral designs and who once had incredible personal and professional chemistry with Ama. As the wedding draws closer and the two become entangled once more, Ama and Elliot must decide whether to open their hearts to each other again. Together they explore the boundaries between the professional and personal, and the differences between love, commitment, and marriage. VERDICT A funny, heartfelt love letter to the author’s hometown of Sacramento, that will interest readers who enjoy second-chance romance, fiery sexual chemistry, and grumpy/sunshine relationship dynamics.—Sierra Wilson

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