So, I know this will probably be an unpopular opinion, but… I didn’t like it. At all. I fully, 100%, expected to LOVE this book – and I just didn’t. We get frequent reminders that our hero has been screwing around for years while fighting his feelings for the off-limits heroine (yuck), the storyline is more about humor than the actual romance, there were elements that felt repetitive/overly drawn out, and the payoff after the slowest of slow burns was lackluster at best. There, I said it. I haven’t rated a Grant book this low in literal years, and I’m not all that happy doing it this time either.
The story follows Max, a guy who has been doing everything he possibly can to extinguish the attraction he feels for his teammate’s sister. Max didn’t have a great childhood, and his teammate, Cooper, is the person who cares about him the most now. Cooper has helped Max through his struggles with anxiety, been a friend and confidant, and has shared his community with Max for the summer. So crossing the line with Cooper’s sister, Tillie Jean? Not gonna happen, no matter how much she flirts with him. Tillie Jean’s been flirting with Max for years, and it’s just become a part of their dynamic. But when Max moves next door to Tillie Jean for the off-season, things get all mixed up.
This does have so many of the elements that I love about Grant’s work, from the quirky humor and sense of found family to the slow-burning love. This series has been STELLAR, and this was simply the weak link for me. It actually felt VERY similar to Grant’s last book, but it leaned into all of the things that rubbed me the wrong way about that one. Our playboy hero struggles with his feelings for an off-limits girl, but doesn’t take hooking up with others off the table. There’s a focus on feeling worthy and being the good-time guy only. There’s the slow burn and complicated friend/family dynamics. Honestly, if that’s what Cooper’s book entails, then I’m not in any rush for it either (I want him to meet a stranger, someone who hasn’t been around while he’s a horndog – NOT the girl who is hinted at in this). What ultimately drags this one down is that we get the push/pull, the denial of feelings, the “it’s just sex” routine for like 80-90% of the book, and the actually relationship development is completely glossed over. I wholeheartedly recommend Grant’s books as a whole, but this definitely isn’t one of the more successful ones.
An enemies-to-lovers / sports / grumpy-sunshine / neighbor romance
I, Tillie Jean Rock, am not in love with my brother’s teammate. Sure, he might have those biceps and that “I am the grouchiest of grouchy bears” smolder, and he might shovel snow off his driveway next door wearing nothing but boxer shorts and rubber boots, and he might be running a side business feeding all the stray goats in town, but studliness is only skin-deep.
And I might flirt with him every chance I get, but I swear it’s only to annoy my brother.
Because Max Cole?
Under all of those glorious muscles and chiseled cheekbones and searing glares beats the heart of a heartless devil.
I could no sooner fall in love with a guy who treats me like a kid, and judges me at every opportunity, and sets an army of garden gnomes loose on my yard, than I could fall in love with my grandfather’s pet parrot.
But I can definitely annoy him. I can one hundred percent get on board with annoying him.
That’s what you do when you don’t like your neighbor, right?
But you know what they say about love and hate…
It’s a very thin line.
Especially when the real reason I’m not in love with Max Cole—that he’s incapable of love—might not be true at all.
The Grumpy Player Next door is a fun-filled enemies-to-lovers romcom featuring a ray of sunshine on a mission, an athlete who’s only grouchy around her, and an epic prank gone wrong. It stands alone and comes complete with small-town shenanigans, a goat who’s not nearly as wise as his name suggests, and proof that sometimes, love is the best kind of vengeance.
Start the series today!
I may not have loved this particular book, but the series has been SO GOOD. Real Fake Love was on my Top 20 of 2020 list, and Jock Blocked was also a contender. Each book will stand alone, but there are so many interconnected characters and inside jokes that you’d have a better reading experience by going in order. Grumpy Player was still worth reading for all of the family moments and humor, and I’m looking forward to what’s next.
Jock Blocked: Read my review here or Amazon: https://amzn.to/3yGDRM4
Real Fake Love: Read my review here or Amazon: https://amzn.to/3e0rLp6
About the Author:
Pippa Grant is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes romantic comedies that will make tears run down your leg. When she’s not reading, writing or sleeping, she’s being crowned employee of the month as a stay-at-home mom and housewife trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, all the while fantasizing about long walks on the beach with hot chocolate chip cookies.
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