Melissa Blue’s latest novella, Grumpy Jake, is as fun and appealing as its bright cover. In this light-hearted enemies to lovers romance Jake, a handsome but gruff White single father has gotten off on the wrong foot with his son Jayden’s Black Kindergarten teacher. Bailey has heard way too much about Jake’s dating misadventures thanks to the faculty’s breathless gossip mill. Despite her undeniable attraction to the tattooed nurse, Bailey does not want to be his next conquest. Deeply wary, the usually warm and effusive Bailey succeeds at freezing out the seemingly bad-boy playboy until they are trapped together in an elevator and she discovers his playfully disarming self-deprecating sense of humor and Jake is enchanted by her frankness.
The world-building is surprisingly robust for a novella, as Blue encircles Jake and Bailey with a rich assortment of friends and family. At the heart of the novella is Jake’s charming biracial son, Jayden, who is deeply loved by both of them. Blue is able to develop a complex push/pull relationship between Jake and Bailey that clearly establishes the risks both of them must consider as they get caught up into each other. Although the book could have benefited from one more pass with an editor due to a few word substitution errors, the book is eminently readable and it sucked me right out of a reading funk.
Filled with sexy banter and low-key angst, Grumpy Jake is as irresistible as Jake and Bailey find each other. If you have not yet discovered Melissa Blue, I strongly encourage you to take a chance on Grumpy Jake, and just like Bailey you will not be disappointed by the novella's mix of intense sexual tension and playful sexiness.
Content Warnings: Grief, Past Trauma (death of siblings)
Ana purchased this book.