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You know what they say… opposites attract. Here are 21 of the best grumpy sunshine romance books to add to your “must-read” list.
If you’re a lover of romance novels, you are likely familiar with the grumpy/sunshine trope.
Grumpy/sunshine romance books are filled with tension, friction, and butting heads… just enough to keep things spicy and interesting. This is why they are one of the most-loved romance tropes/themes among readers.
If you are a sucker for an opposites attract love story, here are 21 books that you are sure to love.
What is the Grumpy/Sunshine Trope?
The grumpy/sunshine trope shines in romance books, movies, and TV shows. If you are an avid romance reader or rom-com lover, you are familiar with it, I’m sure.
This trope features a moody, oftentimes cranky-seeming, hero. Most commonly, the grumpy half is the male role in female/male relationship storylines.
On the other side, we see a bright, sunshiney, cheerful heroine – most often the female in the story.
Within the stories, these two characters clash, rubbing each other the wrong way and creating tension in their relationship.
This trope not only makes for an outstanding chemistry build-up but also is the perfect baseline for some hilarious romance humor.
Grumpy/sunshine romance books are full of clashing personalities, funny one-liners, romantic suspense, and, best of all, a heartwarming love story.
What is Reverse Grumpy Sunshine?
Reverse grumpy sunshine is the same trope, only with the roles reversed. Instead of the male character being grumpy and the female being sunshine, it is vice versa.
Within the reverse grumpy sunshine trope, the female will be the Scrooge-like cranky character, while the male has the upbeat, ray-of-sunshine personality.
Same idea, same trope, same gotta-love-it romance story.
21 Must-Read Grumpy/Sunshine Romance Books
1. Archer’s Voice
When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.
Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.
Archer’s Voice is not only my favorite grumpy/sunshine romance book, but it is one of my all-time favorite books in general.
Bree makes the most perfect, kind-hearted, lovable character and Archer is the grump that you can’t help but want to win over.
Watching Archer’s tough exterior crack and start to let Bree in is the BEST. Total tear-jerker romance book here.
This book was a 5-star read for me. I will ALWAYS boast about Archer’s Voice.
2. The Soulmate Equation
Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever.
Her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist than she thought.
I listened to the audio book of The Soulmate Equation and fell in love with the silly, yet deeply romantic story of Jess and River. This book had me laughing out loud at points due to it’s extreme grumpy/sunshine trope.
Dr. River is a CRANK – and Jess is not having it (at least for the first part of the novel…).
This makes for some LOL-worthy run-ins and develops the tension between these two perfectly.
By the end of the book, I was completely in love with their love story and rooting for them stronger than ever.
The Soulmate Equation is the epitome of a grumpy sunshine romance book – and the perfect easy, fun, lighthearted read.
3. The Simple Wild
Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher. When her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the trip back.
While she struggles to adjust to this new environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.
Calla is determined to prove him wrong but unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper?
The Simple Wild is not only one of the top grumpy sunshine romance books but is home to so many of my other favorite tropes as well!
Forced proximity, small-town romance, enemies to lovers, family drama… this book really has it all.
It’s impossible to not fall in love with Calla and Wren’s “opposites attract” romance. I have no doubt you’ll be rooting for these two as if it was your own love story.
4. Ugly Love
When Tate Collins and pilot Miles Archer meet, it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing they have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for it so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.
Never ask about the past. Don’t expect a future.
They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.
Hearts get infiltrated. Promises get broken. Rules get shattered. Love gets ugly.
Ugly Love has a special place in my heart.
This book is what got me HOOKED on reading again in my adult life (along with It Ends with Us).
Tate and Miles are one of the few book couples that I STILL think about to this day – over a year after reading their story.
Miles’ traumatic past and tough exterior make him the perfect grump in this grumpy sunshine romance novel.
You can’t help but love him… even though he does not want to be loved.
Watching him slowly open up to Tate and the idea of love is painful and beautiful all at once.
Ugly Love made me ugly cry… and I’m not ashamed of it.
5. It Happened One Summer
Fashionable, famous influencer Piper finds herself in the slammer, cuts off by her stepfather, and sent, with 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. She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.
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.
When I think of grumpy sunshine romance books, I think of It Happened One Summer first. This book is everything that defines the grumpy sunshine trope (with a dash of small-town romance too!).
But, I have to be honest.
I didn’t love this book. It was fun, easy to read, and had no shortage of SPICE. However, it isn’t a book I was crazy about or consider one of my favorites.
That said, this is a top favorite on BookTok and so many of my close friends adore Brendan and Piper.
If you are into grumpy sunshine, forced proximity, famous/snobby females, small-town romance, and LOTS of spicy scenes, this is the book for you!
6. The Hating Game
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive-aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down. But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game…
The Hating Game is quick, cute, and screams “rom-com”. While this wasn’t an overly life-changing book for me, it’s an enjoyable story and fun to read.
Not to mention, it doesn’t get much more grumpy/sunshine than this.
Joshua and Lucy’s workplace enemies-to-lovers story makes for the ideal grumpy sunshine romance.
(The Hating Game has been adapted into a movie, which I found just as enjoyable!)
7. Beach Read
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
For the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
One hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult. Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Beach Read is everything you could possibly want from an opposites-attract, grumpy sunshine romance.
Augustus is dark, deep, and serious. January is a lovable, cheerful, hopeless romantic.
Watching these two explore not only each other, but new parts of themselves makes this story captivating, heart-warming, and special.
8. Things We Never Got Over
Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin, Tina, to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town.
After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with the niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.
Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. As soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can get back to his peaceful, solitary life.
At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.
Things We Never Got Over creates an ideal grumpy/sunshine romance with Knox and Naomi’s well-developed characters.
This book is long, complex, and packed with twists, turns, and characters you’ll grow to LOVE.
The plot is great, the characters are lovable, and their connection is one you’ll remember forever.
(Bonus: If you’re a fan of book series, you’re in luck! Lucy Score has more for you in the rest of the Knockemout series.)
9. The Love Hypothesis
As a 3rd-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships – but her best friend Anh does. Convincing Anh that Olive is well on her way to a happily ever after is going to take proof. So, 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. Olive is shocked when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support.
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.
The Love Hypothesis is a fun, feel-good romance, filled with some of the top tropes of the genre.
In addition to being a grumpy sunshine romance story, this book also highlights the well-loved fake dating trope.
If you are looking for a lighthearted, easy read (with no shortage of spice), The Love Hypothesis is great for you.
10. Hothouse Flower
Twenty-five-year-old Ryke Meadows knows he’s hard to love. With a billion-dollar inheritance, a track-star resume, and an alpha-male personality—he redefines the term likable-asshole. He just wants to live without drama or interruption. And then he receives a distressed call from a girl in Paris.
Daisy Calloway is finally eighteen. With her newfound independence, she can say goodbye to her overbearing mother and continue her modeling career in Paris. Fashion Week begins with a bang, and Daisy uncovers the ugly reality of the industry. She wants to prove to her family that she can live on her own, but when everything spirals out of control, she turns to Ryke to keep her secrets.
As Daisy struggles to make sense of this new world and her freedom, she pushes the limits and fearlessly rides the edge. Ryke knows there’s deep hurt beneath every impulsive action. He must keep up with Daisy, and if he lets her go, her favorite motto—”live as if you’ll die today”—may just come true.
With that, I highly recommend reading this series in the appropriate reading order.
Hothouse Flower focuses mainly on 2 characters of the core 6 in this series: Ryke and Daisy.
Ryke is gruff, protective, and masculine, whereas Daisy is petite, girly, and carefree. Their connection has been building for years – but their age gap has never allowed for it to flourish… until now.
I adore Ryke and Daisy (and the entire Addicted Series crew).
This is a must-read series and Hothouse Flower is the perfect grumpy sunshine romance book.
11. How to Love Your Neighbor
Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check. Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.
Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree, her dream job, and finally, a place to belong. When an opportunity to fix up―and live in―a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.
Real estate developer Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. He’s found a place to call home – provided he can expand by taking over the house next door – the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.
With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.
12. The Unhoneymooners
Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed.
By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion…she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.
Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is…Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.
13. Book Lovers
Nora Stephens’ life is books, but the only people Nora is a heroine for are her literary agent clients and her beloved little sister Libby.
When Libby begs for a sister’s trip away, Nora agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, NC for the month of August. Instead of their vision of picnics and handsome countrymen, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again, what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
Book Lovers is every cheesy rom-com-lovers’ dream come true.
Sparks (and tensions) fly between Nora and Charlie, making this book the perfect “opposites attract” romance.
To me, this book wasn’t overly memorable or life-altering. But it is a super cute plot and an easy carefree read!
14. Twisted Love
Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape.
Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.
But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest: A crack, a melt, a fire that could end his world as he knew it.
Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember.
But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want.
Her brother’s best friend, her neighbor, her savior and her downfall.
Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both…and everything they hold dear.
Twisted Love is a contemporary brother’s best friend, grumpy sunshine romance. It’s book one in the Twisted series but can be read as a standalone.
15. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Hazel Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. Their loss. She’s a good, quirky soul in search of honest fun.
Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.
Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double-blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?
This book was silly, quirky, and full of laugh-out-loud moments.
Josh and Hazel aren’t complete grumpy/sunshine characters, but most definitely are polar opposites.
Hazel’s chaotic, absurd, and eccentric personality is a harsh contrast to Josh’s straight, organized, and by-the-book way of life.
These two make quite a pair – and this book is full of fun. If you are looking for a lighthearted rom-com-style read, this is a great choice for you.
16. Underneath the Sycamore Tree
Emery Matterson’s life has been broken for a while. First, she lost her twin sister―the other half of her heart―to an incurable autoimmune disease. Then her father left. Now Emery has been diagnosed with the same disease that killed her sister, and her mother is falling apart. Unable to live under the same roof anymore, the only option for Emery is to move in with a father she hasn’t seen in ten years and try to start over.
Enter Kaiden Monroe, the brooding athlete who has baggage of his own. Kaiden makes Emery feel normal. Hated. Cared for. Loathed. And…loved. Somewhere along the way, Emery finds solace in the guy with the sad eyes.
But everything happens in stages. And nothing good ever lasts.
This book is an emotional romance that is sure to make you cry. Not only does this book feature the grumpy sunshine trope, but it covers deep family dynamics, grief, chronic illness, trauma, and so much more.
Needless to say, I cried.
Such a great read if you are in the mood for something deep, meaningful, and memorable.
5 Best Reverse Grumpy Sunshine Romance Books
Grumpy girl meets sunshine boy? Gotta love it.
17. Maybe Not
When Warren has the opportunity to live with a female roommate, he instantly agrees. It could be an exciting change.
Or maybe not.
Especially when that roommate is the cold and seemingly calculating Bridgette. Tensions run high and tempers flare as the two can hardly stand to be in the same room together. But Warren has a theory about Bridgette: anyone who can hate with that much passion should also have the capability to love with that much passion. And he wants to be the one to test this theory.
Will Bridgette find it in herself to warm her heart to Warren and finally learn to love?
Maybe. Maybe not.
This is Book 2 in the Maybe series but could be read as a standalone if preferred. It is a short novella at only 160 pages.
18. Window Shopping
Two weeks before Christmas and all through Manhattan, shop windows are decorated in red and green satin. I’m standing alone in front of the famous Vivant department store, when a charming man named Aiden asks my opinion of the décor.
It’s a tragedy in tinsel, I say, unable to lie. He asks for a better idea with a twinkle in his eye. Did I know he owned the place? No. He put me on the spot. Now I’m working for that man, trying to ignore that he’s hot. But as a down on her luck girl with a difficult past, I know an opportunity when I see one – and I have to make it last.
I’ll put my heart and soul into dressing his holiday windows. I’ll work without stopping. And when we lose the battle with temptation, I’ll try and remember I’m just window shopping.
Such a fun, festive, cute holiday romance!
The overly-festive and cheerful department store owner meets a grumpy, down-on-her-luck store window designer… it doesn’t get more grumpy sunshine than that.
19. Maggie Moves On
House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in under 4 months. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.
The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless. He and his service dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country flipping homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.
As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on?
20. The Bromance Book Club
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
Anastasia Allen has worked her entire life for a shot at Team USA. She gets a full scholarship to the University of California and lands a place on their competitive figure skating team.
Nothing will stand in her way, not even the captain of the hockey team, Nate Hawkins.
Nate’s focus as team captain is on keeping his team on the ice. Which is tricky when a facilities mishap means they are forced to share a rink with the figure skating team—including Anastasia, who clearly can’t stand him.
But when Anastasia’s skating partner faces an uncertain future, she may have to look to Nate to take her shot.
Sparks fly, but Anastasia isn’t worried…because she could never like a hockey player, right?
Who is your favorite grumpy sunshine book couple?
My absolute favorite grumpy/sunshine book couple is Bree and Archer from Archer’s Voice. Hands down. No questions asked.
Although, Daisy and Ryke from the Addicted series are a very close second…
Who are your favorite “opposites attract” couples? Leave a comment below!