Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Tropes: grump/sunshine; age-gap; best friend’s little sister; brother’s best friend; workplace romance; death and grieving
Jessica Peterson’s return to the writing world, The Troublemaker, is an apt reminder of her capacity to write steamy, beautiful romances with a sense of responsibility. This newest book in her Sex & Bonds series balances humor, spice, and a small amount of angst. But this is what Peterson does best. In The Troublemaker, the initial tension revolves around her hero, Brooks, trying to avoid his attraction to his best friend George’s little sister, Greer. But she is too much of a temptation. Once Greer and Brooks fall down the rabbit hole of all things romance, the rest of the story’s tension involves Brooks’s father’s approval.
However, much of this story focuses on Brooks’s unresolved grief about his sister’s death. In one of the many ways that authors reconcile an age gap, Greer is the more emotionally mature of the two at times, and she helps Brooks voice his grief. Similarly, Brooks helps Greer see she doesn’t always have to be a people pleaser. Both of these messages feel necessary, and Peterson marries them well with the burgeoning love between Brooks and Greer. The story’s gravity becomes profound as Greer and Brooks walk through their challenges hand in hand.
Even more, I LOVED that Peterson didn’t fall into the trap wrought with a best friend’s little sister/brother’s best friend trope. I detest it when the hero who falls in love with his best friend’s little sister forgoes the uncomfortable talk and allows his friend to talk him out of the relationship. Peterson is deft in creating a storyline that maintains Brooks and Greer’s agency of choice. Peterson crafted these two with a decidedness, allowing the reader to enjoy their journey and grow in their character.
Jessica Peterson’s The Troublemaker is a delight to read, and there is nothing better than a “grump” falling adoringly in love with his “sunshine” heroine. I cannot wait for more stories in this world if books 1 and 2 are any indication.
In love and romance,