BOOK REVIEW: BookTok made me read it: 'When Gracie Met the Grump' by Mariana Zapata

Emilie Marie Cuevas | The Daily Wildcat

An illustration of Opinions writer Kelly Marry reading books that inspired the series "BookTok made me read it" by Emilie Marie Cuevas. 

“‘I might not be sure about a lot of things in my life, but I’m positive about you.’”

This review contains spoilers.

Gracie Castro lives in a small town in New Mexico where nothing ever happens. Until one night, when a superhero named The Defender crashes into her yard. She helps him get back on his feet, and he is forever indebted to her.

When Mariana Zapata surprise dropped “When Gracie Met the Grump” on September 15, I immediately went to Barnes and Noble. She is one of my favorite authors, and I was so excited to read this book. Usually, Zapata writes strictly romance books, but this book adds a superhero element.


The main character, Gracie Castro, has a fascinating past with runaway parents and an entanglement with a drug cartel. She moves around the United States every couple of months, so the cartel cannot track her. This story takes place when she is living in Chama, New Mexico. She is obsessed with superheroes, so she is ecstatic when The Defender crashlands in her yard. 

The love interest, The Defender, is a broody superhero who lands in Gracie’s yard and breaks his back. He is known to be invincible, so when he breaks his back, he worries that his powers are wearing thin. He is a grumpy person who does not know how to express his emotions, especially toward Gracie. He is on the fence about staying a superhero because his whole family is superheroes, but he is unsure if he wants to continue. I liked The Defender better than Gracie because he was hilarious, and his character had more substance than hers. He was a comic book writer and a superhero and unknowingly funny. 

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Having read many of Zapata’s books, I have noticed a pattern: they all have the grumpy sunshine and slow-burn tropes. All her books are long, about 500 pages, and the romance starts with approximately 50 pages left. So, for people who do not want to read about a couple who barely gets together in the book, I would caution them not to read this book and her others. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy the slow burn, but I know many people are not patient enough to wait for 400+ pages for couples to get together.

One problem I had with this book is that there are no other characters besides Gracie and The Defender until about the 300-page mark, and with 638 pages, this is a long time for it to only be about the two of them. I feel like adding more characters to the beginning of the book would make the book not drag on. However, I enjoyed meeting The Defender’s family in the book's latter half because I liked learning about the differences and similarities between the superhero family members.

I rated the book 3.5 stars because I liked the superhero aspect of it, but the main character fell flat for me, and it was a prolonged start. However, I would recommend this book to Mariana Zapata enthusiasts and slow-burn lovers. 

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Kelly Marry

Kelly Marry (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and public relations. She loves to read and travel in her free time.

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