Wednesday, September 23, 2020

ARC Review: Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

TOOLS OF ENGAGEMENT is the perfect bookish cocktail for the end of summer - a mix of enemies to lovers romance, the close-quarters trope, with an added dash of fighting hidden attraction and personal demons, lovingly blended with a mixer of humor, heart, and heat. Garnished with a slight age gap and an unexpected single dad situation— it’s downright delectable.

Channeling her unabashed love for HGTV & Chip and Joanna Gaines, Tessa Bailey has created an absolutely sizzling follow up to smash hits Fix Her Up and Love Her or Lose Her, finally giving a pair of characters readers have been BEGGING for their happily ever after. It’s rom-com gold, fit for the television screen!

Tools of Engagement
Hot & Hammered #3
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published by Avon
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020

In Tessa Bailey’s latest rom-com, two enemies team up to flip a house... and the sparks between them might burn the place down or ignite a passion that neither can ignore!

Hair, makeup, clothing, decor... everything in Bethany Castle's world is organized, planned, and styled to perfection. Which is why the homes she designs for her family's real estate business are the most coveted in town. The only thing not perfect? Her track record with men. She's on a dating hiatus and after helping her friends achieve their dreams, Bethany finally has time to focus on her own: flip a house, from framework to furnishings, all by herself. Except her older brother runs the company and refuses to take her seriously.

When a television producer gets wind of the Castle sibling rivalry, they’re invited on Flip Off, a competition to see who can do the best renovation. Bethany wants bragging rights, but she needs a crew and the only member of her brother's construction team willing to jump ship is Wes Daniels, the new guy in town. His Texas drawl and handsome face got under Bethany's skin on day one, but the last thing she needs is some cocky young cowboy in her way.

As the race to renovate heats up, Wes and Bethany are forced into close quarters, trading barbs and biting banter as they remodel the ugliest house on the block. It's a labor of love, hate, and everything in between, and soon sparks are flying. But Bethany's perfectly structured life is one kiss away from going up in smoke and she knows falling for a guy like Wes would be a flipping disaster.

My Review:
I honestly thought I was going to DNF this book. Seriously I struggled with liking Bethany so much. I didn't like her, at all. And then I read a quote and I understood.

"Everyone had left the wedding happy and loaded, as was always the hope. So why had she lain awake for the last two nights, trying to pick every moment apart for something that hadn't been perfect? There was food left over. Did that mean people didn't like it? Should she have provided a coat check? Now those jackets draped on the backs of chairs would be in photographs photobombing for all eternity. That's how people would remember the wedding wouldn't they?"

She's me. If you've read my Blogging with Anxiety post you'll know I struggle a bit with, well, anxiety. I have a difficult time relaxing and not overthinking things. In fact that day I wrote this I had about four panic attacks at work.

After reading this my whole picture and feeling towards this story changed. I got Bethany on a whole new level and I couldn't help but feel for her throughout this story. I hurt when she hurt and couldn't help but empathize with her through all her highs and lows.

Wes has never had a stable life. After bouncing in and out of families in foster care Wes has never been stable. When his step sister called and asked for help, he never expected to be taking care of his niece for an unforeseen amount of time. Now he's setting down roots and not only falling in love with his niece but Bethany as well.

I loved the slow build up to an amazing, adorable, and sexy relationship for Wes and Bethany. I love how he was able to see through Bethany's walls, fears, and mask. It was absolutely amazing how he slowly chipped away at her defenses. I loved their relationship and it felt the more Bethany fell for him, the more I fell for him too.

I loved Tools of Engagement. This was a fantastical read. I thought the story was beautiful. The romance was fantastic, the story building was well done, and the flow was fabulous. This is an absolute must-read.

Tessa Bailey aspires to three things. Writing hot and unforgettable, character-driven romance, being a good mother and eventually sneaking onto the judging panel on a reality show baking competition. She lives on Long Island, New York with her husband and daughter, writing all day and rewarding herself with a cheese plate and Netflix binges in the evening. If you want sexy, heartfelt, humorous romance with a guaranteed happy ending, you’ve come to the right place.

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