4⭐️. Tropes: age gap; workplace romance; opposites attract
Q: do you enjoy watching home improvement shows?
Tessa Bailey always brings the heat & Tools of Engagement is no exception. This romance takes us back to Port Jefferson with a hot, charming former rodeo rider now raising his niece & the perfectionist house stager who happens to set his blood on fire.
I’ve been waiting for Bethany Castle’s HEA and couldn’t wait to see how Bailey would deliver it.
Though Bethany’s a successful house stager for her family business she wants to be a contractor too. When her brother ignores her wish she shares her plans to flip a house in a grand, public fashion, & in the words of Bethany, aforementioned rodeo rider Wes Daniels Jerry Maguires it.
Now Bethany & Wes are working together to flip a house that most would run from & wrestling their feelings for each other. To compound the difficulties they’re facing, Bethany’s pride leads her to agree to participate in a sibling flip face-off for a renovation show. Oopsie.
On a characterization & chemistry level this book is *chef’s kiss. Take Bethany, who’s so committed to the performance of perfection that she breaks out in hives. Bailey writes her beautifully, I think: Bethany’s sure of herself in some ways, in others she’s very afraid, & all of it seems to rest on an crazy amount of behind the scenes prep & work & inner coaching—a constant pressure that she needs to be “on.”
Wes is a dream. He wants & needs a home—even though he wouldn’t admit it—& he is steadfast & supportive. The lengths he goes to for Bethany & his niece...Sorry. Is it possible for a voice to crack from emotion in a review?
I love the emotion of Tools of Engagement but where it falls short for me in some ways is in execution. I wanted more about Bethany’s professional transition. I wasn’t as invested in the reality tv plot but I think I maybe needed more there too.
Tools is another satisfying trip to Port Jeff & the adorable (& also ferocious in the bedroom) couples who make their lives there.
Tools of Engagement is out on 09/22. Thanks to Avon & Edelweiss for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.