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Tools Of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

*Spoiler free*

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Thank you so much to Avon and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!

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.

After reading Fix Her Up, I had to admit, I liked Tessa Bailey’s romance books. I know I’m certainly not the only one. I’m not very clued into the romance world (though still slowly dipping my toes into it!), but I know she’s a pretty big name. So, I was interested in reading this installment of this series! (Yes, I know I skipped over Love Her Or Lose Her, but I have to be in a very specific mood to read books like that.) Trigger warnings: intense perfectionism, minor self-harm

I am genuinely surprised to say that I fell in love with this book. Fix Her Up was intense, at least for a romance newbie like me. I’m still not 100% sure where my feelings ended up with that book, but they were positive enough for me to want to give this book a shot. And I am very glad for that.

While Fix Her Up was filled with intensity, I felt like this book was injected with heart. I think that’s because I related so much to Bethany. The character behind the woman was so unexpected, but she completely touched my heart.

I will admit to not being totally sold on Bethany before. I dunno, I guess I will admit to thinking she felt a bit artificial and fake. But wow, seeing behind the curtain, into her own head, revealed so much more. I loved seeing the person behind the front she puts up. She’s someone I fell easily in love with.

Bethany struggles with wanting everything to be perfect and to be perfect her self. That lands really close to home. Her struggles with wanting everything to be just so, to panicking when its not or there’s the chase for it to not, sort of punched me in the gut. I just, got it, on a cellular level. While her behaviors and thoughts might not exactly mirror mine, the underlying message, the underlying fear and anxiety, touched me. I wasn’t expecting to relate to this book so much, so it felt really special.

Wes also surprised me. I was expecting a whole lot of hate-to-love, and there was some to an extent, but Wes has a heart of gold. He’s mushy and he’s sweet and he felt like such a solid guy. He has his own fears that he struggles with, but he feels so human. He and Bethany fit together so incredibly well, even more than in just a sexual way. They make friends and just great people together.

Speaking of Wes, his niece Laura was the cutest human ever. She brought such a light into this book and she never failed to make me laugh. She was adorable and I loved what she brought to the story. From her character to bringing out the best in Wes and Bethany.

I was also really, really loved seeing previously mentioned characters. There were scenes with them that made my heart clench and I love, love seeing what previous main characters are up to!

I also am such a fan of Bailey’s writing. It light and flowy and it just drags you through the book.

The one thing I wasn’t the biggest fan of was the very ending. Not the ending to this book, but the ending to the series. It felt kind of rushed. I felt some details could have been left out because I felt like them not coming from the POV of who they’re from sort of cheapened it. I dunno, I feel like that’s a bit weird, but nonetheless.

I always feel like my reviews of romances are so short, but here we are. I ended up loving this book a whole lot more than I thought I was going to. It’s steamy and sweet and mushy and emotional and all kinds of good.

Tools Of Engagement comes out September 22, 2020! You can add it on Goodreads and pre-order a copy in the meantime!

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