Tools of Engagement
Author: Tessa Bailey
Series: Hot & Hammered, book 3
Publisher: Avon (September 22, 2020)
Paperback, 368 pages
Romance, Adult Romance, Contemporary Romance
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.
Bethany and Travis might well be my favorite lead characters of this series. They’ve both got such deep emotional scars (which really seems to be very on theme for this whole series, actually) and they’re so flawed in ways that make them really beautiful. They’ve got a great enemies to lovers thing going, plus an age gap romance – which I personally don’t normally care for but it’s great here.
Wes is just… *dreamy sigh* His interactions with Bethany and with his niece Laura are just so great. Raised in the foster system, Wes has some abandonment and attachment issues, and he’s determined that his niece have the stability and security he never did. Then the way he pushes Bethany when she needs to be pushed and supports her when that’s what she needs… *another dreamy sigh* I LOVE the chemistry between Wes and Bethany, and how they keep making mistakes, learning from them, and coming together again. Bethany’s interactions with Laura are also so funny and sweet. I do wish her interactions with the Just Us league and the other women in the book felt a little more authentic and deep, but maybe that has more to do with who Bethany is as a person than any writing failure on Tessa Bailey’s part.
This book really has it all – hilarious enemies to lovers/rivals to lovers spats and banter, hurt/comfort squishy heart emotional moments, and EXTREMELY hot bangin’ sex. HOLY HANNAH, the heat level. *fans self*
This is the third book in the Hot & Hammered series. While it can be read as a stand alone, there are definitely spoilers for the first two books and the development of the Just Us Club (which has an impact on this book) occurs in the first book, Fix Her Up. This is such a great end to a really fantastic series.
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley/Edelweiss+ for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.