By: Tessa Bailey
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.
I felt a lot of emotion while reading Tools of Engagement. I’m not a type-A personality, but I think just about everyone can relate to the anxieties and pressure that Bethany put on herself. Especially with the prevalence of social media, that desire to present a perfect façade is ever-present. It doesn’t bother me most of the time, but Tools of Engagement perfectly hit the feelings when it does.
As we’ve seen in the previous two books, Bethany always seems to have things together. Her appearance is perfect, her home is continuously ready for a photo shoot, and she knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. Only, it turns out she’s a constant ball of nerves and anxiety. Bethany over analyzes everything and second-guesses herself at every opportunity. It’s exhausting to read, let alone live.
Wes is a former bronco rider who has found himself in New Jersey taking care of his niece. He’s younger than Bethany, and it borders on the age difference I’m uncomfortable with, especially since he’s in his early twenties. His life has given him experience that others of his age don’t have, though. He doesn’t plan to stay, but it’s clear, even before he and Bethany get together, that he’s not going anywhere.
You saw their reaction to each other in the previous book, and it was obvious that they were attracted to each other, even as they traded verbal barbs. When Bethany finally gains the courage to strike out on her own, away from her brother’s company, Wes joins her immediately. There’s a lot of chemistry here, and they brought out the best in each other.
Tools of Engagement, like the other books in the Hot and Hammered series, was very emotional. The main characters were fleshed out and well written. There weren’t many supporting characters, so I’m not sure if there’s going to be a book after this one, and if that’s the case, this is a high note to end a series on.