Tessa Bailey

Tools of Engagement (Hot and Hammered #3)

Tools of Engagement (Hot and Hammered #3)

By: Tessa Bailey

Blurb:

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.

Review:

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.

4/5

Library Haul 11-25-20

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving I went to the library today. They’ve changed how things are done so I no longer have a set library day.

I finished reading Crazy Stupid Bromance and posted my review earlier. Out of the three books I checked out I’m most excited about Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey. I liked the previous two books in the series so I’ve got high hopes for this one.

Surprising no one, I went on a library hold spree last night and requested about twenty books. I tried to be picky with what I picked in the hopes that I don’t slow down when they all inevitably come in at the same time. Hopefully, that works.

I’m about sixty plus books behind on books that came out this year that I’d like to read. Which means my best of 2020 book list is not going to come out on time. Which is fine. No movies came out this year and I’ve basically only played one game this year so those lists will be easy.

Happy Thanksgiving!! 🦃🥧

2020 Goodreads Choice Award Nominations

Today starts the nomination process for the Goodreads Choice Awards. I try to participate every year, but like most years, I haven’t read most of the books initially nominated. For those new to the awards to be nominated, the book has to be published this year. Goodreads uses their algorithms to come up with fifteen books in the twenty categories to start the process off. Considering some of the books nominated don’t come out until this month, I’m not sure how fair their algorithms are.

Each year I discover books I’ve overlooked or never heard of, but I also get incredibly frustrated. How am I supposed to take all the books I’ve read and narrow them down to the categories provided?? There’s only one romance category?? There’s no Juvenile Non-Fiction category?? There’s a sci-fi category, a fantasy category, a young adult fantasy category, but no young adult sci-fi category?? How am I supposed to vote when I still haven’t read all of the books from this year?? Why is this being held now when there are still almost two months left in the year?????

It’s too much!

So, I’m just going to post my favorite books of 2020, so far, here. None of them have been nominated, but the best part of the awards is that you can select them yourself. So if you too liked these books, then please head over to Goodreads and do your duty.

First, The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde. I nominated this one under the fiction category, though it could probably go under the humor category as well. It was a fantastic satire novel that called out racism using absurd creativity.

I’ve got two historical romances, and I wish I could nominate both. The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite and The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan. Waspish Widows is the story of two older women who fall in love in a time when women didn’t even have the right to vote. The Duke Who Didn’t had a hero and heroine fall in love despite their incredibly different backgrounds. The backdrop was a small village in England that was predominantly people of Asian descent. Plus, there was a lot of good food mentioned.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams, Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey, and The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler were the contemporary romances that I wanted to nominate. Undercover Bromance is the second book in a series that I fell in love with earlier this year. The concept of a book group of men reading romance novels is one I love. Love Her or Lose Her made me realize I was missing out on an entire trope of married couples learning to fall back in love with each other. I absolutely loved the sweetness and humor in The Tourist Attraction.

Five romances, and I can only nominate one. It’s horrible. I ended up going with The Duke Who Didn’t because, well, it came down to the food. Lol It was really close, though. The Tourist Trap nearly edged it out for the coveted top spot. If only there were historical and contemporary romance categories.

The science fiction and fantasy categories were easier. The only five-star fantasy book that I’ve read this year was Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews. I did think about nominating N.K. Jemisin’s  The City We Became, I liked it, but I liked Emerald Blaze better. Jemisin’s book was one of the fifteen nominated by Goodreads, so she will probably make it to the next round. If Andrew’s book doesn’t make it will make my next vote easier.

At first, I didn’t think I had a science fiction pick. Not only have I not read many this year, but I haven’t rated the ones I did read highly. I’m trying only to nominate books I rated five stars. I’ve started reading Christopher Paolini’s To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, but there’s no way I’ll finish it in time. So I decided to go with Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews. Yes, it’s another Ilona Andrews book, but they’re my favorite authors.

Last, but certainly not least, is my non-fiction selection. I’ve slacked on non-fiction this year. I could not concentrate like I need to to read non-fiction. So I ended up nominating This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell. It’s a juvenile non-fiction book, so I don’t believe it stands a chance, but it was an excellent book. It clearly explained the issues for young people as well as adults with limited knowledge of the issues.

There are many categories where I didn’t nominate any books, which always bugs me. I don’t have enough time to read everything I want to unfortunately. I’m curious what books everyone else will be voting for, and I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead. Even though I know most of the books I love, if not all, will not win their much-deserved awards.

2020 Review So Far

First off, I’ve been reading a lot in 2020. It’s been an absolute shit year, for everyone, everywhere, and one of my major comforts was reading. My Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal was 60 books. I’m currently sitting at 79. I’m not going to go back and review everything I’ve read, but I’m going to list my favorite of the year so far, and I’m going to try to review all the books from here on out.

 

2020 Favorite Books So Far (in no particular order)

Castles Ever After

  • Castles Ever After series by Tessa Dare. I like this series and absolutely love books one and three. They made me laugh. The characters were great, and I really enjoyed the story. The final book was a crossover with her Spindle Cove series and didn’t have much to do with a castle, but it was still good. (I wasn’t much of a fan of the rest of the Spindle Cove books, which was a bit of a bummer). I’m enjoying going back and reading Tessa Dare’s back catalog.

Turner Courtney Milan

  • Turner series by Courtney Milan. For a time, there was a box set available of the entire series, and I was able to snatch it up for a fantastic price. I’m a huge Courtney Milan fan, and I was super happy to be able to get this entire series. I wasn’t as much of a fan of the second book, but the others in the series were very entertaining.

Girl Meets Duke

  • Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare. This series is ongoing, but there are currently three books out. A seamstress, a governess, and a wallflower all find love. They do it on their terms too, which I enjoy. They’re all at least a tiny bit odd and are able to find men who accept them. It’s lovely.

Bromance Book Club

  • Bromance Book Club series by Lyssa Kay Adams. I absolutely love the idea of this series. A group of high power men get together to figure out how to make their women happy. The first book is about a baseball player whose marriage is on the rocks, so a friend reaches out and invites him to join the book club. It’s all men and they read romance novels to help them figure out what women want since they can’t seem to figure it out. I love it. The second book is out, and I enjoyed it as well. I am looking forward to the rest of this series.

Love Her or Lose Her

  • Love her of Lose Her by Tessa Bailey. I wasn’t as big a fan of the first book in the series. I found the heroine a bit odd and un-relatable, but I thought the second was excellent. It’s once again about a married couple on the rocks (I had no idea I would enjoy this trope) and how they fall back in love.

The Right Swipe

  • The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. There’s a woman in tech dealing with all the misogyny in that sector. A pro football player that stands up against the NFL for their disregard for the health and safety of their players. I loved it.

 

I have a long list of books to read. I’m also hoping to finally tackle my ever growing stack of non-fiction books, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m reading a lot of romance books because I find comfort in them. That’s what my reading has been all year, comfort. I’ve re-read most of Ilona Andrews catalog because of that.

I need something with a happily ever after, where the world isn’t always dark, and people aren’t always dying. If you have any recommendations I’m open to them.

Good luck to everyone surviving the rest of the year.