Spotlight Review: SECRETLY YOURS by Tessa Bailey

Vine Mess, Book 1

From the publisher:

From Tessa Bailey#1 New York Times bestselling author, TikTok favorite, and “the Michelangelo of dirty talk” (Entertainment Weekly)comes a steamy small town rom-com about a starchy professor and the bubbly neighbor he clashes with at every turn…

Hallie Welch fell hard for Julian Vos at fourteen, after they almost kissed in the dark vineyards of his family’s winery. Now the prodigal hottie has returned to Napa Valley and when Hallie is hired to revamp the gardens on the Vos estate, she wonders if she’ll finally get that smooch. But the grumpy professor isn’t the teenager she remembers and their polar opposite personalities clash spectacularly.

One wine-fueled girls’ night later, Hallie can’t shake the sense that she did something reckless—and then she remembers the drunken secret admirer letter she left for Julian. Oh shit.

On sabbatical from his ivy league job, Julian plans to write a novel. But having Hallie gardening right outside his window is the ultimate distraction. She’s eccentric, chronically late, often literally covered in dirt—and so unbelievably beautiful, he can’t focus on anything else. Until he finds an anonymous letter sent by a woman from his past.

Even as Julian wonders about this admirer, he’s sucked further into Hallie’s orbit. Like the flowers she plants all over town, Hallie is a burst of color in Julian’s grayscale life. For a man who irons his socks and runs on tight schedules, her sunny chaotic energy makes zero sense. But there’s something so familiar about her… and her very presence is turning his world upside down.

“This sexy opposites-attract romantic comedy features witty banter, steamy dialogue, and well-developed characters… Readers will devour Bailey’s latest (after Hook, Line, and Sinker) in one sitting, then go back to again and again to pick up on its intricate subtleties. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“With her latest addictively readable rom-com, the cheeky humor and full-blown sexiness that are organic elements in all of Bailey’s writing are in full, glorious bloom. The end result is a lushly sensual romance that brilliantly exploits the opposites-attract trope between a buttoned-up, by-the-book academic and a cheerfully chaotic Earth goddess-gardener for the maximum amount of love and laughter. — Booklist

“A haughty professor and a spirited gardener face off in this raunchy and enchanting rom-com from bestseller Bailey… The witty banter and gripping tension will make this a treat for the author’s many fans.” — Publishers Weekly

Bailey is one of my favorite authors, and I am thrilled she is starting a new series! The setting is a family winery, so reading with a glass of wine was practically a requirement (that I very much enjoyed.) I’m happy to say this book was unputdownable.

Julian is a professor at Stanford, but he has come home to his family winery and is staying in the guest house. He is on sabbatical, writing a novel. He craves the peace and quiet of the area, so when a beautiful young woman shows up, three barking dogs in tow, and proceeds to start digging around the yard, he is really thrown off his schedule. For one thing, he can’t take his eyes off of her…

A few years earlier, wildfires reached the vineyard. Julian saved his sister’s life, then had a major panic attack. His father was furious about his mental health issues (because that’s always helpful) and he takes off, divorcing Julian’s mom for whatever his reasons, and leaving his family vineyard in her hands. He is trekking around Europe and hasn’t been heard from since he left.

Julian has suffered from anxiety for quite a while, and the way he manages it is to keep to a schedule. Every day he writes out his hour-by-hour schedule for the day, and that brings him calm. Until Hallie shows up.

Julian is so strongly attracted to Hallie that he almost doesn’t mind that she has thrown him off schedule. Hallie has her own issues as well. Her mother is gone, and the grandmother who raised her has recently passed away. She felt like her grandmother was her anchor, and kept her in check, so without her, she is just living a chaotic life. Talk about opposites – Hallie is all lightness and smiles and chaos, and Julian is all dark and somber and rigid. What he doesn’t remember is that he almost kissed Hallie at a party when they were in high school, and she has harbored enough of a crush on Julian – despite not having seen him for fifteen years – that she is still a virgin.

The chemistry between these opposites is off the charts, but it takes a lot of laughter, some steamy sex, anonymous “secret admirer” letters, and a bit of serious angst before these two find their happy ending. I loved spending time with these characters and can’t wait for the next book in the series. Don’t miss it!

2/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SECRETLY YOURS by Tessa Bailey. Avon (February 7, 2023). ISBN:‎  978-0063239029. 384p.






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