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New Release Review! SECRETLY YOURS by Tessa Bailey (A Vine Mess #1)

Secretly Yours cover

A steamy new 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 their small town. 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 gray-scale 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.

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A fun series start!

Though the whole anonymous letter writing bit is a tad contrived, Secretly Yours is still a lot of fun to read. Hallie and Julian are likable characters, and even when their individual quirks have the reader shaking their heads, it’s still easy to root for them–and even easier to root for them to get an HEA together!

There’s so many tropes here–opposites attract, unrequited (she planned our wedding while in high school, he completely forgot their lone romantic-ish interaction) love, uptight and ultra-organized scheduler meets the agent of chaos, I’m gonna fix everything for you so you always smile–and the dual person POV really helps to make the narration shine through them all. Ms Bailey writes banter well and that wasn’t disappointing either.

But… It Happened One Summer or Hook, Line, and Sinker this isn’t. Julian’s sex god-like dirty talk seemed wildly out of character once he finally pulled it out, and their relationship black moment felt contrived…or to be more accurate, its resolution felt off. I did enjoy the ways in which both Julian and Hallie became their better selves by the end, and especially liked how much closer Julian’s family (at least the family we see on the page here) became. I still have high hopes for the next book, because I’d really like to see Julian’s sister Natalie find an HEA…especially with a hot former SEAL.

So–not my favorite Tessa Bailey book, but not a waste of time either. I mean, it IS a Tessa Bailey book, so… 😉

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Published in3.5 starsB+Book reviewsBOOKS!new releasespotlight