Title: Tools of Engagement
Series: Hot & Hammered #3
Author: Tessa Bailey
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Page Length: 368
Age Range: Adult
CAWPILE Rating: 9.07/10
Goodreads Synopsis: In Tessa Bailey’s latest rom-com, two enemies team up to flip a house… and the sparks between them might burn the place down or ignite a passion that neither can ignore!
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.
*Note: this ebook was sent to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
This is the third in the Hot & Hammered series. I was hesitant to start this series as I haven’t read many smut romances. In fact, I only started reading them this year and I’ve binged this series over two months! When I first saw this eARC pop up on Edelweiss, I knew I had to have it and was ecstatic when I got approved!
Now that being said, this is the first of the novels to tackle the hate to love trope – my favourite trope! Did it disappoint? Hell no! I loved the banter between Bethany and Wes! They give as good as they get and, ugh, I just love it. Now, I don’t know if I will be able to gush about this without ending up in some form of spoiler territory. If you don’t want to be spoiled, jump right now to the last paragraph!
What I wasn’t expecting was the depth! Bethany is so put together in the other two books that I didn’t expect to see how much she doubts herself on a daily basis. Honestly, it was… not nice, but relatable to see it. There were so many times that Bethany would describe her insecurities and I would just be thinking “yes, girl! I hear you!”. She would voice so many thoughts I’ve had/have almost constantly. I don’t think I look or seem as put together as Bethany, but it was nice to see a crack in the perfection.
I also wasn’t expecting the amount of depth we got from Wes either! He wasn’t just another cocky man with possessive traits. He was complex, more complex than Travis or Dominic (in my opinion). We find out that he was in foster care and bounced around many homes – which is one reason he doesn’t want a true relationship. He has only let one person get close enough to him to depend on him before moving to Port Jefferson, NY., his sister. He battles with his idea of attachment and commitment, but with how strong he is for Bethany, you wouldn’t be able to tell if you didn’t get his perspective.
The added reality TV competition element, although interesting, felt a little unnecessary. Mostly because I then wanted to be bouncing back and forth between the two houses – like it would be on an actual reality TV show. How it was though, was fine. Honestly, the entire flipping of the house was barely visited. I would have liked a little more of it, more of Wes helping/showing Bethany how to do some construction – or even her surprising him with already being able to do it. As it was, it was more trickled in. But I guess if we had had more of it, this book would have been longer than any of the previous books, and others may not find it as interesting as I do lol.
I was also surprised with how little Georgie and Rosie were in the story. This may have been to illustrate just how isolated Bethany really is from others and how much she tries to tackle on her own (to maintain her perfection image). I was also surprised at how much I didn’t necessarily miss them.
Now for the smut… well it was good once it got started. I don’t know if it was my imagination, but this one seemed to be lacking the smut department for the first half of the book. Don’t get me wrong there was sexual tension to spare in that part, but I remember the other two having way more smut content. Once we got it though, dang was it good – at least for a newby at smut.
Alright… I think that’s all the spoilers for now… you can come back – those who skipped to the end.
Overall, this was a great entry to the Hot & Hammered series. It makes me want more for the series – although I believe this was the last – and I definitely need to start into Tessa’s backlist. Tessa didn’t let me down with her hate to love romance and the added depth to the character’s story. Highly recommend.