Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey
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.
What was it all about
Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey was my first book by this author who supposedly wrote spicy romcoms. Oh man, the spiciness really hit me when the gloves were off and the main characters were romping in the dirt.
Hallie had a crush-love on Julian at age fourteen and they had nearly kissed. When she met him almost a decade later for landscaping his garden, the crush flared up like a heart-shaped balloon to become love. But there was just a tiny snag. He just didn’t remember her.
A drunken evening and a love-like letter left in the crook of a tree for the strait-laced professor had her becoming a Secretly Yours admirer and his becoming a man who liked two women.
And off I went to observe how their worlds collided when love and LUST rushed to close the gap between them. A romcom, the genre I was gravitating to nowadays, this book held me lovingly in its grips as I enjoyed watching the two fall in love and try to find their Happily Ever After.
A standalone but book 1 of the Vine Series as the next book was a love story for a character appearing in this.
Trigger Warnings: seriously dirty talks that come on suddenly from unexpected quarters. Hahaha. That shouldn’t be a trigger because the author wrote smut in a cozy setting, but it came out of nowhere.
Hallie would be my compelling hook in this book, as she made me root for her from beginning to end. Her heart was simply in the right place.
It was also good that I did not have any expectations from this book as this was simply an exploration to decide how this style of writing would affect me. So I enjoyed it.
She was chaotic and fun with dogs and flowers running amok, and Julian was rigid and regimented where every minute was committed to a particular task. The universe, and the author, couldn’t have paired two individuals so different from each other.
Both the characters had their past and losses to deal with. I found Hallie to be more complete as compared to Julian. He was complicated, but his complexities needed more lines in the book to justify them and allow readers a chance to understand him deeper.
This was a love story, no doubt, but surprisingly enough, the author revolved it around relationships and friendships, loss of a loved one and coming to terms with it, finding oneself and letting go of the rigid control, along with loving our family.
I liked how the different veins were admixed together in the book to form a complete story in 300+ pages. A cozy story, I didn’t expect it to hit me hard and knock me sideways, but keep me swaying on a gentle groove. The plot line resonated with me and reflected my mood and gave me a warm feeling at the end of it.
The atmosphere in the entire book was cozy and warm, where colors and wine abounded. Even when the main characters hit a few snags, the book provided a good support system for them to give me the feeling of camaraderie in the entire book. so I would say, the setting of the scene with the vineyard and guesthouse and the tree with the crook for the letter to be placed worked for me.
The pace was steady and all there, waiting for me to choose my own momentum. Some things managed to shock me-read the complete review-but the book kinda made me come back to it, even when I was reading another book in tandem with it.
So, it went along with the ups and downs of my mood.
The style of writing - The Prose
I liked the heavy dose of sex and love and those warm emotions enveloping family and friends. For a romcom this was to be, I found it cozy-ish in its style. But that was what I wanted at that moment in time, something that would thaw my heart from the inside out, and this is what the book did.
I wouldn’t say the author’s voice was compelling, but it was like a gentle breeze that kept me flying on a cloud the whole day through. To add to the fact was that I took my own sweet time reading the book, savoring every word. So I had to admit, I enjoyed the cozy love with lots of dirty talk.
How it made me feel
I liked the book and had this feeling of happiness and contentment while reading it. The flowers and setting, the friends and town, the Corked and the new awning, the vines and the wines all gave me a good high while reading the book.
I enjoyed the letters too because even though it was a bit duplicitous, it was easier to pour our thoughts into a letter using pen and paper. There was something personal about it, and it felt as if the brain allowed the words to escape via the strokes of the pen.
But there were a few niggles.
Let’s be straight. I love dirty talks during sex, but for a rigid professor to suddenly talk in that manner, I was taken aback. The author had put such a tight leash around his characterization with no crevice open for his character to behave otherwise, it was a shock to see him get down and dirty with words and actions. A chink in his characterization could have been inserted along the pages to make readers feel that the professor loved a good lovin’.
The chemistry between the main leads could be made to sizzle a lot more.
A crisis and dark thoughts and the professor froze up. Then walked away instead of dealing with it head-on and talking it out felt a little odd when Hallie was the most giving person in this book. And the reason for him to do that felt a little frivolous.
Do I recommend this book?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I would because it was such a mood-uplifter and a great way to get over a reading slump.
Also, the lust and love between the two were explosive like the bright colors of the flowers. And to be frank, this book not only brought me joy but the cover was so soothing to my eyes. Check out the pic above.
So I think Tessa Bailey would soon become my auto-buy author. Waiting for the next book to come about to clinch the deal. And yes, I would be buying that book too. It is already on my wishlist.
I downloaded the digital version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.
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Well stated review as always, pointing to one very strong turn off for me. A normally straight-laced professor suddenly talking dirty? Uh, no.