Tools of Engagement: Book Review

Tools of Engagement
by Tessa Bailey

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

Y’all, this is one of my extremely overdue Netgalley ARC’s that I am absolutely kicking myself over. I read Tessa Bailey’s “Fix Her Up” on Netgalley, and she instantly became one of my favorite writers. I was dying to find out if this was just a one off chance, or if she’d prove herself to be tried and true. I missed the opportunity to get the second novel in this series on Netgalley, but did manage to snag novel #3, “Tools of Engagement.”

Since I missed a step in this series, I was meeting Wes for the very first time, and because it had been so many years since reading the first novel, it felt like I was meeting Bethany all over again. What I love about Bailey’s writing is, hands down, her characters. Right from the first chapter they were both so fleshed out and real to me. The novel only grew on their strengths and weaknesses as the plot served to highlight their well deserved wins, and timely shortcomings. 

This novel is written with dual points of view, and every time we got to read from Wes’ perspective I kept mentally repeating to myself, “This is a man written by a woman.” He was so funny, honest, blunt, and an unashamed flirt while also being so sensitive to Bethany, and intuitively knowing exactly what she needed in any given scenario. He is the type of man women dream of, and Bailey absolutely delivered. 

Lately I’ve developed a bad habit of skim reading. I don’t skim everything I read, but I find myself feeling exasperated and bored by internal monologues more often than not. I realized while reading this novel that my eyes would stray over a few lines, and I’d internally admonish myself before going back up to read them in full. This was the first romance centered novel in months that I read every single line, and loved it all!

The characters were so complex that they weren’t overthinking or overanalyzing the same problems over and over again. Each time we were allowed into their headspace the characters were growing, changing, and learning to adapt to new situations as they arise. I really connected with Bethany and her mental battle to strive for perfection in everything. While I don’t have the same mental health struggles she does, the way they consumed her life and relationships was something I could relate to.

It was so beautiful to see a character like Wes, who had grown up in foster care, learn what selfless love really is through his niece. This element of his life and character made him more grounded and relatable, and his niece became a fixture in this story all on her own. 

The plot itself was entertaining enough to keep me engaged. While the character development took the forefront of this story for me, the plot kept us moving forward and continued to challenge our characters. Just like Wes and Bethany were learning how to renovate a house together (while competing with her brother on a television show), they were also learning how to renovate their lives to include one another.

This story was funny, sexy, community driven, and tender hearted. I am so happy I not only grabbed a copy of this novel from Netgalley, but I finally sat down to read it. Bailey has continued to write more romances after finishing this series, and I can’t wait to sit down and get caught up on what she’s written so far, as well as anything she creates in the future.

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