I have really loved the Hot & Hammered series with Love Her or Lose Her and now with Tools of Engagement. With Bailey’s books there’s a balance between steaminess and also characters with tons of heart. And that’s the same feeling I had with Tools of Engagement, in particular Bethany’s character. Keep reading this book review to see what I enjoyed in Tools of Engagement.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: minor self-harm
In Tools of Engagement what I enjoyed the most were the characters and particularly Bethany. Wes’ character had a ton of heart, particularly all the scenes where he was interacting with his niece, but I related to Bethany the most. Something I’m still working through is this idea of being vulnerable with the ones around us. Bethany thinks she has to be perfect and everything has to be put together around her. I related to her struggle breaking away from her family and having to believe in herself.
So for me, this was the heart of why I enjoyed Tools of Engagement was definitely Bethany, but I also want to talk about Wes. The biggest thing I appreciated about Wes’ character is the way he was afraid of getting too attached and being left alone. The way that when people get close to us, it shows us how tender our heart is, how much the pain might destroy us. Additionally I loved their chemistry and their banter. Bailey is so great at portraying characters with just enough bite and tension. And the way relationships can help disarm each other in small ways, to force us to show our cracks, which is, of course, terrifying.
I understand why the competition was a part of the book, because it did provide a lot of tension and push for the story, I just felt it took a little bit of the space away from the relationship. But overall I really loved the way Bethany has to work through her issues of perfectionism and the anxiety of planning and preparation. MAJOR RELATABILITY!