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Hot & Hammered #3

Tools of Engagement

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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.

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!

368 pages, Paperback

First published September 22, 2020

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About the author

Tessa Bailey

92 books40.2k followers
New York Times Bestselling author Tessa Bailey can solve all problems except for her own, so she focuses those efforts on stubborn, fictional blue collar men and loyal, lovable heroines. She lives on Long Island avoiding the sun and social interactions, then wonders why no one has called. Dubbed the “Michelangelo of dirty talk,” by Entertainment Weekly, Tessa writes with spice, spirit, swoon and a guaranteed happily ever after. Catch her on TikTok at @authortessabailey or check out tessabailey.com for a complete list of books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,984 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
265 reviews79.5k followers
September 17, 2021
it could’ve been worse! it could’ve been Fix Her Up.

i know.. you’re thinking ”but kat, if you hated the author’s first book so much, why bother with this one?”
fair question. wouldn’t it be cool if i had an answer?

like the disorganized little shit that i am, i wrote notes while listening to the audiobook and they are a disaster. therefore, you are getting a messy pro/con list and you’re gonna like it!


-yes hello, as a generally anxious bitch who *also* acts aloof to throw people off the scent of insecurity (lol i guess we’re getting real personal today on this here platform) while i’m not planning elaborate weddings or flipping houses on national tv, bethany’s overthinking and panic energy were easy to sympathize with.

-i grew up on ao3 + love me a oneshot comfort fic, so seeing wes repeatedly own the role of reassuring/distracting/hyping up beth whenever she spiraled was noice.

-wes + his niece’s relationship!! genuinely didn’t know i wanted a surrogate father character until he was right in front of me, and the scenes that showcased wes just trying his best for the people he loved were super heartwarming.


-tessa bailey writes a juvenile ass romance. the men in her stories (that i've read) are possessive and childish, but make self-aware jokes to ‘absolve’ their behavior from being viewed negatively. ik it’s probably not really that deep. but, i could never get past the MANY instances when wes was on the prowl, making flippant remarks and impulsive decisions to better control his standing with bethany, only to follow it up with “hahah guess i'm just a chauvinist jk lolz” as if that canceled out whatever dick move he'd just made.

-the dirty talk….actually, all the smut. it literally made me dnf Fix Her Up and wasn’t my thing here either. i guess all the ‘cowboys make better lovers’ tshirts i got targeted ads for while reading this were nothing but lies.

-i did not give a flying fuck about the house flipping competition. boning in a partially constructed building does not a hot scene make (imo). i was mostly concerned about all the sawdust particles that probably found their way into various body crevices, etc. etc.
thank god they eventually located a legit bed, for the sake of that woman's ph.

tl;dr - if tessa bailey ever decided to write a more pg story, with an emphasis on all the soft shit and plenty of fade to black, i honestly might go for it. but, at this point she doesn’t seem like an author i personally mesh with, and i will probs be steering clear from here on out.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,199 reviews40.7k followers
October 25, 2021
Confession: I was a little disappointed after reading Georgie and Travis’ story and first book of the series was three starred, mediocre starting for me. But at the second book, possessive, passionate Alpha-dog Dominic and his fight to win his wife Rosie back stole my heart. And at that book: I already introduced Bethany and charming Wes including their fiery-smart-entertaining banters as a first start of their enemies to lovers story so I was so excited to read their own book.

Well: I have to admit: I didn’t like this one as much as I enjoyed Dominic and Rosie’s love story because:

Bethany is quirky, perfectionist: everything in her world should be organized, polished, in order, sophisticated. She loves to design houses and working on details. It all works well for me and I actually enjoy reading the characters with their own antics, flaws but Bethany’s extreme insecurities, judging herself so harshly made me frustrated. This hot-sex chemistry between she and Wes start to turn into something angsty- ultra slow burn romance between charming cowboy and annoying insecure woman.

The other thing I didn’t like was the reality TV concept. In my opinion it slowly kills the true romance parts between characters and turning them into something unrealistic and artificial. Without the TV concept, Wes may still Rene Zellweger’d Bethany (it means he quits his job just because following Bethany because he believed in her cause just like Zellweger did at Jerry Maguire , joining her to support her against rivalry between she and her brother. (At the end: if their partnership doesn’t work, he may Cuba Gooding Jr’d her any time by requesting: SHOW HIM THE MONEY as well!)

And of course: I wanted to scream at the author when I didn’t see any intimacy between the characters till the last third of the book.

But I truly loved Wes and his connection with his niece Laura. And Bethany is also more secure and relaxed when she is around Laura.

And the sweet-sour rivalry between Bethany and her brother, the conclusion of their fight were the sweetest part of the book.

So I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars and I decided another 3,5 stars and rounding them up to 4. Because I still enjoyed the story more than the first book. Wes definitely stole my heart with his sweetness, smartass comments and his patience to earn Bethany’s heart.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Avon/Harper Collins Publishers for sharing this feel-good ARC with me in exchange my honest review.
Profile Image for Cristiina♡Reads.
574 reviews3,304 followers
April 5, 2021
Two opposite individuals whom have expressed nothing more then fondness and a powerful, true chemistry...

This is the one book in this series in which I was truly hesitant to dive into because of one thing... I am not the biggest fan of younger guys, and older woman tropes. I know, I know, I wish I weren't saying that but that seemed to be the one thing in the back of my mind in which had stuck there when I was reading this novel. BUT, with that being said I still loved this story! I can never turn away from a book by Tessa Bailey anymore. Let alone, with a synopsis and cover such as this one.

Wes and Bethany are this over couple that had me catapulting for more! She is a force to be reckoned with, while he is this power oozing cowboy that knows how to sweet talk her, but also dirty talk the shit out of her. This combination is what makes them mesh together in the best of ways. Especially with the additional improntu of a semi "single parents" trope due to Wes taking care of his niece.

Wes and Bethany know how to push each other's buttons, and they both also know how to properly take care of each other in a way in which romanticizes every word Tessa has written;
"In the glory of the moonlight, he looked older, more worldly and wether. Or maybe it was the words coming out of his mouth. She didn't know what it was, but all of it, everything, drew her closer..."

I am not sure if this is the final book in this series. I am hoping it's not, but if it is then what a way to go!

ARC kindly provided by Avon Books, in exchange for an honest review...

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
September 14, 2020
dare i say it - this is the best book in the series? TB mentions in her acknowledgements that bethany and wes are her favourite couple, and i think preferential treatment definitely shows.

i will say readers who pick this up as a standalone might be a little confused. the build up between these two characters in book 2 is soooo necessary to their story. otherwise, its comes across as a mild case of insta-love. but the relationship is super adorable, regardless.

i was also really pleased with the overall message of this story, which hasnt happened with any of the other books in this series. i love how, even among flipping a house, the MCs realise that sometimes home can also be a person, which i think is a lovely thought.

overall, a satisfying conclusion to a fun and cute series!

a big thanks to harpercollins publishers for the ARC!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
September 24, 2020
Welp, the Hot & Hammered series has officially come to an end! While this one definitely didn't top Fix Her Up for me, it did really redeem the series after a rocky second book and I am honestly pretty bummed to leave these characters behind me. I do enjoy this series for the most part, but my biggest complaint about this book (and the series as a whole tbh), is that Tessa Bailey REALLY loves herself some gendered language and it just.. sits weird with me. This book was full of phrases like "her feminine flesh" in regards to Bethany's vagina, and the love interest, Wes, kept referring to women as "females" and it just personally kept taking me out of the story and made me roll my eyes a bit. With that being said, I did manage to look past those aspects and I ended up really enjoying the story and found it to be a very satisfying conclusion to the series. I'm looking forward to finding out whatever projects Tessa Bailey has next up her sleeves!

TW: addiction, child abandonment
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews19.9k followers
January 23, 2021
I've been looking forward to Tools of Engagement ever since I read and loved the previous two books in the series. Sweet and steamy are its hallmarks, and this book continues to deliver!

When Bethany is dragged into a house-flipping competition to prove to herself that she has what it takes, Wes volunteers to be a part of Bethany's team. These two have a tumultuous relationship based on biting remarks and mutual hate, but could their animosity be rooted in something more? As they work side-by-side, their time together slowly thaws their relationship, and these two flawed people realize they don't have to be perfect to find their perfect love.

This story has everything I've come to love about the series: interesting and passionate characters, lots of witty banter, plenty of laughter, and enough steam to defrost the coldest of hearts. What makes this couple even more compelling is that they are both deeply in need of love and acceptance. To see them slowly come to terms with their attraction and love for each other is so rewarding and heartwarming. The house-flipping element also added a level of fun to the whole thing, as if I'm reading a HGTV love story.

If you haven't read anything by Tessa Bailey, it's worth mentioning that her books are extremely hot and steamy, at times shockingly so. This is especially surprising because the covers of this series will have you believe it's an innocent rom-com which you can blithely read whenever and wherever. To come across unprepared one of these raunchy passages would definitely be a startling experience.

I wholeheartedly adore this series. Its cast of kind, sweet, and loyal characters always fill my heart with so much joy. Their naïve and stalwart belief in love seems so full of potential, harkening back to a time before cynicism and stress takes its toll on relationships. These books are pure escapism, no doubt, but they're exactly what I need right now.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,152 reviews18.3k followers
November 16, 2020
4.5 stars

This series started out flat and it just got better and better. I'm now such a fan of Tessa Bailey's books. I had such a blast reading this start to finish. The epilogue wrapped up a bit too perfectly, but other than that, this was a hilarious enemies-to-lovers story, a man-child taking care of his niece and owning responsibility and an overly perfectionist woman coming to terms with her flaws. Alongside great banter, steaminess and vulnerable moments.



These two had the one of the most hilarious 'meet-cutes' in Love Her or Lose Her and I can't wait for all the banter and snippy remarks that is about to ensue in this one.

Also, forced close proximity anyone?
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,067 reviews3,611 followers
October 10, 2020
Hot! Hot! Hot!🔥🔥🔥
This is book three of the Hot and Hammered series. And just like the series title suggests it’s not just a rom com but a very steamy and raunchy read!

OK...You’ve been warned!���️

When I first started this series I had no idea what I was in for and I think I blushed through the entire book. But going into book three I was fully aware and ready! Bring on the heat!🙈

This latest installment focuses on Georgie’s older sister Bethany who is desperate to branch out on her own from her family business and flip a house. Though her family doesn’t quite believe she is capable. To her rescue is Wes. The new young man in town who recently arrived to care for his young niece when his half sister needed to take a timeout from her life.

Bethany does her best to fight the relationship.
(Of course - it’s a rom com where no romance is straight forward ). She can’t seem to get past the fact she is seven years older than Wes. But he is determined to break down all of her walls and in return may end up with more than he ever imagined.

The heat between these characters is palpable! The steamy scenes were risqué (to say the least) but fit the characters and storyline perfectly.

This rom com had everything I ask for in the genre. Both romance and Comedy. I loved the flirtation between Wes and Bethany. And, I had many laugh out loud moments as they navigated their relationship.

I’m not sure if this is the end of the series....but my fingers are crossed that it will continue!🤞

I listened to the audio version and Charlotte North once again did an amazing job bringing all of Tessa Bailey's characters to life!
Profile Image for Christy.
3,814 reviews32.4k followers
August 31, 2020
4 stars


I’ve enjoyed Tessa Bailey’s ‘Hot and Hammered’ series so much! I’m sad this is the last book of the series, but I really enjoyed it. A bit of enemies to lovers as well as the age gap… what’s not to love!

Bethany Castle is doing her own flip and she’s doing it without the help or support of her family’s business. She is sick of not being taken seriously and being made to feel like she’s only good for decorating. When she makes her stand, Wes follows along to help her. You can tell Wes has it bad for Bethany and she’s attracted to him too, but she’s older and doesn’t want to be interested in him. 

“We can still pretend to hate each other, if it makes you feel better about accepting my help.” She brushed her hair back. “Who’s pretending?”

Wes may be in his early twenties, but he grew up a lot over the last year. He has temporary custody of his niece who’s in kindergarten and his pace of life has changed. He and Bethany have such a connection and so much chemistry but there is something holding her back. He just has to break through that barrier.

I loved the reality tv part of this book and the end left me with a giant smile. Bethany is a relatable character and I loved when she finally gave into Wes. He brought her out of her perfect facade and helped her to be her real and authentic self. That person is pretty great. Wes was fantastic and I adored him and the way he was with his niece. Also, with this being written by Tessa Bailey you know it was smoking hot!

If you’re looking for an enemies to lovers/rom-com that is funny, sexy, and has just enough feels, pick up Tools of Engagement.
“You’re my first home, Bethany, and my last”
Profile Image for Lacey (laceybooklovers).
2,019 reviews10.1k followers
September 21, 2020
I'd been so excited for Bethany's story since the first Hot and Hammered book, and I became even more excited when Wes was introduced in Love Her or Lose Her. As soon as I read about them together and their clashing vibes, I knew I needed to read it. If you love enemies to lovers meets HGTV, with an older heroine/younger hero, you need to read this latest rom-com from Tessa Bailey!

Bethany is the last of the golden trio to get her romance. She's always come across as self-assured and on top of her life, but the reality couldn't be farther from the truth. She's a perfectionist with anxiety, which makes for a terrible combination that constantly has her second guessing herself and her decisions. Which is why it's taken so long for her to finally leave her family's construction company to go out on her own. And all of a sudden, she's swept up in a reality show facing off with her brother to see who can do the best home renovation. To her surprise, alongside her is her nemesis Wes, a man that's far too young for her who riles her up like no one else.

When I read Tessa Bailey, I always know I'm in for a fun and hot time. She writes the best dirty talking heroes, and though Wes is a bit younger than her typical hero, he can still dish it out like the best of them. I loved seeing Wes with his niece, who he currently has guardianship over. They were too adorable together! And I really enjoyed the way Bethany and Wes had so much fun banter together but also had plenty of meaningful, emotional moments. Their romance was entertaining from the get-go and I'm glad we finally get their story! This is a great finale to the Hot and Hammered series and I'm so sad to be saying goodbye to these characters.


Cannot wait for Bethany & Wes' enemies to lovers romance!!
Profile Image for Arini.
772 reviews1,616 followers
May 2, 2021
3.5 stars

this had great everything (including an adorable little niece who could do a perfect Scooby-Doo impersonation), and the age-gap was a nice touch (the H was seven years younger than the h); but, i feel like the couple deserved something more grande than this cause the storyline was too mediocre. or would that be overdoing it?? hmm, idk. i liked the flipping houses narrative, but the reality TV competition side of it was unnecessary imo.

also, its sad that when youre reading about a heroine who’s dealing with a certain type of insecurity, it comes across as annoying instead of sympathetic, illuminating, or inspiring. not saying the heroine here was outrightly annoying, but her overthinking-ness did get on my nerves a few times. i wished she’d gone to a therapist or smth cause it’d gotten to a point where she’d hyperventilate, clench her fists too tight, scratch her neck til it itched, or she’d even get panic attacks.

my first Tessa Bailey, and i was surprised with how steamy & raunchy it was. i feel like romances with covers like this book tend to be more cute & fluffy than hot & sexy. another thing, idk if this is true to all her heroes, but the H in this reminded me of KA’s alpha heroes. or maybe it could just be a Texan cowboy thing, and Wes is how theyre typically portrayed in romance books. either way, i mean no offense cause i love KA and i love cowboys.

(read as an audiobook)
Profile Image for Madita.
522 reviews18.9k followers
August 18, 2022
I don’t like the reality tv plot line.

That’s probably why this book has a lower rating because it would have gotten three stars overall but that part just didn’t do it for me at all.

Now the entire competition between siblings was pretty cool but in the end it didn’t do for me what I thought it would.
Wes was an interesting character but I still don’t think that him and Bethany had any chemistry. It was all sexual tension.

Wes just seemed Horny ngl and even-though I enjoyed the niece plot line, I thought the ending did not round of the book as well as this universe in the best way possible. It was truly disappointing and I did not feel satisfied.

Profile Image for Grace A..
384 reviews40 followers
January 11, 2023
I fell in love with the main characters, Wes and Bethany from my first encounter with them. They went from being confrontational, laced with sexual tension, to fierce lovers.
I enjoyed Wes’s possessiveness of Bethany, his “machoness”, and how he seemed to know what made her tick, yet balances her in a way no one else could.
Bethany seemed perfectly put together on the outside, but battles massive insecurities internally, the only person she couldn’t seem to fool was the 7 years younger Wes. He saw through her facade, often called her on it, and on many occasions, helped soothe her anxieties. He was not phased by her “princessy high maintenance demeanour”, as a matter of fact, he found it sexy.
Wes felt he had to put it together for the both of them, and tried not to fall apart as he dealt with personal family issues himself, but it got too much for him, at one point he felt the weight of the responsibility.
I savoured this book, towards the end I started reading in bits because I didn’t want to part with the characters yet. I really had a great time with this one. 5 stars!
Profile Image for Brittni Kristine.
179 reviews113 followers
April 15, 2021
I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars for this one, and I think it’s like a 3.5 but I’m rounding up.

Relatable main character for me, Bethany is a perfectionist who uses her perfectionism to hide her flaws. Definitely reminded me of the me of 2+ years ago.

Very sweet adopted father plot line. Wes is a 23 year old man who had to step up when his sister abandons his niece.

Great age gap romance. Quickly discovering age gap romances are one of my favorite tropes. Wes is 23 and Bethany is 30.

Relatively interesting plot, there’s a competition aspect that starts early on and it kept me from just skimming to get back to the romance.

I honestly couldn’t get over Wes being a cowboy type. It’s just not my vibe. As a girl who came from Kentucky to california, I’ll take a city slicker over a bull rider every single time.

Very predictable. Granted, most romances tend to have predictable elements since they all go by a certain formula, but the book even references how it’s basically a retelling of Jerry Maguire several times.

Overall, I really enjoyed this! I’d be interested to check out other books by this author.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,851 followers
April 10, 2021
Possibly my favourite of the series?

We love a hate-to-love in this house, or at least a somewhat antagonistic dynamic hiding attraction, particularly when the pair are opposites, but throw in an age gap and a single dad-situation, too? I mean, c'mon. Catnip.

"I like being referred to as your foreman. It's got a nice ring."
"Especially compared to what I usually call you."
"Truth. It's a definite improvement from dickhead."

The build-up for this match up has been bubbling away in the background of this series for a while and, for this reader, it was definitely worth the wait. Pretty much everything about this just worked for me (maybe also helped by a bit of a dry spell in the contemporary romance genre?). Besides the delightful tease and torment, the peeling back of layers, I just really appreciated all the situations navigated. Bethany's insecurities, Wes' impermanence, and the fact that as they tear down a structure to rebuild, and do it together, they realize how well the fit. How one has a house — though it isn't a home — much less one filled with joy, while the other is only ever a guest, never asked to stay. Never needed or wanted.

Can you tell this book made me cry?

Don't worry, though, it's also sexy and hot af, as one expects from a Bailey.

"I'm not interested in a fling — and even if I was, you've wisely removed sex from the equation–"
"Deepest regret of my life."
"Yeah, pretty shortsighted of you."

I'll admit the introduction of the reality show element wasn't my favourite, though it worked as the spark to kick things off and ramp up the intensity and the stakes. And I didn't love the big reconciliation moment (I think I said the same about book one? I'm just not always into these big showy expressions, I think). But I appreciated that things ended happily though not with every bit tied off in a bow; and but that I mean with the characters and their journeys, too. It helps shave off a bit of cheese from the whole HEA and makes it much more palateable.

"That was poetic."
"Your epitagh is going to be poetic once I strangle you."
"Having your hands on me is the ideal way to go."

If you've enjoyed the books in this series, I think you'll definitely like this one, too.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss+ and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Alba and Her Secrets..♥.
808 reviews1,017 followers
September 22, 2020
4.5 'Zellweger to my Cruise' Stars!
ARC provided by the the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Romantic comedy filled with chemistry and feels. Age-gap enemies to lovers who “secretly” want each other. House renovation competition between siblings. An adorable kid. A hot alpha falling in love. A woman finding her strength. Do I need to continue stating the reasons I loved this book? Because I think I can go on and on! I was highly expecting Tools of Engagement and, of course, Tessa Bailey DELIVERED. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, this crew of characters and I am really sad to say goodbye to them. Thank God we still have re-reads! lol

So, Tools of Engagement is the third and final book in Tessa’s Hot and Hammered series, which follows a group of girl friends who bond while going through different stages in life. It’s time for Bethany Castle to find her own happiness and who better than Wes Daniels to give it to her? Bethany wants to take the next step in her career and that happens when she starts renovating her first project without the looming shadow of her brother around. But that takes a turn when a reality TV gets in the mix and she is “forced” to spend time with Wes, who is decided to help with the whole reformation.

Men and women and their mind games. Hell, he despised that shit, and yet, look at him and Bethany. They danced around each other with insults, making a big show of being incompatible when Christ knew that was the furthest thing from the truth.

I think I loved the three books of the series on the same level but for very different reasons. I don’t know but since this is the last one I think I especially loved Tools of Engagement because I was enjoying every moment with these characters. I wasn’t expecting the surprise with Bethany Castle. She portrays to be this perfect woman who always takes the bull by the horns but she actually isn’t (not all the time). I related so much to her, with her need to keep up appearances when sometimes the situations are not helping. I loved how Tessa developed her strength and how it grew with the relationship Bethany shares with Wes and his niece Laura.

“Just know once you’ve got my tongue in your mouth, you’re going to feel my lack of fucks that you’re thirty and I’m twenty-three. Those seven years don’t mean a damn thing to me...” He trailed his open lips along her jaw. “If anything, they’ll make us moan a little louder, won’t they, darlin’?”

Obviously, the hero is as amazing as the heroine. I am a sucker for a protective alpha who adores his family and Wes is exactly that. Seven years younger than Bethany (not that he cares and I loved him for it) he is changing his life around to give stability to his adorable niece. All of that responsibility comes together while he is highly attracted to Bethany, trying to help her with the renovations and her insecurities. And all of that simply works. The connection and chemistry between this couple just burns the pages and it was impossible for them (and me as a reader) not to fall desperately in love.

“I’m standing right here and I’m staying right here. There is nothing you or anyone could do to make me want to be somewhere I couldn’t hold you.”

Therefore, I am rating Tools of Engagement with 4.5 STARS because it was the perfect conclusion to this series. I loved these characters and their love stories. I really, really enjoyed this last one and the beautiful, steamy and just wonderful connection between Bethany and Wes (and Laura!). I loved seeing all this crew again and I am really sad to say goodbye to them. I am loving this light and funny side of Tessa Bailey and I am sure she will continue giving us more of her talented mind. If you enjoy sexy romcoms, you do not want to miss this series!

May 7, 2022
4 stars

now this was a pleasant surprise. I had no expectations whatsoever going into this and it’s literally my first book by this author so my bar was pretty low. But boy did i have a fun time reading this, phew.

Bethany(h), a perfectionist, wanting to take a big step in her career and prove herself to be worthy of her own by having a project of renovating in the construction site that she works at with her brother who doesn’t take her much seriously, thus both ending up in the whirlwind of a competition to see who does the best renovation arranged by a reality tv show producer. But the last thing she expected was the cocky young cowboy from Texas aka Wes(H) getting in between, and now they’re both forced into close proximity.

it features
•hate-to-love relationship
•older woman-younger man trope(7 years age difference)
•witty and funny ass banters(which btw is this girl’s weakness and so she thoroughly loved it)
•hot sexual tension
•small town
•cute little niece of Wes who he’s babysitting. she gave me diabetes aaahh she’s so cute.

Usually i hate the “insta-lusting for each other” thing in books, BUT it didn’t bother me here after a little while because of how much their relationship was developing into so much more and in such a mature kind of way—where they actually communicated with each other properly and supported each other all the while delivering us with funny banters with also a lot of vulnerable moments that pinched my heart—throughout the entire book and I appreciated that a lot.

ALSO ( i said this in my status update for this book and im gonna say it again, i mean i find it cute dude) ladies, get you a man who buys you brownie with pink sprinkles on them on a randomly ass day bc a)he just can’t fucking help but doing it b)just to make you feel good. Yes, my boy Wes is hot but a sweetie too dang it.

As the story went on, i did want more and more out of it cause it felt like it wasn’t enough for me personally but overall it was a cute fluffy rom-com and i did like it quite a lot!!
Profile Image for Melanie (mells_view).
1,710 reviews332 followers
September 22, 2020
”Maybe I could be the one thing you don’t overthink, all right?”

Bethany, Bethany, Bethany. I’ve pretty much loved her bossy butt since book one, and I still loved her in Tools of Engagement. Sparring with Wes and just peeling back her layers while falling in love. Wes is a cowboy type guy who is stepping up to take care of his 5 year old niece, and it’s just a duo you don’t expect to be so perfect for each other, but they are exactly what each other needs. Bethany is striving for perfection, stressed to let any flaws show and Wes is just winging it and hoping things go right. They just work well together.

So in this book we’ve got a slow-burn romance, a heroine learning to live and breath despite life’s imperfections, a hero who is figuring out how to plant roots and be for others what he’s never had, and throw in a reality show house flip competition. So essentially it’s emotional, sweet, a bit funny, hot and tense at times, and just a great contemporary read. I think it was a great end to the Hot & Hammered series, and though I’m sad it’s over I’m glad it finished so well!

Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,859 reviews5,634 followers
June 11, 2020
I'm a big Tessa Bailey fan and I've liked the entire Hot & Hammered series, so I'm happy to report that Tools of Engagement was no different. Though, if I'm being honest, I wanted a bit more from the story.

Tessa Bailey writes sexy, fun contemporary romance, and I enjoyed the banter-y dynamic between Wes and Bethany. I like an opposites attract romance, and you throw in an age gap and I'm pretty much sold. I thought the relationship was a bit too "tease-y" for a bit too long, but I liked how it evolved over time.

The plotline with Wes's sister was a bit muddled, but I liked how he had to take responsibility for a child and the emotion that brought to the story. I wish we saw more of Wes's southern side as I kept forgetting that he wasn't from the North East constantly. I few y'alls would have been nice. I also related to Bethany's insecurities and the desire to be perfect all the time, though they got to be a bit much for me, as a reader. Also, something about the ending felt off to me.

Hot sex, as usual for Tessa Bailey, especially if you like alpha-types, and an engaging plotline, but not my favorite book in the series.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
999 reviews781 followers
Want to read
January 15, 2020
Currently reading Love Her or Lose Her, and I knew these two would be getting their own book from the moment they were introduced.

Can’t wait! Hate to love here we come 😘
Profile Image for myo ✧༺ ༘♡ ༻∞.
742 reviews6,483 followers
December 7, 2020
i had fun reading this, i loved Wes and Bethany, separately and together but i listened to the audiobook and something about the audiobook just didn’t hit it for me.
Profile Image for Nicola.
1,393 reviews244 followers
September 4, 2020
I inhaled the first two books in the Hot and Hammered series earlier this year and with the foundations in place for Bethany and Wes’ OWYM romance, I wasted no time at all in picking up Tools of Engagement.

description Wes. The way you talk. I should smack you, but I love it.”

For me, Tools of Engagement is the weakest book of the series and whilst Wes and Bethany’s verbal sparring was bang-on as was the huge dose of cute injected by his niece, the reality show angle didn’t really hold much storyline weight for me—Bethany was a bit of a fish out of water when it came to construction skills and rather than create the humour which I’m sure was the intention, her brother, Stephen continued to rub me up the wrong way along with his wife who can only be described as certifiably nuts.

description Nobody in this room is perfect.”

Nevertheless, an easy enough read staying true to Tessa Bailey‘s style and which rounded off the series nice enough. .

description My mouth will always be the perfect age to make you come. That’s what counts, baby.”

Copy received courtesy of HarperCollins for an honest and unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Jessica Parker.
72 reviews9 followers
September 20, 2021
listened to this on my 6 hour car drive and all i can say is DAMN dirty talk hits different when you're listening to it instead of just reading it 😳😳
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
928 reviews799 followers
June 30, 2021
4 stars!

A family of house flippers with a sister fighting for her place to shine. A brother who thinks she should be limited to "decorating." You know what these two siblings need? A reality TV show to turn their drama into a sibling house flip competition. Add in a hunky construction guy on the sister's side and it's time—bring on the sparks and the drama.

Plot/Pacing: ★★★★
Standalone factor:
Romance: ★★★
Overall Enjoyment: ★★★★ 1/2

So, real quick - NO, this is not a standalone despite what the marketing says. This is the third book in a trilogy of related characters in a small town and it feels like it. This was SO not a bad thing for me, a devoted reader to the series, but might be for you so please keep that in mind.

Bethany Castle lives a flawless life. No really, she totally does. Ignore the fact that she's hyperventilating in the corner and has a stress rash on her neck and is incapable of letting anyone know the crushing level of perfectionism that keeps her awake at night. Everything is fine, life is perfect, and she is a flawless 30 year old.

The only thing in Bethany's "perfect" life that upends her image is Wes Daniels.

A cowboy hat wearing, 23-year-old freewheeling guy who was living a spontaneous life until his half sister dumped her 5 year old niece in his lap, Wes Daniels works for Stephen Castle (Bethany's older brother) and flips houses. Wes has been circling Bethany for months and he thinks he's got her number: one day the tension will snap, and they're going to settle things in the sheets.

But then Wes sees the Perfect Life™ of Bethany's dreams is actually just a flimsy sheet in the wind and he realizes that this isn't a game—it's something bigger.

Now let's add in the fact that Bethany and her brother Stephen are asked to compete in a "Flip Off" HGTV reality show of epic sibling rivalry proportions and we've got ourselves some DRAMA.

Will Bethany and Wes get to the good stuff, or will Bethany's need for perfection collapse on top of them under the pressure of the film lights?

Ready, set, ACTION.

My thoughts:
What an ending to this trilogy! This installment takes the characters' careers (house building and flipping) to its most literal interpretation: an HGTV competition show. As someone who normally doesn't like the "movie set" life depicted in books, I could handle this one because it really didn't matter to the plot. This was very much a story about Bethany and Wes, and barely involved the "movie" element at all.

This was also the least steamy of the three books, which was interesting. Given the crackling dialogue between Wes and Bethany in the first books, I was ready for some serious steam. There was steam... but I'd almost call it tame compared to Fix Her Up and Love Her or Lose Her. Something to note for those who really enjoyed that element of Bailey's other books.

Like I said at the beginning, if you're new to this series this is NOT the book to start on. Wes and Bethany's plot line relies heavily on prior knowledge of their interactions in the previous books, and their side plots with the other characters are absolutely meaningless without that added background.

Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,962 followers
July 28, 2020
Normally I don't have a problem jumping into the middle of series having not read the previous books. I struggled with this book as a standalone as it constantly felt like I was a beat behind while I read. Even by the time I finished this book I still didn't feel like I completely understood one of the characters. This is a simple romance novel, it should have been an easy read but it turned into a frustrating one.

Bethany Castle has put her dating life on hold as she attempts to strike out on her own in the real estate business and flip a house. Wes Daniels is new in town and gets on Bethany's nerves but he knows how to use a hammer so he will be helping Bethany out with the house. They will also be competing against Bethany's brother on a competitive reality show called Flip Off to see which team can do the best renovation. Again, Bethany has put her dating life on hold. Hmm... this is a romance novel, let's see how long that lasts.

Bethany and Wes had good chemistry. If you are looking for a steamy read, look no further as I consider myself a seasoned romance reader and a couple of their scenes made me blush. So the romance elements of the story worked well in my opinion.

The character I had a hard time with was Bethany. I didn't really get her personality and it seemed like most of her character development happened in previous books. If you are a fan of the other books in the series, I would imagine this would be a good read for you. But coming in without having any background info, was a challenge and that shouldn't have been the case. Needed a little more setup so both old and new readers could fully enjoy the story.

With that being said, I would like to go back and read the first two books as good chemistry is my number one requirement in a romance novel and the author definitely demonstrated in this novel that is one of her writing strengths.

Thank you to Avon Romance newsletter and Netgalley for providing me with an advance digital copy!
Profile Image for Lily Herman.
543 reviews571 followers
April 17, 2020
It's no secret that I really struggled with the first two books in Tessa Bailey's Hot & Hammered series. (See my ongoing exasperation here and here.) Unsurprisingly, a "quiet but sexually domineering man overtakes a strong woman with his LARGE QUIVERING MEMBER" storyline isn't a favorite of mine. A shocker, I know.

What I loved about both previous novels, however, was how well they set up the relationships for each upcoming book. Wes and Bethany's banter was one of the best parts of Love Her or Lose Her (which, hell, wasn't even about them), and it really pumped me up for Tools of Engagement. Because I seem to inhale any enemies-to-lovers romance in a single sitting without fail, it's no surprise that this book was a highlight of the series for me.

Tropes aside, this novel just felt more even-keeled to me. Wes and Bethany were a strong match. Their barbs were equally scorching. Both had realistic issues that were larger than simple miscommunications. The reality show storyline was a tad goofy, but I could forgive it. After three books, I've concluded that Bailey's sex scenes (while steamy AF) aren't really my vibe, but these ones worked much better for the most part. (I'd never refer to anyone as having a "smart mouth" in the throes of passion, but eh, to each their own.)

This series is ending on a higher note for me, because this one's 3.5 stars.
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