Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 6. Household object on the cover, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 38. Don’t judge a book by its cover!, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I think I’m in a challenge with myself to see just how much Tessa Bailey I can read in a single year. I’m killing it in 2022, and I’d be even one point higher if she released the sequel to this one as soon as possible because I need it.

Hallie has been pining for Julian Vos, heir to the local winery, since her freshman year of high school. When he returns to their town of St. Helena for the summer, Hallie finagles a gardening job at the Vos guest house so she has a front row seat for his return. When Julian can’t help but break his rigid schedules for the charming Hallie, and real sparks start to fly, Hallie realizes reality with Julian may be even better than what she’s been imagining all these years…

…if only she hadn’t written anonymous secret admirer letters to Julian at the same time – and he wrote back.

This is going to be the perfect Valentine’s Day read. It comes out right before Valentines 2023, and it’s a sweet-as-pie romance for the day. The whole “secret admirer” concept feels very Valentines-y, and I think this romance has less bite and more sweetness to it than the usual Tessa Bailey. It’s a little on the lighter side and I think the cover reflects that…

I hate the cover. I’m just going to come right out and say it. I don’t know who’s been doing the last few Tessa Bailey covers (except My Killer Vacation…that one was good actually), but they do not impress me. We’ve ventured far, far into the land of “borderline immature”, over the line of “looks like young adult but is dangerously not”. These literally look like kids cartoons, and it’s too far gone. Reel it in a bit, graphic design department. I can say *with confidence* if this had not been Tessa Bailey I just wouldn’t have picked it up.

I don’t think I’ve rated a Tessa Bailey this low in quite a while, and I think it’s because I just didn’t connect with this one in any way. I didn’t hate Hallie, but I didn’t love her. I liked her chaos, but I felt like she was making a lot of excuses for something and not a lot of progress. She should’ve been seeking therapy or grief counseling in the book, like she kept encouraging Julian to do for his anxiety. While his panic attacks were very legitimate, and his desire to keep things so regimented for management felt very real, I still didn’t really connect with him even as someone with anxiety. Beyond his mental illness, this guy just had a stick up his ass. At least Hallie was carefree and warm; no matter how much he tried to prove the contrary, I couldn’t see Julian as anything other than a cold and calculating rich dude in a suit.

I still think this lives up to the standard for her romance books, but I definitely didn’t connect with it or enjoy the tropes. She executes it well but it’s not a romance I would’ve picked to read if it hadn’t been an author that I loved so much. If you *do* like those tropes, I would definitely recommend as it is still quality romance! What I really can’t wait for is the sequel. Clearly, Julian’s sister Natalie has an enemies-to-lovers trope happening based on some of the scenes in this book, and I can’t wait for it.

A copy of Secretly Yours was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It will be released February 7, 2023. Hope you all have a great week!

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