Window Shopping by Tessa Bailey

Window Shopping by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I know, I know…another Tessa Bailey? It’s been like two weeks. Yeah, yeah. But it’s ~holiday Tessa~. If you have time to read this gem before Christmas this week (and it’s fairly short!), it’ll certainly put you in the holiday spirit!

Two weeks before Christmas, recently-released felon Stella finds herself in front of the Christmas window display at luxury retailer Vivant – judging their ridiculous array of penguins carting gifts around. When she judges it out loud for a complete stranger, she finds herself with the chance of a lifetime to dress the window herself – a second chance at life and her dreams. And it’s an added perk that that stranger – a bowtie-wearing southerner named Aiden – is her hot new boss.

Aiden is absolutely starstruck by Stella and her talent. Despite her background, he finds himself totally drawn to her, and willing to give her the chance of a lifetime. But the more they work together, the more they can’t deny the sparks flying between them. But Stella is still learning how to be herself, and Aiden fears he might just be too much of a “nice guy” for a girl like Stella.

I’m not sure where all the fanfare for this book is. It should be around. Should be in bookstores, online…but for some reason, Window Shopping is flying completely under the radar. And it’s not even bad! Everyone knows my feelings about Jasmine Guillory’s attempt at a Christmas novel. But this ain’t it! I got all the warm fuzzy Christmas feelings from Window Shopping, and it was an awesome Christmas romance. I like it for a book to get you in the cozy winter spirit.

And I really loved both Stella and Aiden. I loved Aiden’s goofy disposition and his silly bowties, but also the pain behind his continuous smile and kindness. The feeling of rejection from his family and being an outsider from his own staff is something Stella picks up on immediately. The lesson he learns in this book is a good one for the holidays, a reminder to take care of ourselves before others. Stella, too, even though her sort of goth vibe isn’t for me…she’s a good character. Her growth is incredible and her own obstacles to overcome are great, but I like that from the very start she’s making strides to better herself. Taking chances on herself. And I like that her windows reflect that; in a way, what happens in the windows in this book is what we should be taking away from it ourselves this Christmas.

I have to say as well, that I hate the use of “Christmas magic” in holiday romance novels. I feel like they all have just a little bit of them, and as a grown-ass adult reading it, I do cringe. I know that that does it for some people, but it’s not for me. And I LOVE that Window Shopping contains absolutely no paranormal, “perfect coincidence” nonsense. It’s just a damn good story taking place with a background of the holidays! There are no elves or glitter or Christmas magic.

My only complaint, and the reason for the loss of my half star, was that Aiden and Stella regularly had these pretty big misunderstandings that I couldn’t quite get a grip on the basis of, then they would instantly be fine again without really talking about it. Little strange. Mostly I chalked it up to Stella’s reintroduction to life, and trying to understand other people’s perception of her and their way of speaking. I don’t think either of them really messed up at all, except for maybe not listening properly the first time.

In terms of basis in reality, I’m giving this a thumbs up. The friendships were authentic. The characters were flawed but growing. The romance is super cute but not overdone. I just really enjoyed this quick read, right in time for Christmas.

And speaking of: I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Enjoy this time with friends and family. Thank you for reading along with me this year and I’m looking forward to writing my last review of 2021! ❤

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Hey all! I’m rewinding a bit on the new releases to turn back to something from January – Tessa Bailey’s Love Her or Lose Her. I’ve been a huge Tessa Bailey fan since I read Fix Her Up last summer…basically in one night. Couldn’t stop myself. So I couldn’t wait for Love Her or Lose Her!!

Rosie is unhappy in her marriage. She married her high school sweetheart, Dom, years and years ago, but they just don’t talk anymore. They’ve lost a strong connection, and its suffocating her. So she walks out.

It’s news to Dom that there’s anything wrong with his relationship. Rosie’s sudden outburst takes him aback, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure she comes back to him. Including some seriously weird, hippie-like marriage counseling. What follows is a beautiful, falling (back) in love story that is just too sweet for words.

I love Tessa Bailey’s deep, thoughtful characters, and I think Rosie and Dom’s depth adds something extra to this tale. The plot doesn’t follow the typical arc of falling in love for the first time, so it already adds a unique element that needs to be tackled a bit differently than we’re used to. Rosie and Dom wrestle with different feelings than we saw in Fix Her Up, but some of them are the same…like second guessing themselves, or being afraid to fall. They just come for different reasons.

Bailey’s ability to tackle a completely different scenario like this one is what makes me put her up there with the masters of this genre, honestly. It proves she knows her way around romance, frontwards and backwards. It’s just all so real, and she does a wonderful job with her characters and her plots. It’s like reading magic.

I also liked that this book sometimes took the focus off the relationship to talk about self-growth. Rosie is an excellent cook, and dreams of opening a restaurant. She quits her job at a department store and is taking baby steps to pursue her dream. I love that this story of growth in relationships acknowledges that, while Dom may not have been holding her back, her turbulent emotional situation may have. When she became content, even with all the change she was demanding in her life, she was able to move forward with the things she wanted for herself, too, and that’s just lovely. I respect a romance book more when we can see the characters, particularly our female heroines, grow on their own, having lives of their own. It’s more realistic and more feminist.

The only reason I’m giving this book four and a half stars is because it can be a bit slow at times. The slow burn isn’t my fave, but I totally see why it works in this story, and it’s totally worth the conclusion. It’s a really great read. 🙂

Love Her or Lose Her is on shelves now! Check it out!