When this woman writes, she writes.
Anyone following hot new authors in the area of contemporary romance knows Tessa Bailey, whose Line of Duty series is filled with so many strong feisty women and dominant, dirty-talking men that you need to read them with a tall pitcher of ice water next to you.
The first book in that series, Protecting What’s His, told the story of the jaded, homicide cop Derek Tyler and how he falls hard for his sexy new Southern neighbor, bartender Ginger Peet who, together with her younger sister, Willa, is running from their heroin prostitute mother to make a good life for themselves in Chicago.
In the follow-up novella, Protecting What’s Theirs, Derek and Ginger are dealing with the emotional distance between them caused by Derek’s job, which, when combined with Ginger’s unexpected pregnancy, puts a strain on a relationship forged in a fragile trust. In that story, the brilliant, mouthy Willa is off at college pursuing her photography degree while Derek and Ginger work through their problems to become even stronger.
Now in Unfixable, Willa has a couple years of college under her belt and her previously unforgiving Goth style has softened into a woman with a natural hair color but who still retains her hard edges. She’s recently broken up with her high school boyfriend, Evan, exhausted by his patient demand to work through her troubled upbringing and open herself to him. Tired of being something she’s not and having to fit into his world of helicopter parents and tough choices like where to go for spring break, she’s determined to find Willa again no matter what it takes. Having won a photography contest with the prize of one month in Dublin, Willa is eager to capture a city Willa-Peet style. Immersing herself in her art is the perfect solution to mending her broken heart.
What Willa does not expect is the gorgeous blue-eyed inn owner, Shane Claymore, to meet her at the airport with her name on a card and a chip on his shoulder the size of the island she just landed on. But in a battle of wit and hostility, no one outdoes a Peet, something she quickly proves when she ditches him and makes her own way to the hotel. She discovers that Shane’s family is a broken crew of a dotty mother, an optimist sister tired of her life and a fascinating man who ran years ago to pursue Formula One racing – with great success – until the death of his controlling father. The heat between Shane and Willa is undeniable, but knowing she’s only there for a month – and that anyone as angry and beautiful as Shane is a danger to her barely healing heart – Willa vows to steer clear of him. Too bad running away from a race car driver only incites him to chase harder.
Christ on a cracker. Shane is scorching hot with his anger and assumptions about Willa, who is so convinced that love will require her to become something she’s not that she shies away from what she is feeling for Shane, even though it’s clear to everyone else that he thinks she’s perfect the way that she is. The build up to sex is classic, fan-your-face Tessa Bailey and Shane is a lovely dirty talker who only wants Willa more with each layer of her past that he peels back. The secondary characters are outstanding and while I might have been worried about her decision at the end of the book if it was another nineteen year old, Willa Peet has had half a lifetime of pain under her belt, so I thought her choices to fit Willa and her future perfectly.
This book is Bailey’s first step into the world of New Adult romance, hence the use of Entangled’s Embrace line, and it certainly fits the bill with Willa’s stage in life and the demise of her relationship with her first love, Evan. Bailey employs the use of the first person throughout the book, a point of view I usually dislike, but in the hands of this phenomenal writer it was effortless to read. Deliciously, we get the epilogue from Shane’s perspective which, combined with seeing Ginger and Derek and their new baby, makes for a pretty phenomenal ending.
The authenticity of Dublin and the Irish characters became clear when reading Bailey’s acknowledgements and thanks to her in-laws – it seems Tessa Bailey had the intelligence to marry an Irishman so she clearly wrote from experience. There is no requirement to have read Derek and Ginger’s books to understand this story, so feel free to recommend it to all your friends whether or not they’ve indulged in the Line of Duty series.
Keep in mind also that this book falls under Entangled’s policy of new promotions being only $.99 for the first couple of weeks, so it’s a phenomenal bargain and one that would be worth six times the price. Snap it up and do yourself a favor and read Willa’s sister’s story to get your full dose of Peet if you haven’t yet had the pleasure. These ladies are always terrific to spend time with!
Happy reading! 🙂