“Ultimately, a muscle popped in his cheek and he let her go, retreating to the opposite side of the island like last time, with his hands propped wide, dress sleeves rolled up his elbows. Oh Lord, the forearms. There they were. In her fifteen years of fantasizing about this man, she’d definitely neglected one of his best features. Going forward, she needed to do better.”
This is such a fun romp of a read: bursting with heat, swoony characters and gorgeous gorgeous girls with gorgeous gorgeous flowers. This book single-handedly burned away my winter blues.
Hallie Welch fell hard for Julian Vos at fourteen, after they almost kissed in the dark vineyards of his family’s winery. Now the prodigal hottie has returned to Napa Valley and when Hallie is hired to revamp the gardens on the Vos estate, she wonders if she’ll finally get that smooch. But the grumpy professor isn’t the teenager she remembers and their polar opposite personalities clash spectacularly.
One wine-fueled girls’ night later, Hallie can’t shake the sense that she did something reckless—and then she remembers the drunken secret admirer letter she left for Julian. Oh shit.
On sabbatical from his ivy league job, Julian plans to write a novel. But having Hallie gardening right outside his window is the ultimate distraction. She’s eccentric, chronically late, often literally covered in dirt—and so unbelievably beautiful, he can’t focus on anything else. Until he finds an anonymous letter sent by a woman from his past.
Even as Julian wonders about this admirer, he’s sucked further into Hallie’s orbit. Like the flowers she plants all over town, Hallie is a burst of color in Julian’s grayscale life. For a man who irons his socks and runs on tight schedules, her sunny chaotic energy makes zero sense. But there’s something so familiar about her… and her very presence is turning his world upside down.
This is an absolutely delightful rom com that made me laugh out loud. The chemistry between adrift and chaotic Hallie and anxiety-riddled and list dependent Julian. Julian and Hallie have a history, but Julian doesn’t remember her from high school, and Hallie has never stopped dreaming about him. Hallie, after a few drinks, decides to tell him how she feels, in an anonymous note that she leaves on his running path. Between some miscommunication and mistaken actions, Secretly Yours reads like a modern day Shakespearien comedy. Watching this grumpy/ sunshine duo fall for each other and learn to be vulnerable with each other is a giddy delight. I grinned so hard while reading Secretly Yours. It has everything a Tessa Bailey book promises: zingy dialogue, delightful secondary characters, and steamy love scenes that men could take some notes from (hint, hint guys).
Set in Napa, I loved getting to see some of the wine country, and its business, through the book. Julian Vos is from an old wine family. Thanks to a traumatic event during a wildfire a few growing seasons back, Julian has been AWOL from the family business. He returns to spend a summer sabbatical away from teaching to finally write a novel. But his plans, and strictly organized timelines, are put into disarray thanks to his meddling mother and the cheerful and messy Hallie who pushes all of his buttons. Julian likes his rules and rigid order. Watching him rip his mental lists up and embrace Hallie is possibly one of the sexiest acts of surrender that I’ve read in a while. And Hallie – Hallie has had a bit of a messy and chaotic past with a mother interested in adventure. After the loss of her grandmother, Hallie is a bit of a loose screw who’s lost her anchor. One thing that is steady in her life? Her undying pining for Julian Vos. Good god can Hallie pine. We have some Duke of Haven level of pining here and I am loving it. For Hallie, getting to know the real man behind her fantasies turns out so much better than she could have imagined. Secretly Yours is filled with bright and fleshed out characters that really shine on the page, including the secondary characters and Hallie’s adorable brood of dogs.
This is the first in a duology (the second one comes out in June). And Tessa has set up for the second book, based around Julian’s sister Natalie, perfectly. I was left wanting to learn more about the stoic and dysfunctional Vos family and am happy that I will get to spend more time with them in a few short months. Read Secretly Yours if you need some love and laughter in your life.
Thank you to Avon and HarperCollins Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.