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 their small town. 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 gray-scale 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.
Title: Secretly Yours (A Vine Mess, #1)
Author: Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: February 7, 2023
Genres: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
It’s really no surprise that I loved this book. I’ve loved every Tessa Bailey books I’ve gotten my hands on so this one was a no-brainer. Actually, this might be my new favorite Bailey novel, which is saying something considering how much I’ve loved her others.
Bailey has a way of creating and developing characters that are both unique and extremely relatable. Their backstories make so much sense in showing the reason they are the way they are today. Also, Bailey isn’t afraid to make imperfect characters that make crazy choices and do ridiculous things. Characters that are still working on being better people and have to change throughout the book.
“If she’s upset, I’m upset. And I don’t think you want that.”
Can I take a second to express my love for Julian Vos? He was this grumpy, time-obsessed, anxious man, that deserved all the love and happiness in the world. And, coincidentally, that’s all he wanted to give Hallie. Happiness and smiles and sunshine. I couldn’t get enough of him especially when we would get a glimpse into his thoughts and fears. He was the cutest and spiciest man and I really hope I get to see a little more of him in Natalie’s book!
Hallie was a lovely ray of sunshine that gave me secondhand embarrassment in the best possible way. I simultaneously wanted to be her best friend and steal her man. And the poor girl had 15 years of pining under her belt. She deserved a trophy or something for holding out for so long!
On top of my love for the characters, the writing was top-notch. The way Hallie and Julian described their emotional and physical feelings was visceral and beautiful. I don’t know how Bailey continues to find the words to write such beautiful and romantic books, but she does and she does so well.
Overall, this was a great reading experience, and I’m beyond excited that the second book featuring Julian’s sister, Natalie, is also being released this year! Catch me fangirling until then.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed a gifted and advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.