Tessa Bailey, queen of the steamy rom-com, kicks off a new series set in Napa Valley with Secretly Yours. Grab a glass and settle in for an opposites-attract, grumpy-sunshine love story that’s as smooth and enjoyable as a good Pinot Noir.
As Secretly Yours begins, gardener Hallie Welch is feeling nostalgic, ruminating on Uncorked, the new wine shop in her small town that’s taking business away from the oldie but goody across the street, Corked. Hallie embarks on a one-woman attempt to save Corked but soon learns the hard way that day drinking should be done in moderation. Because in a wine-fueled haze, she writes a love letter to the object of her teenage self’s obsession, Julian Vos, who she happens to be working for over the summer.
Now a professor at Stanford, Julian is supposedly on sabbatical, but he actually just traded his rigid school schedule for a rigid novel-writing schedule. He has no idea how to relax, but the beautiful gardener his mother hired is proving to be a distraction he didn’t anticipate.
Julian’s planning tendencies are the perfect foil to Hallie’s spontaneous ones, and Bailey peppers the story with funny demonstrations of their personalities. He irons his socks; she gardens from the heart. He’s all about order; she can’t avoid chaos. He’s buttoned up; she’s wide open. Bailey’s humor and optimism shine through her characters, making both Hallie and Julian compelling and interesting figures. And fans of epistolary romances will be particularly tickled by Bailey’s modern nod to the format. Hallie’s letter is brave and cathartic, and in the good-hearted world of a Tessa Bailey rom-com, such an action deserves to be rewarded with a happily ever after.