Romance novels reviewed

Secretly Yours

Tessa Bailey


Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

There’s a reason why Tessa Bailey has been called the “Michelangelo of dirty talk”.

Bailey’s writing is not for the modestly sensitive unless you’re comfortable with skipping over large chunks of sex scenes in the narrative.

Secretly Yours is about a rampageous gardener, Hallie Welch, who has been secretly nursing a deep-seated crush on vintner royal turned professor, Julian Vos.

Julian’s life is rigidly timetabled in 30-minute increments.

When Hallie whirlwinds into his constrained space, to landscape the cottage where he is sojourning, she upends everything about his chiselled structure and Julian is surprised to find himself liking it.

Hallie’s rapidly spiralling life; of daytime drinking, disorderliness, mess, late-coming and dogs; coupled with her secret Julian obsession, culminates in her sending an anonymous, drunken love letter to Julian.

What follows is the classic trope where Julian finds himself torn between his attraction for what he thinks are two different women: Hallie and the enigmatic letter-writer.

Bailey’s writing always sparkles with humour and wit, however, the pacing felt like a head-long rush into quickly escalating climaxes, unlike the enjoyable slower burn of Bailey’s other romances.

Heart Bones

Colleen Hoover

Simon & Schuster

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

Colleen Hoover’s romances are full of sharp edges and dark surprises but are thoroughly enjoyable and unputdownable.

Heart Bones tells the story of Beyah Grim who is very suddenly uprooted from her poverty-stricken, neglect-riddled life in Kentucky and deposited at the Texas beach house of her wealthy, estranged father.

There she meets and inexplicably connects with the rich and handsome boy next-door Samson, who breaks down all her defenses even though they both know there is no hope for a long-term romance between them.

That may sound like fluffy fantasy but between the beach parties, sunset ocean swims, shopping sprees, make-overs and sexy times, Hoover weaves depictions of addiction, child neglect, sexual assault, prostitution, cruelty, dark secrets and death.

In true Hoover style, Heart Bones is a juxtaposition of the worst and best of humanity on fictional display, delivered with a solid dose of love story.