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Oh my hot damn, guys. This book. THIS BOOK. I wasn’t expecting much more than the first book in the Hot and Hammered series, Fix Her Up, but this one blew me away. When I look back on my rating for Fix Her Up I can admit that some of it came from the presence of multiple tropes in the book that usually make me happy – fake relationships, washed out sports star and high family expectations. When I compare it to this book though? The second instalment is SO MUCH BETTER.
Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.
Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.
This isn’t necessarily a sweet and fluffy read, so if that’s what you’re after (which would make sense considering the first book in this series) then you may be disappointed. Rather, Bailey takes a braver approach in this book. It’s published and marketed as if it’s going to be a happy-go-lucky read but in reality this story dives deep and portrays a nuanced view of a struggling couple’s relationship. The prospect that not every broken relationship can be fixed gave this story authenticity.
The slow demise of their relationship was well written and entirely relatable. So many couples face this and I’m glad Bailey had the nerve to explore this in a book marketed as ‘romance’. In all honesty, this book could have been put in many other genres but I’m guessing you have a good idea of how it will end considering it was placed into romance.
Regardless of that, while I was reading this story it did not seem a given that the relationship would heal and mend with the quirky counselling they sought. Rather, the counselling highlighted all of their small flaws as a couple that had led them to this point. The lack of communication and expressing one’s needs, the acceptance of small oversights on their partner’s behalf that slowly led to resentment over time and the simple act of falling in to a rut had me cheering Bailey on. These are real issues that so often are the cause of a relationship to break down and it made me so happy to see them explore in a romance novel. Not all romances are perfect and painting the picture that they are is just wrong. Every now and then a book comes along that screams of authenticity and this was one of them.
I loved that this book explored how no single person is the blame for a relationships demise and that the acts of going through the motions and being dishonest with each other about the small things can eventually blow up and cause more harm than good. This story was told through multiple POV and I felt that was very necessary for this book. Being able to explore the relationship through each character’s POV gave an insight in to the miscommunication issues the couple struggled with.
Despite the deeper issues covered in this story my inner romantic absolutely adored the fact that Rosie and Dominic truly seemed MEANT FOR EACH OTHER and their willingness to not give up was beautiful to read about. Even though it was broken they seemed determined to fix it. They owned their mistakes and began the slow process of healing one another as well as themselves.
I loved this book and think it’s Bailey’s best yet. If you’re after something a bit deeper and authentic then this is the story for you!