LOVE HER OR LOSE HER
by Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Reviewed by Hellie
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 hippie. 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.
I am all about the 2nd chance at love tropes, and this story ticks all my boxes for a Happily Ever After. What’s even better, it’s not the kind of second chance at love where the couple doesn’t have attraction anymore--oh, no, it’s more complicated. They want each other. BADLY. It’s just they don’t communicate and the reality is, you can’t fix everything in the bedroom, as much as our dear hero Dominic might wish it were so.
This book about killed me with the romantic gestures that Dominic would do (but no verbal communication! Gah!) and the sizzlingly hot sex scenes...or near sex scenes. (OHMYGOD, “the tip” scene will have you fanning yourself with the book itself. Do not read that scene in public. People will KNOW what kind of scene you are reading. Though that might not bother you--you might just give them the link to Amazon so they can read it themselves, which I highly recommend.) Dominic’s love language, acts of service, will undoubtedly resonate with many readers who have similar mates who would rather have all their teeth pulled than say “I love you” but will do a thousand little gestures that sound unromantic to teenagers but those of us in the trenches recognize as “I Love You” actions. The heroine, Rosie, is adorable and loveable and utterly relatable. She’s a heroine I don’t see represented too often in romance--she’s biracial, and the social conflict that can cause was a new element for me to watch this character navigate something that undoubtedly results in microagressions multiple times a day. But I rooted for her on every page. She’s my favorite Tessa Bailey heroine to date.
However, it wouldn’t be a Tessa Bailey book if there wasn’t an element of the absurd to have you laughing inappropriately throughout your lunch hour when you sneak another chapter. The “love guru” Rosie picks for their marriage counselor is hysterical. If second chance at love couples aren’t enough for you to pick up this book, do it for the Love Guru Marriage Counselor. And don’t eat or drink anything while you’re reading any scene with him in it because it will come out of your nose.
The best thing about a romance novel (IMHO) is how it makes the reader reconnect with the idea that love conquers all, and some people are meant to be together if they just do what it takes (within healthy limits, obviously). This couple felt completely real and their happily ever after felt absolute. I highly recommend without reservation. Well, only the reservation, make sure you’re in a safe space when you get to one of the sex scenes… *fans self* Damn.