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Review: Worked Up by Tessa Bailey

by Tessa Bailey
Series: Made in Jersey #3
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: August 1st 2016
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: ★★
Amazon - Barnes & Noble
Factory mechanic Duke Crawford just wants to watch SportsCenter in peace. Unfortunately, living with four divorcee sisters doesn’t provide much silence, nor does it change his stance on relationships. But when a fellow commitment-phobe stumbles into his life, getting him good and worked up, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Samantha Waverly’s brother just put her in an impossible situation. The only way out? Marry huge, gruff, gladiator look-alike Duke—for show, of course. She doesn’t make promises—she knows too well how easily they can be broken—and this is no exception.

As the blistering attraction between them grows, the lines around the no-strings relationship blur. But Duke and Samantha’s marriage is only for show…or is it?
Gahhh! I hate books like Worked Up, especially reviewing them because they make me feel so conflicted. There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed and others that made me go "whut??". Tessa Bailey is an author that I've enjoyed reading from for the longest time, but I'm beginning to think that her new style just doesn't mesh well with me.

Let me get to the positives first. The characters were the best part for me. They weren't your typical romance novel characters which made them unique and really stand out to me. Samantha, especially, was adorable. She has a passion for art, is a badass artist and told the worst jokes ever that no one ever got. She was a little awkward and quirky but those personality traits really spoke to me. Then there was Duke, who was unlike any romance hero that I've ever come across, especially in the looks department - he was large, hairy and not the typical attractive. Tessa Bailey refers to him as a "Pouty Man Bear" and it's a very apt description, in my opinion! Duke was a blue collar worker, working as a mechanic at the local factory. You don't usually see a lot of blue collar love interests in romance heroes, so I really appreciated that Tessa showed that they can be just as sexy, confident and attractive as the fancy businessmen! Duke was harder for me to connect with than Samantha, mostly because of his commitment-phobia. His loyalty and kindness when it came to his sisters though made him quite likeable! I would have loved to see more of Duke's divorcee sisters, who were a complete riot when they were together. Unfortunately, we didn't spend much time with them.

So what went wrong for me in Worked Up? Everything else. Tessa Bailey is usually great at writing smoking hot chemistry even though her relationships tend to develop fast, but I failed to see the connection between Duke and Samantha. Duke became obsessed with her pretty quickly and I didn't see why or even how. Not to mention, the entire progression of their relationship was way too fast and unbelievable, especially with how quickly Duke suddenly reverted from his unwillingness to tie himself into a marriage. Even the sexy times in this book were really off-putting for me. Tessa Bailey is known as the Queen of Dirty Talk in the romance community, but I'm beginning to think she's taking the "dirty" part of her dirty talk too far. The sexy times and dirty talk have moved from "fan-myself-hot-too" to "eww-wth-is-this" territory. I actually skimmed the sexy times scenes after the first because they were too crude and repulsive, in my opinion. Disgust is not what I want to feel when reading a bedroom scene.

In the end, this was a disappointment for me and I didn't feel like this was Bailey at her best. If you're new to Tessa Bailey's books, then I highly recommend you check out her earlier books, because this one was just not up to her usual standards.

What are your thoughts in dirty-talk in romance novels? Can they take away from your enjoyment of a story?
Let me know in the comments below!