Title: Love Her or Lose Her
Series: Hot and Hammered #2
Author: Tessa Bailey
Format: Paperback/eBook, 347 pages
Publication: Jan. 14 2020 by Avon
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3 out of 5 Wine Glasses
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.
Rosie and Dominic are childhood sweethearts who have let each other drift away from one another. When Rosie declares she's leaving, Dominic has the wake-up call he needed and he's not going to let his marriage go without a fight. It's a second chance for the Vegas' marriage and hard truths are going to have to be told and feelings expressed if they're going to have a chance.
Everything between them was dark, lustful, confusing, and . . . so far off course, she wasn’t sure their marriage would ever point in the right direction again.
If you read the first in the series, Fix Her Up, you've been waiting for Rosie and Dominic's story after getting glimpses of their simmering heat and emotions. Bailey reveals their wounds right away and the story starts with Rosie finally done with going through the emotions of her life. Dominic is on the surface caught off guard but as some of his layers are peeled back, it becomes clear that he was feeling the distance in their relationship too.
“Go, then. No one’s stopping you.”
I thought the story started off well with the hurt and pain Rosie and Dominic was feeling bubbling out from under the surface, Rosie's more overtly. Bailey typically writes her males very protective and Dominic's streak was definitely evident with what he later calls his selfish need to have her all to himself. I thought having Dominic so clearly loving Rosie and admitting to himself, Rosie, and the readers that he would do anything for her gave the tone a good underlining simmering heat. Rosie's emotions towards Dominic were more dominated by her sexual attraction to him. With every “pointed nipple” and “wet thighs” I lost concentration on the emotional angst and the story's tone slid into more lustful. Bailey is known for her strong sexual scenes and those are definitely here but for this couple, I personally, wanted teeth gritting cognitive emotion.
Providing was a no-fail way to communicate love, wasn’t it? So where exactly had Dominic gone wrong?
The author has this couple bring to light and work out their issues through therapy and puts most of their issues on differing love languages. Dominic has a bit of not feeling worthy of Rosie hero syndrome and this made him put his head down and work extra hard to provide her with enough money for security, he inadvertently blocks her out in order to provide. I liked this route the author took but thought she fell short when it came to Rosie. Rosie begins to realize that she doesn't provide or speak the love language Dominic needs and it was a nice moment to see her realize she was also a problem in the marriage but after an attempt to give Dominic what he needs, this avenue with Rosie kind of drops off and it felt like Dominic was going to go back to doing most of the work.
“I’ll do anything you ask me to do,” he said in a gravelly voice. “Except walk away.”
If you read the first in the series, you'll be happy to hear that the Just Us League is still going strong and the female relationships formed from it give readers some great women friendship scenes. I thought the obvious series baiting for Bethany and Wes, through their bantering and bickering, seemed a little forced but Bailey probably has some hot and heavy scenes planned for those two.
Love Her or Lose Her approached and picked at intricate issues of long-term relationships but Bailey's focus on heavier sexual lustful tones kept it from achieving the deep angst ridden emotional path I thought could be felt wanting to burst from this couple and personally wanted. There was a scene of Rosie and Dominic dancing in the kitchen that I thought hit what I wanted, two people who have loved each other forever but are seeing each other for the first time in many years; top-shelf emotion.
Suggested Reading Order:
Book #1 Fix Her Up
Book #2 Love Her or Lose Her