In Tessa Bailey's Latest, a Marriage Needs Some Renovation

Posted by Cybil on January 3, 2020
A marriage in trouble is at the heart of Tessa Bailey’s new novel, Love Her or Lose Her, in which former high school sweethearts Rosie and Dominic Vega realize that their union is in need of some serious renovation.

Bailey was inspired to write the book, part two of her Hot & Hammered rom-com series, after listening to a podcast on couples counseling and reflecting on how marriage “can be just as angsty and exciting as the bloom of first love.”

It’s her first book about an established couple, but any fans who are worried that this might spell a toning down of the red-hot chemistry usually on display in Bailey’s books can rest assured: Rosie and Dom are still wild for each other physically; they’ve just lost touch in other ways.

There’s humor aplenty, too, as Rosie and former Marine Dom try to fix their relationship via some unconventional marriage therapy with a weed-smoking hippie, a high-stakes, emotional journey involving love languages and marshmallows.

Bailey, the bestselling author of series such as Line of Duty, Crossing the Line, and Broke and Beautiful, talked with Goodreads about the romance in reconnections and why every woman needs an empowering girl gang. She also described her first paranormal romance novel, out in March.
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Goodreads: In Fix Her Up, part one of Hot & Hammered, we see some discord between Rosie and Dom. Now their marriage is under serious threat. What’s gone wrong for them?

Tessa Bailey: Dominic and Rosie have a communication breakdown. They speak to each other through physical touch—vigorously, I might add—but when it comes to sharing verbally, they’ve lost their way. Dominic believes his sole purpose is to be a provider, and he pours all of himself into that while failing to give Rosie the words she needs to feel whole.

GR: This is your first married couple romance! What led you to write about an established relationship as opposed to two characters experiencing that first surge of attraction?

TB: I’ve been obsessed with Esther Perel’s podcast, Where Should We Begin?. She’s a world-renowned couple’s counselor who records live, anonymous couples counseling sessions, and while listening to her show, I really got to thinking how marriage can be just as angsty and exciting as the bloom of first love/attraction. People within a relationship are changing constantly, growing, losing their way, but two people who are committed to reconnecting is very romantic to me.

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GR: In his bid to keep Rosie, stoic, ex-soldier Dom agrees to marriage counseling with a weed-smoking hippie, a setup full of comic potential. What was your inspiration for this? And why does the counselor tell them not to have sex?

TB: As I mentioned, Esther Perel’s podcast was a huge inspiration for this aspect of the book, although Love Her or Lose Her is a romantic comedy, so of course I made their counselor a remnant from the '60s who makes them have a conversation with marshmallows in their cheeks! He forbids them from having sex because he wants them to focus on establishing an emotional connection, which is very much still there. They just need to learn to acknowledge it to one another.

GR: The women in this series—Georgie, her sister Bethany, and Rosie—form a club called the Just Us League to empower themselves and help one another realize their goals. Should every woman have a group like this?

TB: Yes! Everyone needs a girl gang who will ply them with tequila on a Tuesday night. The Just Us League is such an important part of the book, because the female support is always at Rosie’s back, giving her courage to ask for what she wants.

GR: Despite Love Her or Lose Her being a romantic comedy, many readers have described it as a deeply emotional book that made them cry. Why do you think this is?

TB: I think this couple is one that readers really pull for. They’re obviously so connected to each other; they’ve just forgotten one of the ingredients to create their brand of magic. But also, I think people taking ownership of their role in a problem is very powerful, especially when they’re down to put in the hard work to fix the issue, no matter what it takes. Both characters make themselves very vulnerable in this way, and I think that hits home with readers (it did with me!).

GR: Tell us about the third book in this series. Whom will it be about, and when does it come out?

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TB: The third book is called Tools of Engagement, and it features Bethany and Wes (the young cowboy from Texas you meet in Love Her or Lose Her). It’s very much enemies to lovers—and it’s hilarious. Bethany is the Just Us League leader and everyone’s example of a fierce, independent woman, but behind closed doors, she’s actually really insecure. She definitely shouldn’t agree to be on a reality television house-flipping show with her enemy (Wes) as her foreman. Watching these opposites come to terms with their attraction while working toward a common goal is so much fun. It’s coming in June 2020!

GR: Many of your books feature male heroes in uniform. Does this stem from any particular experience or moment of inspiration?

TB: Yes! I am releasing my first paranormal romance in March. I was watching Aquaman (which wasn’t that great, if I’m being honest), but there is a line at the end of the movie about love saving the world and I really wanted to write something with that gravity. And sometimes you have to shake things up! So look for Reborn Yesterday in March!

GR: What are some of your favorite married/established couple romance books?

TB: The absolute best one that comes to mind is The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean. The duchess is basically trying to divorce her duke husband over a mistake he made, but he’ll only grant the divorce when she finds her replacement. It’s criminally good.

GR: Please share some books you’ve read recently and loved or can’t wait to read.

TB: One of my favorite reads of last year was The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez. It’s a friends-to-lovers story between a fireman and a woman who designs miniature dog accessories for a living. It’s charming, hilarious, emotional, and never has there been a better book boyfriend than fireman Josh. I highly recommend it!


Tessa Bailey's Love Her or Lose Her will be available in the U.S. on January 14. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf. Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

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