We are so excited to bring you this Q&A with author Tessa Bailey to celebrate her new book, Secretly Yours!
About Secretly Yours:
Hallie Welch fell hard for Julian Vos at fourteen, after they almost kissed in the dark vineyards of his family’s winery. Now the prodigal hottie has returned to Napa Valley and when Hallie is hired to revamp the gardens on the Vos estate, she wonders if she’ll finally get that smooch. But the grumpy professor isn’t the teenager she remembers and their polar opposite personalities clash spectacularly.
One wine-fueled girls’ night later, Hallie can’t shake the sense that she did something reckless—and then she remembers the drunken secret admirer letter she left for Julian. Oh shit.
On sabbatical from his ivy league job, Julian plans to write a novel. But having Hallie gardening right outside his window is the ultimate distraction. She’s eccentric, chronically late, often literally covered in dirt—and so unbelievably beautiful, he can’t focus on anything else. Until he finds an anonymous letter sent by a woman from his past.
Even as Julian wonders about this admirer, he’s sucked further into Hallie’s orbit. Like the flowers she plants all over town, Hallie is a burst of color in Julian’s grayscale life. For a man who irons his socks and runs on tight schedules, her sunny chaotic energy makes zero sense. But there’s something so familiar about her… and her very presence is turning his world upside down.
What inspired SECRETLY YOURS?
After the Bellinger Sisters series, I really started to explore the impact of setting on a romance novel. Previously, I was in a misty fishing town and this time, I wanted somewhere warm and golden and inviting. As soon as I started picturing sun drenched kissing scenes, I landed on Napa. Winemaking is such a longstanding practice and it made me want classic romance with a modern twist, so I crafted a fun storyline about secret admirer letters to go along with the eternal feeling of that region.
What are YOUR favorite wines?
I have a very weird trait where my teeth turn blue, like THE SECOND I start drinking red wine, so I usually stick to a Sauvignon Blanc. My cousin recently brought back a case of Chianti from Italy and I couldn’t drink any of it, because I would have had to keep my mouth closed the whole night to avoid suspicions that I’m a vampire.
What do you love about second chance romances?
The PINING. That’s what I love the most. They’ve never forgotten about each other for a second and no one has ever measured up to that one, special person. There is something about second chances that are so beautiful because they prove the theory that there is one true soul mate for everyone.
Can you speak to the themes of local businesses and community in your novel?
This is a small town book and local businesses play such an important role in smaller communities, so it lends authenticity to the setting, the vibe and the people. You get your gossip from the donut shop, you frequent the same restaurants for their incredible shrimp scampi. It creates the fabric of a fictional world, too. Readers start to become familiar with the characters’ favorite haunts and it becomes more immersive.
Your protagonist, Hallie, is a big proponent of telling people how she feels. Can you speak to your decision to make her so earnest and open?
We meet Hallie at a stage in her life where she’s a mess of feelings and confused about where she belongs in the world. I simply don’t think she can keep her opinions and feelings contained. They come pouring out. A lot like her penchant for disorganization, nothing stays tidy, it’s all just honest pandemonium and it makes her very relatable in my eyes. She’s an oversharer like me!
Do you have any tips for young writers struggling to write chemistry between their romantic leads?
I love to write my characters with almost too much sexual attraction. It’s something they can barely control, it’s causing them to have goosebumps and lose their concentration and become tongue tied every second of the day. I want it to feel like the first time anything this potent has ever happened to them and they don’t know how to process so much desire all at once. My advice would be to imagine chemistry so visceral, the leads feel it sitting on their skin and they can’t get it off. It’s a new way of breathing. It’s big.
What do you hope people take away from SECRETLY YOURS?
I hope readers close Secretly Yours and feel a happy, golden glow. I hope they’ve laughed, related to my characters and fanned themselves a whole lot. More than anything, though, I always want readers to believe in the happily ever after of my characters, so above all, I hope to leave them with the belief that Julian and Hallie will be happy and in love long after THE END.
About the Author:
New York Times Bestselling author Tessa Bailey can solve all problems except for her own, so she focuses those efforts on stubborn, fictional blue collar men and loyal, lovable heroines. She lives on Long Island avoiding the sun and social interactions, then wonders why no one has called. Dubbed the “Michelangelo of dirty talk,” by Entertainment Weekly, Tessa writes with spice, spirit, swoon and a guaranteed happily ever after. Catch her on TikTok at @authortessabailey or check out tessabailey.com for a complete list of books.