Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
“She was familiar to me, and yet she was a revelation.”
Hutton French and Felicity MacAllister are a revelation. In the world of romance, we often read very “put-together” characters. This isn’t always the case, but it is more so than not. Hutton and Felicity are not this. From the outside, Hutton may seem to be: he’s an extraordinarily handsome billionaire. Yet, Hutton and Felicity are like me, hyperthinkers, fiction makers in their minds. And because of this, their story is a slow burn evolution into love. Melanie Harlow’s Tease isn’t passion on fire. It isn’t a quick jump into bed between friends. This is a lot of misses and misinterpretations, and these lead you by a tether through Harlow’s Tease.
Hutton and Felicity have been friends since middle school, and they’ve liked each other most of that time. However, Harlow has crafted two people who are their own worst enemies. Hutton is awkward, dare I say a bit of a neurodivergent character which makes him an exciting characterization. In romancelandia, handsome billionaires are self-possessed and controlled. In his mind, this isn’t the case. Hutton, in a word, is messy. As such, he doesn’t act upon his feelings because he second-guesses his actions. Felicity is also complicated, mostly because she plays the comparison game, contrasting herself with her sisters, Millie and Winnie. Additionally, she has a secret from her childhood that shades her understanding of relationships, While she isn’t like Hutton in his neurodivergent ways, Felicity manifests her anxieties by cutting her hair and speaking without thinking about the consequences. This leads to the drama and excitement of Tease: a fake engagement. All of the messiness of their characterizations conspires to build a romance that captivates Harlow’s readers, at least it did that for me.
What captivated me the most about Tease is the uneasiness of Hutton and Felicity’s coupling contrasted with its safety. Felicity adds ease to Hutton’s life. She sees him in ways that others don’t. She breathes fresh wind into the space of his mind’s anxieties. And this all happens as they struggle to understand their burgeoning relationship. While Hutton fights against his former rules about relationships, he is comforted by Felicity’s acceptance of him. It’s such an interesting place to inhabit in Tease, but it’s what makes the friends-to-lovers trope work in Harlow’s book.
I gobbled Tease on my plane ride home from Book Bonanza. It wiled away the flight time home. If there is any big revelation after reading this story, it’s the constant reminder that I’d love to inhabit Melanie Harlow’s Cloverleigh Farms world, if it was only real.
In love and romance,