This post contains a gifted item. Review copy provided by the publisher.
I’m so happy to be sharing my spoiler free review of Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey, her latest adult romance release!
It happened One Summer was one of my favourite reads of 2021 and I was obsessed. I was counting down the days until I could pick up the next book in the Bellinger Sisters duology, and thanks to the publishers, that day came earlier than I was expecting!
This book had me hook, line, and sinker (heh heh) so I have tried my best to pull together a worthy review, if you can forgive the rambling.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Adult romance
Length: 320 pages
Source: E-arc via Edelweiss
Link: Goodreads / Words and Kisses
Spice Rating: 🌶🌶🌶🌶
King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.
Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.
Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?
My review of Hook, Line, and Sinker
Hook, Line and Sinker opens with a series of text exchanges between Hannah and Fox, which is something I always enjoy in a romance novel. Their back and forth had me invested in their relationship from the get go; they were so drawn to one another even when living miles apart, with their messages to each other being the best part of their day. Not only were their texts humorous and full of teasing (yes pls), but they very clearly cared for one another.
I felt myself connecting to Hannah right away, and truthfully that was down to how she felt like she wasn’t really the main character in her own life. It’s a funny thing to feel this way, but Tessa explored this in such a way that I couldn’t help but see myself.
That was where she shined. Bolstering the heroine at her lowest point, stepping in to defend the leading lady when necessary…
Fox had given her her own main character moment, when shopping for vinyl records in Seattle back in It Happened One Summer, after he bought her a rare Fleetwood Mac vinyl she had been mooning over. This prompts them to communicate through music, sending songs and such to each other while they are apart. Despite him having a “reputation”, Hannah sees past this and genuinely enjoys Fox’s company, though he can’t see this himself.
Hannah finds herself moving in with Fox while the production company she works for are filming in Westport, and while they are both feeling a little awkward due to their mutual attraction and not having seen each other in a number of months having only communicated via text and phone, they soon fall into their easy teasing relationship. Despite his apartment being minimal and bare, when he shows her to her room it’s decorated with scented candles, a Himalayan salt lamp and folded towels. IS THIS MAN FOR REAL?!
She wasn’t going to mess that up by objectifying him. There was more to Fox than a chiseled face, thick arms, and an air of danger. Just like there was a lot more to her than being a coffee holder and note taker.
Fox truly sees himself a “side-piece”, someone you wouldn’t take home to meet the parents. An almost self fulfilling prophecy because of his father’s behaviour and because from him being a young age, so many people had sexualised him, making him think that was all he was worth.
Despite her obvious attraction to Fox, Hannah doesn’t objectify him, and without a second thought she defends Fox from how the locals talk down to him, with him literally having to carry her away to stop her getting into any trouble. It isn’t lost on him that no one had really ever done that for him.
She felt like the sunrise coming up over the water after a bad storm.
Because of the way Fox views himself, and because of the opinions of others, he’s afraid that people will doubt his character when it comes to Hannah, doubt his love and commitment. I mean, even Brendon has a “talk” with him before Hannah arrives, so he holds back so as not to “taint her”.
Though he trusts in Hannah completely and let’s face it, is totally in love with her, he fears that one day he’ll lose her, that one day she’ll realise he isn’t what she needs, and “it would kill him”. God my heart breaks when I think about how little self worth he had before Hannah came into his life 😢
And he didn’t want the breathless warmth winging its way into his chest. Would never be ready for the… dangerous hope that started to rise to the surface. Hope that if this girl believed him worth a damn – enough to defend him in the street like this – maybe he was worth the effort?
Communication is key and I love how it’s used in this story! So often miscommunication can be a major plot device but when they have a problem, Fox’s literal thought is “I’ll just talk to her. Problem solved.” If anybody does anything wrong they straight up take responsibility and apologise for any prejudices too, which is so refreshing.
While Fox is coming to see himself in a different light, Hannah is also coming into her own in both her career and how she has positioned herself in her own life. Their bravery inspires each other, as they take ownership of what they want and what they need. I just bloody loved Hannah from beginning to end.
She thought that compassion made her a supporting actress instead of a leading one, and didn’t realize that her empathy, the fierce way she cared, made her something bigger. Hannah belonged in a category far more real than the credits of a movie. A category all of her own.
Hook, Line, and Sinker is more character driven than plot, but I loved reading about Hannah and Fox’s development, both as a couple and individually. The slow burn, friends to lovers romance was perfect. The fucking pining, the love, the desperate need. Aaaah *fans self*! This truly is a relationship built on friendship, trust and mutual respect. Everyone was so well fleshed out and three dimensional; I truly felt as though I was reading about real people.
I couldn’t end this post not mentioning the smut. I mean, wow. Three words: the car scene. This quote ended me: “Swear to God, the one time it counts and I can’t be smooth to save my life.” I seriously have not stopped thinking about it since I finished the book months ago.
I literally devoured this book in a handful of hours and I wish there were more, one downside of reading an advanced copy! If you love heartfelt romances with friends to lovers, tension, mutual pining, some angst, major simp energy (from him!), lots of growth & top tier steam, then you need this book. This book is seriously imprinted in my brain.
Jesus, he fucking adored her, wanted to give her anything she wanted. So badly that it burned.
If you like the sound of that, you may fancy this!
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
The first book in the Bellinger sisters series, which was inspired by Alexis and Mutt from Schitt’s Creek and another top tier read by Tessa. Grumpy fisherman x sunshine .