Hook, Line, and Sinker
by Tessa Bailey
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?
These books are my happy place. Tessa Bailey just always delivers for me.
The first book – It Happened One Summer – is one of my top 5 favorite contemporary romances of all time, and I put off reading this one for far too long because I was worried it wouldn’t live up to that. Well, I was dumb and I wish I’d read it sooner because it was awesome.
Hannah is very different than her larger than life sister, Piper, the MC of the first book, but she’s still a very strong female lead, just in an altogether different way. When the book starts, she thinks she knows what and who she wants: to be a music director for films and to be with the director of the current one she’s working on.
Enter Fox and the sleepy seaside village of Westport. And before you start thinking that Hannah takes one look at Fox and gives up on her dreams for him, never fear; she doesn’t. They start off as friends in the first book, transition to flirting via text in the beginning of this one, and then share an apartment together when her film changes locations to Westport. It’s less Fox and more the reality of getting everything she wants and having it not be what she expects for her to change her mind on her life plans.
I really enjoyed Hannah’s personality and her character arc but it was Fox who dominated this book for me. His progression is phenomenal. He starts this series as a very popular ladies man, spending each weekend with a different woman, and the way Tessa Bailey had him work through his commitment issues as he and Hannah drifted closer together was some of the best character work I’ve seen in romance.
This is a bit spoilery so skip the rest of this paragraph if you still haven’t read the book. Last chance to look away. Still with me? Okay, then. Fox’s father is a notorious ladies man who cheated on Fox’s mother multiple times and left a trail of heartbreak everywhere he went. Fox is just as handsome as he is, and from a young age, relatives, friend’s parents, and even strangers on the street told him he would grow up to be a heartbreaker and promiscuous just like his father. Think about that. They’re putting terrible expectations on and sexualizing a CHILD. Well, that kind of bullshit leaves a mark, and Fox grows up both believing them and fearing their predictions that he’ll make women as miserable as his dad made his mom.
Hannah is horrified when she realizes how everyone in town thinks of Fox as nothing but a “manwhore”, and it takes her loudly standing up for him for Fox to realize it’s not okay to constantly be spoken to like he can’t be trusted around women.
More of this complexity in male leads, please!
Now, a lot of people love how spicy the first book was, and you might be disappointed if you expect that same level in this second installment. It’s much more of a slow burn, and while the sex, when it finally happens, is hot, it’s not really on the same level as its predecessor.
All in all, a phenomenal contemporary romance, and I can’t recommend it enough for readers who want to see some serious depth in their male and female leads.