This review was originally posted to The Geeky Waffle and has been reposted here with permission
Generally speaking, friends to lovers doesn’t really do it for me. The requisite angst that I love so much always feels missing when it seems like every single issue can be resolved with a simple conversation, and every single issue feels like it boils down to simple jealousy.
But Tessa Bailey’s Hook, Line and Sinker has me reassessing my formerly harsh stance because wow did it deliver.
The story follows music lover Hannah Bellinger, who returns to the fishing town of Westport seven months after she and her sister arrived to spend the summer there. While her sister found love with local grumpy sea captain Brendan and remained in Wesport rather than return to LA, Hannah went back to Hollywood to continue trying to break into the industry — specifically into the soundtrack side of things.
When the director of her newest project (and object of her crush) Sergei needs a location for his newest indie film, Hannah suggests Westport as a way to be closer to her sister and to spend a little more time in the town she was born in.
Complicating matters is the friend she made all those months ago, Brendan’s relief skipper Fox. He’s got a reputation as a ladies man though he and Hannah have agreed to just remain friends. Hard to stay so resolved when they’re sharing an apartment though…
What sets this apart from other friends to lovers romances for me is honestly the communication between Hannah and Fox. They don’t lie to each other unnecessarily, or conceal things for the sake of the plot. They are refreshingly honest with one another about their feelings and their desires, and it’s only their urge to self-sabotage that really gets in the way.
Neither of them is willing to accept half-measures from the other, and both are very prone to deflecting when something is bothering them. There is an emotional openness to both Hannah and Fox that I found refreshing in its directness. Fox also has a personal emotional arc that resonnated because its a side of toxic masculinity that doesn’t get discussed nearly as often as it should.
And the tropes. The tropes. The pining, the forced proximity, the jealousy with just a hint of short-lived fake dating. Not to mention a healthy dose of angst, with a love so sincere it jumped off the page and moved me to tears.
The whole book, really, is a beautiful examination of the trust two people in a relationship place in one another, and of the work it takes to open up to another and share the most intimate parts of yourself with them. And I don’t mean that as a double entendre. As this book goes to great lengths to show, sex is not the be-all end-all of intimacy.
I’m sad to say goodbye to the town of Westport so soon after discovering it, but I honestly cannot wait to revisit soon.
Hook, Line and Sinker is a sequel to It Happened One Summer (another book I absolutely adored inhaled at an embarrassing rate), and fans of that one will love the little looks we get at the now happily engaged Piper and Brendan.
Hook, Line and Sinker is out March 1, 2022. Special thanks to Avon Books for the advance copy for review purposes.
This website is a labour of love. If you’ve enjoyed this review, consider buying me a coffee to help keep it going?