I don’t usually review new-new releases. As someone who gets most of her books from the library, it’s rare that I get a book in the first week after release. This one, though, I was so excited about that I requested that at least three of my libraries purchase it, getting myself in on a release-day loan in the process.
I really liked the first book in this duology, It Happened One Summer. I’m a sucker for a grumpy/sunshine story, and that one was delightful. However, even while I was being entertained by Piper and Brandon, I was unable to shake the relationship brewing between Piper’s little sister, Hannah, and Brandon’s best friend, Fox.
Which brings us to Hook, Line and Sinker.
In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…
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?
Fox is a playboy. He seems very comfortable with his life of causal promiscuity. He barely remembers the names of the girls he hooks up with, and he at least pretends to like it that way. He has had one sort-of girlfriend, about 12, 13 years ago, and that ended so badly that it reinforced what he saw as the primary tenet of his life—that he is not a relationship guy.
What I found so appealing about Fox as a character is just how completely broken he is. For all the bravado about how much he loves his life, he is in fact a pretty lonely person. He craves connection, even though he knows that he doesn’t deserve it. He has allowed his years as a reprobate to permanently stain him, mark him as someone who doesn’t deserve any more, any better than he has allowed himself.
When he meets Hannah, he starts hanging out with her primarily to get her out of her sister’s hair so that his buddy Brandon can make time with Piper. But slowly, Fox and Hannah become friends, and even after Hannah moves back to LA for work, they find themselves texting every day, building a real friendship. This kind of relationship is something that Fox has never had, and it quickly becomes something precious to him. But what will happen when Hannah comes back to town with her crush in tow? Will Fox stay in the friend zone, where he KNOWS he belongs, or will he try to find the one thing he never thought he’d have?
This one hit me pretty hard in the feels. I read the book twice today—and some parts three times. I flew through it the first time, needing to get to the end, to get resolution. Then I went back through and read more slowly, savoring this relationship. When I was seventeen, I fell for a guy who reminds me so much of Fox, someone who never felt worthy of being loved. I wasn’t as patient with him as Hannah was with Fox. I was seventeen and didn’t know how to be. I wonder sometimes how I could have handled it differently, how I could have stopped him from spooking, and if we could have had a different, better ending if I had. This book was a lovely fictionalized look at a relationship that almost was, and, while it was bittersweet in parts, I really loved every minute of it.