Hook, Line, and Sinker
Grade : A

I’ve been the happy reader of a number of good books recently, but until Tessa Bailey’s Hook, Line, and Sinker, none of those good books have been ones I’ve read for review. Now I’m pleased to award my first DIK grade of 2022 to this thoroughly enjoyable, sexy and emotionally sweet story.

Hannah Bellinger is an LA-based production assistant who dreams of being a music coordinator for movies. She’s working on a romantic short directed by a guy who “once made the entire crew wear blindfolds on set so they wouldn’t dilute the magic of a scene by viewing it”, and on whom she has “a longunrequited crush”. When a moment of inspiration leads her to speak up and successfully argue for shooting in Westport, the Washington town where her sister Piper (of It Happened One Summer) lives, Hannah finds herself temporarily relocated. But with Piper’s guest room already occupied, what’s a girl to do but stay “with Fox Thornton, king crab fisherman and a lady-killer of the highest caliber”, and Hannah’s text buddy of the past seven months (they met when she stayed in town previously – ‘previously’ as in not in this book?) Needless to say, the director doesn’t stand a chance.

The best way I can describe the pleasure of Hook, Line, and Sinker is that it does all the heavy lifting. It’s an effortless read that breezes along on unpretentious dialogue, endearing characters, and a solid romantic relationship. The only time I felt any need to exert myself in order to understand and enjoy the book was when Hannah made an unfamiliar music reference and even those moments were so few that I didn’t have time to lament my lack of musical knowledge.

Bailey has a knack for writing relationships that combine abundant emotional and physical chemistry. Fox has spent his life caught in family/romantic/professional environments where people have focused, to the exclusion of all else, on the fact that he’s a potently attractive man. Consequently, his sense of self has been crumbling under the weight of the innuendos, jokes, and assumptions people make about him. Hannah is refreshingly emotionally perceptive – she always sees through Fox, which keeps her from chasing all the red herrings he tosses out in a last-ditch attempt to keep her from getting too close lest she be disappointed by the man behind the “giant squid wrapped around an anchor” tattoo. Part of Hannah’s campaign to prove to Fox that she sees him as a person and not a sexy rest-stop on her life’s journey involves refusing to sleep with him early on. Thus, Hook, Line, and Sinker simmers longer than other Bailey books do, and feels just a little less graphic than some of the others. But note that I say “little” – there’s still enough outdoor cunnilingus to merit the hot rating(!)

The book’s only real weakness is a slightly rushed last act. The break-up/low point results from a ‘falling at the first hurdle’ situation, and the first hurdle in question doesn’t feel big enough to merit such a response. And the emotional resolution comes so hard, fast, and perfect on the heels of the low point that it’s a little unbelievable. With a few more pages and development these issues could have been vanquished, but as it is they’re the equivalent of a tiny hole in a sweater: not large enough to impair function or overall style, but just detectable enough to be faintly frustrating.

Honestly, all I can say is I hope next time Tessa Bailey does a series about siblings she takes a page from Bridgerton and gives the family eight kids instead of two. Perhaps she’ll reveal a secret half-sister and reward us with a third book to turn the Bellinger Sisters duology into a trilogy? A girl can dream.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop

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Reviewed by Charlotte Elliott

Grade: A

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : March 1, 2022

Publication Date: 03/2022

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Charlotte Elliott

Part-time cowgirl, part-time city girl. Always working on converting all my friends into romance readers ("Charlotte, that was the raunchiest thing I have ever read!").
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