Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
Series or Standalone: Bellinger Sisters #2
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
After not liking It Happened One Summer, I went into this book with slightly lower expectations. And I’ve got to be honest – my feelings on this are a bit mixed. I liked the beginning and the build-up in Fox and Hannah’s relationship (something sorely lacking in Piper and Brendan’s relationship), but the final act of this novel is where the story lost me and made me a bit iffy on my overall feelings on it.
Fox Thornton has a reputation as a ladies’ man, and he’s always owned that until he met Hannah Bellinger last summer. After she returns to LA, the two strike up a friendship over text messages where they bond over music and get to know each other better over many months. When Hannah’s back in town to film a movie, she ends up crashing at Fox’s place. And while they’re definitely just friends, the more time Hannah spends with her good friend, the more she wants him instead, even though he’s trying to help her get with her long-time director crush. As the line between flirtation and friendship begins to blur, Hannah realizes the depth of her feelings for Fox yet doesn’t want to be another notch in his bedpost while Fox struggles with being thought of as relationship material.
I wanted to love this one as I enjoyed Hannah and Fox’s interactions in It Happened One Summer. There was a spark between them, and I love a good friends-to-lovers story. Fox’s also a bit like a modern-day rake, and I’m a sucker for stories where the rake falls hard. However, the book lost me in the end.
Unlike in It Happened One Summer, I felt like the romantic relationship between Fox and Hannah had time to breathe and develop over time. Before the romance kicked into full gear, these two got to know each other and actually talked about meaningful things, such as their biggest insecurities. Being friends first helped eliminate many of my issues with the romantic relationship between Piper and Brendan. Compared to Piper and Brandon, Hannah and Fox’s relationship felt like a slow-burn romance as they both were scared to act on their feelings for so long. I loved watching them struggle with their feelings as that delivered the emotional punches I like from my romances, and I couldn’t wait for them to kiss and get together.
However, my issue with their relationship came towards the end of the book. This book had the classic third act breakup, and it was one of my least favorite kinds of break-ups. It’s an “I’m doing this for your own good even though we both love each other madly” breakup. It frustrated me a lot, and I felt like Fox was stubborn and dumb. One little comment sets him off, and he immediately NOPES out of the relationship even though they both don’t want that. It felt like a lazy way to add drama into the relationship just for the sake of adding drama.
Outside of that, I did really like Hannah and Fox as characters. However, Tessa Bailey really beats you over the head with their insecurities to the point where I would have liked her to add a little more dimension. For example, Hannah is constantly referring to herself as “the supporting actress” and that she’s never “leading lady” material. Those phrases were said so frequently I found myself saying, “OKAY WE GET IT.” However, Hannah is a charming character and I enjoyed watching her step out of the shadows and find the confidence to go after what she wanted.
Meanwhile, Fox – oh boy – did he have some deep-seated insecurities. He was overly sexualized by those around him at a young age and believes he’s only suitable for a hook-up. I will say, I did find Bailey leaned a little too into Fox believing he’s only a hookup. Like the boy dropped out of college because of it, which felt like a bit much. He’s so hung up on this that it impacts his relationship with Hannah even though she hears him, supports him and reassures him that’s not how she views him.
Also – and I didn’t think this was possible – this book somehow made me dislike Brandon and Piper as a couple more than I already did. Brandon claims to be Fox’s best friend, yet he constantly treats him like shit and makes Fox believe he’s not worthy of love. I also really didn’t like how both Piper and Brandon felt like they needed to look out for Hannah – the girl is an adult and can take care of herself, especially when it comes to her romantic relationships, thank you very much!
Overall, I think I liked the idea of Hook, Line and Sinker more than the actual execution. For a good portion of reading this book, I was vibing with the story, the characters and the romance, but the final act is really what took this down a notch for me. The writing is also a little clunky, which became more apparent towards the end. If I could, I’d give the beginning two-thirds of a 4 stars rating, but the final third a 2 star.
I know this book is incredibly hyped over on Instagram and TikTok, and I’ve realized a lot of these mega-hyped books, particularly the contemporary romances, are not my cup of tea. I’ve had a lot of duds recently whenever I try one, yet I still hold out hope one will live up to the hype.