Hook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters #2) by Tessa Bailey is the follow-up novel to It Happened One Summer. Hook, Line, and Sinker is Hannah Bellinger’s love story with Fox Thornton. It’s a friends-to-lovers romance trope, more precisely a nerdy girl/reformed rake story, with a small town setting.
Hannah Bellinger returns to Westport, a small Pacific Northwest fishing town, after suggesting the location to the director of the movie that she is working on as an assistant. Hannah’s true passion is music, particularly matching songs to moments and moods. She is great at it and has ambitions to one day score movies.
For someone who only desires to work behind the scenes, it seems strange that Hannah is obsessed with main character energy. (Ironically, she was very much the secondary character in the first book of the series.) Similar to It Happened One Summer, this story is also told from multiple POVs. Once again, Hannah is sharing the spotlight, but this time it is with Fox. At best, Hannah has more of a supporting role than that main character energy that she often speaks about.
Hannah does have likable qualities. She is smart. Her passion for music and wanting to share it with the world makes her somewhat interesting and her own person (almost main character energy). Hannah is loyal. I enjoyed the scenes between Hannah and her sister Piper (who definitely has main character energy). The scenes between Hannah and her grandmother were endearing, especially when Hannah discovers that her deceased father also had a love for music and she finally feels a connection to him.
The plot of the book centers around Hannah and Fox’s romance. It’s a slow build, friends-first tale. Fox thinks he is destined for a life of one night stands because his father wasn’t faithful and because his college girlfriend was actually using him as her hall pass while she was in another relationship. Does this sound ridiculous? It does because it is ridiculous. It’s too much of a stretch to take seriously the emotional journey of a straight while male whose emotional angst has him indulging in a lifetime of one night stands. The reader is supposed to sympathize with Fox to the point that we overlook his objectification of women and his own “love ‘em and leave ‘em” attitude that he blames on other people (his father, a college girlfriend, and even the other fisherman in town). At one point, Fox lashes out towards Hannah in an insensitive way, causing her to cry. Hannah, whose loyalty is noted throughout the book, wipes her tears and remains steadfast in her determination to fix Fox by showing him his worth. I just kept thinking, “Can’t we do better than this guy in the year 2022?”
In the book It Happened One Summer, we get lots of steamy romance and comedy. The book didn’t take itself too seriously. With Hook, Line, and Sinker, the reader gets lots of drawn-out angst and flat characters. Even if you like a slow burn Fox and Hannah take too long to get there, which is odd when you consider the main action of the book takes place over a two week time span (the months of semi-regular texting are briefly summarized at the opening of the novel).
Hook, Line, and Sinker is a formulaic contemporary romance with low-stakes energy and a simplistic plot. If you’re looking for some light escapism with a little bit of spice, consider reading it. Just keep your expectations low and don’t expect too much out of this book.
Genre: Contemporary Romance