Hook, Line, and Sinker
by Tessa Bailey
Published by Avon Books
Book 2 in the Bellinger duology
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?
Hook, Line, and Sinker is the much anticipated second - and final - book in Tessa Bailey's Bellinger duology. This book focus's on Piper's sister Hannah, and Brendan's best friend, Fox. Fox is the resident playboy. He knows it, and the town knows it. So when Fox starts hanging out with Hannah so Piper and Brendan can get some alone time, he knows Hannah is off limits. You can't have a fling with your best friend fiancé's little sister. But Hannah is different. She doesn't fall for his charm and looks - she seems to like to talk to him. And hang out with him because she likes him. His first, true friend of the opposite sex. He won't mess it up. But 8 months of daily texting later, when Hannah comes back to town for work, and she needs a place to stay, it becomes impossible to either of them to not succumb to their feelings for one another.
So I loved It Happened One Summer, and I couldn't wait for this book. So of course, I ended up being in the middle of another series, and in the mood to break up the contemporary romance with a fantasy, when it arrived in my mailbox. So I had to wait. But finally, I got to read it. And I was surprised. Not because I didn't like it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I guess I was expecting something very much like It Happened One Summer, and it wasn't. I mean, it had the fun banter, and the intense chemistry. But they were different, because these books truly reflected the sisters. Whereas It Happened One Summer is a faster paced romance, with hot sex and a lot of amazing dirty talk, Hook, Line and Sinker was a slow burn, more romantic (but still hot!), character driven story. And while the tones of each book aren't the same, it makes sense. Piper is impulsive, fun, a little bratty, and has no filter. Her story reflects that in an intensely hot, fast paced romance. Hannah though, is quiet. She is reflective. She thinks before she acts. Her story wouldn't make sense if it was like Piper's. It wouldn't do Hannah and especially Fox, justice if it was like Brendan's and Piper's. So I loved that. I loved the story, and what we learn about Fox, and why he lives the way he does. It brings to light that words matter just as much as actions, and how they can shape an individual's choices. Fox's inner demon's were unique in the romance genre, and Hannah was the perfect match for him. Her desires didn't make her decisions for her - she took the time to think how an act would affect Fox. The moments between them meant that much more.
If you are going into Hook, Line and Sinker, and expecting a copy and paste of It Happened One Summer, you won't get it. But you will get an intense romance, with a side of some hot steamy scenes, and some great character building for a complicated male character. And that simple epilogue was everything! It was a true happily ever after, but of course, we gotta throw in a comedic moment. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and I can't wait to read more of Tessa Bailey's work.
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Fox (4:18pm) : This is stupid, but you're okay, right?
Hannah (4:19pm) : I mean, my therapist would probably say that's debatable. Physically I'm in one piece tho. Why?
Fox (4:20pm) : Just a weird dream. IDK ... I dreamed you were missing. Or lost?
Hannah (4:25pm) : That wasn't a dream. Send a chopper.
Fox (4:25pm) : (:|)
Fox (4:26pm) : Fishermen don't ignore the dreams they have on the water. Sometimes they are nothing, other times they're a premonition.
Hannah (4:30pm) : If anyone worries in this friendship, it should be me. I've seen the Perfect Storm.
Fox (4:32pm) : That makes me Wahlberg in this scenario?
Hannah (4:33pm) : Depends. Can you pull off white boxer briefs?
Fox (4:34pm) : And then some, babe.
Fox (12:01am) : Happy New Year.
Hannah (12:02am) : Same to you! May it bring you crabs.
Fox (12:03am) : (:|) Any resolutions?
Hannah (12:07am) : Normally I would say no. But I want to take more risks this year. Put myself out there a little more workwise, you know? Don't copy me. You are AT CAPACITY on workplace risks.
Fox (12:09am) : How else am I going to get crabs?
Hannah (12:10am) : At a restaurant, like a normal person.
Fox (12:10am) : I always order the steak.
Hannah (12:11am) : That's irony for you.
Hannah (6:03pm) : Happy Valentine's Dat! Doing anything special?
Fox (6:05pm) : God no. I'd rather light myself on fire.
Fox (6:09pm) : Are you? Doing something special?
Hannah (6:11pm) : Yes, sir. I'm on a date.
Fox (6:11pm) : With who??
Hannah (6:15pm) : Myself. Very charming. Might be the one.
Fox (6:16pm) : Lock that girl down. She's the kind you bring home to mom.
Fox (6:29pm) : You like them dark and dramatic, huh?
Hannah (6:30pm) : Careful! You're going to give me an orgasm.
Fox (6:30pm) : If that was the plan, babe, you'd have had two already.
Like now, what Christian was bugging his heartthrob eyes out, letting her know he was ready for straw removal.
Christian: "Thanks. Now I'm going to have to pee."
Hannah: "Look at the bright side. There are mirrors in the bathroom. Your favorite."
Christian snorted, allowing a grudging uptick to one side of his mouth.
Christian: "God, you're such a bitch. I love you."
Hannah: "...is that what you say into the mirrors?"
Hannah: "He decorated my room with a Himalayan salt lamp."
Piper: 'He might as well be mauling you!"
Piper: 'Oh my God."
Piper breathed, teary-eyed.
Piper: "I know just the dress."
Hannah: 'Nothing flashy -"
Piper: "Zip. Zip it. Not another word. You're going to trust me."
Christian: "Hey. What are your drinking? Poison, I hope."
She pursed her lips and perused the various liquor bottles.
Hannah: "What can I drink to give you a personality?"
Christian: "I hate that I like you."
Hannah: "I like that I hate you."
Fox: "Men like to feel useful. It stirs up our precious alpha male pride. Find something heavy and tell him you need it lifted. You will have emphasized your physical differences and thus, the fact that he's a man and your a woman. Men need way less prompting to think of ..."
Jesus, it was like he'd eaten something spicy. He could stop clearing his throat. Or thinking of her with the director.
he practically growled.
Hannah: "Note to self,"
she said, pretending to write a note in the air
Hannah: "find boulder. Ask for assistance. Manipulate the male psyche. By jove I think I've got it."
Hannah: "Why was the trip strained?"
Fox: "No reason. Forget I said anything."
Hannah: "Is it Brendan's fault? Because I can't talk trash about my sisters fiancé. Unless you really want to."
A beat passed.
Hannah: "Okay, you convinced me. What's his problem? He can be so mean. And, like, what is with the beanie? Is it glued on?"
Fox narrowed his eyes on her
Fox: "Are you doing that thing with your mouth because you're trying to trap all the psychological terms you want to throw at me?"
Her expression turned miserable.
Hannah: "Okay, but seriously. Does your vagina ever get tired?"
Piper: "Sometimes I swear it is, but that's just my cue to hydrate."
He would do it right.
He would dehydrate the shit out of her.
Piper: "Hey, Brendan is bringing his parents into Cross and Daughters tonight. Come and meet them?"
Hannah: "As if I would pass up a chance to meet those responsible for spawning the Mean One?"
Hannah: "Who are those guys?"
Fox: "No one."
He took her wrist and started walking at a fast clip, glad she'd worn sneakers so she could easily keep up.
Fox: "Just ignore them. They're drunk."
Man: "Your mama didn't warn you about tomcats like this one? Make sure he shells out the cab fare -"
Hannah skidded to a stop beside Fox, yanking her arm free. Before he could get a hold of her again, she'd marched halfway across the street.
Hannah: "Hey, scumbag! How about you shut y our mouth?"
She jabbed a finger at the leader, and his cigarette froze on the way to his mouth.
Hannah: "Mamas don't bother warning girls about jerks like yourself, because no one would come within ten feet of you. Smelly old ball sac!"
Man: "Now hold on. It's just a bit of fun."
Hannah: "At who's expense?"
Hannah shouted, turning in a circle, searching the ground.
Fox, who'd been standing behind her completely dumbfounded, caught between awe and self-disgust, forced his throat to start working.
Fox: "What are you doing?"
Hannah: "Looking for something to throw at them."
Fox: "Okay, how is Piper the one that ended up in jail?"
Fox: "You can't look at me, can you? I'm not used to having someone else in the house. You want me to put on sweatpants next time?"
Jesus, no, screamed the pervert who had rented space inside her head.
Hannah: "What is that?"
His brows drew together.
Fox: "What is what?"
Hannah: 'That ginger smell. Is it like lotion ... or aftershave or something?"
Fox: "None of those."
She waited for him to elaborate. He didn't.
Hannah: "What is it then?"
He very briefly touched the tip of his tongue to the corner of his lips, his blue eyes twinkling.
Fox: "Massage oil."
Out of all the explanations, Hannah was not expecting that.
Hannah: "Massage oil."
Hannah: "Were you, like, giving yourself a massage -"
Flames climbed her face.
Hannah: "Oh. Wow. Walked right into that one. I ... Were you ... d-doing that this morning?"
She waved her hands frantically.
Hannah: "Never mind. Don't answer that."
His grin only widened.
Fox: "Yeah, I was. First time I've had a chance since our last fishing trip. Had to blow off some steam. Should I have asked permission first?"
Oh no. Now she was thinking about Fox asking for her permission to masturbate. It was like someone saying 'Don't think about pink elephants'.
Except the pink elephant was Fox's penis.
Hannah: "You're enough when your not touching me. You're enough on your own."
Hannah: "Really? You still ... sing shanties on the boat?"
Fox: "I mean, not very often. Sometimes, Deke starts one off. Not joining in kind of makes you a dick. Case in point, Brendan never sings along."
Hannah: "Word to the wise, don't ever learn the harmonica while you have braces."
Fox: "Hannah. Oh God. No."
His head fell back briefly, a laugh puffing out of him.
Fox: "What happened?"
Hannah: "Our parents were in the Mediterranean, so we walked to our neighbors house and they were in France -"
Fox: "Ah, yes. Typical neighborhood problems."
Hannah: "So their landscaper offered to drive me and Piper - who had actually peed her pants laughing - in the back of his truck."
She could barely keep her voice even, the need to giggle was so great.
Hannah: "We were driven to the closest hospital in the back of a pick up truck while the harmonica was stuck to my face. Every time I exhaled, the harmonica would play a few notes. People were honking ..."
His whole body was shaking with laughter, and Hannah could tell he finally, fully relaxed. The sexual tension didn't leave completely, but he shelved it for now.
Fox: "What did they say at the hospital?"
Hannah: "They asked if I was taking requests."
Fox: "She's a travelling bingo caller. Goes up and down the coast running bingo nights at various churches and rest homes."
Hannah: "Oh ... wow. I did not expect you to say that"
Amusement danced behind her features.
Hannah: "Are you going to play bingo?"
Fox: "Sometimes I do. But mostly I help with crowd control."
Hannah: "You have to keep control of the bingo crowd?"
Fox: "Freckles, you have no idea."
Fox: "When I was a kid, I loved the movie Jaws. Watched it hundreds of times."
He shrugged a big shoulder.
Fox: "Sometimes when our crew is in the bunks talking, I think of that drinking scene with Dreyfuss, Shaw, and Schneider."
Hannah: "The part where they sing?"
He sent her a sent her a sideways squint.
Fox: "I'm a total Schneider."
Hannah: "Yeah, no, I have to disagree. You're definitely the shark."
Across from Fox and Hannah sat two women who had erected a portable barrier between each other, ten cards spread out in front of them both, a rainbow selection of blotters at the ready.
Paula: "Keep your eye on Eleanor. She's an unrepentant cheat."
Eleanor: "You just shut your mouth, Paula. You're still bitter about me winning that Dutch oven two weeks ago. Well, you can shove that high-and-mighty attitude where the sun doesn't shine. I won fair and square."
Paula: "Sure. If fair and square means cheating."
Hannah: "Is it even possible to cheat at bingo?"
Hannah asked Fox out of the side of her mouth.
Fox: "Stay neutral. Don't get involved."
Hannah: "But -"
Fox: "Be Switzerland, Hannah. Trust me."
Paula was openly skeptical
Paula: "Oh, friends, huh?"
Eleanor: "That is what they do now, this younger generation. They don't do labels and no one goes steady. I see it with my grandkids. They don't even go on dates, they do something called a group hang. That way there is no pressure on anyone, because God forbid."
Now Paula looked disgusted with the both of them.
Paula: "Youth is wasted on the young."
She prodded the table with a bony finger.
Paula: "If I was fifty years younger, I'd be labelling the heck out of anything that walked upright."
Eleanor: "Paula. We're in a church."
Paula: "The good Lord already knows my thoughts."
Christ. Who am I anymore?
He was trying to come up with a way to get Hannah into bed so they could have an entirely platonic sleepover. Did he even own a dick anymore?
Fox: "What do you want me to say? Do I want to fuck you? Yes. Oh my God, I"
his eyes closed briefly, those fisherman's hands flexing on the steering wheel -
Fox: "I want you underneath me so bad that I can't lie in bed without already feeling you there. I've never even had you, and your body haunts mine."
Hannah: "If you're jealous, Fox, just say you're jealous."
Fox: "I'm jealous as fuck. You're ... my Hannah, you know?"
Hannah: "Yeah. I know."
He trailed his fingertips up and down her spine, eliciting a purr of appreciation.
Fox: "How's your tush?"
He cupped the buns in question.
Fox: "Sore, I bet."
Her laughter vibrated through them both.
Hannah: "I knew you were going to bring up the spanking thing."
She lightly wormed a finger between his ribs.
Hannah: "I'm never going to ask again."
Fox: "You won't have to."
Fox: "I know what you like now, freaky girl."
Fox: "How did you know?"
Charlene: "It's like I always say, a man doesn't bring a woman to bingo unless he's serious about her."
She tapped a nail against her mug.
Charlene: "Nah. But in truth, I could tell by the way you looked at her, she was something real special."
Fox: "How did I look at her?"
He was afraid to find out.
Charlene: "Ah, son. Like a summer day showing up after a hundred years of winter."
Fox; "What happened to you giving me time to pull my head out of my ass?"
Hannah: "Six hours seemed like more than enough."