Honestly, at least I’m still posting these during the month they released! I’m so excited to bring you ARC reviews today of Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey (Avon), which dropped on March 1st and A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings (St. Martin’s Griffin), which also dropped on March 1st. I think both of these books are ones some of y’all may enjoy so let’s talk about them, shall we?
Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
While overall, I didn’t think Hook, Line, and Sinker was quite as good as It Happened One Summer, I really loved both Hannah and Fox as individual characters and found myself cheering for them throughout the book. Plus there were definite folklore vibes so the Taylor Swift feels obviously had me utterly delighted.
Hannah thinks of herself as a support character and so, unsurprisingly, part of what I loved about this book was getting to watch her take risks and embrace some main character vibes and go after what she wanted. Fox, meanwhile, his character growth was… Lovely to watch, but honestly, I desperately wish he had gone to therapy. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I loved watching Hannah break down some of his walls and challenge the way he thought about himself, and I think that Fox having those messages reinforced by an actual mental health professional would have been nice.
Beyond the brilliant characterization, what I loved about this book was Tessa Bailey’s engaging writing, her humor, and the way she brilliants crafts a cast of characters. She drew me in to Westport just as well with this book as she did with It Happened One Summer and I love how rich of a setting she made. I also loved getting to see Piper and Brendan. This book was the compulsively readable book I needed in my life.
Something I didn’t love, because I basically never do, was the overprotective nonsense that Piper and Brendan both engaged in with Fox. First of all, I think it’s disrespectful of both Fox and Hannah and secondly, while it makes sense for the overall character ARC of Fox, I just think it would have been REALLY nice if Brendan, as Fox’s best friend, had noticed changes in Fox a little sooner. But Tessa Bailey really likes her alpha men and, I mean, it often works for me when she writes it, so what can I say?
One final thing, this book has a bit less steam than one might expect from Tessa Bailey, so just be prepared for that going in. It makes sense for the overall plot, but it’s a change of pace to what I have become accustomed from her. Oh, and, of course, there’s a lot of cisgendered language/stereotypes, although less than in It Happened One Summer so there’s that at least.
A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings
A Brush with Love thankfully begins with a content note letting you know that this book tackles some pretty serious topics, including a couple on-page panic attacks. I think that content note is important to begin with because the book’s cover is so adorable, I could see someone being otherwise caught very off guard by what they find inside. Anyway, setting aside that particular content note for the moment, this book is about two dental students, one who absolutely loves it (Harper) and one who would much rather return to his former life in business except the guilt his mother laid at his feet has him instead back in school (Dan). The two have immediate chemistry. They are almost nauseatingly sweet at times for someone who apparently likes just a bit more angst in her reads than this book has. Dan is a fantastic match for Harper. He seems to pick up on and understand her anxiety very quickly and just adjusts without her asking or saying anything in a way that I truly hope all of those with anxiety get to experience. The roadblock in their way is that Harper is adamant they have no future together and therefore, they can only be friends. Only they’re never really “just” friends. Ultimately, I appreciated the way that particular aspect of the relationship played out enough to round this 3.5 star read up to 4 stars on Goodreads.
However, between the almost too sweet moments and the extremely dark moment toward the end of this book, the tonal shift just felt like it needed a little more time to breathe. I actually thought the dark moment was incredibly apt for both of the characters and appreciated it. I just wish it had happened at about 60% through so we could have spent more time in the aftermath so that the HEA could really breathe. And, look, I’m not in publishing or an author or whatever. But sometimes, I just really need more of what comes next than I do in the build up of the will they/won’t they. Because making a relationship work can be hard too!
Anyway, now I want to talk about the anxiety representation because I think it’s important to have a little more context to what you see on page than the content warning can provide. Plus I have opinions and what’s the point of writing a review if I can’t share them, right? Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want ANY spoilers.
Harper knows that she has anxiety, but she has this insistence in her mind that once she made it through therapy after her mom died due to a car crash that she’s good forever. But her anxiety is absolutely cripplingly in many ways. And it’s honestly scary to see her on this spiral. She’s so resistant to therapy or medication and has this idea in her head that seeking out either of those things would almost be like failure? I know that this is a real thing because I’ve been there, but I really just wanted to be able to scream at her, “Lexapro is the best thing that’s ever happened to me so just go see a therapist for the love of all that is good!!” The way she describes the anxiety creeping up on her and the physicality of it was incredibly well done, but it almost makes it feel visceral. Just things to be aware of! All that to say, I do think the representation is well done.
I look forward to reading the next book by Mazey! Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s for the ARC, although I read this via an audio copy I purchased myself. (Speaking of the audiobook I purchased for myself, I would not recommend reading it that way. I didn’t like the way the male narrator voiced Harper.) Also, additional disclaimer, Mazey and I have communicated a few times on Instagram.
Have you read either of these books yet? If so, what did you think? If not, are you going to? Also, what are your thoughts on reviews and how much detail reviewers should go into regarding specifics about content notes? I usually only go into depth if it’s something I’m familiar with in some way, but is it something you like to see only vague things about? Or do you like when people go more in depth? Let me know!