Off the Hook by Laura Drewry

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Lindsey R. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.

The summary:

Welcome to The Buoys, a West Coast haven where love comes in with the tide. Perfect for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, the Fishing for Trouble series features three unforgettable brothers—each of whom is a great catch.

Major league pitcher Liam O’Donnell knows his best days are probably behind him, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to retire and become a fishing guide. Still, after all the time he’s spent chasing his dreams, he owes it to his brothers to pull his weight around the lodge. The Buoys is their father’s legacy, and they can’t let some developer take it from them. The one snag Liam isn’t counting on is a blast from the past: his ex-wife.

The moment Kate Hadley steps out of the seaplane, she knows this assignment is going to be trickier than she thought. She has to persuade the owners to sell—and one of them is Liam O’Donnell. Ten years ago, she made the biggest mistake of her life when she married Liam during a fling in Vegas. Now he’s her only lifeline in the middle of nowhere. Kate’s trying to keep things cool, but Liam reminds her of the scorching few nights they spent together—and tempts her to make new memories that are just as steamy as the old.

Here is Lindsey R.’s review:

I don’t normally read too much contemporary romance. I waded into the waters a few years ago and through blind luck managed to routinely pick novels featuring an overabundance of angst. And while I can certainly appreciate authors tackling modern issues, I was walking away from these novels more depressed then when I started. But when I read the summary of Off the Hook I was pretty confident this book wouldn’t fall into that category, and indeed I can safely report that if you like your romance light on conflict this one fits the bill. However, the book ended up being light on a lot of other important components, namely male characters that I didn’t want to throat punch.

Our “hero” (and yes heavy sarcasm implied there) is Liam. Liam I would describe as an adult male who hasn’t progressed beyond his 13-year-old self. Girls have cooties, sports are cool, and brothers are fun to punch. He is working at the family fishing operation while trying to resurrect his dream of playing professional baseball, and while his brother and family friend seem to be sacrificing plenty to make this fishing lodge work, Liam seems to be bidding his time until he can jump ship (pun intended):

“If – no, when – he got another offer, he’d be on the first Helijet out, debt or no debt.”

Got to love a man who’s loyal to the family. But not only is he willing to put blinders on to everything but baseball, he also joins his brother in straight up misogynistic asshattery. One of the early conversations readers are treated to is Liam and his brother Finn mansplaining to our heroine Kate and their gal pal Jessie how relationships work:

“You’ll have him giving up red meat for kale, drinking wheatgrass every morning, and before he knows it, he’ll be asking permission to go out for a beer with his buddies.”

That’s right ladies, according to these dudes we are all whiney manipulative creatures who through tears and our magical vaginas are able to bend men to our will – ah the power!!

Ginger Spice from the Spice Girls saying she came out of the womb screaming Girl Power.

Luckily Kate is quick to point out what an idiotic notion this is:

“Were all men this stupid? …I’m not the bitch you and your stupid-ass brother assume I am.”

Amen sister. You would think that with all the Omega 3’s these dudes have to be eating their brains would be a bit past the Neanderthal stage. But alas that is not the case. And while Kate is quick to fight against these stereotypes of women, she unfortunately can’t fight the pants feelings she and Liam have, even though their previous relationship lasted 5 days and was 10 years ago. Now either Liam has a magic peen to go with Kate’s magical vagina or these people need to date more.

And there is my biggest problem with the book. Two people who were basically strangers hooked up, got married and divorced over the course of a few days and then are suddenly thrown together again 10 years later and we readers are supposed to believe they have both just been tooling around Costco waiting all this time?

Doubtful. Especially when Kate explains that during this time she was embracing being “Strong Kate, Resourceful Kate, and Smart Kate.” In other words she spent the 10 years concentrating on her career, maturing, and overall getting shit done. But that woman goes out the window when she’s back with Liam because:

Smart Kate had spent most of the last ten years alone, searching for the kind of feelings only one man had ever pulled out of her.

Yeah I was having some feelings being pulled out of me too at this point and it definitely felt like anger, or maybe even rage. Here is this smart successful woman who dodged a bullet when her Britney Spears-esque marriage ended, suddenly letting her self esteem take a few punches and engaging in self-doubt when her ex comes back into the picture.

I wanted to shake this woman.

Leslie Knope telling Ann Perkins that she's a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox. From the show Parks and Recreation

But sadly this book’s happily ever after does not feature Jessie and Kate staging a revolution on the island, setting Liam and Finn adrift on a boat, and kicking back with pina coladas and a successful fishing lodge. Instead we are treated to a drawn out ending that features minimal groveling, Kate turning into a Giving Tree, and setup for the next book for one of the characters that I couldn’t care less about.

Now having thought about this book in more detail and dredging up my frustrations, I feel like my rating may have been a bit too generous. It feels like a woman who is wearing the wrong sized bra. For years you thought your twins were a solid C only to have an elderly woman with cold hands and a colorful tape measurer break the news that you have been smothering your ladies and they need to be let loose in a D cup. I’ll stick to my initial rating of a C, but warning, for many of you this may be a situation where we are spilling solidly into D territory.

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Off the Hook by Laura Drewry

April 12, 2016

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