Friday, June 23, 2023

Hooked by Emily McIntire


I've been wanting to read this ever since I saw the Read with Cindy review for it on YouTube and trust me when I say that the book did NOT disappoint. Thank you so much to Clarice for joining me on this reading journey. Books like these are always so much more fun when you're reading them with a friend.


So Hook/James is like this drug cartel/crime boss dude who runs a glorious empire out of his bar, the Jolly Roger. He's also the victim of CSA so if that's a trigger for you, read this book with caution, as there are a number of flashbacks to these traumatic events. I personally felt like the author tried to handle this part of the book pretty well. She didn't go too much into detail and it was as gross as it probably should have been. I actually felt pretty bad for James because of this and I thought it added an interesting reason as to why he wouldn't like clocks. So kudos to the author for going there but not, like, having no shame. I applaud her restraint.

Wendy is the daughter of Hook's enemy, Peter. I guess he, like, fucked over Hook's dad and also there's more drama (THAT WILL COME LATER) and huge swaths of James's narrative are about how he can't wait to kill Peter, and how he wants to cuck him by impregnating his daughter and then doing her on his corpse. It's pretty crazy, honestly, how horny James gets imagining sex with Wendy while Peter's somewhere in the vicinity. They even have this super awkward dinner later in the book where James is like hehe I banged your daughter hehe. And after all the talk about cucking, I was expecting DRAMA but Peter barely even blinks. WHAT. Part of the appeal of Hook in the beginning was how he talked SO BIG. I was expecting follow-through. Instead, I got follow who?

They have their meet-cute at a bar where Wendy is the killjoy in her group of promiscuous, party-going friends. And one of them is pissed when she finds out that James likes Wendy because she likes James. But James has himself a little stalky-stalk and goes to Wendy's place of work, where he murders a male Karen for giving her shit about not being a good enough employee (new kink unlocked). He keeps talking about how he's going to tarnish her and take away her innocence and RUIN her before leaving her at the feet of his SWORN ENEMY and I'm like, WHAT YEAR IS THIS? THE 1840s???  The ton doesn't give a shit who you're fucking unless you're a conservative lawmaker or a Kardashian.

Anyway, once they bang, they bang a lot and it gave me flashbacks to FIFTY SHADES OF GREY where everyone was like oooh it's so RACY and NAUGHTY and... he just, like, ties her up and spanks her with a paddle? James chokes her a few times and makes her wear a collar but never once does he follow through on any of his threats. AT THE END OF THE BOOK, WENDY KILLS HER DAD, and I was like, oh here it comes, he's going to fuck Wendy on top of Peter's corpse JUST LIKE HE PROMISED IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK but nah. It. Didn't. Happen.

The tonal shifts for this book were actually all over the place, because on the one hand we have a hero who will knife people for looking at him wrong and kill people by having them eaten alive by rats. But then he describes his funny little feely-weels as being like "Pop Rocks under his skin" and say things like how his stomach flips and twists and I'm like..................... why though. Also you can't forget the heroine saying her thoughts were "scrambled like eggs." There's the CSA and the gang shit and murder most foul, and then there's Hook and Wendy being like, "You kidnapped me, but nobody understands me like you do and I'm GLAD you locked me in the bedroom because at least now I have someone to talk to." And James is like "I may be a murderer, but I hear you and I see you." (Paraphrasing.)

This was just so silly and over the top but I read it to the end so maybe I'm the clown. I'm just kind of shocked at everyone saying this book is dark. It really isn't. This is the gateway drug of dark, I guess, where you read it and then you're like, "Okay, but what if the hero actually did something with the knife." Which is maybe why HAUNTING ADELINE is so popular.

Anyway, no hate to this author for doing her thing. Parts of it were really good. It was just so weird. And the half-sibling twist at the end was kind of unnecessary and messed up. I am kind of curious about her Jafar and Frollo inspired retellings but since this kind of felt like a slightly porned-up version of Katee Robert's villain retellings, I'm wondering if those are just going to be more of the same. Someone tell me if it gets better.

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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