ARC—Tack & Jibe by Lilah Suzanne

[Goodreads Link]
Published by Interlude Press

51050144

Content Warnings:
Near drowning; poor parenting (in the past); casual drug and alcohol use.

The Good
– Breezy, whimsical writing style
– Lots of little funny moments
– Willa and Lane’s dynamic
– Good (if sudden) character growth
– Engaging first half

The Bad
– Never comes together into a cohesive whole
Tack & Jibe stops being the book promised halfway through
– Struggles to hold attention after 65% mark
– Sailing lingo sounds like gibberish if you don’t sail
– Things come together a bit too suddenly and out of the blue

(Thank you to NetGalley and Interlude Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review!)

(2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge #36—A book with a pink cover)
(2020 Book Bingo Reading Challenge #8— In support of indie publishers)
(Sapphic September Readathon #14—Contemporary Romance)

Tack & Jibe is a very cute, very funny sailing-centric romance that—perplexingly—decides to drop the sailing plot halfway through.

Story—★★☆☆☆
Willa Rogers is an aimless 22-year-old who’s more focused on what people think of her than what she’s doing with herself. Growing up on Porter Island, Willa was embarrassed of her poor upbringing: her mother cleaned hotel rooms while her classmates’ families owned businesses. She’s developed a habit of slipping in little white lies to improve—in her head—what others think of her. These little lies are how she landed her job at Porter Sails—a little fib about possessing actual sailing experience and a fake sailing injury keeping her off the water—and how she winds up in a (fancy) sailing competition. Willa’s little fibs have snowballed into something she can’t worm out of with a how-to video, and now she needs to learn how to sail—for real—and who better to teach her than the very best?

Lane Cordova is an intense 36-year-old former High Seas winner who’s recently joined her parent’s real estate agency. After a life struggling to impress her demanding parents, she is only just learning and exploring some important facets of herself. After Willa offers the publicity of her Instagram account—500,000 followers!—and pushes some of Lane’s buttons—Chris Cordova has an awful lot of awards, doesn’t he?—Lane agrees to teach Willa how to sail.

For the duration of its first half, Tack & Jibe is an absolute delight. I got through the first 40% almost immediately. Willa and Lane’s conflicting personalities and (approaches) produce a delightful array of dynamic and humorous situations. Lane is a perfectionist and Willa is a wing-it type of girl, and the contrast results in some delicious conflict as the two struggle through sailing lessons and develop feelings for each other—with some fun misunderstandings along the way.

But then the race happens much earlier in the book than I ever expected. As we were coming up on it, I was getting worried: Should this be happening so soon? Surely the duration of the race won’t last the entire second half of the book?

The duration of the race does not last the entire second half of the book.

The High Seas race section ends alarmingly early and leaves Willa and Lane without purpose. Maybe the author wanted to throw in a twist, I don’t know. But without the race as a guide for the characters, the rest of the scenes feel aimless and somewhat erratic. They’re still cute and funny, but they’re unfocused and less engaging by far. The last leg of a book should be the most engaging for the reader, and to add insult to injury, Tack & Jibe ends with several characters having epiphanies or deciding things that up until this point were inconsistent with who they are as a character.

Suzanne has done a solid job with the setting of Porter Island, providing grand descriptions of sandy, sunny beaches and the harsh, churning waters of storms, along with functional descriptions of interior settings, like the Cordova’s family boat or Lane’s condo.

Characters—★★★☆☆
So,  I don’t feel sold on their romance, but I loved when Willa and Lane shared scenes.

Willa’s and Lane’s dynamic (rightfully) steals the spotlight. While they come from starkly different places and have contrasting personalities, both struggle with similar issues. In this regard, Suzanne crafted these two with foresight and a skilled hand. Their differences provide fertile ground for conflict between them, but their similar struggles ground them. Although their age gap inspired some hilarious exchanges, the fourteen year difference pushes the boundaries of what I’m comfortable with. A 22-year-old feels like a baby adult to me. I’m pretty sure Willa’s brain is still developing. She’s been legal drinking age for an entire minute. Lane is hypothetically old enough to be Willa’s mom.

Writing Style—★★★★☆
Tack & Jibe is told in third person, present tense from Willa’s point of view.

Suzanne writes Tack & Jibe with a light, whimsical hand, laying out both sweet, funny moments, and intense, chaotic moments with ease. They provide a wealth of key details and never fail to set a scene with ease. However, they also fall into some familiar traps of weak and filter words like feel, know, make, take, etc., which weaken the overall intent and emotion.

Third person, present tense is an unusual choice for a romance, and may put off some readers.

There’s also the sailing terms: Suzanne, and therefore the characters, sound like they know what they’re talking about. That is, the sailing element sounds like it comes from a spot of competence. However, if you know nothing about sailing, it’s going to sound like a lot of gibberish.

Themes and Representation—★★★☆☆
In terms of representation, we have Willa as bi- or pansexual—she isn’t sure what term fits her best—Lane as a lesbian, Bodhi as not wanting to label herself, Hunter as sapphic but unlabelled by the author, and Bodhi’s mom’s. There are three established WLW pairings in Tack & Jibe, as well as an open-minded approach to open and poly relationships. Unfortunately, there are no established characters of colour. Cordova is a Spanish last name, but I don’t know if Lane and her family have South American heritage or white European Spanish heritage.

Tack & Jibe deals a lot with others’ expectations and opinions, others; perceived expectations and opinions, how those things influence the characters’ choices and trauma, and finding the bravery to do what they want to do. Suzanne handles these elements well as supporting themes in a light romance: they do the job fairly well, but the characters’ resolutions around them feel rather sudden.

Overall—★★★☆☆

Recommended For…
Anyone who wants a romance with a lighter tone or anyone who wants a sailing-themed romance.

Genres: LGBT+, Romance, Contemporary,

4 thoughts on “ARC—Tack & Jibe by Lilah Suzanne

  1. […] FavouriteTack & Jibe—Jeez, touch choices this month. Here’s the thing: I think Crier’s War was the best written book I read this month. But this is which is my favourite book read in September, not which one I thought was the best written. Despite my struggles with the latter half of the plot, Tack & Jibe was still really, really fun. This was a month I really needed a laugh and some lightness, and Tack & Jibe was there for me in that regard. […]

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