Take and Jibe by Lilah SuzanneTack and Jibe by Lilah Suzanne is a charming, small-town, age gap romance about figuring out who you are and embracing your strengths.

Willa can’t imagine living anywhere except Outer Banks, a small island off the coast of North Carolina. She loves the ocean, she loves knowing everyone in town, she loves her job at a sailing supplies store, and most of all, she loves curating the perfect Instagram sailing account. With over a million followers, she hashtags everything and lives for those likes. The only problem is, it’s all a lie. Everyone in Outer Banks thinks she has a shoulder injury that keeps her from sailing and her carefully curated Instagram convinces her followers she’s a sailing superstar. Now, she has just a couple of months to learn to sail and win the prestigious race coming to Outer Banks.

Lane is used to being the golden child, but now she’s working at the local real estate agency owned by her parents and she’s hopeless at it. She used to live for sailing and she’s the first woman to ever win one of the most prestigious sailing races in the world. In her opinion, Outer Banks is filled with annoying tourists for half the year and no-good local kids who have nothing better to do than skateboard and party outside her house.

When Willa begs Lane to train her for the upcoming race, Lane agrees reluctantly, in exchange for Willa helping her publicize her real estate. It’s not all smooth sailing as Willa jumps into everything headfirst and Lane doesn’t do anything unless she already knows she’ll be good at it. Can Willa learn enough to survive the race and keep her Instagram lies a secret? Can Lane put her final sailing failure aside and learn to love the ocean again?

The Characters

At only 22 years old, Willa is still figuring out her place in the world. She reminds me a little of myself at that age, though I was far less likely to jump into crazy things than she is, but just as eager to have people like me. For her, lying about things is second nature. It started when she was a kid and ashamed that she didn’t have as much as other kids in her class. It’s easy to see how she wound up with an Instagram account dedicated to something she has no idea how to do. Willa definitely has some bad habits, but as her friend Bodhi points out, her heart is good. She’s the kind of person who will buy foods she knows Bodhi likes, just so they can share.

Lane is in her mid 30s and still figuring out who she is. Her parents expected nothing less than perfection from her and she’s always provided. If she’s not good at something, she doesn’t enjoy it. Lane Cordova does not fail, except when it comes to selling houses. As frustrating as her near perfection is (believe me, this is my wife in a nutshell), as she opens up to Willa, she really comes out of her shell and learns to shine.

These two complement one another in so many ways and often that’s the very thing driving everything forward. Where Lane is all about perfection, Willa is about jumping in and getting things done. Lane doesn’t bother with anything unless she knows she’s the best, Willa figures everything out as she goes and hopes it works out. I loved seeing how they grew as they got to know one another, and themselves. Accepting that they are both enough just as they are is a tough journey for both Lane and Willa.

The Writing Style

The pacing here was great. While there were a few events that didn’t quite occur when I expected them to, I was surprised to find that it was a welcome deviation from the norm. Throughout the book Lane and Willa emerge naturally, as does their relationship. Their actions and reactions never feel forced or out of character even when they’re a little unexpected.

This is the first time I’ve read one of Lilah Suzanne’s books and I was drawn in entirely by the cover but I stayed because it’s such a well written story with characters that feel like real people. A lot of that comes down to the writing style and the speed of the narrative. Just like the cover that drew me in, it’s a very wholesome story with just a little heat sprinkled through it as just the right moments.

The Pros

I’ll say it again, these characters are great. They’re realistic and nuanced. They’re by no means perfect, but they remind me of people I’ve known. I loved watching them grow and grapple with things they’d been ignoring for years.

I always love a small-town romance and Outer Banks is just the kind of place I would love to be.

The Cons

Nothing.

The Conclusion

Sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover. Tack and Jibe is proof of that. Lilah Suzanne delivered just what I expected from the gorgeous pastel cover with paper sailing boats. This is a sweet story of two women learning who they are and finding love along the way. There are plenty of waves in the ocean to keep you turning pages and oodles of seaside charm. This is one of my favorites of the year so far.

Excerpt from Tack and Jibe by Lilah Suzanne

“Crap.” Willa scrambles up, registering a sting on her right palm and an ache on her right elbow. She collects her skateboard and the bag of food and digs inside of it to find a napkin as she approaches the woman. “Here you go.” Willa extends the napkin toward her; it has some bacon grease stains and a little chunk of melted cheese on it. The woman scowls at the napkin and turns way, returning to her completely ineffective method of trying to brush the huge, brown, wet spots off of her pants with her hands.

Willa shrugs, then realizes her shoulder hurts too. She hasn’t taken a spill like that in quite a while. “I’ll go get some clean napkins,” she tries, but the woman waves that off.

“Don’t bother, I’ll change at my office.” Disdain drips from her words. “Luckily I plan for these sorts of things since apparently half the population here spends most of their time fucking around.” She says the last part with a deliberate glare.

Willa frowns; that’s unfair. Sure they have a decent amount of retirees who live here full time and unemployed surfers who pile by the dozen into the snug beach cottages, and, yes, most of her friends are sort of biding their time until they go to work for their parents, and Bodhi’s moms technically pay her rent for a house that is technically not theirs, but still, that’s not Willa.

“You could have moved out of the way,” Willa retorts with a scowl of her own, dropping her skateboard back onto the pavement with a petulant clack.

“Moved out of the way? You were so busy staring at your phone you almost ran me over!” The woman’s dark eyes narrow, and her chin lifts. She has sharp cheekbones and a strong jaw and dark arched eyebrows—nice body too. She’d be hot if she wasn’t such an asshole. “You could pay attention to the real world instead of getting the perfect selfie!”

Willa swallows the retort on her lips, that she wasn’t taking a selfie because she only does those on Selfie Saturdays. “Yeah. Well.” Willa huffs a few times for lack of a better response and finally settles on, “Sorry I ran into you or whatever.”

“Yeah, me too.” The woman turns on her heel and stomps out of the parking lot. Now a little shaky and out of sorts, Willa growls in frustration and hops back on her board. And she’s injured. Ugh, tourists.

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-1945053931
Publisher: Interlude Press
Lilah Suzanne Online 

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Caitlin lives in Australia, she hates the sun but loves the beach. With two dogs, three cats, and a wife, there is always someone to snuggle with while reading a great book. There aren't many genres Caitlin doesn't read, though she's usually happiest with a lesbian romance. She spends her days editing fiction and might as well live and breathe words. Any spare time she isn't reading is spent playing tabletop games or catching up on her favorite fandoms.

Caitlin Ryan on FacebookCaitlin Ryan on Twitter
Caitlin lives in Australia, she hates the sun but loves the beach. With two dogs, three cats, and a wife, there is always someone to snuggle with while reading a great book. There aren't many genres Caitlin doesn't read, though she's usually happiest with a lesbian romance. She spends her days editing fiction and might as well live and breathe words. Any spare time she isn't reading is spent playing tabletop games or catching up on her favorite fandoms.