It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey—Book Review – AFTER THE LAST PAGE
- Published in 2021
- 385 pages
- Chick Lit
- Small Town
- Grumpy/Sunshine Trope
Inspired by the television show, Schitt’s Creek, Tessa Bailey’s It Happened One Summer is the story of Piper Bellinger, party girl from LA. Piper’s the next Paris Hilton, gracing the covers of all the popular tabloids–and Instagram, of course. That is, until her 3-week-old relationship ends, and she spirals by throwing the biggest party of the year without permission from the venue. When the party lands Piper in jail, her stepfather decides enough is enough–he’s sending her to Westport, Washington, where Piper and her sister, Hannah, will learn some responsibility by staying in their deceased father’s dive bar (or what’s left of it, anyway).
When Piper and Hannah arrive at the bar, their astonished to find it’s a lot more run down than they expected, and there’s a grumpy (read–handsome) sea captain who’s convinced the girls won’t last the night. Yet, when Piper begins to fall in with locals and learns the ropes of living in a small town, it’s sea-captain, Brendan, who learns that Piper’s more than just a pretty face. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, after all, the goal is to get home to LA. Yet, the small town of Westport and her gruff fisherman grow on her a bit more than she expected. LA is still calling her name, but Piper has to decide if Westport (and Brendan) have caught her heart enough for her stay.
I love a gooey romance and Tessa Bailey’s It Happened One Summer was at the top of my TBR list for this summer for just that reason. While I’ve never tackled Tessa Bailey’s books before, I’ve heard great things and It Happened One Summer has been all over BookTok and Bookstagram recommendations. I figured it’s about time I dove in to this romantic comedy about a dive bar.
Let me start off by saying this book is SPICY. There are definitely some graphic sex scenes in this book that rival Fifty Shades of Grey, but honestly, that doesn’t bother me. Unpopular Opinion? I actually loved Fifty Shades of Grey, though it’s been years since I’ve read it. It’ll always be my guilty pleasure book. Anyhow, It Happened One Summer has several-pages long sex scenes, so if that’s not something you enjoy, that’s definitely something to note here.
As far as plot line goes for this one, I think the plot line here is cute! There’s definitely not as much depth to this book as some other romances that I’ve read, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. Though, I could do without some of the cringy cheezy lines Piper uses sometimes, I feel like it’s actually part of her character, so I didn’t necessarily mind it, overall. That being said, I loved how Bailey crafts Piper’s character into the town. It’s clear she doesn’t fit in, and most of the plot follows Piper as she tries to find her way in an entirely new environment. Most notably, I loved how much of a kind heart Piper truly has when she is put to the test–she will do anything for her sister, and she genuinely tries to help the other townspeople.
One of the aspects I loved of this book was Piper’s relationship with Abe. Abe is a local man, who is elderly, and runs the hardware store. In the beginning of the book, he comes to fix an issue with Piper and Hannah’s apartment, when Piper learns that Abe has trouble walking and he’s stopped reading his newpaper in his favorite spot because of it. Piper volunteers her time and she gets in the routine of walking Abe every day to his spot. Abe gives Piper tidbits of advice during their conversations, but I think Piper’s decision to help Abe is one of the strong-holds that helps her as she tries to find ways to fit into Westport. I appreciated that some of the characters reached out to her, even when characters like Brendan made it clear that she wasn’t welcome because she was different.
Speaking of Brendan–let’s get into that. Brendan is the “crabby” fisherman (pun-intended, there) who greets Piper and Hannah with a bit of a cold welcome. While he warms up fast, because he’s the love interest, this particular attitude toward Piper is important–I think it helps motivate her to stay and make something of herself. Piper is the type of girl that wants to prove people wrong, rather than fall into the status quo, which I find interesting given that she seems to be more of a follower among her LA friend-group.
As Piper and Brendan spend more time together, their relationship quickly intensifies–almost TOO quickly. Piper is only in town 5 days before her and Brendan share their attraction for each other, and it’s not long after when Brendan basically invites her to move in. For me, this was a problem. It felt SO unrealistic, and there’s a lot of other elements to their romance that are unrealistic, as well. Brendan takes care of Piper in a way that most men don’t and he admits responsibility and devotion to her when he’s barely gotten the chance to know her. I would have liked to see the timeline here extended a bit, as I think it makes the story too fast paced. If my rating appears low, it would definitely be because of this.
While I enjoyed It Happened One Summer, I’m not sure it’s what I was expecting. It reads a little fast for my taste, and with all of the positive reviews, I thought there would be a little more depth to the plot. That being said, I think it IS a cute romance and it’s definitely one of those mindless reads that most readers enjoy, especially on vacation.
Tessa Bailey’s It Happened One Summer is actually a series and the new book, Hook, Line, and Sinker, was just released in March of this year. This book is Hannah’s story and her friendship turned relationship with playboy Fox, Brendan’s friend. They meet in It Happened One Summer, though their relationship isn’t really explored much in this book. I did order the sequel and it’s sitting on my TBR list, so I’ll be reviewing that book soon, as well. Tessa Bailey is the author of quite a long list of books, so perhaps I’ll be trying some of her other novels, as well, to see if there’s another series I resonate with more.
If you’ve already read It Happened One Summer, I’d love to hear your thoughts—did you agree that the plotline lacked depth? What would you change or improve? Leave me a comment below and let me know!
If you’re looking for your next read and you’re not sure what book to tackle next, check out my most recent review, The Power by Naomi Alderman, or check out my other review on my Book Review page on the blog.