Tessa Bailey's contemporary romance novel "It Happened One Summer" was published in 2021 to widespread popularity and critical acclaim.
Set in the charming fictional small town of Westport, Washington, this beach read tells the story of Piper Bellinger, a partying socialite who gets cut off by her stepfather and sent to Westport where she falls for local crab fisherman Brendan Taggart.
With its opposites-attract storyline, quirky supporting characters like Piper's grounded sister Hannah, and plenty of steamy scenes, "It Happened One Summer" is a fun and engaging summer escape.
Bailey, known for her talent in crafting sizzling chemistry between leads, does not disappoint with the palpable attraction between city girl Piper and rugged fisherman Brendan.
Fans of the hit show Schitt's Creek will enjoy the similar fish-out-of-water premise as spoiled Piper adjusts to small-town life. Yet beneath the lighthearted moments, Bailey also explores deeper themes of grief, family, and finding your purpose.
Overview: It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
"It Happened One Summer" is a standalone novel, not part of any series. It was published on July 13, 2021, by Avon Books.
- No. of Pages: 397
- Publication Date: July 13th, 2021 by Avon
- Genre: Spicy Romance, Adult Romance, Contemporary Romance, Small Town Romance, Rom-Com, Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, New Adult Romance, grumpy- sunshine
- Series: Bellinger Sisters Book 1
- Reading Age: 18 years and above
- Can be read as a standalone? YES
Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt's Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who's cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town... where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn't belong.
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Piper Bellinger is Fashionable, Influential, and Her Reputation as a Wild Child Means the Paparazzi Are Constantly on Her Heels.
Piper hasn't even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won't last a week outside of Beverly Hills.
So what if Piper can't do the math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives.
How bad could it really be She's determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she's more than a pretty face.
Except it's a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. Piper doesn't want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time.
Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants.
LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.
Author Tessa Bailey and Her Inspiration
Tessa Bailey is a New York Times bestselling contemporary romance novelist known for her steamy love stories like the rom-com It Happened One Summer.
She frequently takes inspiration from beloved television shows and movies when developing the premises for her novels.
The author directly credits the sitcom Schitt's Creek as the muse for It Happened One Summer's storyline. In an interview, Bailey said:
"I loved the concept of a privileged person learning the value of relationships in a small town. The warmth and humor of shows like Schitt's Creek inspire me to write romances that feel good."
Fans of Schitt's Creek's humor and found family trope will notice similar elements in Piper's journey to finding meaning and community in Westport beyond her superficial life in LA.
However, Bailey crafts an original narrative anchored by the steamy and tender romance between Piper and Brendan.
With its seaside setting and eccentric locals, It Happened One Summer shares the same heartwarming spirit as Schitt's Creek.
Some of her other popular novels include:
- The "Bromance Book Club" series
- "Fix Her Up"
- "It Happened One Wedding"
- The "Made in Jersey" series
Twenty-eight-year-old socialite Piper Bellinger has grown up privileged in LA with no care in the world. After a PR nightmare where she throws an illegal party and gets arrested, Piper's stepfather sends her away for the summer to live in Westport, Washington.
Westport is a small fishing town where Piper's late father grew up and where she still owns his abandoned bar. Forced out of her glamorous life and into a sleepy coastal village, Piper must spend the next three months learning responsibility if she wants to gain back her stepfather's approval.
No-nonsense local fisherman Brendan Taggart takes an instant dislike to the glittery girl from LA invading his town. However, as he gets to know the real Piper underneath, he can't help being drawn to her.
As Piper adapts to life in Westport and works to rebuild her father's bar, she finds herself falling for Brendan despite their differences.
After being dumped publicly by her latest boyfriend, socialite Piper Bellinger decides to throw a lavish, illegal party at a hotel as payback. But the stunt backfires when Piper gets arrested, leading her disgraced stepfather Daniel to exile her to the small fishing town of Westport for the summer.
Westport is where Piper's late father Charlie owned a bar before he died when Piper was very young. Forced to spend three months in the sleepy coastal village with a bare minimum budget, Piper arrives with her sister Hannah to find that Charlie's old bar has been commandeered by locals and renamed The No Name.
Among the Westport residents Piper meets early on is Brendan Taggart, a brusque widowed fishing boat captain. Brendan instantly writes Piper off as a frivolous city girl and warns her she doesn't belong in Westport. But there's an undeniable attraction simmering under their contentious interactions.
As Piper adjusts to the slower rhythms of small-town life and works to reclaim her father's bar, she begins letting her guard down with Brendan. In turn, Brendan starts to see Piper's superficial exterior as the big-hearted and determined woman within.
Their flirtation intensifies into a passionate affair, though Brendan's fishing trips and Piper's impending return to LA seem destined to doom their romance. Ultimately, Piper must choose where she truly belongs, while Brendan must confront his resistance to love again.
Next, let's dive deeper into the key elements that make "It Happened One Summer" a winning summer romance read.
Piper defies the stereotype of the spoiled rich girl. Underneath her designer clothes and luxury lifestyle, she has a huge heart and wants to be cared for sincerely.
Although initially shallow and vapid on the surface, Piper adapts quickly to life in Westport. She doesn't expect special treatment and is willing to learn and work hard alongside the locals. Her character growth over the summer is refreshing to witness.
"Piper is not the airhead that she has pretended to be for so long."
Rugged fisherman Brendan Taggart dislikes Piper at first glance. However, he can't resist his attraction to her and slowly softens as he gets to know the real Piper.
Brendan is loyal, hardworking, and still deeply in love with his late wife. His grumpy persona hides a thoughtful man looking for meaning. His old-fashioned courtship of Piper is sigh-worthy.
"Brendan could court me any day!"
The cast of quirky Westport locals like Piper's grandmother Opal and Brendan's best friend Fox add humor and heart to the story. However, Piper's bond with her sister Hannah truly steals the show.
Hannah supports Piper unconditionally and their sisterly relationship provides an emotional backbone to the story.
Steamy Yet Tasteful Romance
As expected from a Tessa Bailey novel, the romance is sizzling. Piper and Brendan have palpable sexual tension from the start. Their eventual intimate scenes are numerous, creative, and scorchingly hot.
However, the sex scenes feel meaningful rather than gratuitous because of the strong emotional connection between Piper and Brendan. Their passion comes across as loving rather than lustful.
"I applaud the author the expert balance of emotional connect with the sexual chemistry between the protagonists."
Memorable Moments and Quotes
Piper's arrival introduces the fish-out-of-water humor:
Dressed in jeans and a bright pink halter top, Piper's pleated blonde hair bounced as she exited a sleek black SUV with an iPhone glued to her ear. "Westport is just so quaint, I could die..."
Brendan lays down the law with annoyed Piper:
"No one said you had to stay. Take your sequins and that fancy car and get the hell out of my town."
Piper starts letting her guard down with Brendan:
Under the starry sky, Piper recounted memories of her father, things she'd held close for so long. With Brendan, somehow it felt right to share.
Brendan acknowledges his feelings for Piper:
"Wasn't looking for you, but now that I found you, I'm not lettin' go. You're my girl now, understand?"
Piper tells her sister Hannah how much Westport means:
“I feel closer to Dad here. These people, this place...it’s helping me understand who he really was.”
"When the reward is as perfect as you, as perfect as this, the work is a f*cking honor."
"She was learning to be kind to herself. Learning to love herself, just as she was."
Love and Relationships
The central romance between Piper and Brendan remains the beating heart of the novel. Tessa Bailey explores what it takes to tear down emotional walls between two people from vastly different backgrounds.
Piper needs to look beyond Brendan's stern exterior to find the caring man within. Brendan must move past his preconceived notions about Piper to appreciate her spirit. Their shared grief over losing a partner helps them recognize the chance to build something meaningful.
Finding Your Place
Both Piper and Brendan undergo journeys of self-discovery over the course of the summer.
For party girl Piper, her exile in Westport leads her to realize she wants more from life than clubs and shopping. She craves meaningful work and relationships. Piper's ties to her late father also motivate her to find belonging in the town.
Set-in-his-ways Brendan starts questioning his Hermit-like existence devoid of joy. Piper's lust for life pushes Brendan to embrace new experiences and acknowledge his need for love.
Grief and Healing
Having lost loved ones, Piper, Brendan, and Hannah carry grief with them. Their time in Westport allows them to process these losses, aided by the empathy and care of the townspeople.
Piper finds a deeper connection to her deceased father by learning about his Westport history. Brendan's damaged heart begins mending as he opens up to Piper. Hannah is encouraged to pursue her musical passion, keeping the spirit of her mother alive.
Tessa Bailey's Writing Style
In It Happened One Summer, author Tessa Bailey vividly evokes the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of the fictional small town of Westport. The harbor setting comes alive through details like "the bobbing masts of colorful fishing boats" and "the cry of seagulls echoing over the coast." Bailey's transportive writing makes Westport feel like a living, breathing place.
Smart and Sexy Banter
Bailey has a knack for crafting romances where the protagonists both challenge and attraction one another through their verbal sparring. Witty one-liners and fiery exchanges between Piper and Brendan add delightful friction to their burgeoning relationship. Fans of classic romantic comedies will enjoy Piper and Brendan's flirty back-and-forth.
Romance with Heart
While hot and heavy love scenes abound, Piper and Brendan's relationship also develops meaningfully over conversations, shared experiences, and moments of vulnerability. The steamy passion evolves into profound caring and devotion. Bailey balances escapist fantasy with emotional depth.
Strengths of the Novel
- The quirky, lovable supporting characters like Piper's sister Hannah and Brendan's friend Fox add humor and heart.
- Small Town Westport comes to life as an appealing, charming setting through Tessa Bailey's strong sense of place.
- Witty, sharp dialogue between leads Piper and Brendan gives their romance a classic rom-com dynamic.
- Likable protagonist Piper undergoes believable personal growth over the course of the summer.
- Passages of introspection prevent melodrama and ground the story in real human emotion.
Criticisms and Weaknesses
- Piper's parent characters Maureen and Daniel lack dimensionality and closure. Their minimal roles prevent a deeper exploration of Piper's family relationships.
- The reasons behind Brendan's strong resentment towards Piper early on needed more explanation to make their conflicts feel less contrived.
- Certain plot points, like the climax of Piper returning to LA, wrap up too hastily without enough nuance in the resolution.
- The novel's exaggerated comedic moments occasionally detract from the more thoughtful character development.
Adaptation into a Movie
In 2022, producers announced that a film adaptation of It Happened One Summer was in development. Author Tessa Bailey expressed excitement over the news on social media and hinted she was able to provide feedback on the script.
Fans speculate on casting, debating who should play characters like small-town sweetheart Brendan and big-city girl Piper navigating a rural setting. Names like Dove Cameron, Glen Powell, and Olivia Holt are among the suggestions for the leads and supporting roles.
While no production details are confirmed yet, the cinematic potential of Piper and Brendan's swoon-worthy love story makes It Happened One Summer a perfect candidate for adaptation into a movie. Fans eagerly await more news on the film which is sure to transport viewers to the quirky coastal town of Westport.
Books Similar to It Happened One Summer
Readers who enjoy "It Happened One Summer" may also like these other contemporary romance novels with similar themes and tones:
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne - Another opposites-attract office romance between two competing co-workers. Witty banter and undeniable sexual tension.
- The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker - A woman from NYC returns to her rural Alaskan hometown after a traumatic loss and finds healing through a childhood connection turned to romance.
- Beach Read by Emily Henry - Romance blooms between a romance novelist and a literary writer during a summer of writer's block at neighboring beach houses.
- Under the Orange Tree by Adriana Herrera - Found family and the power of community permeate this f/f romance between two women rebuilding their lives in Puerto Rico. A diverse cast of characters.
- The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams - A husband struggling with his marriage seeks help from a secret book club comprised of men who read romance novels to understand relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about "It Happened One Summer" to help you decide if it's your perfect beach read:
Is "It Happened One Summer" a series?
No, this novel is a standalone. However, some characters like Piper's sister Hannah are given books later on.
Is the book appropriate for young readers?
No, this book is firmly in the adult romance category due to graphic sexual content and language. There are numerous vividly described sex scenes.
How long is the novel?
It's 397 pages in paperback format. The audiobook length is 12 hours and 36 minutes.
How steamy are the sex scenes?
Extremely steamy! Passionate, creative, and frequent. However, they feel plot-driven rather than gratuitous.
What genres does this novel fall under?
Contemporary romance, romantic comedy, small-town romance, women's fiction.
What should I read next if I loved this book?
Try any of Tessa Bailey's other books like "Hook, Line, and Sinker" or "It Happened One Wedding", or the similar titles listed above.
So don't hesitate to grab a copy of "It Happened One Summer" and immerse yourself in Piper and Brendan's swoon-worthy love story today!