Name: It Happened One Summer
Author: Tessa Bailey
Publication date: July 2021
Length: 397 pages
Tropes: Grumpy/sunshine, possessive hero, small town, enemies to lovers (sort of)
Steam level: ✦✦✦✦✦ (very steamy!)
Final rating: ★★★☆☆
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In this new Schitt’s Creek-inspired romcom by renowned romance author Tessa Bailey we follow Piper Bellinger, a Hollywood wild child who is used to have the paparazzi follow her every step. After an out-of-control party, her stepfather decides enough is enough and sends her and her sister to a teeny town in Washington to learn some responsibility. Here she meets a gruff fisherman named Brendan, her polar opposite. Piper doesn’t want to catch feelings, she’s going back to LA in a few months time anyways – but maybe it’s already too late?
It Happened One Summer was hands down one of my most anticipated reads this year, and because I had such high expectations of it, rating it ‘only’ three stars was a little .. disappointing. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book. In fact, there was plenty to admire here. Piper was a really fun character to read about and I loved the town of Westport. As a person who grew up in a coastal town, it was very hashtag relatable. Piper meeting her grandmother was one of my favorite scenes in the book (I wish we saw a little more of her) and I genuinely liked the little side plot of Piper and her sister fixing up the bar. I also liked the theme of grief that was presented in the book, although I also would have liked to see that fleshed out a little more as well.
However, there were also parts of the book that I didn’t enjoy as much. For some reason, there was some weird gendered/sexist language presented in the book. There is a scene at the beginning of the book where Brendan mentions he doesn’t bring women on his fishing trips, because ‘they only bring trouble.’ To me it’s so weird to put something like that in a book, especially because this is a romance novel, which are predominantly read by other women. I was waiting for this to be challenged somehow, but it never came up again.
Another note, there were A LOT of steamy scenes in this book. Which I don’t mind! I love a good steamy scene and I’m not shy about it (we are really sex positive on this blog, FYI). However some of the language used really put me off of them. There is a scene where the author refers to a vagina with the word ‘weepy entrance’ and it just made me.. recoil to be honest.
I’ve also come to the realisation that I don’t care about the ‘rich girl goes to small town to learn the value of money’ trope. Maybe it’s because I actually grew up quite poor, but it always feels a little tone-deaf to me. And it’s never that they actually learn the value of money, because no matter what there is still a safety net for them. Even in this book, Piper is cut off from her stepfather’s money, but Brendan is also rich. So what is the lesson here?
All in all, don’t let me deter you from reading this book. There are SO many people who love this book and for good reason. It isn’t a bad book by any means, I just didn’t click with the story very much. I will definitely try another Tessa Bailey book before giving up on her as an author though!