Cover of It Happened One Summer Bellinger Sisters 1 Tessa Bailey

About the Book

Title: It Happened One Summer (Bellinger Sisters #1)
Published: 2021

First Impressions: Have We Met Before?
Meet Cute: All Your Favorite Tropes In One Place
Dirty Talk: In Spades
We Need To Talk: A Little Bit Alexis
Was It Good For You? In It For the Foreplay

First Impressions: Have We Met Before?

I feel like a broken record lately, but the cutesy cartoon romance novel covers are so ubiquitous at this point that it’s hard for me to have strong opinions about any of them. Yes, that’s Piper and Brendan. That is generally what I thought they’d look like! Truly, this cover is non-offensive and FINE. But I’m ready for the publishing industry to bring back the classic, Fabio oil-painting style covers just to change things up.

What’s Your Type:

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Opposites Attract
  • Sunshine and Grump
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Dirty Talk
  • Small Town Romance

Dating Profile:

Piper Bellinger is Hollywood’s “it” girl. She’s invited to every party, dates every A-lister, shows her boobs to her millions of Instagram followers *but tastefully*, and has a famous stepfather, Daniel, bankrolling the whole show. But after a public breakup and even more public illegal hotel pool party, Daniel is fed up. Piper has risked the production budget of his next big movie with her shenanigans, and it’s time she learn some personal responsibility.

As punishment, Piper is sent to Westport, the tiny PNW town where her mother met and fell in love with her father, a fisherman who died at sea. With her little sister Hannah in tow, Piper must stay in Westport for three months, living in a tiny apartment above an abandoned bar and making her own way.

The people of Westport don’t know what to make of Piper, and she especially starts to get under the skin of local fishing boat captain Brendan. As the sisters work to makeover the abandoned bar, Piper and Brendan circle each other like hawks, equally annoyed and intrigued by one another. That tension grows to something more, and Piper realizes she’ll have to make some big decisions at the end of her three month sentence in Westport.

Meet Cute: All Your Favorite Tropes In One Place

It’s hate at first sight for Piper and Brendan. Piper represents everything Brendan hates: she’s flashy and superficial and she shows up in his town like she owns the place. Meanwhile, Piper hates Brendan for making assumptions about her before he knows her. These enemies phase pretty quickly into opposites attracting. They begin to build a friendship, but it’s clear these two are jonesing for each other and any attempts at being “just friends” won’t last.

The Lean:

Piper is no virginal daisy – she’s a verified Insta-hottie who knows how to use her bod to her every advantage. And Brendan’s a boat captain who spends all his time around men at sea. He’s bursting at the seams and Piper is the thing that lights his fuse. She knows it, too. The result is explosive sex scenes that feel nearly frantic with need.

Dirty Talk: In Spades

I didn’t know much about Tessa Bailey before reading It Happened One Summer, except for one thing: dirty talk. It is apparently her thing, and ha…haha…hahaha, NO LIES DETECTED. There are no fade-to-black scenes, no euphemisms, and no shying away from butt stuff. This was also not a book where the man is the sole object of the female gaze. Piper is hot. And she does hot girl shit. And it’s hot.

“You don’t have to beg,” Piper said, bringing the champagne flute to her breasts, tipping the glass and letting the champagne trickle out over one nipple, then the next, and Brendan started to pant. “Not for something we both want. Touch me, Brendan. Taste me. Please?”

Like, damn, okay girl! And that’s just a tiny tease. This book is packed with sexy scenes, some of which had me seriously blushing.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

Screw it, here’s a passage:

He took her hair in a fist, using it to pull her head back, locking their gazes in the mirror. She gasped, jolted around his cock, her walls telling him she was as turned on by the movie they were starring in as he was. “Yeah, you like being admired and complimented, don’t you, Piper? No better compliment than how hard you make my cock is there? How rough you make me give it to you?”

We Need To Talk: A Little Bit Alexis

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this book is inspired by Alexis from Schitt’s Creek! Piper had a great character arc. She was able to learn so much about herself in Westport, and she didn’t have to fundamentally change who she was or what she liked to succeed.

If Piper is an Alexis, Brendan is less Ted and more Luke Danes. At least to the casual observer. Overall, I liked Brendan, and the dangers of his career as a deep sea fisherman really cranked up the tension in the story. I KNOW that I’m probably in the minority when I say this, but there were times when Brendan was such a cinnamon roll, I wanted to roll my eyes and tell him to get it together. Maybe it’s just because I was expecting a grump, but can a romance hero be…too soft?

Bailey has her occasional cliche moments, but overall, I thought her ability to write sex scenes felt realistic, extremely hot, and less cheesy than most.

Was It Good For You? In It For the Foreplay

This book really had me in the first half. Hell, it had me in the first three quarters. I loved the build up between Piper and Brendan, and the spicy scenes were some of the best I’ve read in a while.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed with the third act of this book. It felt melodramatic, and tbh, a bit of a reach. And RUSHED. Books aren’t network TV shows – you don’t have to squeeze your whole story into 58 minutes! If you need another chapter to give your book the ending it deserves, write it! The ending didn’t undo the foreplay leading up to it, but as a romance reader, I have high expectations for the climax.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. It Happened One Summer is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.