Steamy, Fun & Unforgettable: It Happened One Summer Review

by Theja Pk
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iPhone on top of open book showing it happened one summer by Tessa Bailey audiobook

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Last updated on May 18th, 2024

In this review of Tessa Bailey’s famous book, It Happened One Summer, I hope to convince you to make this amazing book the next read on your TBR.

The first book in the Bellinger Sisters Series is a Schitt’s Creek-inspired story about finding the courage to step outside of your comfort zone and daring to see yourself as more than what you are.

It Happened One Summer – Tessa Bailey

5 out of 5
illustrated book cover of It Happened One Summer, featuring a bearded man and a woman in a red dress against a lighthouse backdrop

GENRE: Contemporary romance
PUB DATE: July 13, 2021
TROPE: grumpy/sunshine, opposites attract

A Schitt’s Creek-inspired story about finding the courage to step outside of your comfort zone and daring to see yourself as more than what you are.

5 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Overall Enjoyment
5 out of 5
5 out of 5


Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough.

So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

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 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. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. 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.



The grumpy sea captain is a stickler for rules and routines. So it’s not surprising when he gets defensive after Piper throws a wrench into his daily habits by coming to Westport.

But his efforts to avoid her are futile, especially in such a small town. And he finds himself being drawn to her “Piper sparkle” that slowly reignites a flame in him that he thought he lost long ago.

Unable to resist her for long, he decides to take a leap of faith to explore this new, sizzling chemistry between them.

“You can be as high maintenance as you want, honey. But I’m the only one who does the maintenance.”

I loved how he encouraged Piper to see that she was worthy of being loved. Bailey gave him a great balance of alpha male and heartwarming tenderness that will shoot him to the top of your list of favorite book BFs.


Feeling like a fish out of water in the fishing town of Westport, Piper is forced to adjust her sails to a new course.

Growing up in LA, Piper is used to being seen as nothing more than a “good time,” but deep down, she craves to be something more. Without the glitz and glamour to hide behind, she only has herself to survive on.

Her inexperience with life, though it may be considered a bit spoilt, was more funny and endearing than anything else.

Despite everyone thinking she’s just an “airhead,” she has grit and a heart of gold beneath all her designer clothes, and I loved being on the journey the author took us on as she discovered her independence.

Side Characters

HANNAH is the younger of the Bellinger sisters and is a commendable supporting character. She’s fierce, loyal, and not afraid to take on a rugged, burly sea captain in defending her sister.

“Piper, the man looks at you like…he’s full of cracks and you’re the glue.”

Despite being polar opposites, what brings these sisters together is the unwavering support they have for each other. Her love for music was adorable, and I look forward to reading her story with Fox, Brendan’s best friend, in the sequel to It Happened One Summer.

The other men on Brendan’s fishing crew, including FOX, added great comedic moments to the story that had me laughing out loud. My favorite was Brendan trying to figure out Instagram.


Every chapter added value to the story and carried it forward. The romance felt natural and progressed at a realistic pace, and I never got bored.

The backstory of the connection between the sisters and Westport added a lot of heart to the story. I especially enjoyed learning all the little details about King crab fishing and the dangers of it all.

I could feel the sparks coming off the pages for the chemistry between both MCs. The build-up of sexual tension as they slowly broke down each other’s walls made for an engaging and fast-paced book. And when they finally gave in, it was totally worth the wait. 

I also appreciated the emphasis on the drawbacks of social media and what it truly means to be happy and living in the moment. While social media is ideal for many things, it puts a lot of pressure on the need to stay relevant every day, and I’m glad this book tackled it head-on. 

Sometimes in rom-coms, you can tell that one MC is more responsible for the conflict than the other. But in this one, there was such a great balance of both characters that that wasn’t present.

Both have flaws and insecurities that they needed to work through, and watching them do that was so gratifying.

The swoon-worthy ending will not disappoint, and there are enough teasers for me to be itching to listen to Fox and Hannah’s story.


I adore books that focus on the POV of both MCs because it gives me a deeper dive into their actions and motives. I felt like I was on the journey with Piper as she found herself and with Brendan as he learned to trust his feelings again.

This intimate look into their minds made for a captivating book that I could not put down. 

There was a great balance between inner dialogues and story progression without either becoming tedious. The conversations flowed smoothly and made for an easy listen. 


Charlotte North has become one of my favorite narrators of audiobooks. Her ability to animate each of her characters makes the audiobook experience much more worthwhile. I have realised that she’s narrated most of Tessa Bailey’s recent books.

The gruff tone she gave to Brendan matched him so well, and the way she carried Piper’s voice minimized any ‘brattiness’ that may be associated with her.

I would definitely recommend listening to this as an audiobook. 

Best Quotes

  • You can be as high maintenance as you want, honey. But I’m the only one who does the maintenance.
  • ” Constant work, Piper? No. You misunderstand me.” He tipped her chin up and kissed her mouth. “When the reward is as perfect as you, as perfect as this, the work is a fucking honor.”
  • I want you. However you are, whatever you are, I want you.
  • Piper, the man looks at you like…he’s full of cracks and you’re the glue.
  • Your daughter will always have a place in my heart. But Piper owns that heart. She came here and robbed me blind of it.


It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey is a sexy, sweet, and inspiring story of redefining your priorities, discovering your strength, and fighting for what you love.

After reading this, you’ll be looking for the nearest fishing village for your next summer escape. 

For Tessa Bailey fans!

Check out this interactive guide where you can filter through all of the books that Bailey has ever written to find the book that is best suited for you!

It Happened One Summer Movie Updates

If you’ve been eagerly anticipating Brendan and Piper’s story coming to the big screen, I’m delighted to share that BDCF and Frolic Media will produce the film adaptation.

They are known for successfully bringing other popular books to the big screen, such as Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game (2021) and Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners (currently in production).


So far, the casting has been undecided. However, according to Bailey, her dream cast is as follows:

  • Brendan Taggert – Tom Hardy
  • Piper Bellinger – Annie Murphy
  • Fox Thornton – Tyler Cameron
  • Hannah Bellinger – Josephine Langford

What are your thoughts on this casting? Do you have other actors in mind? Share in the comments below!

Release Date

The latest online update stated that the movie will be released at the end of 2023. However, it is now the end of 2023, and the casting has yet to be finalized.

Hopefully, we will see this charming story on the big screens next year!

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