As readers, we tend to look for specific elements in a romance novel. Whether it be a certain trope (enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, forced proximately, etc.), a swoon-worthy love interest, or a certain characteristic to help our MC feel more relatable and likable. One thing that I think we’ll all agree on is that we need to feel genuine chemistry between our main love interests.
Romance readers live for the initial meet-cute, the build-up, the sexual tension, conflicts and obstacles that will test and ultimately strengthen the relationship, and the satisfying finale that makes our golden couple truly unforgattable. Above all else, we need to feel a genuine connection to become invested in their journey as a couple. Personally, I found all of this in ‘It Happened One Summer’ by Tessa Bailey. I was absolutely obsessed with this book and was legitimately shocked that it hadn’t been recommended to me sooner.
“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.”
It could have been so easy to dislike our MC, Piper Bellinger. She’s a blonde, beautiful, rich, spoiled “it girl” who has never had to work a day in her life. She spends her day shopping, scrolling through social media, and being paid to attend extravagant celebrity parties in LA. However, when all that is stripped away, she’s surprisingly charismatic and funny. I loved the way she unapologetically trotted about Westport donned in sequins and her iconic lipstick-shaped designer handbag. There were obvious similarities between her and Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek; both privileged and clueless, though ultimately hilarious and loveable.
I adore small-town romances and ‘It Happened One Summer’ featured a whole cast of charming supporting characters too. I’m also a huge fan of the whole grumpy/sunshine trope so I was hooked within the first few chapters. I imagined our stoic and dotting fisherman love interest as an even more buffed-up version of Opie from Sons of Anarchy. Need I say more? The chemistry was unbelievably convincing, heartwarming, and spicy. The pages sizzled, and the dialogue was so quick and incredibly funny. I genuinely laughed out loud at some points. Also, while reading this book I actually noticed that I had a genuine smile plastered to my face. Bailey had me utterly invested in Piper and Brendan’s journey from the start.
I recently purchased book two in the Bellinger Sister series; Hook, Line and Sinker. The second book is from the POV of Piper’s younger sister Hannah and even though I just finished IHOS a few days ago, I can’t wait to return to Westport.
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey is available here. (Affiliate link)0