It Happened One Summer, by Tessa Bailey

For once, I turned to a rom-com book not because of anxiety or the absolute lack of other reading material but because my sisters would not stop raving about this book, and it happened to be in my sister’s Audible account. So I plugged into it one day and started listening. It’s cliche at this point to give away my reaction at the start of these reviews, so wait till I actually get to it to find out.

Piper Bellinger is the party queen of LA…until one party goes a tad too far and she winds up in jail. As punishment for her stagnant life and flaky attitude, Piper and her sister Hannah are sent to live in their mother’s old hometown of Westport in Washington State. There, they try to revamp their father’s old bar and meet family members they’d forgotten about. But the greatest surprise of all is Brendan Taggert, the local king crab fisherman captain who prefers the status quo to anything new. Needless to say, he and Piper do not get along at all, but we all know how these books end when enemies become soft toward each other…

I did not expect to get so sucked into this book. Part of it might have been because I listened to it while I was at work, and any distraction is a good one. Still, I found myself quickly identifying with Piper and eagerly went on her journey with her.

I knew going in this was going to be a clear-cut story: no surprises, no twists…just the standard love story with stock characters. If this story took place in a fishing town, there would be a big storm and some important character would either die or get seriously hurt. If an old business was going to get revamped, it would seem like a big disaster only for some small event to change everything last minute. I could see the story play out from the first word.

But again, that does not mean that author Tessa Bailey did not do her job pulling me into each predicted event.

Like I always say in my reviews for chick-lit books, just because something is predictable does not mean that it can’t be enjoyable. They are little pockets of safety and comfort. 

Or, in the case of this book, little pockets of…how do I say this without sounding too forward?

See, when I first set out to try romance books, I was expecting them to have a little more spice. Strangely, it was disappointing that my first few ventures did not have that. But It Happened One Summer is the first book I can remember where I was actively blushing when the sexual tension was finally broken.

Maybe the detail was enough to make me wonder if I’d accidentally picked up an erotic novel. Maybe I was so drawn into Piper and Brendan’s story that I was actually eager to see their relationship bloom. Either way, it’s definitely the spiciest romance novel I’ve read yet.

There is honestly nothing too extraordinary about this book. I mean, yes, it drew me in and I liked the characters, but I still won’t come back to it like I do other romantic books. Although, I can say that of all the chick-lit books I’ve read in the past couple of years, this is one of the better ones. 

You see, part of why chick lit can grind my gears is because the characters sometimes make dumb decisions for the sake of drama. Piper and Brendan do have an inevitable third-act spat, but it’s due to an honest mistake, not a dumb misunderstanding. What leads to the spat feels believable, and Brendan and Piper do actually talk about difficult things together throughout the story. And at least the misery resulting from the spat does not drag out through several chapters.

I can certainly see why my sisters liked this book, and in the end, I did too. It’s not a new favorite, because chick-lit simply isn’t my favorite genre, but when I needed a distraction to pass the time in a humdrum job, it did the trick. Heck, I might even have held my breath a few times for suspense, so that’s something.

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