Publication Date: July 13, 2021
Series or Standalone: Bellinger Sisters #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
When it comes to Tessa Bailey’s books, they’re incredibly hit or miss for me. And this one was a big ole miss.
I know this book is incredibly popular, but it did not work for me. I found the characters to be unlikeable, the romance underdeveloped, and the writing awkward. Some of the choices also made me angry as the central conflict is based on a failure to communicate.
Piper Bellinger is a famous influencer who has never had to work a real job. When her boyfriend of the moment breaks up with her in the middle of a Hollywood party, Piper decides to break into a hotel pool and throw a raging party as revenge, which ends with her in jail. Her stepfather decides enough is enough. He cuts her off and ships her out to a bar her late-father owned in Westport, Washington, for three months to teach her about responsibility. When Piper and her sister Hannah arrive in Westport, they run into sea captain Brendan Taggart, who thinks they won’t last a week outside LA. However, Piper and Brendan keep running into each other and find that opposites attract as Piper reconsiders if she wants to return to her glitz life in LA or stay with Brendan in this town that’s starting to feel like home.
I know Schitt’s Creek inspired this book, but it was missing the charm of that show.
First off, I did not like Piper or Brendan and struggled to connect with them. I hate saying it, but Piper was a bit of a ditz. She didn’t go through enough of a transformation to make her likable throughout the book, either. Her character growth was minimal, and she reverted to who she was in LA at the first sign of failure. I liked Brendan a little bit more as a character, but he was very one-dimensional. Everyone says he is Westport, but we know only surface-level details about him. I didn’t find him as mean as everyone else was making him out to be initially, so there was some head-scratching on my part. His character leaned into hyper-masculine traits while Piper was a very delicate female, which did grate on me a bit.
I also really struggled with the romantic relationship in this book. There wasn’t a lot of sexual tension between them, and the ramp-up to their relationship was non-existent. They literally go on one date before they jump in bed, and then both start thinking they love each other within about three weeks of knowing each other. AND HE’S NOT EVEN THERE HALF THE TIME. That felt like it made no sense when you realize Brendan has been mourning his dead wife for SEVEN years and all of a sudden jumps into something new with someone who has never been in a serious relationship. I think the dude was just horny more than actually interested in Piper as a person. Sex scenes mainly dominated their romantic relationship with no emotional build-up or connection. I felt we never got to see these two actually have a REAL conversation to get to know each other before they both claimed they were in love.
I also was a bit annoyed that Piper was the one to give up everything in their relationship. Her life, her family, her friends in LA, all of it she needed to give up to be with Brendan. Meanwhile, Brendan had to sacrifice his boring routines and acted like that was on par to what Piper had to give up to be with him. It’s not, and it did annoy me that the woman was the one who had to change and give up everything to find happiness with the man.
And, of course, this book has to have a final act breakup that is all based on a massive misunderstanding. First, Brendan accuses Piper of all these things she did not do without letting her speak for herself. That enraged me, and I wanted to throw the book across the room at how Brendan was treating Piper. Then, of course, there is a big misunderstanding and a conveniently timed accident that causes her to miss his boat, so they both think the relationship is over. Top that off with no one showing up at Piper and Hannah’s bar (which was a serious head-scratching moment with a very weak explanation later), so Piper immediately throws in the towel to head back to LA. The conflict then ends up being resolved incredibly quickly without the root cause of the issues ever being addressed, and then the book ends. I hate books where the conflict is all based on the characters’ failure to communicate, and that’s exactly what this was. These two did not know how to talk to each other AT ALL, and it was so annoying.
On top of this, I also found the writing to be a bit cringe-worthy at times. Lines like this felt a bit juvenile and played into the uncomfortable gender dynamics in the book:
“Had she ever dated a real man before? Or had they all been boys?”
“Captain Brendan Taggart was a man. A real one.
I even found some of the writing for the sex scenes to be awkward, which is funny to me since Tessa Bailey can write some steamy love scenes. The ones in this just did not work for me. Also, pet peeve of mine, but I hate in contemporary novels when the couple doesn’t use a condom the first time they have sex. Let’s practice safe sex, people!
This isn’t even all my issues with the book, as I also found it incredibly weird that Piper and Hannah’s mother told them nothing about their father and his family. That felt like it was glossed over, and I would have liked more focus on Piper learning about her family and learning about the place her parents called home.
Now you might be thinking that I have no desire to read book two, Hook, Line and Sinker, in this series. You would be wrong. Of all the characters in the book, I was most intrigued by Hannah, Piper’s sister, and I’m very interested to see how the romance between Hannah and Fox, Brendan’s first mate, develops. It seems like that will be a friends-to-lovers type situation which gives me hope that some of my issues with the romance in It Happened One Summer won’t exist in book two.
I was hoping It Happened One Summer would be a great escape, but unfortunately, it didn’t work well for me. I know many people love this, but I hope I gave you some insight into why it did not work for me.