As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and that certainly includes the Schitt’s Creek-inspired It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey! While I’m a fan of Schitt’s Creek, I was skeptical going into this because a superficial, image-obsessed heroine is not usually my preference. But this opposites attract romance had me hooked right away, and the grumpalicious hero is a major reason for that. These two have CHEMISTRY, and it was a fun, lighthearted ride to happily ever after. There’s small town charm combined with a slow burn to sizzle romance that will keep you turning the pages. I’m looking forward to the next installment in this series, because this was great!
Read on for my original review, details on the series, and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!
This hero? One of the BEST I’ve read about in a long while. I absolutely ADORED this gruff, closed off, alpha fisherman with a heart of gold – he made this opposites attract romance engrossing from the very start, and the steamy scenes were downright combustible because of his intensity. Talk about a slow burn to SIZZLE romance; this was sexy, emotional, and HOT. I never would’ve anticipated loving the high maintenance, socialite of a heroine, but I loved her as well. The combination of the two made for a fascinating, unique read that held my attention from start to finish. It’s a seriously satisfying series starter that left me wanting more – I loved it.
The story follows Piper, an almost-famous socialite who has never had to worry about money. She loves the finer things in life and makes no excuses about it. But Piper’s latest fiasco is the final straw for her stepfather, who cuts her off financially and sentences her to 3 months in a small fishing town. Forced to take care of herself for the first time in her life, Piper is a total fish out of water in the close-knit community. And when she meets the town’s grumpy fishing captain, Piper couldn’t feel like more of an outsider. Brendan isn’t sure what to think about the vibrant and beautiful stranger, but she is a shock to his system – and maybe that’s exactly what he needs. He’s been stuck in his ways for years, and Piper makes Brendan off-balance in a way that keeps him coming back for more.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this one at the start – Piper is absolutely not the kind of heroine I typically gravitate towards, and the book definitely felt strongly influenced by Schitt’s Creek. But as the story progresses and we get to know both characters better, it just becomes more and more compelling. I LOVED Brendan so much; there’s something about a strong, damaged alpha with a marshmallow heart that gets me every time, and his backstory is such an interesting one. He’s the perfect complement to Piper, the steady figure next to all of her craziness. The story has a slow emotional build that starts out subtly and grows along the way, until the relationship feels like it has incredible depth. These two are also smoking hot together, and the steamy scenes were both important to the story and also simply s-e-x-y. For a book that’s not short, this just flew by. I loved it, and can’t wait for the next standalone in the series.
Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who’s cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town… where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong.
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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 series continues in March!
In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…
King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.
Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.
Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?
About the Author:
New York Times Bestselling author Tessa Bailey can solve all problems except for her own, so she focuses those efforts on stubborn, fictional blue collar men and loyal, lovable heroines. She lives on Long Island avoiding the sun and social interactions, then wonders why no one has called. Dubbed the “Michelangelo of dirty talk,” by Entertainment Weekly, Tessa writes with spice, spirit, swoon and a guaranteed happily ever after. Catch her on TikTok at @authortessabailey or check out tessabailey.com for a complete list of books.
More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
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