10 Fun Summer Books Like It Happened One Summer (By Tessa Bailey)

Tessa Bailey is an author known for her work in the romance genre. Bridging the gap between earnest and intense romance, she has created a series of novels that have captivated readers worldwide.

10 Fun Summer Books Like It Happened One Summer (By Tessa Bailey)

With unique characters and tight plots, her novels exploded in the late 2010s and early 2020s, with more to come in the future.

It Happened One Summer is a story that follows the competent Piper Bellinger who is cut off by her father and sent to run a bar in Washington.

Annoyed at having to live in a small town, she soon runs into Brendan and the two characters begin a thrilling whirlwind romance. What follows is a funny, lighthearted, and thrilling story with two characters from very different backgrounds.

If you loved It Happened One Summer, then you should check out these fun and playful romance novels like Forever Never, Twice In A Blue Moon, Strictly Pleasure, The Doctor, So That Happened, and Don’t Worry, Don’t Worry, It’s Just A Fling.

Themes In It Happened One Summer


Romance is one of the central themes in It Happened One Summer, and it fits very obviously into this genre.

The story revolves around the developing relationship of Piper and Brendan, and they fall into a classic romantic plot where the two initially clash, then grow to love one another.

The romantic aspects of this story are full of chemistry, tension, and emotional complexity.

Social Class

Another big theme in this novel is the concept of social class. Piper Bellinger is a character from a very wealthy and privileged social background, who after being cut off by her father, is forced to come to a small town and run a bar.

Brendan, on the other hand, is a working-class character and this is one of the main clashes between the two characters.

Throughout the course of the story, Piper learns to navigate this new environment, becoming more content about the simple things in life, while Brendan is introduced to some of the finer things in life.

Although the novel is lighthearted for the most part, it highlights some of the social divides in modern American society.


Another key theme in the novel is the idea of identity. Both of the characters are in their 20s, a time when they are searching to learn exactly who they are in their lives.

Piper is a character who has defined herself through her social status, but by having to move to a small town and experience a more simplistic lifestyle, she begins to question her sense of identity.

10 Books Like It Happened One Summer

Forever Never By Lucy Score

Forever Never

Forever Never by Lucy Score is a contemporary romance novel that tells the story of Brick Callan and Remi Ford, two people from different backgrounds who soon fall in love. Like It Happened One Summer, this is a novel of opposites attracting.

Remi Ford is an artist who returns to her hometown for a break, and Brick sets about trying to understand her. But there’s one big problem – she was his brother’s high school sweetheart, his boss’s daughter, and his ex-wife’s best friend.

What unfolds is a lyrical and breathtaking romance story. With past secrets revealed and a steamy romance, this is a novel that does a lot of the same things as It Happened One Summer.

Score’s writing is fast-paced with a focus on character development, and you’ll soon find yourself wrapped up in the story.


  • Features an “opposites attract” romance.
  • Score’s writing focuses on character development.
  • Contemplative with an overall positive message.


  • A little darker in tone than It Happened One Summer.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: Identity, Romance, Social Class, The Past, and Secrets.

Twice In A Blue Moon By Christina Lauren

Twice in a Blue Moon

Twice In A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren is another romance novel that explores the themes of love, loss, and second chances.

The novel tells the story of Tate Jones, a young actress who falls in love with Sam Brandis, a boy she meets on a family vacation in London.

However, their love is cut short when Sam betrays her trust and sells their story to the tabloids, causing Tate’s life to change forever and her trust in romantic relationships to drop.

Flash forward and Tate is a successful actress who has kept her past a secret. However, when she is cast in a movie that Sam wrote, directed, and stars in, their paths cross again.

As they work together on the film, Tate must confront the past and the feelings she was sure she had buried.

Like It Happened One Summer, Twice In A Blue Moon focuses on the theme of past secrets and the impact they can have on one’s love life. It is also a story of second chances and the possibility of redemption.


  • A captivating romance story with a focus on second chances and redemption.
  • Engaging and character-driven writing with palpable chemistry between the two main characters.
  • The exploration of past secrets and their impact on one’s life.


  • Could be too similar to It Happened One Summer.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: Romance, Social Class, Public vs. Private Life, and the Past.

Strictly Business By Carrie Elks

Strictly Business: A swoony, feel-good enemies to lovers romantic comedy.... (The Salinger Brothers Book 1)

Strictly Business by Carrie Elks is a cutting-edge romance novel that is the first of a series. It tells the story of Tess and Aaron, two successful and career-driven individuals who are forced to work together and eventually fall in love.

If you like the idea of two work rivals who end up as lovers, then this story will have you wrapped up from the very start.

Binding together rapid prose and some thrilling moments, Carrie Elks is a writer who is able to write captivating characters and an intriguing plot.

The first-person perspective of this novel lets you follow along with the main character as she becomes entrenched in a competitive work environment.


  • Enemies become lovers in this romantic comedy.
  • Mostly lighthearted, but with some great character moments.
  • The first part in a series.


  • The business setting could be off-putting for some readers.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: Professional vs. Private Life, Social Class, Forbidden Romance, Opposites Attract.

The Doctor By E.L Todd

The Doctor: Forbidden Romance

This novel is the first in a 4 part series that follows the story of a recently divorced woman who finds herself at a loss after finding out that her ex-husband was gay.

When her brother relocates to Seattle to be an ER doctor, she finds herself falling in love again – but how can she hook up with the brother of her ex? This novel is a steamy and thrilling romance with two characters that want each other, but can’t be together.


  • A thrilling, forbidden romance.
  • A professional setting leads to some captivating moments.


  • More of a steamy novel than It Happened One Summer.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: Romance, Social Class, Public vs. Professional Life, Opposites Attract.

Don’t Worry It’s Just A Fling By E.L Todd

Don't Worry, It's Just A Fling: A Brother’s Best Friend Office Romantic Comedy (Ray Book 1)

For the second novel on this list by E.L Todd, we have Don’t Worry, It’s Just A Fling, this is a novel that tells the story of Rae and Ryker, who fall into a fling that isn’t supposed to be anything too serious.

But here’s the problem, soon enough, the two opposites find themselves falling for each other, creating a complicated tale of love. If you liked the lighthearted aspects of It Happened One Summer then you are going to love this one!


  • Features a romance that starts off casual, but soon becomes much more.
  • Two characters with very different personalities.


  • Some readers don’t like the simplistic writing style.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: Opposites Attract, Romance, Social Class, Family vs. Romantic Relationships, Identity.

Out Of My League: A Small-Town Romance By Jessica Prince

Out of My League: A Small Town Romance (Hope Valley Book 1)

Out Of My League is a novel that sees soldier Lincoln Sheppard coming back from war to try and live a simple life. Eden Brenner is a woman looking for a home who bumps into Lincoln one day and finds herself completely wrapped up in him.

With past secrets and characters trying to find their place in the world, this is a novel that sees two very different people discovering love in a small town called Hope Valley.


  • A novel that follows two characters struggling with identity and the past.
  • Captivating characters with realistic backstories.


  • Part 1 of 12, which could put some readers off.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: Romance, Social Class, Small Towns, and Identity.

Protecting You By Clair Kingsley

Protecting You: A Small-Town Romance (The Bailey Brothers Book 1)

Another small-town love story here, sees Grace Mills fall in love with the enigmatic Asher Bailey. This is a romance novel that takes two characters who are supposed to be together but struggle because of external factors.

This is a story of soulmates, and small towns, with a romance that will have you truly rooting for the characters, despite all the obstacles thrown their way.


  • Features a couple that you will root for from start to finish.
  • The small-town setting is relatable and vivid.


  • Part 1 of a 6-part series.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: Small Towns, Identity, Romance, Soulmates.

Every Summer After By Carley Fortune

Every Summer After

If you’re looking for another sizzling summer read, check out this novel by writer Carley Fortune.

This one follows Persephone Fraser who finds herself receiving a call that takes her back to her hometown and into the life of Sam Florek, a past lover who she was once obsessed with.

This story revolves around a single weekend and six years in the past that converge into a series of characters and a romance that will have you nostalgic and thrilled throughout.


  • Features a character returning to her hometown.
  • A satisfying romance that sees two characters rekindle their love.


  • Similar to other romance novels you may be familiar with.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: The Past, Romance, Nostalgia, Summer.

One True Loves By Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves: A Novel

This is a character-based novel that sees a woman having to pick between her new fiance and a husband who she thought was dead.

Emma Blair finds out that her high school sweetheart who she once loved is actually still alive, but the problem is that she is currently wrapped up in a romance with an old friend.

This is a story that sees a woman trying to decide who her true love is, and find the very meaning of that word.


  • Features a classic romance plot that will be satisfying to readers.
  • A layered and enthralling love triangle.


  • Relies on the reader liking the three main characters.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: The Past, Secrets, Romance, Love Triangles.

Archer’s Voice By Mia Sheridan

Archer's Voice

For the final pick on my list, I’ve chosen a story that follows a character arriving in a small town in Maine to try and forget her past. What unfolds is an emotional love story that sees two characters trying to leave the past behind and create a new life.

The character of Arche Hale will enthrall you and keep you up late into the night as you read deeper into this thrilling story.


  • Features two characters trying to forget their past.
  • The familiar setting of a small town in America.


  • Focuses heavily on two characters without many side plots.

Themes Similar To It Happened One Summer: The Past, Romance, Opposites Attract, Small Towns.

Final Thoughts

So that was my list of the top 10 fun summer reads like It Happened One Summer. I hope this list has given you some ideas for your next perfect romance novel.

Each of these has something similar to the title novel, creating captivating tales of romance, love, and social class. Happy reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Happened One Summer In A Series?

No, it is a completely standalone novel that you can enjoy without any extra commitment!

What Age Is It Happened One Summer Appropriate For?

This novel is appropriate for adult audiences as it features mature themes and some explicit content.

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Noah Burton