About this book: In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.
To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.
Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.
Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.
But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?
Judge this book by its cover? The cover is what attracted me: it shouts “summer beach read!”–which is exactly what it is.
Reminds me of…Contemporary romances by Susan Meissner and Beth Wiseman.
Buy or borrow? Buy. If you like it, you’ll probably end up buying the entire series.
Why did I read this book? Because I was looking for a light, wholesome summer read, and the cover appealed to me. For BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for review.
Would I read another by this author? Yes.
My take: When I’m in the mood for it, there’s something about romance in a small town, middle-Americana setting that I find very appealing. Perhaps because it hearkens back to fond memories of my childhood, when my family made multiple cross-country trips from one Navy post to another. Perhaps it’s my own idealized, sentimental ideas of what small-town life is like. Whatever. In the case of Barefoot Summer, the setting works.
Lots of other things about this sweet story work as well–first and foremost, the romance that beats at its heart. With superb pacing and fine attention to detail, Hunter develops the attraction between Madison and Beckett. Their romantic arc is one of the sweetest and most satisfying I’ve had the pleasure of reading. These carefully crafted characters and others light the pages with with relate-able gifts and foibles. Christian readers who enjoy a strong faith message in their fiction will also be drawn to Madison’s spiritual journey.
I wondered at the outset if the book’s premise would seem contrived–for Madison to fulfill her dead brother’s dream of winning the Chapel Springs regatta by age 27. It did stretch my credibility that anyone (Madison, in this case) would expect to go from zero (extreme fear of water and absolutely no knowledge of how to sail a boat) to regatta-winner in a matter of months. Not only this, but to not even have a viable boat until three days before the regatta. But it’s a nod to the author’s skill that she pulled these things off acceptably.
(spoiler alert) Perhaps my biggest disappointment was in regards to the explanation for the death of Madison’s twin, Michael. This twist popped up without any foreshadowing, letting the two main characters off the hook far too easily. Instead, I would have liked to have seen them face their conflict and work through it to achieve forgiveness and heart-to-heart understanding.
Nonetheless, this wouldn’t be enough to keep me from reading any of the rest of what promises to be a very engaging series.
Thanks to BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Visit the author online at denisehunterbooks.com, where you can sign up to receive her newsletters and keep up-to-date on all her latest releases.