Book Review: Barefoot Summer

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter is one of the best summer romances I have ever read. Madison McKinley had a twin brother who drowned, and she has struggled with so many things since that time--including a recurring nightmare.  In order to help herself find the peace she longs for, Madison feels compelled to complete something her brother had set out to do:  be the youngest person to win the town's sailing regatta. The only problem is that she doesn't know how to swim, let alone sail.  In trying to obtain help to reach her goal, Madison's path crosses with that of Beckett O'Reilly. Beckett has been an enigma to Madison since they first met in high school.  Unfortunately, he is the only one who can help her. Beckett, on the other hand, has struggled with his feelings for Madison since he first saw her from a distance in school.  He feels that she is way out of his league and would be better off without him in her life. Yet, he can't seem to forget her or the feelings he has for her.  Can he help her without putting his heart on the line?  Can anything help him with the secret that he holds inside...a secret that could destroy any kind of relationship he might develop with Madison? Is there a way to alleviate the horrible feeling of guilt he holds in?  How will these two characters find the true peace that they both need in their lives?

A skillful writer, Denise Hunter integrated what happened in the past with the current plot by using flashbacks.  I was driven to read more not only to discover the resolution of the main conflict, but also to find out what had happened in the past to affect these different characters.   Additionally, Denise adroitly penned glorious descriptions in prose which seemed almost poetic.  For instance, she wrote, "Across the yard, the white farmhouse sprawled over the oak-shared knoll like a plump aunt, arms spread open for a comforting embrace" (7).  I especially like that her descriptions enhanced the storyline instead of detracting from it.  In some books that I've read, an author takes up so much time and space describing something that the plot seems secondary. This is not the case with Denise Hunter's writing.  She also adds seemingly random details that just make the characters seem like real people in a real world instead of characters in a book. For instance, while at a family picnic, one character swats at a buzzing fly. While this isn't necessary to the plot, it allowed me to believe that these were authentic characters living real lives.  Another aspect of this story that I liked was that the storyline was not predictable.  (I have to confess that I was afraid it would be when I read the book description.  I was very pleasantly surprised!)  The different twists and turns that I couldn't see coming made for a great read.  While we all know that the two main characters usually get together by the end of a romance novel, I was on the edge of my seat for this one--totally unsure of how the conflict between the two main characters was going to resolve itself...or even if it was!  The title itself is definitely symbolic of Madison's journey as she searches for true peace and healing, but you'll have to read the book to discover the story behind that.


Book Description from the Publisher

Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

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?



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”