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Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

About the Book:
Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2013
Series: Chapel Springs Romance → Book one
Genre: Fiction; Romance, Series
Rating: 5 out of 5
Sometimes after reading one book by an author whose words have once impressed, there is trepidation subsequent novels may not take the same cues or have the same effect. Being on the other side of storytelling (that of a reader), we fear that it won’t possibly be able to surpass or match that adoration of the first book from a favorite author. Fortunately even after the sense of elation any contemporary fan will have experienced in The Trouble with Cowboys, reading Hunter’s latest novel was a piece of candied joy; it goes beyond the “duty” of its peers. Set in a small-town community with a beautiful, compelling nostalgia background, the familial ties and genuine (human) characters endears this book is better than the “average” romance plus takes ahold of the commonalties within the genre and searches out the real heart of the story – the kind that effects readers in only the best sense.  

The McKinley family is big, boisterous and completely won me over. I’m a fan of novels in which large families are given wings to grow, making us grow to care about them in the process and as a bonus, they also challenge us (that’s possibly the best gift a writer can leave with their audience). Here we are introduced to a broken, mourning Madison McKinley and the boy who has loved her since high school, Beckett O’Reilly. In their story, there is poignancy between the two of them; Beckett is tender, loving and not at all the “bad boy” he is made out to be. Madison is hurting in deep, dark places and only through Beckett’s steadfast support (he won’t let her go even when her actions push him away) and God’s healing hand does she come to realize that. In order to heal, Madison is “broken” from her grief; instead of coming to God, she has the idea of what she thinks she needs to feel whole again and it’s only at that breaking point that gives her real peace. By trying to fix her hurt on her own, the heroine shoved God into a corner and “forgot” the only way she’d achieve healing. Though subject to personal conclusions, it’s actually the “weakness” of the characters that brings this story full circle. The budding relationship between these two is, naturally sparked with physical chemistry (the characters first being attracted as young teens solidifies this) but it molds into something deeper; fixating on the secrets of the characters, it’s those private emotions that change and shape them, making them tangible and reachable in a fictional world that digs deep roots in reality.  

Going beyond the richly drawn spiritual challenges, the romance was also precious. I adored these two together; Beckett was above and beyond a gentleman. In Barefoot Summer, there isn’t one dull moment; one scene is particularly hard-hitting, tying the title into a moving piece of truth and is also a demonstration of how, even when life looks hopeless, we have to take that step of faith. As a novel, this sheds the cliché emotional (specifically that of a loved ones death) skins of its genre and looks the reader in the face, asking all the hard questions but they're the right ones.  

It’s a story that will make you “fall to pieces” – in a fall that’s beautiful.  

Coming Next: Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined. - via Goodreads, March, 2014

Sincere thanks to Litfuse and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
Synopsis: 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, 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 begin to grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.

But Beckett harbors a secret—one that will test the limits of their love and the depth of Madison’s faith. Can their new romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks? - Goodreads
Find out what others are saying about Barefoot Summer
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  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful words, Rissi! And not just wonderful because I like what you had to say (I do!) but because you have such a beautiful way of saying it.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for writing such a compelling novel, Denise! It means a lot. :)

      I don't mind saying that I am *dying* to read Dancing with Fireflies! Curious for what comes in the next chapter of the McKinley family saga. :)

  2. You really do have a lovely way of telling a review, Rissi.


    1. Thanks for reading, Grace! Hope you enjoy if/when you'd read this one - it's a keeper.

  3. Sounds fantastic. This is the second rave review I've read. Sounds like a winner.

    1. It is, Juju! Loved the setting, the characters and the faith elements, all worked together flawlessly. :) Happy reading.

  4. So, I haven't actually READ this review, since my copy is still on it's way and I don't read other people's reviews until AFTER I've read it, so I can have my opinion sways before going into it.

    BUT I'm excited to read it when it comes in. :)

    1. Know exactly what you are saying, Kellie - this is something I like to be careful of also. Sometimes I will read a review but most of the time, unless I am in the middle of reading the book and have already formed my opinion or if I am "afraid" of being swayed, I'll steer clear.

      Wishing with you that your copy will arrive soon - it's a keeper.

  5. Ooooh, sounds like a good one! I actually haven't heard of this title before, but it definitely sounds like one I'll want to check out.

    I've been kind of stuck in a historical rut lately, for some reason almost all the books I've read in the past couple of months are set in the 19th century. Of course I like the old settings, but I'm kind of in the mood for a really good contemporary story. This sounds like it might just fit the bill! Now, if I can just work it into my large to-be-read list! :)

    Thanks for the review, Rissi!

    1. It is, Valerie. Definitely a keeper! Have you read any of Denise's novels? If so, then you'll enjoy this one for sure.

      Historical fiction is wonderful (particularly, I am enjoying early 1900's) but I love contemporary novels also. Think I am in the minority as most readers like the history that comes with eras past however contemporary fiction has a lot to offer also.

      Happy reading when you find the time, Valerie - believe me I know all about that epic TBR list. ;)

  6. I don't know why you were worried this would feel thrown together. (Saw your tweet last night.) This is a great review, Rissi! And definitely solidifies my choice to read it someday soon. Sounds like so much fun! :)

    1. LOL! Well... I don't think I've had to rush so much to get a review finished and so late at night, and it felt very "bad." I am a night owl but usually I'm long done meeting my review deadlines by then. It's been crazy (in my reading life) these last few weeks. In a good way!

      Thank you for reading, Kara.

      Yay! Hope you enjoy the book if you decide to read it; it's going on my keeper shelf.

  7. You seriously have a gift, Rissi. Really. And a unique voice too... Wow.

    Thanks for sharing this review! I think I'll give this book a try.

    1. It looks like it's taking me a while to get over how good this review is. I'm just saying, girl, I think I'd buy your book if you should publish one. No really.

    2. Thank you, Ganise for your kind words and for reading! Your support here and Twitter means a lot and I appreciate you, friend. :)

      Really!? Well, if/when you read this one I'll be anxious to know what you think; it's a really poignant read and one that left me anxious for book two! :)

      (Thanks for the encouragement about my would-be book. It's my goal to finish one of them - just need to do it now. Which is easier said than done. ;D)

  8. Sounds like an interesting book! I haven't read anything by Hunter yet, although I have "Trouble with Cowboys" sitting on my shelf. Great review!

    1. That it is, Rosie. It's one of the best contemporaries I've read in 2013; tied with Once Upon a Prince. If you read this - or 'Cowboys' - enjoy! It's going on my "best of" list. :)

  9. I read Denise's first two "Cowboy" books, and really enjoyed them! I'm looking forward to reading that last one and this one, too. It sounds marvelous. I have to echo the others about your gift for writing beautiful reviews! :)

    1. The Trouble with Cowboys was the first book I read by Denise, Bluerose but it was wonderful! Now I have been told that her 'Nantucket' books topped her 'cowboy' series so they are high on my to-do list. I suspect they'll be equally as charming as Barefoot Summer. It's certainly a keeper.

      Wishing you happy reading - and I thank you for your compliments, always enjoy visiting your blog and reading your wonderful reviews as well. Appreciate you stopping by.

  10. I can't wait to pick get my copy, this book looks absolutely charming and your review has me wishing it were here already! And I must say that the next one looks great too! Denise has always had good covers, but they seem to be getting better and better!! :D

    1. You said that right - Denise's stories and the covers they are wrapped in seem to be getting better and better.

      Wishing with you for your copy to arrive soon - I think you'll enjoy it and I trust they'll be a lovely review of it eventually on your blog. Thanks for reading! :)


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