12 June 2013

Review: Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Madison McKinley is a 26-year-old veterinarian back living in her home town of Chapel Springs, Indiana, and she has a dream. She wants to win the Annual River Sail Regatta in honour of her twin brother, Michael, a keen sailor who died when they were 17. There are only two things standing in her way: she doesn’t know the first thing about sailing, and she is afraid of water.

She wins a sailing lesson-and-regatta package at a local charity auction, but her plans go awry when she finds the lessons won’t be from married-with-children Evan Higgins, but with the very single Beckett O’Reilly, reformed bad boy and son of the town alcoholic. Beckett has had a long-time crush on Maddy, so is happy to give her lessons, as long as she doesn’t find out how he feels about her, doesn’t find out what happened between him and her sister, Jade, and doesn’t discover his secret—the one he doesn’t know if she will be able to forgive.

The opening of Barefoot Summer was a bit confusing as I tried to sort out all the characters (especially the many McKinley siblings), but I soon worked them all out and settled into enjoying a well-plotted story. It wasn’t a straightforward romance—there were enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and give it a pleasant depth not found in many contemporary Christian romances. The one slight fault was perhaps the outcome of the regatta …

I really enjoyed Barefoot Summer. I liked the characters, I liked the way the author dealt with Madison’s issues with Christianity, and I especially liked Beckett, who has overcome a difficult childhood to become a man anyone would be proud to know, despite his inferiority complex. I liked the style of writing, and I especially liked the way the author introduced the various characters in the McKinley family, obviously setting us up for a sequel (which I will look forward to reading).

Odd as it might seem, I read two books in a row about a twin who lost their faith in God when they lost their twin to death, this and An Open Heart by Harry Kraus. I enjoyed Barefoot Summer much more, because I could really believe Madison’s faith journey, and I found the characters easier to relate to. Yes, the plot was more predictable than that of An Open Heart, and perhaps even a bit corny at times, but the storytelling was better. Or maybe it’s just that I like the romance…

A fun summer read (or, for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, for cuddling up by the fire with).

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Booksneeze for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Denise Hunter at her website.

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