BAREFOOT SEASON – Susan Mallery
A Perfect 10
A Blackberry Island Novel , Book 1
Blackberry Island, Washington – Present Day
Michelle Sanderson has returned home to Blackberry Island after ten years in the military. Much has changed, including the fact that her mother, Brenda, is now dead, and Michelle's former best friend, Carly, is running the Sanderson family inn. But the biggest change is in Michelle. After an injury as a result of an ambush that forced her to kill a man to protect herself, she has nightmares of the incident. Drinking herself into oblivion is her answer to her physical and mental pain. Now it's time to face Carly…and claim her birthright. While the two grew up the best of friends, their high school senior year found them torn apart by the scandal of Michelle's father running off with Carly's mother. Then there is the fact that a pregnant Carly caught Michelle in bed with Carly's fiancé...
Carly Williams is now a divorced mother of a little girl who is the reason Carly gets up every day. Michelle's mother, Brenda, gave her a job at the inn when she needed help the most and trusted her with its running, and then lied to Carly by implying she would get part ownership, when in fact the inn belongs to Michelle. The animosity between Michelle and Carly is apparent from the first moment they meet again as BAREFOOT SEASON opens. Michelle arrives to find the inn in financial disarray and Carly at the helm. Michelle lashes out by firing Carly, but it soon becomes clear that the best thing at the inn is Carly. Suddenly Michelle is forced to turn to the one person she thought she could no longer trust…Carly.
It's a difficult time for Michelle and Carly in BAREFOOT SEASON. Michelle went off to join the military to get away from the pain of losing her father to Carly's mother and being left to contend with her own egotistical mother. The horrors of combat action got to Michelle, and she finally returns home to what she thought would be a safe sanctuary. Adjusting to civilian life isn't easy as she suffers from nightmares and pain from her injury. Michelle refuses help, instead making the vodka bottle her best friend.
It hasn't been easy for Carly. She married her fiancé despite finding him with Michelle, but her marriage didn't last. Brenda took her in and treated her almost like a daughter. Well, not almost…probably more like a slave, with a promise of partial ownership in the inn waved in front of her. After Brenda's death Carly learned the truth. She has barely any money in savings or she'd take her daughter and get far away from Michelle. With no place to go and her love of the inn, Carly agrees to stay on after the bank's conditions force it. She's aware of who's the boss and Michelle never lets her forget it. The two former friends have a tenuous relationship at best, but slowly a trust is built, even if it's hanging by a thread.
Every once in a while I'll pick up a book that once I start to read, I hate to put down. BAREFOOT SEASON is one of them and is the reason why I gave it a Perfect 10. While there is some romance in this tale, it is the rocky relationship of Michelle and Carly that kept me glued to the pages. Readers will feel the pain Michelle has gone through and understand Carly's resolve to stay on Blackberry Island despite the humiliation she has suffered. While for different reasons, both are survivors struggling to get on with their lives. The financial difficulties of the inn bring them together and give BAREFOOT SEASON a warmhearted feel that is pure enjoyment to read. The fact that Michelle and Carly each found a man in the end is a bonus.
A perfect read for anytime you want a novel of friendship rising from the ashes of despair to the pinnacle of happiness. Give BAREFOOT SEASON a try and see what I mean.