Heather Bokon's Reviews > Barefoot Season

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery
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May 17, 12

bookshelves: 2012
Read in May, 2012

I like Susan Mallery's romance novels a lot. But I love her women's fiction. This was another winner; and I can't wait to read more of Blackberry Island.

Michelle is returning from ten years in the military, most recently in Afghanistan, trying to heal from an injury. She has PTSD, a chip on her shoulder going back to some events in high school, and when she gets home to Blackberry Island, she finds that her inn, the one her father left for her, has been run into financial ruin by her recently deceased mother. Her best friend/stepsister/arch-nemesis Carly is still there, running the inn the best she can, having recently found out that the promises Michelle's mother made to her about earning into ownership of the inn were lies and that her own financial situation is even more precarious than she thought.

These two were best friends for their entire lives, until a series of events caused them to end their friendship. This story is about them finding their way back to each other.

There's a little romance for each of them, nothing heavy, and it's definitely not the focus of the book. I don't have any personal experience with PTSD, so I can't say anything about the accuracy of Mallery's portrayal of Michelle, but to someone with no personal experience, it rang true. Her anger with Carly and her own mother seemed real to me; the conflict that resulted in Michell and Carly's friendship was doled out slowly over the course of the book, but it also seemed real. I could absolutely see how the events would change feelings between even the best of friends.

The side characters were well done. Ellen was a little hard to swallow; her grudge against Carly stemmed back to high school, but unlike Michelle's, Ellen's seemed a little ridiculous. Move on, already. But I certainly know people who peaked in high school, and Ellen strikes me as the type. Gabby, Carly's daughter, wasn't too big a character, which was nice. I prefer kids to be more relegated to the sidelines in romance/women's fiction, unless there's some huge reason for them to be more involved.

There were a few subplots; I don't want to give anything away. One of them made my heart break for Michelle, the other made me mad. But they both helped bring Michelle and Carly closer together.

Oh, the dog! I'm such a sucker for dogs. If you put a dog in the story, it's probably going to improve my opinion, regardless of anything else. And this was such a sweet little guy.

Also, I'd really like to visit Blackberry Island. And possibly meet Mango. Who sounds delicious.
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