Book Review: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery (Series, #1)
Michelle ran away from mistakes made at home to the army, and now she’s coming home from three tours of duty to Blackberry Island in the Pacific Northwest. Her father abandoned the family when she was a teenager, but left his historic inn in trust to her. Her mother was running it until she died, and now Michelle is back to reclaim her inheritance. Only it seems that her mother may have not so much been running the inn as running it into the ground. Meanwhile, Michelle’s once best friend, Carly, thought she was working toward owning part of the inn only to be side-swiped by the fact that Michelle’s mother lied to her….not to mention the bad blood between her and Michelle. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but toss in Michelle’s PTSD and Carly’s single motherhood, and it seems impossible for either of them to ever truly get their lives in order.
I am not usually a chick lit person, but this one slipped in under my radar thanks to Harlequin’s new MIRA line (which is chick lit with some sex scenes). I’m glad it did, because I found the story relatable, heart-warming, and a welcome escape.
The plot is complex, which I think is evident from my plot summary. There is a lot going on. But it never feels forced or like too much. It simply feels like real life. Michelle and Carly both have a *lot* of shit to deal with and watching them deal with it imperfectly but understandably is an enjoyable experience.
Although both Michelle and Carly have their own romance plot lines, the story is really about healing their broken friendship, as well as their wounds from their individual painful pasts. I enjoyed this because the story shows healing happening alongside real life. Too often books either ignore the tough things or focus on them to the exclusion of real life.
Of course, being the mental illness advocate that I am, I was incredibly pleased to see Michelle’s PTSD come up and be dealt with in such a true to life manner. Michelle at first is mentally wounded and won’t truly admit it.
While she wasn’t a big believer in PTSD, she’d been told she suffered from it. So she’d listened to the counselors when they’d talked about avoiding stress and staying rested and eating well. (location 207)
Perhaps the most true-to-life part of the whole book is that Michelle takes a while to admit that she is not ok, even while those around her who love her are expressing their concerns to her. A lot of people have difficulty acknowledging a problem, particularly if they view themselves as strong and independent. Seeing Michelle realize that reaching out for help is stronger than suffering alone is honestly the best part of the whole book.
Although we do have a couple of sex scenes, I did feel that the romance was a bit….quick and forced for both women. However, this is the first book in a series, so perhaps their romantic relationships will be explored more in future books.
I also have to say that the title makes zero sense to me. It brings to mind summer, but that’s about all the relation I can see between it and the story.
Overall, this is a piece of chick lit with an intelligent perspective on PTSD in female soldiers and a dash of romance. Recommended to fans of the genre as well as those who enjoy a contemporary tale and want to dip their toe into the chick lit world.
4 out of 5 stars