In the years since her twin brother’s tragic drowning, Madison has struggled with her ability to trust God—or anyone else, for that matter. It was her brother’s dream to win the annual River Sail Regatta in their small harbor town of Chapel Springs, Indiana. And Madison’s determined to honor his legacy by making his dream her own. Maybe then she can finally find closure.
But learning to sail means learning to swim. And her instructor is Beckett O’Reilly, a man who already has two strikes against him in Madison’s eyes. Being on the water terrifies Madison. But Beckett’s calming presence and unwavering confidence eases her fear. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying.
As her feelings for him grow, a fledging faith begins to take root in her soul, as well. With Beckett, Madison feels alive for the first time in years—carefree and confident she can win the regatta, maybe even find love.
But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their love and the depth of Madison’s faith. Will their love survive summer’s challenge? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?
Madison McKinley’s twin brother died tragically while they were still teenagers, and she has yet to recover, even all these years later. As Chapel Springs’ annual River Sail Regatta approaches, Madison determines to win it in her brother’s honor. There’s only one problem. She doesn’t even know how to swim, much less sail a boat.
Beckett O’Reilly reluctantly agrees to teach Madison to swim, all while desperately trying to remain distant and to keep his secrets from her. But as their tentative friendship grows, he finds it even harder to keep from falling for her. Will they finally put aside old hurts and let each other in, or will everything change when their secrets come to light?
Barefoot Summer is the first book in Denise Hunter’s Chapel Springs Romance series, and, to be honest, the first Denise Hunter book I have ever read. I was very impressed with this novel and enjoyed it immensely, but I cannot say—now that I have read more of her books—that it is my favorite one she has written. I really loved the storyline, and Beckett was just the sweetest guy, but I did feel something lacking. It might have been how quickly everything happened in the beginning before slowing down until the end, or maybe it was my OCD with the fact that in multiple instances she used the same word—like said—too many consecutive times. Either way, the story was still wonderful and is definitely something I would recommend, but because of that I am only giving it four bookmarks.
The good thing is, none of the little stylistic details that bothered me ruined Denise Hunter’s writing for me. I found Barefoot Summer to still be a book that I could not put down, and as soon as I finished it I picked up the next book in the series—Dancing with Fireflies—which I happened to own. Since I have my own copy, I’ll review that one on Tuesday as a My Bookshelf post, but let’s just say, I opened it for the first time Wednesday night after I finished Barefoot Summer, and finished it just after lunch the next day. And I had things to do in the morning so I didn’t even get to it right away. I found none of the little things that bothered me about Barefoot Summer inside its pages, and now call it one of my favorite books ever. Now I’m on the third book—The Wishing Season—and am loving it as well. My point is to say, these books are great. I mean, I still gave Barefoot Summer four bookmarks. I only mentioned the little issues I had because I wanted to be honest, and because I knew if these types of things bother you too, you would like to know they were there. But all that aside, I still believe Barefoot Summer is a great novel, and is worth reading. Especially if your OCD won’t let you read the second book in the series until you read the first, because you just have to read Dancing with Fireflies. I’ll tell you why on Tuesday.
Pick up any of the Chapel Springs novels here.
All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Denise Hunter and her publishers.