Reviews

Barefoot Season, by Susan Mallery

cj_mo_2222's review

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4.0

Michelle Sanderson is returning to Blackberry Island Inn in Puget Sound after ten years in the army. She had fled her beloved inn after being caught in bed with her best friend Carly Williams's fiancé by Carly herself and the military seemed like a better alternative than facing Carly and Allan again. Michelle thought that after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the inn would be a sanctuary where she could recover from her wounds, both physical and emotional. Michelle is disappointed when she finds that everything has changed. Carly is now managing the inn and Michelle's mother, who is now deceased, renovated the inn and mismanaged the finances so poorly that the bank is about to foreclose. Michelle pleads with the bank manager and is given a chance to save the inn, on the condition she retains Carly as an employee. That means Michelle and Carly must put old grievances aside in order to keep the inn that means so much to each them.

Michelle and Carly have known each other since childhood and have always had a complex relationship. Carly is loving, but often insecure and wants everyone to like her. At first, I actually didn't care much for her, but then seeing what a good mother she is and how much she loves the inn, I grew to like her more. I connected more with Michelle's character right away, even though on the surface she isn't always likeable. Michelle is blunt and quick to anger, but is clearly vulnerable beneath all the bluster. As the story unfolds, there are plenty of twists as more details are revealed about events in their past and how they went from being best friends to enemies. While they are trying to get along for business purposes, it's hard to get over some of the events of the past, but they can't forget the good times they had. Seeing them take tentative steps to rebuild their friendship is my favorite part of the book. It's also interesting to see what it's like for a war veteran to adjust to civilian life, especially when the vet is a woman.

While learning how to work together to keep the inn, they each find time to take a chance on love. Carly is a single mother of a nine-year-old girl and is best friends with the girl's uncle, her ex-husband's brother. They love each other, but there is no chemistry. However, there are plenty of sparks between Carly and Michelle's army buddy Sam, which further complicates Carly and Michelle's tentative truce. On the other hand, Michelle slowly builds a friendship and then the possibility of something more with her landlord Jared. Their story is romantic and enjoyable to read.

While there are a couple of short, but steamy love scenes in the book, this is more a novel about friendship, overcoming fears, and moving past old hurts to find happiness. While some of the things that occur in the book are unbelievable, such as the conditions the bank board has put on the inn's mortgages, overall the story is sweet and uplifting. There are also discussion questions and a few recipes at the end. Also, something more unique is the reference and link to a website that gives readers access to additional recipes.

This review was originally written for The Season EZine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

pkrebs's review

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3.0

This book was slow paced. I love susan mallery but this was not one of my favorite books of hers. It seemed like the story never really went anywhere and there was a lot of repetition.

Not a romance -- a story between two friends, who became enemies, but came together again.

gertyp's review

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3.0

3.5

lynnski's review

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3.0

I enjoyed reading this story, but had issues with the two main characters. There was so much I didn't like about them and couldn't connect with. When you can't "fall in love" with any of the characters, it's hard to then fall in love with the book.

wildflowerz76's review

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3.0

I somehow ended up down a Susan Mallery rabbit hole. I started reading her stuff randomly and before I knew it, I wanted to read it all. I kinda went in reverse order. I say "kinda" because most of the series I read in order, but I read the newer series before moving on to older ones. Does that make sense? I read the Happily Inc series before the Fool's Gold series, for instance.

But the farther back I go, the more annoyed I get. Has Mallery just grown into a better feminist or did I ocerlook stuff in the newer books? I don't know but these aren't something I'll re-read.

ANYway, I read the rest of this series, but I could never find the first one. To buy it new, it's only in Trade size, so more expensive and even with buying it at cost, it would be at least $9. I don't get $9 of enjoyment out of these. So I left it on my request list and would look for it if I happened to be in another used bookstore. However, my wonderful friend and coworker went to McKays last week and she found it for me! So, now I've completed this series too.

It's problematic as hell, y'all. But the good stuff first. I loved the female friendship. I liked hearing about the two main characters. I liked that we had a female that was all wounded and troubled this time when it's usually the dude.

But. I know I had a lot of things that bugged me, but I didn't take notes, so I'll probably forget a lot. There will probably be spoilers, so you've been warned. Early on Carly sits down outside the inn and falls asleep. Sam, who has asked her out, but she's not given him an answer yet, comes upon her and kisses her. While she's asleep! Ew. Later on, Michelle has a conversation with the guy who she's renting a room room (I can't remember his name, he was hardly in the book) admits that he only compliments women when he's trying to sleep with them. Again, ew. There was more, but I can't remember. I know these are supposed to be romances, but THIS story would have been much better without them. Especially Michelle's. That shit came out of nowhere and felt totally out of place.

michellebookaddict's review against another edition

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3.0

3 stars
I did and didn't like this. Liked the plot, even if it was very unrealistic at times. I didn't like Carly that much. And Michelle was a little more likeable than Carly, but not by much.

octavia_cade's review

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relaxing medium-paced

3.0

A surprising number of people seem to have shelved this novel as romance. It isn't. That is to say, there's romance in it, but the primary relationship is between two estranged step-sisters, former best friends, who are slowly repairing their relationship over the course of a summer after a decade of not seeing each other. Both of them get involved with decent men, but those romances are very much subplots. Remove them from the novel and there wouldn't be that much of a difference in the overall storyline, so general fiction it is.

It's a very readable book. I gobbled it down in one sitting, and only part of that is because I'm procrastinating on the grant application I'm supposed to work on today. The characters are sympathetic, the prose is smooth, and the pacing's good - it's just an all-round easy read. There's nothing very surprising about it, but it's pleasant, with a happy ending, and fingers crossed that the library has the rest in the series because I've got more grant applications due than this one, and this is the perfect way to put them off. Also, I really like blackberries. 

emilyhei's review

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4.0

After an injury has left Army vet, Michelle Sanderson, needing to recover, she returns home to Blackberry Island Inn which she inherited years ago. Wanting to convalesce and put the haunting memories behind her, she is surprised to find the last person she ever expects to see again in her suite.
Single mother Carly Williams has had to endure a lot to get where she is today. She is ready to let the past go and start fresh but it is looking like she is about to have another setback, as Michelle comes back into her life creating a frazzled storm in her wake. Once friends turned enemies, both have the chance to find a new path that could lead to a friendship that is worth having, if they can put their issues behind them in order to move forward. -

Full review on Single Titles
http://singletitles.com/?p=6828

tanyarobinson's review

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2.0

A juvenile and predictable storyline plus inconsistent mediocre characters equals a forgettable and unproductive way to have passed a few hours.

jazzrizz's review against another edition

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4.0

Mallery is fast becoming one of my must-read authors. I got hooked on the Fool's Gold books, and Barefoot Season is a great introduction to Blackberry Island.