"Life is filled with difficulties. This isn't heaven. We have these big mountains, set right in front of us, and we have no choice but to climb.
Her mom looked down, took a long moment, then squeezed Madison's hand. "When you were a little girl, you didn't like going barefoot, you remember? You had such tender feet."
"The grass tickled, and the sticks and rocks hurt."
"Even that time we went to Lake Michigan, you wore your sandals on the beach except when you were on your towel."
"The sand was hot."
"You remember Michael though?" Mom laughed. "Mercy, I couldn't keep that boy in shoes. It was all I could do to make him keep them on at church. I'd come into the nursery and there his socks would be, all balled up in the corner, and him running around barefoot."
Madison smiled at the remembrance. "We were different as day and night."
"But still so close." Mom tucked Madison's hair behind her ear and looked at her knowingly. "Sometimes we have to find the courage to take off our shoes and feel it all. Even the bad stuff."
"Sometimes those negative feelings are so strong, they're overwhelming, and it's easier to just not deal with them. But they always come out one way or another. You've always been afraid of feeling, Madison. But death is part of life. Not my favorite part, not by a long shot. But God does not owe us ninety years on this earth. Life is a gift, however long it lasts. It's God's to give and take away as He sees fit. We go through life thinking we're entitled to our ninety, but we're not entitled to anything. All we can do is trust that He knows what He's doing. That He has a plan for all of us, and that no pain He allows in our life will go unused. I supposed realizing that has given me a measure of peace." (pg 235-236).
In the latest novel from best selling author Denise Hunter, Barefoot Summer, takes the reader in the life of Madison McKinley who lost her twin brother ten years ago when he drowned. Now plagued by unrelenting nightmares, Madison feels that the only way she'll find peace is to fulfill her brother Michael's dream to be the youngest winner at the town's annual regatta. But to do that, she'll have to conquer her fear of water and her fear of Beckett O'Reilly, who's the only one who can teach her to sail.
But Beckett O'Reilly has his own secrets he's been carrying around for years. One that started at a high school dance and has impacted the lives of the McKinley's to this day. If only he can find a way to dig deep inside and tell Madison what she needs to gain perspective in her life, but these days all she is doing is harboring a deep grudge inside against God for taking her brother away from her. If only he could find a way to help her find God and allow Him to heal the broken pieces in her life.
I received Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for a favorable review. Too often our fears of failure will hold us back from what potential God has planned in our lives. Too many times, we'd rather run and hide than face things head on. I love how Denise Hunter incorporates that into the first book in her Chapel Springs Romance series. It seems that despite all outward appearances in both Madison and Beckett, there lies deeper secrets that they both will have to come to terms and deal with. But are Beckett and Madison the only ones who are keeping secrets? You'll have to pick this novel up to find out! A perfect summer read and one that offers a powerful message between the cover. I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and even includes a discussion guide that is perfect for book clubs.
Barefoot Summer main lesson is about redemption. We see that constantly in the lives of both main characters, Madison and Beckett. Madison hopes to let go of her hurt and pain surrounding the death of her twin brother by fulfilling his dream to be the youngest sailor to win the regatta. The only problem is she can not swim, nor can she sail. Beckett has difficulty seeing himself as the new person he has become in Christ and with the help of Madison and the Lord he begins to heal.
The plot was refreshingly unique with the deep heart issues and the fun sailing lessons. I enjoyed the nautical feel to the story. The author did a great job developing Madison, I could relate so much with with her fear of water and her lack of expressive emotions. She felt real and was very down to earth. The author transitioned from both main characters and past and present with such ease. The writing style was simple, but so impact full. The emotions and spiritual topics ran deep and meaningful.
I can not wait to read the next installments the the series and would definitely recommend this book to others.
I received a complimentary copy, from Litfuse, in exchange for my independent and unbiased review.
Madison McKinley is a 26-year-old veterinarian back living in her home town of Chapel Springs, Indiana, and she has a dream. She wants to win the Annual River Sail Regatta in honour of her twin brother, Michael, a keen sailor who died when they were 17. There are only two things standing in her way: she doesn't know the first thing about sailing, and she is afraid of water.
She wins a sailing lesson-and-regatta package at a local charity auction, but her plans go awry when she finds the lessons won't be from married-with-children Evan Higgins, but with the very single Beckett O'Reilly, reformed bad boy and son of the town alcoholic. Beckett has had a long-time crush on Maddy, so is happy to give her lessons, as long as she doesn't find out how he feels about her, doesn't find out what happened between him and her sister, Jade, and doesn't discover his secretâ€”the one he doesn't know if she will be able to forgive.
The opening was a bit confusing as I tried to sort out all the characters (especially the many McKinley siblings), but I soon worked them all out and settled into enjoying a well-plotted story. It wasn't a straightforward romanceâ€”there were enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and give it a pleasant depth not found in many contemporary Christian romances. The one slight fault was perhaps the outcome of the regatta _
I really enjoyed Barefoot Summer. I liked the characters, I liked the way the author dealt with Madison's issues with Christianity, and I especially liked Beckett, who has overcome a difficult childhood to become a man anyone would be proud to know, despite his inferiority complex. I liked the style of writing, and I especially liked the way the author introduced the various characters in the McKinley family, obviously setting us up for a sequel (which I will look forward to reading).
Odd as it might seem, I read two books in a row about a twin who lost their faith in God when they lost their twin to death, this and An Open Heart by Harry Kraus. I enjoyed Barefoot Summer much more, because I could really believe Madison's faith journey, and I found the characters easier to relate to. Yes, the plot was more predictable than that of An Open Heart, and perhaps even a bit corny at times, but the storytelling was better. Or maybe it's just that I like the romance_ A fun summer read (or, for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, for cuddling up by the fire with).
Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Booksneeze for providing a free ebook for review.
Madison is determined to put her twin brother's death, and the resulting nightmares, behind her, and she thinks that fulfilling Michael's dream of winning the town's annual regatta before their 27th birthday will accomplish both. Only two things stand in her way: her terror of water, and her fear of Beckett O'Reilly - the man who is going to teach her to sail. Beckett has his own reasons for being apprehensive about this arrangement, but is determined to see it through. Can Madison win the race? Can she find a way to move on? Will Beckett be the key to helping her heal, or will he only bring more pain?
I found myself really enjoying this book. I loved Madison's determination to train and win the regatta, even though she froze at the mere sight of water, and didn't even know how to swim. Although storylines of dead twins are really starting to freak me out, I could feel her grief that she'd refused to release about the loss of her other half. Her search for healing, and how faith might relate to that, was compelling, and I wanted her to find a way to live her life well without Michael. Beckett was an intriguing character on his own; his past and how he'd overcome it felt realistic and honest. He had scars from his past that still affected the way he saw himself, but he was trusting God to see him through his new life.
I was excited to see that this was the first book in a series; I hope that the following books continue to expand on the other characters in Madison's family and that we continue to keep tabs on Madison and Beckett.
I give this book 4 stars for enjoyability.
I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.