Book Review: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery- Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island #1)

Format- Paperback

Source- Review copy

Publisher- Harlequin/ MIRA

Publication date- April 2012

Synopsis- Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner’s suite occupied by the last person she wants to see.
Carly Williams and Michelle were once inseparable, until a shocking betrayal destroyed their friendship. And now Carly is implicated in the financial disaster lurking behind the inn’s cheerful veneer.
Single mother Carly has weathered rumors, lies and secrets for a lifetime, and is finally starting to move forward with love and life. But if the Blackberry Island Inn goes under, Carly and her daughter will go with it.
To save their livelihoods, Carly and Michelle will undertake a turbulent truce. It’ll take more than a successful season to move beyond their devastating past, but with a little luck and a beautiful summer, they may just rediscover the friendship of a lifetime.

Review- Barefoot Season probably falls under the contemporary women’s fiction category but strays from the usual focus on romance and concentrates on the family, friendships and personal development.

The story has two main characters; Michelle Sanderson an Army veteran who has returned home after ten years of service and her ex-best friend Carly, who runs Blackberry Island Inn- Michelle’s family business.

Michelle returns to Blackberry Island after being away for a decade, now she’s back and has to face her past as well as manage her PTSD and drinking problem. Michelle is a hard-edged character who uses dry humour and a blunt communicative style but there’s also a vulnerability that made me really like her. While she’s been gone Carly Williams has been running the Inn, trying to make ends meet as a single mother of a 9 year old girl. Given Michelle and Carly’s rocky history, Carly fears she will lose her job and home which is all in the hands of her returning employer, Michelle. Carly is also a survivor and stands up to Michelle and although Michelle treats her quite poorly throughout most of the book she does stand by her as a loyal friend and can see past Michelle’s nasty defences into her despair. They have to work together to keep the Inn afloat and keep the bank off their backs.

Their teenage betrayals, hurts and losses run deep and Michelle and Carly are constantly in battle between their past and present. I enjoyed the constant bickering between the two of them as they slowly but surely figured out where each other stood and their once strong friendship began to emerge again.

Barefoot Season was not what I expected, but I did enjoy it. The women are strong and resilient and they grow independently and together throughout the story. It deals with the effects of war, the long-term effects of abusive parenting and the strength of a childhood friendship to overcome the mistakes made in adolescence and to continue across the lifespan.

3.5/5 rating

Purchase book @

Fishpond/ Amazon/ Book Depository UK


  • Until a 18 months or so ago, I would have said that I didn’t actually read contemporary romance. However, then I discovered Robyn Carr and since then I have been devouring all sorts of contemporary romance. Susan Mallery has been recommended to me, especially a series that is connected to a foodie setting, but I haven’t tried her yet.

    • I enjoyed her writing, though i haven’t read any of Susan Mallery’s other titles. I wouldn’t say that romance is the focus of this book though. I haven’t heard of Robyn Carr but i just checked her out on Goodreads and she has written a LOT of titles! I’m off to my local secondhand bookstore this weekend, i think i’ll keep an eye out for her.

      • Start with Virgin River – so good! I also really like Jill Shalvis and I am starting to read Mariah Stewart as well, among many others!

  • Ahh Mariah Stewart sounds right up my ally, especially her romantic suspense titles. Yes, Virgin River sounds great.. will have to get my hands on that one and see what its like. Thanks for the recommendations Marg!

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