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Barefoot Season
by Susan Mallery
(HQN, $14.95, PG-13) 978-0-7783-1338-0
Ten years ago, Carly Williams was pregnant and engaged to be married. Two days before the wedding she caught her friend Michelle Sanderson in bed with her fiance. Completely humiliated, Michelle left town and joined the army. Michelle is now headed back home to Blackberry Island to run the Inn she owns. Though in denial, she suffers from PTSD and hopes getting back to her old life will make the transition to civilian life easier.

Michelle is shocked when she arrives at the Inn. It's been remodeled, her former best friend turned enemy Carly is running it, and the bank is threatening foreclosure. Michelle's irresponsible mother, Brenda, had been running the Inn while Michelle was away, but she died a few months ago.

Carly is now a single mother both working and living at the Blackberry Island Inn. She loves the Inn and is proud of the work she has done there. Michelle has been out of the picture for ten years and Brenda lied to Carly by telling her that she would be part owner some day. When Carly found out Brenda didn't own the Inn she was devastated and worries about her future at the Inn.

Michelle has no choice but to keep Carly around. Even though they don't get along and have a very tremulous past, Michelle knows Carly is the key to help save the Inn. Michelle is on the brink of falling apart during her transition so she needs all the help she can get, even though she can't see for herself the faltering path her life is headed.

I've always been a big fan of Susan Mallery's romances and adding Barefoot Season to my reading list is a no-brainer. Even though this one is a women's fiction book and not a romance, I knew it would be good. Mallery never disappoints and in this book, she does an excellent job of creating two characters that in childhood have a common path, but have taken separate forks in adulthood. They are brought together now and have a lot of issues to work through, both personally and together. The reader gets an in-depth look at their journey and I'm certain everyone will enjoy it.

Barefoot Season is well paced and plot details are given along the way and not all at the beginning, which helps the reader stay engaged. It's a very emotionally charged story that will stick with you for a long time and Barefoot Season its earns 5 hearts.

--Nichole Howell

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