Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Litfuse Publicity, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Barefoot Summer by author Denise Hunter!

Denise Hunter’s “Barefoot Summer” Summer Sun Giveaway! 

Book Review 

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter
Book 1: A Chapel Springs Romance Series
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Format: Paperback - 336 pages / Kindle - 810 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 1401687008
Genre: Christian Fiction / Contemporary Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Barefoot Summer

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Litfuse Publicity.

Book Description:

Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.

To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.

Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.

Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

Book Excerpt:


Madison McKinley scanned the crowded town hall, wondering how many of her friends and neighbors she'd have to fight to get what she came for. Half of Chapel Springs had turned out to support the fire department. The faint scent of popcorn and coffee from last night's rotary club meeting still lingered in the air, and the buzz of excitement was almost palpable.

When she reached the front of the line, she registered for her paddle, then looked for her mom. She spotted Joann McKinley seated on the left, near the old brick wall.

Before Madison could move, Dottie meyers appeared in the busy aisle. "Madison, hello, dear. I was wondering if I could bother you about Ginger. I found a little knot behind her leg. I'm worried it might be something serious."

Last time it had only been a burr. Still, Madison set a hand on the woman's arm. "I'm sure it's fine, but I'll have Cassidy call you tomorrow and squeeze you in, okay?"

"All right, everyone," the emcee was saying into the mike. "It's about that time."

"Thank you so much, dear," Dottie was saying. "I'm so excited about this year's play. It's called Love on the Line. You are planning on coming out again, aren't you? You'll be fabulous as Eleanor."

Auditions were still two months away. "Looking forward to it. See you tomorrow." Madison participated in the town's production every year. She enjoyed the theater, and the proceeds supported the local animal shelter, a cause she was committed to. 

She turned toward her mom and ran straight into a wall. "Ooomph."

Or a chest. A hard chest.

She looked up into the face of the one man she least wanted to see, much less slam into. She jumped back, looking square into his unfathomable coal-colored eyes.

She nodded once. "Beckett."

He returned the nod. "Madison."

His black hair was tousled. He wore a Dewitt's marina work shirt and at least two days' stubble. His jaw twitched. She hadn't spoken to him since she'd confronted him two weeks ago—for all the good it had done.

"Please take your seats," the emcee said.


She stepped to the left at the same time as Beckett. He was wide as Boulder Creek and twice as dangerous. She'd always thought so. The incident with her little sister had only confirmed it.

"Excuse me," she said.

He slid right and swept his arm out as if to say, After you, princess.

She shot him a look, then hurried down the aisle and slid into a metal chair beside her mom.

"Hi, sweetie. Good day?" Mom's short blond hair and blue eyes sparkled under the fluorescent lights, but it was her smile that lit the room. 

"Twelve dogs, seven cats, two bunnies, and a partridge in a pear tree."

Beckett passed her row and slid into a seat up front by his sister. Layla had long brown hair and a model-pretty face. Their mom must've been beautiful, though Madison didn't remember her. Beckett leaned over and whispered something to his sister.

Madison tore her eyes away and loosened her death grip on the auction paddle. She refused to think about Beckett O'Reilly tonight.

The emcee took the podium and spoke about the importance of the fire station and their financial needs, then she introduced the auctioneer—hardly necessary since he also ran the local gas station. Moments later the bidding was under way.

Madison's eyes swung to Beckett's dark head. She could swear he was stalking her lately. He seemed to be everywhere she turned. If anything, the man should be avoiding her. Should feel ashamed of ... well, whatever he did to Jade.

Madison tracked the auction items, ticking off each one as they sold to the highest bidder. A handmade quilt, piano lessons, pie of the month, a cabin rental at Patoka Lake, and dozens of other things generously donated by the community.

Someone had made a miniature replica of the town's sign. Welcome to Chapel Springs, Indiana, it said. Prettiest River Town in America. A writer from Midwest Living had used the phrase twelve years ago, and the town had squeezed every last drop from it.

Evangeline Simmons, eighty-five if she was a day, amused all by driving up the bids. It was no secret that the fire department had saved her beloved Persian from a tree last month. So far her generosity had left her with two items she probably had no need for. But money was no object for Evangeline.

People trickled out as the auction wore on. Beckett left after losing a tool kit. Over an hour later, Madison grew tense as her item came up. The auctioneer read from the sheet.

"All right, ladies and gentlemen, this next one's a winner. Dewitt marina has kindly donated a sailing/regatta package. Lessons taught by sailing enthusiast Evan Higgins. Learn how to race on the beautiful Ohio river, just in time for our 45th Annual river Sail regatta, and sail with Evan Higgins, winner of the regatta for two years running! Now, who'll give me five hundred?" Madison's grip tightened on the handle, waiting for the auctioneer to lower the bid. Her breath caught in her lungs.

Patience, girl.

"All right, a hundred, who'll give me a hundred? A hundred-dollar bid ...?"

Casually, Madison lifted her paddle.

"A hundred-dollar bid, now a hundred fifty, who'll give me one and a half ...?"

In her peripheral vision she could see her mom's head swing toward her just as Evangeline raised her paddle—and the bid.

"A hundred fifty, who'll give me two, now two ...?"

Madison lifted her paddle, keeping her eyes straight ahead.

"Two hundred, now who'll give me two fifty, fifty, fifty ... ?Got it! Now three, three hundred, who'll give me three ...?"

Madison sighed, waited a moment before nodding.

"Three, now who'll give me three and a half, three fifty, fifty, fifty ...?"

Evangeline turned toward Madison, her eyes twinkling. She raised her paddle.

Evangeline. Madison hadn't counted on spending so much. Would serve the lady right if she dropped out. Just imagining the spry old woman on the bow of a boat, trying to manage the ropes and sails and whatnot, all four-foot-eleven of her ... It was tempting.

Madison could, after all, just go down to the marina and buy the lessons, but then she wouldn't be virtually assured of a win, would she? She needed Evan Higgins for that.

"Three fifty, do I hear three fifty ...? Got it! Now four, who'll give me four ...?"

A murmur had started in the crowd that remained, a few chuckling at Evangeline's antics.

The woman lifted her paddle.

"And now we're at four and a half, four and a half, who'll give me five, five, five ...?"

Madison clenched her jaw. She glared at Evangeline's silver head. It's a good cause. It's a good cause.

"And we have five, five, who'll give me five fifty, five fifty, five and a half ...?"

The rumbling had grown louder, though half the crowd was gone now that the auction was nearly over. The remaining people were being rewarded for their patience with a good show. 

"Five fifty, fifty, fifty ...?"

Evangeline turned, and their eyes met. Her thin lips widened into a grin, then she folded her hands on top of her paddle.

"I've got five, now, five fifty, five fifty ... anyone, five fifty ...?

And ... sold at five hundred to Madison McKinley."

Madison expelled a heavy breath. She was five hundred dollars poorer, but she had her lessons. She was going to learn to sail, and she was going to win the regatta. For Michael's sake.

My Book Review:

Barefoot Summer is a heartwarming story about two people who learn to come to terms with their past, overcome their issues with a renewed faith, and look towards a future filled with hope and love. Author Denise Hunter weaves an inspirational and tender story written in the third person narrative and set in the picturesque river town of Chapel Springs, Indiana, that follows the journey of self-discovery, transformation and romance of Madison McKinley and Beckett O'Reilly.

Twenty-six year old veterinarian Madison McKinley still grieves over the loss of her twin brother Michael in a drowning accident ten years ago. She wants to honor her late brother's memory by fulfilling his dream of being the youngest winner (by the age of twenty-seven) of the town's annual sailing regatta on the Ohio River, hoping that she will be able to let go of the painful past and move forward with her life. But there is one issue standing in her way: she is afraid of water, and doesn't know how to swim or sail.

Beckett O'Reilly is a reformed bad boy and son of the town drunk. Even though he has not followed in his father's footsteps, the stigma and low self-esteem still plagues him even though he has turned to God and has found his faith. Beckett has been in love with Madison McKinley since high school, but he lives on the other side of the tracks, and she is way out of his league.

Madison wins a sailing / regatta package at a local charitable auction. The package includes sailing lessons with two-time regatta winner Evan Higgins. But when Evan is unable to provide the lessons, Beckett steps in to teach Madison how to swim and sail. As the lessons progress, a mutual attraction develops between Madison and Beckett, but Beckett harbors a secret that will test their new found love. Can their relationship survive, or will the secret tear them apart? Can they come to terms with their past and learn to move forward with their lives?

Barefoot Summer is so much more than a typical summer romance story, it is a story that delves into the issues of faith, grief /loss, secrets, forgiveness, low self-esteem and inferiority complex. I loved following Madison and Beckett's journey to reconcile their issues with the past, and the slow building development of their romantic relationship. The story has enough intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages. The author provides the reader with the alternating perspectives of Madison and Beckett, which allows the reader to really get to know both of the characters.

Mixed with humor, sadness, drama, suspense and romance, this heartwarming story brings together two broken people who have struggled with faith and past heartache, to learn to overcome the obstacles and move forward in their lives with a renewed faith by healing grace of God.

Barefoot Summer is a lighthearted summer story filled with inspiration and romance that will lift your spirits and leave a smile on your face.

Barefoot Summer is the first book in A Chapel Springs Romance series.


About The Author

Denise Hunter lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Litfuse Publicity

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Denise Hunter’s “Barefoot Summer” Summer Sun Giveaway! 

Denise Hunter is celebrating her new Chapel Springs Romance series with a Summer Fun Giveaway.

The first book, Barefoot Summer, is already a favorite with readers. “Hold-your-breath romance, heartache, and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s more than a good read. It’s a delight.” -- Lisa


Summer: it’s all about sunny skies, star-gazing, swimming, spending time with loved ones, and living as if a small part of the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.

Get ready for some serious summer fun with Denise’s 12-Day Summer Sun giveaway. From June 10-21, keep your computer near as you head to the lake or your friend’s barbecue because Denise will be giving away a summer essential each day!

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