By Susan Mallery
Mira Books, $14.95, 365 pages

Barefoot Season, the first book in the new Blackberry Island series from popular romance novelist Susan Mallery, explores the damaged friendship between Michelle Sanderson and Carly Williams. After ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan, Michelle has returned home to the idyllic Blackberry Island, located off the coast of Washington state, to claim her inheritance—Blackberry Island Inn. Injured in the war and resentful after a decade of estrangement from her late mother and former best friend, Michelle is angry and defensive. Her mother Brenda nearly bankrupted the inn in her absence and Michelle suspects Carly of being complicit in its destruction. However, single mother Carly dedicated years of her life to keep Brenda’s inn afloat with the understanding that she would become partial owner. When Michelle returns, Carly learns this couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite a bitter feud that involves their families and has left both women feeling betrayed, Michelle and Carly will need to work together to save their beloved inn. Will they be able to salvage their friendship and the inn over the course of one summer? Mallery’s many fans will relish this poignant tale of shattered friendships, new loves, overcoming the trauma of war and the enduring power of healing and redemption. Be sure to dip into this touching summer read with a warm slice of blackberry pie.

Reviewed by Laura Di Giovine