RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire


Title: Barefoot in the Sand
Author: Roxanne St. Claire
Publication Info: Forever 2012
ISBN: 9781455508211
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Barefoot in the Sand This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by SisterSadie . This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Best Contemporary Single Title category.

The summary:     

When a hurricane roars through Lacey Armstrong's home on the coast of Barefoot Bay, she decides all that remains in the rubble is opportunity. A new hotel is just what Mimosa Key needs, and Lacey and her teenage daughter are due for a fresh start. And nothing, especially not a hot,younger architect, is going to distract Lacey from finally making her dreams a reality.

Love has already cost Clay Walker everything. And if he's going to have any chance of picking up the pieces of his life, he needs the job as Lacey Armstrong's architect. What's not in the plans is falling for the headstrong beauty.

Her vision of the future is more appealing than anything he could have ever drafted for himself.

Will Clay's designs on Lacey's heart be more than she can handle, or will she trust him to build something that will last forever?

And here is SisterSadie review:

I didn't finish Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire. This book began well and caught my attention quickly, but then little inconsistencies, bad descriptions, and irritating character flaws started to pile up. Maybe I'm hormonal or something but all the little nitpicky things I usually overlook and let go started to really piss me off. I got about 45% of the way through the book, and realized I didn't care what happened to these characters or whether I finished the book.

Barefoot in the Sand begins with Lacey Armstrong and her daughter Ashley riding out a hurricane on Barefoot Beach, Mimosa Key, an island in the Florida Keys. They hop into an old clawfoot bathtub and cover themselves with a mattress to stay alive. It sounded ridiculous but you never know what will work in a disaster, so I let it pass. The hurricane destroys the house Lacey inherited from her grandparents (we never learn their names). Lacey is determined to see the silver lining, even though she just lost her home and everything she owned. Instead of focusing on the loss of her possessions, she begins to envision a B&B where the house once stood, and decides she's going to go for it. With insurance money, she should be able to pull it off.

Lacey's parents, Marie and well, we never find out her father's name, are only mentioned a few times. They're the obligatory parents. The only family member you even learn anything about is that Marie is very critical and judgmental of Lacey, and that they all stay with Brother in New York, which frees up their house in Florida for Lacey and Ashley's use. Lacey should have just gotten an apartment on the mainland like any other human being would have done. Problem solved, with no need for an absentee family.

Lacey contacts world-famous architectural firm Walker Architecure and Design and gets an email back from someone with the name of Clayton Walker, who she assumes is the CEO and owner of the firm, a middle-aged man with years and years of experience building massive resorts. The man that shows up is even younger than she is and has shaggy hair, a fabulous set of abs, and a tattoo (which St. Claire never describes, which left me to picture a douchebag tribal armband). He approaches 14-year-old Ashley on the beach to try to find Lacey, and Lacey becomes a she-woman supermom, charging the beach and confronting a man she thought might be flirting with Ashley. He reveals that he IS Clayton Walker, Junior. She tries to send him away but he leaves his drawings with her for her to review. Which are exactly what Lacey would have envisioned for herself, given the drawing skills.

Over the course of the next few chapters, we find out Clay is seven years younger than Lacey. It was a nice switch from older hero/younger heroine, but Lacey didn't act older. She acted like a simpering teenager. I understand lives get busy and there's so much to do when you have children, but she acts like a high schooler and not just around men. Lacey is an excuse machine, always working a way out of every plan she makes and finding ways to back out of things. She lets others' opinions change her mind about herself and her plans. She's a wimp with no backbone. Clay has a ten-year-plan, and Lacey doesn't even know what she's going to do tomorrow.

Clay worked for his dad's firm, becoming a brilliant architect. Clay, Sr. used Jr.'s designs for several famous resorts before everything fell apart. I'm not an architect and have no idea how licensure works for this vocation but after the *ominous organ music* family fell apart, Sr. somehow prevented Jr. from sitting his exams by taking credit for the designs Jr. drew up. This sounds possible, but improbable. Why would Jr. not have signed and registered his designs under his own name? Why would he have forfeited the credit to his father, even if he weren't fully accredited? Anyway, Clay sees Lacey's resort as his golden ticket to becoming a real architect. With this design, he can sit for his exams and get his license. Yay!

Clay's design for the resort starts out as a large resort and moves to a large resort with private cabins. Lacey's simple dream takes a backseat to Clay's golden ticket. He offers it to her as simple, and even though she has a degree in hospitality (I didn't even know that was a thing) and knows the basics, she is out of her league and getting further out when the plans suddenly include an organic garden, restaurant, and spa. Clay is using this as a vehicle for his career with no thought of what this could do to Lacey and har daughter. Lacey is so fueled by her sexypants for Clay that she sort of just goes along for the ride. Their massive justification for moving dorward despite the inexperience of all involved is that Mimosa Key needs to move into the 21st century and this resort could help it do just that. And it's Lacey's DREAM *bat your eyelashes for full effect*. There, don't you see it? Neither did I.

Lacey's friends Jocelyn, Tessa, and Zoe show up pretty early on for moral support after the hurricane. They hear about her plan and meet Clay. The encourage Lacey to pursue a relationship with Clay. They support her DREAM and bounce around a lot without adding much to the story. Tessa is a recent divorcee who suggests the organic garden, then offers to invest in the resort and stay to run the garden. Jocelyn is a life coach who also offers to invest. Zoe….well, she's a lot of fun, but can't invest or stay to help. Each one has issues to work out. There's MASSIVE foreshadowing, these girls are the characters in the remaining three books in the series, the last of which will release October 2013.

At first I loved the idea of Lacey and Ashley having a lot of support after the disaster they survived. The bad thing is, these four are terrible friends. Each one has a bigbad secret they're keeping from everyone else. No one asks what's wrong when one of them is glum. Their glumness is noted, but not explained except in subtext. I don't need an infodump, but a little explanation would have made all this less annoying.

Ashley is used as the dreaded plot moppet, at least as far as I read. She's angsty, secretive, constantly on her phone or computer. She does facilitate a reunion between her father, David, and Lacey. All this did was irritate the hell out of me. David shows up, tells Lacey he only goes by his last name, Fox, and tries to reintegrate into their lives again. And she, get this, LETS HIM DO IT. She goes on and on about how she feels nothing for him, but still mentions how little he's aged, how good he looks, how impressed she is with his new chef skills. GAG ME WITH A GOLDEN SKI POLE! He claims to have 'seen the light' and to have realized what was really important in life. Now he wants Lacey back and wants to have another baby.

There is an obstacle to building the resort on Mimosa Key. Older folks on the island don't want change. Literally, that's it. They've manipulated the town council bylaws to forbid the building of any hotel or motel with more than five bedrooms. To me, this sounds simple to overcome. Clay and Lacey appear to have done that when I stopped reading, they had found the original and official lawbook for Mimosa Key and had the older residents' plan scuppered.

St. Claire's descriptions get silly sometimes. Even nonsensical.

Clay describes Lacy:

Shiny, curvy, bright, and beautiful.

I'm only ever shiny after a run. Not beautiful. And bright? Huh?

Clay and Lacey go on a date and he describes her makeup:

She wore more makeup than he'd seen her wear before, including something really shiny on her lips that he just wanted to lick.

Men know it's called lip gloss and that it doesn't taste that good. And, any man licks my lips for me and we're gonna have problems.

This doesn't even BEGIN to describe the first sexual encounter. They start getting into it, up against a wall. Then, smack in the middle, a fucking conversation!

He caressed her thighs, pushing her skirt up around her waist to reveal her black lace panties. He looked up with a smile.

“Those girls know how to dress you for a date.”

“Zoe,” she said.

“I like her.”

“She tried to get me to buy edible.”

He goes for oral instead of the whole show, and while he's down there:

“Clay…” She could barely speak, her legs and arms splayed against the wall, her fingers digging in so hard she could peel the paint.

Who the hell is holding her up there?! Force of will? VELCRO?!

And for me, the dealbreaker in any sex scene.

“Oh my gawd, oh my gawd, oh…my…there.”

Ugh….like I need orgasm-speak spelled out. And to write “gawd” anywhere in any novel? Done deal. I'm over it. The bad part is, that's apparently not the orgasm anyway. Next paragraph, she gets there and loses her shit, thinking she's making a huge mistake. She's using him, he's using her, all that blah blah blah blah blah.

In lieu of going on and on about a book I didn't even finish, I'll just list a few more things that made me wanna dig out my corneas and replace them with onion skin.

  1. She's a single mom who is afraid of facing people alone, despite the whole single-mom-to-a-teenager thing. WTF?!
  2. Clay has relationship issues because his girlfriend, who he at one time says he was thinking of marrying and at another says the relationship was all but over anyway, married his dad. Let it go.
  3. Jocelyn has not only a daddy issue that keeps her from going to one end of the island (where the father lives, we presume), but also an apparent high school ex (apparent because no one lets us in on the secret) who just suddenly shows up. Note that these women are around 36-37 years old.
  4. Zoe also has an ex who just shows up out of the blue exactly where she is. Note, she lives in Arizona. And so did this guy. She also mentions an aunt Pasha who she can't leave, even though she's currently in Florida while said aunt is in Arizona.

The book had bright points. Some lines made me laugh out loud. There are a couple of tender moments between Lacey and Ashley. There are moments where the book had incredible potential. It was wasted on these characters. I didn't get a clear picture of any of them and honestly felt more than once that this book was a vehicle for the other books in the series.

 This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    laj says:

    Oh Sarah…..I really hated this book!  I stopped reading soon after the “friends” and the local mean ladies showed up.  Also hate hate hate the kind of father/son issue trope this book presented.  I have read other books by St.Claire that were pretty good, so this was a big disappointment.

  2. 2
    rebeccaj says:

    “Oh my gawd, oh my gawd, oh…my…there.”

    wasn’t the orgasm? so basically that’s’ the romance novel equivalent to “that’s not iiiiiiiiiiiit”:)

  3. 3
    De says:

    The front cover, what is he wearing?  That’s just eye burningly bad!

  4. 4
    Karen H says:

    Thank You!  I read the book ( skimmed ) and felt the same way as you.  I recall feeling guilty because I’ve read other books by this author and enjoyed them.  I thought I was being cranky when ALL the characters irritated me.  It turns out it was just a crappy book. Guilt gone.

  5. 5
    GenghisMom says:

    HA! SO funny! This is a good review!

    You know, I don’t disagree with most of what you are saying, SadieSister. It just didn’t override my enjoyment of their H/H relationship development.

    I always have a difficult time with books where the main characters annoys me. (And the heroine DID annoy me at times.) I mean, there are people out there like her; women who haven’t fully become independent and confident. I’m not sure where you finally called it quits, but she does pull herself together. She does grow as a character and finally stand on her own.

    As for letting the “father” into the picture, I can actually realistically sympathize with that. I have a son who’s “father” dropped out of the picture early on, but if my son ever showed any indication that he wanted a relationship with him, I would totally facilitate it for his sake. (I would NOT however let him stay in my HOUSE!)

  6. 6
    Nancy says:

    This book doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I wanted to comment and say that the characters did properly react to the hurricane. I grew up in a hurricane-prone area and we were taught in school to get into a room without windows, usually a bathroom, and get into the bathtub. You cover yourself with a mattress to protect yourself from falling debris.

  7. 7

    Hi Sarah, I can’t comment on that book, but I have found myself giving up on more and more books lately. I just have too much going on (and too many other books to read) to waste my time on characters that I don’t like.

  8. 8
    Rebecca says:

    Chiming in to agree with Nancy about the bathtub being the safest place during a hurricane, and also to say that a degree in hospitality management is most definitely a real thing.  Cornell University has a school of hotel administration, and several schools within the City University of New York system offer it as a major.  (I’m sure there are other programs in other parts of the country, but those are the ones I’m familiar with.)

  9. 9
    Faellie says:

    It must have been the best insurance payout in history to cover even the initial upgrade, let alone a complete new resort.

    I am really tired of romance books where the heroine is alone in the world and all her family are absent/dead/estranged.  It’s a teenager-type trope, and I prefer my romance properly grown up.  (The main alternative to the pluckily alone heroine seems to be the heroine with a ginormous and overly-interfering family.  Can we please have some romance heroines with a normal quantity of normal family? -in so far as any family is normal, of course)

    captcha: stay35 – what a good idea

  10. 10
    Ejaygirl says:

    It’s really hard for me to take the review seriously since you didn’t finish the book. I can understand you having a hard time identifying with the characters but don’t understand the complaint about getting a clear picture of them after not even getting 50% of the way through the book.

    I appreciate knowing why a book is a DNF for anyone. However, this looks more like a review of a completed book and I feel bad for St. Claire that her work was given such short shrift.

  11. 11
    Becks says:

    I also could not deal with this book, mainly because she got every step of what it takes to become an architect (and the whole “practicing architecture without a license” thing) completely wrong, which is a thing that can be looked up on the internet. Without particularly good Google skills.

    Now, I know that generally romance novels depict all professions with a breathtaking lack of accuracy, but when it’s a profession I’m familiar with, the rest of the story has to be really good to distract me from the glaring errors. And this one just wasn’t. A DNF for me as well.

  12. 12
    Amanda says:

    I’m hung up on your comment about not knowing about a hospitality degree.  What do you think those operators and hotel developers went to school for?  Bankers also have finance degrees and lawyers have law degrees.

  13. 13
    SisterSadie says:

    Thanks everyone for reading my review! Keep the comments coming, I am loving it!

    Thanks girls for letting me know a bathtub and a mattress is a good strategy for riding out a hurricane. I’m glad I got that clarified!

    Amanda, it may sound ignorant or stupid but I just never really thought about a hospitality degree. I wasn’t trying to be rude about the industry. I have no experience in hospitality whatsoever and never really thought about it. I was sure St. Clair didn’t make the degree up, it makes total sense that you would have to go to school to run a hotel.

    Ejaygirl, I understand and knew that I would get at least one comment like yours. I couldn’t identify with the characters because at the point I stopped reading I still got characters scrambled. There really was no clear picture. I couldn’t have read another page of this book if someone had paid me to do it.

    Charlotte Cooper, I agree! I think I’ve set down more books this year than I have in the last ten combined. I get partway through, say ‘Meh,’ and move on. I’ve also been rereading old stuff a lot.

    I’m glad others have read this book and I can read their takes, or see that I was not alone. I thought maybe PMS had taken over on me and I had been a total bitchcake! I wanted to throw my Kindle more than once.

  14. 14
    SB Sarah says:

    I think DNF reviews are often very illuminating – what bugs one reader may be another reader’s catnip, which seems to be the case with this book, since there’s a second review for the same book wherein GenghisMom gave it a B. That’s why I ran them together.

  15. 15
    Amanda says:

    I hope that I didn’t come off as a jerk. Anyway, after hitting send I realized that while making my hospitality degree point, I was off on the bankers.  They do not go to finance school and clearly I won’t be writing any books about bankers since I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    But anyway, thank you for the review because the most important information that I gained from this was that this story will probably cause me to cringe more than a person should cringe while reading a romantic story, and I hate cringing.

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