"Angels Bay is filled with hopes of the past and promises of the future."
Reviewed by Suan Wilson
Posted June 10, 2009
Jenna Davis fled to Angels Bay with her seven-year-old
daughter, Lexie, for anonymity. That changes in a flash
when she jumps into the bay to rescue a young pregnant
woman. Suddenly, the town focuses on Jenna and questions
arise about her past. When Reid Tanner, a reporter on
another assignment, captures her photograph after the
rescue, Jenna snatches his camera and destroys the picture,
which increases speculation about her.
Reid, who is recovering from his own personal and
professional crisis, stirs out of his depression. His
curiosity is aroused. All his instincts tell him Jenna is
in trouble and hiding out. As he tries to convince her to
let him help, Reid continues to work on his article about
mysterious symbols appearing on the cliffs. It ties into
the town's history of an old shipwreck, buried treasure and
the angels who protect the town.
Jenna and Lexie's pasts catch up with them resulting in a
terrible tragedy. The town responds with faith and hope as
it rallies around the wounded with love. Jenna and Reid
come full circle and rediscover trust, love and family at
Ms. Freethy begins a new series set in the picturesque
seaside town of Angels Bay. The close-knit community helps
its own. New residents in search of a safe harbor find a
sense of belonging and home in the community. Angels Bay,
brimming with old and new relationships, some floundering
and others new with hopes and dreams, promises many
poignant and heartwarming stories.
The first book in a new heart-tugging contemporary romance
series fromÂ bestselling author Barbara Freethy,Â set in the
California town of Angel's Bay.
Jenna Davies shivered as she headed out of the market
and down the dark, shadowy street that faced the harbor.
Thick fog rolled in off the Pacific Ocean, blowing a cool,
wet mist against her face. It was after nine oâ€™clock at
night, and if she hadnâ€™t needed milk for Lexieâ€™s breakfast,
she wouldnâ€™t have dragged Lexie out of their cozy, warm
house into the cold night air. But she certainly couldnâ€™t
leave her seven-year-old home alone.
Although she liked Angelâ€™s Bay for its remote
location on the rugged central California coast, there were
moments when the isolation made her nervous. In the
distance she could hear music coming from Murrayâ€™s Bar, the
popular pub where the locals and tourists hung out, but
this part of town was deserted. While the marina bustled
during the daytime, now the boats bobbing on the water took
on ghostly shapes that made her feel uneasy.
Jenna told herself not to let her imagination get the
best of her, but the eerie glow of the streetlights didnâ€™t
help -- nor did the feeling that someone could be following
her and she wouldnâ€™t even know it. Sheâ€™d covered her
tracks, but thinking she was safe wasnâ€™t the same as
feeling it down deep in her bones. Sometimes she wondered
if sheâ€™d ever feel that way again.
But Angelâ€™s Bay was home now, and after two months
she and Lexie were beginning to fit in. The private piano
lessons she taught made her enough money to live on. Lexie
had just finished first grade and would begin summer school
next week. Her nightmares continued to come, but she
wasnâ€™t so panicked anymore.
There was no reason to be nervous. Still, Jenna
tightened her hand around Lexieâ€™s as they hurried toward
Lexie stopped abruptly, pointing at the pier. â€śLook,
thereâ€™s an angel.â€ť
Jenna sighed. Lexie had been obsessed with angels
ever since theyâ€™d moved to town and heard the legend of the
famous shipwreck -- the people who hadnâ€™t made it to shore
and the angels that protected the bay. Lexieâ€™s imagination
had been fueled even more in recent days when an Internet
video had appeared showing apparitions dancing across the
water, and mysterious symbols appearing on the cliff face.
The video was drawing a flock of visitors to the town just
in time for the summer festival that would kick off
Jenna was about to tell Lexie she was imagining
things when her gaze caught on the shadowy figure at the
end of the pier. It appeared to be a woman in a flowing
dress, her long blond hair billowing out behind her as she
swung one leg over the railing, straddling it as she stared
down at the water below.
Jennaâ€™s heart began to pound. The hair reminded her
of Kelly, but that wasnâ€™t Kelly on the pier. It was
someone else -- someone who was in a very dangerous
The woman moved her other leg over the rail and stood
on the narrow board that was the only thing between her and
the water below. Holding on to the rail behind her, the
woman lifted her face to the sky as if offering up a silent
â€śDo you think sheâ€™s going to fly?â€ť Lexie asked. â€śIs
she going to heaven now?â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s not an angel.â€ť Jenna quickly opened the car
door and put her shopping bag on the backseat. Damn! The
last thing she needed was more trouble, but there was no
one else around, and as she glanced toward the pier once
again, the woman seemed to be swaying precariously. â€śLetâ€™s
go say hello. Make sure sheâ€™s all right.â€ť Jenna grabbed
Lexieâ€™s hand again and they walked swiftly toward the
They passed by the harbormasterâ€™s office, which was
dark and closed up for the night. The wind made Jennaâ€™s
eyes water, and she had to fight the almost irresistible
desire to turn around, go back to the car, get inside and
drive away. This wasnâ€™t her problem. She didnâ€™t need to
get involved, but still she kept moving forward.
â€śHello,â€ť she called as they neared the end of the
pier. â€śWhat are you doing? Do you need help?â€ť
The woman didnâ€™t give any indication that sheâ€™d heard
Jenna. Instead she lifted her face to the sky once again.
She let go of the rail -- first with one hand, then the
other -- stretching her arms out in front of her. A moment
later she let out a shrill, piercing scream and plummeted
off the pier.
Adrenaline surged through Jenna. She yanked off her
coat and shoes. â€śStay here, Lexie. Donâ€™t move a muscle.
Do you understand me? Do not go near the rail.â€ť
â€śWhat -- what are you doing? Where -- where are you
going?â€ť Lexie stuttered, fear in her eyes. â€śDonâ€™t leave
me.â€ť She grabbed onto Jennaâ€™s arm, her tiny fingers
tightening in terror.
Jenna squatted down so they were eye to eye. â€śIâ€™ll
be right back, Lexie. I have to save her, honey. Thereâ€™s
no one else.â€ť God, she wished there was someone else, but
not even the girlâ€™s scream had brought anyone out of the
nearby buildings or boats. Jenna gently disengaged Lexieâ€™s
fingers from her sleeve. She took out her cell phone and
punched 9-1-1. Handing the phone to Lexie, she said, â€śWhen
they answer, tell them to come to the pier, a woman is in
the water. Do you understand?â€ť
â€śAnd you stay right here,â€ť Jenna repeated. â€śDonâ€™t
take one step from this spot.â€ť
Her heart pounding, Jenna quickly moved to the rail
and climbed over. Fear ripped through her as she looked
down. It was a good fifteen to twenty feet to the water
below, and she wasnâ€™t a strong swimmer.
Jenna heard Lexie yelling into the phone, but help
wouldnâ€™t arrive soon enough. The girl was flailing her
arms, sinking beneath the dark waves.
Holding her breath, Jenna closed her eyes and jumped.
When she hit the water, the icy cold stopped her
heart. Weighted down by her clothes, it seemed to take
forever to get to the surface. Finally, taking welcome
gulps of air, she treaded water, searching for the woman.
It was dark and the current was moving fast, pushing Jenna
under the dark pier where there was no sign of the woman.
Was she too late?
Then she saw a swirl of bubbles and a hand, the top
of a head bobbing under the small waves. Swimming quickly,
Jenna dove under the water, grabbing the woman by the hair,
then by the arm. The woman struggled, but Jenna held on
tight, kicking and pulling until she got them both to the
surface. The woman coughed and blinked, her eyes dazed as
they met Jennaâ€™s.
â€śItâ€™s okay. Youâ€™re okay,â€ť Jenna said, but the
womanâ€™s eyes closed and she began to slip out of Jennaâ€™s
With her arm around the womanâ€™s neck, Jenna swam
toward the ladder at the end of the pier. The current was
working against her, and she was getting so tired, so cold.
What if she wasnâ€™t strong enough to get them both to
safety? An old, familiar and painful refrain ran through
her head: â€śYouâ€™re not good enough, you need to do better,
work harder, or youâ€™ll always be a failure, a
She thrust his voice out of her head. She wasnâ€™t
going to fail. She couldnâ€™t.
The sound of a siren gave her new strength, and she
swam harder. She could do this. By the time she reached
the ladder, she could hear pounding footsteps on the pier.
She had her hand on the first rung when a fireman
appeared. He climbed down to meet her, pulling the
unconscious woman from her grasp. Once he was up, another
fireman came down to help Jenna.
She was grateful for his strong hand, because she was
suddenly exhausted. Her arms burned from the pain of
exertion and her legs felt weak and wobbly. When she got
back on the pier, she fell to her knees as Lexie hurtled
herself into her arms and began to sob.
â€śItâ€™s all right. Iâ€™m fine,â€ť Jenna said comfortingly,
rubbing Lexieâ€™s back. â€śYou did really well, honey. Just
what I told you.â€ť Lexie continued to sob, her small arms
tight around Jennaâ€™s neck. â€śItâ€™s okay. Itâ€™s okay.â€ť
Finally, Lexie lifted her head, tears running down
her cheeks. Jenna was more than a little sorry that sheâ€™d
scared Lexie so badly. Fear was the last thing Lexie
needed in her life.
â€śI just had a little swim,â€ť Jenna said lightly,
smiling to make Lexie see that there was nothing to be
Lexie stared back at her. â€śI didnâ€™t think you would
â€śIâ€™m not going to leave you, Lexie. Not ever.â€ť
The fear slowly faded from Lexieâ€™s eyes as she
searched Jennaâ€™s face for the truth. Finally satisfied,
she nodded. â€śOkay.â€ť She wiped her face with the sleeve of
her sweater. â€śHow come the angel didnâ€™t fly?â€ť
â€śSheâ€™s not an angel, honey.â€ť As Jenna looked over at
the young woman on the pier who was now coughing up sea
water, she let out a relieved breath that she was alive.
The girl was much younger than sheâ€™d realized, probably
sixteen or seventeen. Her long blond hair hung in wet
strands against her pale cheeks. Her eyes were now wide
open and confused. Did she realize how close sheâ€™d come to
dying? Why on earth would she have wanted to kill
Jenna looked up as a police officer approached â€“ it
was Joe Silveira, the chief of police. Sheâ€™d seen him
around town. He was in his mid to late thirties and had
most recently been with the Los Angeles Police Department.
He had an excellent reputation for being highly intelligent
and keenly perceptive, two reasons sheâ€™d avoided talking to
him. Blending in, not standing out had been her goal â€“
until now. Her nerves tightened.
â€śWhy donâ€™t you wrap this around you?â€ť the chief
suggested, holding out a blanket. â€śYou must be freezing.â€ť
â€śThank you.â€ť Jenna stood and wrapped the blanket
around her shoulders as a chill rocketed through her body,
making her teeth chatter. She needed to get home, get
warm, and get the hell away from the cops.
â€śIâ€™m Chief Silveira. I donâ€™t think weâ€™ve officially
met, although Iâ€™ve seen you at the cafĂ© a few times.â€ť
â€śJenna Davies. This is my daughter, Lexie.â€ť
The Chief smiled at Lexie and then looked back at
Jenna. â€śWhy donâ€™t I take you to the clinic, get you
At the medical center there would be forms to fill
out, questions to answer. â€śNo, Iâ€™m fine,â€ť she said
quickly. â€śA little cold, thatâ€™s all. I just need a hot
â€śAre you sure you donâ€™t want to see a doctor?â€ť
â€śAll right. I donâ€™t want to keep you out here in the
night air, but can you tell me what happened?â€ť
â€śLexie and I were coming out of the market, and we
saw the girl climb over the railing. When she jumped into
the water, I jumped in after her.â€ť
â€śThat was very courageous,â€ť the chief
commented. â€śIâ€™m impressed.â€ť
She didnâ€™t want him to be impressed. She didnâ€™t want
him to think anything about her. But it was too late to
reclaim her invisibility. â€śI did what anyone would have
done,â€ť she said with a shrug.
â€śI sincerely doubt that. Do you know who the girl
â€śIâ€™ve never seen her before.â€ť
â€śNeither have I,â€ť the chief said heavily, casting a
quick glance back at the young woman who was being loaded
onto a gurney. â€śAnd I know just about all the teenagers in
town. So youâ€™re saying she jumped? She didnâ€™t fall? It
wasnâ€™t an accident?â€ť
Jenna shook her head. â€śShe definitely climbed over
the railing and let go. I hope sheâ€™ll be all right.â€ť
â€śI imagine you saved her life.â€ť He paused, his gaze
focusing once again on her. â€śShe didnâ€™t say anything to
you when you were in the water?â€ť
Jenna shook her head. â€śNothing. Can I go now?â€ť She
handed the blanket back to the chief and grabbed her coat
and shoes from the dock.
â€śSure. I might have more questions for you in the
morning, if you donâ€™t mind.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ve told you all I know. It happened very fast.â€ť
Chief Silveira nodded. â€śTake care of yourself then.â€ť
â€śI will.â€ť Jenna quickly made her way through the
gathering crowd. She heard a few people call her name, but
she kept on moving. She had just gotten Lexie into her car
when a camera flash went off in her face. Blinded, she put
up a hand, but not before the man snapped another picture.
She threw her coat and shoes into the car, then
turned on him, anger ripping through her. It had been a
long night, and it was getting longer. â€śWhat the hell are
you doing? Why are you taking my picture?â€ť For a moment,
she had the terrible fear that sheâ€™d been tracked down.
â€śYou just saved a girlâ€™s life,â€ť the man said,
lowering his camera. â€śYouâ€™re a hero.â€ť
She frowned. In the shadows, all she could tell was
that he was a tall man with broad shoulders and long, wavy
brown hair, wearing jeans and a black jacket over a dark T-
shirt. â€śWho are you? Youâ€™re not from the Angelâ€™s Bay
Daily News.â€ť The local photographer was a sixty-year-old
woman named Gladys.
â€śReid Tanner. And, no, Iâ€™m not from the Angelâ€™s Bay
Daily News, although I have come looking for angels,â€ť he
She should have guessed he was here because of the
popular Internet video. â€śYou wonâ€™t find any angels around
â€śToo bad. So, whatâ€™s your name?â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s not important.â€ť Before he could move, she
grabbed his camera and dove into her car, slamming and
locking the door behind her.
â€śHey, I need that,â€ť he said, knocking on the window.
Jenna ignored him, fiddling with the buttons on the
obviously expensive digital camera.
â€śWhat are you doing? Why did you take that manâ€™s
camera?â€ť Lexie asked. â€śHeâ€™s get --getting mad,â€ť she added
with a worried stutter.
â€śItâ€™s okay, honey. Itâ€™s rude to take pictures of
people when theyâ€™re â€“ when theyâ€™re wet.â€ť She erased the
last two shots, then rolled the window down a few inches
and handed the camera back.
â€śYouâ€™re crazy,â€ť he said with a disbelieving shake of
his head. â€śI can take another picture of you.â€ť
â€śNot tonight you canâ€™t.â€ť She started the engine and
pulled away from the curb. In her rearview mirror she saw
him watching her, and she had the feeling sheâ€™d just made a
terrible mistake, thrown down a challenge. But what choice
had she had? She couldnâ€™t afford to have her photo in any
newspaper. She had to hope heâ€™d go back to wherever he
came from and forget he ever saw her.
If not, they might have to run again.
Reid stared at the disappearing taillights, feeling
as if he were awakening from a long, deep sleep. The last
eleven months had passed in a mind-numbing blur of one
endless day after another, weeks in which he spent most of
his time trying not to think or to remember. Heâ€™d taken
the freelance assignment for Spotlight Magazine to make
some quick cash while he tried decided whether or not he
wanted to return to the career that had once been his
When heâ€™d graduated from Northwestern and gotten a
job at the New York Times, heâ€™d never imagined that twelve
years later heâ€™d be covering anything less important than a
world war or a story of political or global importance,
certainly not sensationalist fodder like angels. No, at one
time heâ€™d been a passionate pursuer of truth and justice,
but his desire had made him reckless. Heâ€™d been willing to
do anything for a story, and a good friend had paid a
terrible price for his ambition.
In the deep of the night when he couldnâ€™t escape from
his thoughts, he could still see her casket being lowered
into the ground. He could hear the painful sobs coming
from the crowd and see the accusations in so many eyes. No
one came out and said, â€śThis is your faultâ€ť, but they
didnâ€™t have to. He knew it down deep in his soul, and
doubted he would ever escape the unrelenting pain of his
memories. Heâ€™d spent most of the past year trying to drink
his way into oblivion, but the problem with getting drunk
was that at some point he always sobered up.
Turning away from the action on the pier, Reid headed
down the street toward Murrayâ€™s. Heâ€™d been on his way to
the Irish pub when heâ€™d heard the sirens and on impulse
decided to follow. Old habits died hard, and heâ€™d been an
ambulance chaser since he was a kid. In the neighborhood
where heâ€™d grown up, police sirens had been standard fare
after midnight. He could still remember the flashing
strobe lights playing off his bedroom ceiling in the middle
of the night, the times when heâ€™d crept to the window to
watch the cops arrest someone in the alley behind the
apartment building where he lived.
Blowing out a sigh, he silently repeated his favorite
mantra. Donâ€™t look back, donâ€™t look forward and donâ€™t give
a damn. Most days it was easy to follow that plan and
today wouldnâ€™t be any different.
So what if heâ€™d had an unexpectedly intriguing
conversation with a stranger? He wasnâ€™t here to
investigate a suicide attempt or get distracted by a
courageous heroine. His focus was on the Internet video
that had sparked nationwide interest and the hope that
there was finally proof that angels existed â€“ a hope he
would shortly put an end to. Angels were no more real than
any other fairy tale character. They certainly werenâ€™t
walking the streets of Angelâ€™s Bay.
Or were they? The image of the ocean-soaked brunette
with the wary, angry eyes flashed through his head. Sheâ€™d
done something extraordinary. Sheâ€™d jumped into the dark
sea to save a strangerâ€™s life. What kind of a woman did
Hell, maybe she was an angel.
An angel with something to hide.
Damn. An irrepressible tingle of curiosity ran down
his spine. He didnâ€™t want to give into it. He was over
caring about truth, justice, and shining a light on the
evil in the world. He was not going to chase her down.
At least not tonight â€¦
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