"A fast-paced romantic suspense filled with renewed, complicated relationships and plenty of mystery."
Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted March 13, 2010
Lauren Jamison returns to her hometown of Angel's Bay,
California, to make arrangements for the care of her father
who is suffering with Alzheimer's. It's the first time in
13 years that she has been back. The murder of her sister,
Abby, broke the family apart, and her mother took Lauren
and her brother to San Francisco. Lauren's plans to take
her father back to San Francisco with her quickly fall
Lauren learns that a film producer, Mark Devlin, is in town
wanting to make a movie about her sister's murder and is
looking to find a villain for his story. You see, Abby's
murder was never solved. He begins ruffling a lot of
feathers with his questions, placing suspicion on several
people in town. One of those people is Shane Murray, a
former boyfriend of Lauren's at the time of the murder.
Shane was also the last person to see Abby alive.
As Lauren and Shane hook back up, the sparks begin to fly
and an old flame is rekindled. When someone tries to run
over Mark Devlin with their car, Lauren and Shane set out
to find the murderer. Their journey takes them to the high
school where they break in to find old yearbook pictures.
Lauren feels that the pictures Abby took for the yearbook
hold the answer. And she feels Abby's missing diary holds
the answer, as well.
Will Lauren find the answers she seeks in the pictures and
the diary? Will she resolve her feelings for Shane? Will
she be able to leave Angel's Bay if she does find answers?
This compelling story is fast-paced, filled with renewed
acquaintances, complicated relationships and plenty of
mystery. You will love the story and be surprised on
several accounts by the ending.
The California coastal town of Angel's Bay has had its
share of troubles: from the long-unsolved murder of a
teenage girl to the young police officer recently left in a
coma after being shot. But miracles also have a way of
happening ... as if angels really do keep a watchful eye
there. In this touch and suspenseful novel, bestselling
author Barbara Freethy returns to the setting of her
acclaimed Suddenly One Summer
Lauren Jamison hasn't been back to Angel's Bay since she
was a teenager ... when her sister Abby was murdered and
Lauren's boyfriend, Shane Murray, was accused of the
crime. When Lauren reluctantly returns home to assist her
ailing father, the old attraction again flares between
Lauren and Shane. But the terrible days after Abby's
murder still stand between them, as well as the secrets
Shane has yet to unveil. Finding the truth could bring
closure ... but at a cost. For there are people who don't
want old mysteries brought to light -- people whose fear
makes them very dangerous
Just like before, the front door was ajar, every
light in the house was on, and a game show played on the
television. Lauren Jamison put down her suitcase, an
uneasy feeling running through her.
Thirteen years had passed since sheâd been home, but
the living room looked the same, the brown leather recliner
by the fireplace where her dad read the paper every
evening, the couch her sister Abby used to curl up on and
write in her journal, the table by the window where her
mother and little brother, David, played board games. The
furniture remained, but all of the people were gone, all
âDad,â she called.
The answering silence tightened her nerves. She
needed her father to appear, to remind her that this wasnât
like before. Because thirteen years ago sheâd returned
home late one night, an innocent seventeen-year-old, and
found the front door open, lights blazing and the sound of
her motherâs hysterical sobs. Nothing had been the same
after that moment.
The whistle of a tea kettle drew her toward the
kitchen door, but the room was empty. She turned off the
stove and moved into the hall, checking each bedroom. Her
fatherâs room was cluttered with clothes. Only the faded
floral curtains at the windows betrayed her motherâs once
important influence on the dĂ©cor. Davidâs bedroom had been
turned into an office that was covered in dust and papers.
The room at the end of the hall had belonged to her and to
The door was closed, and Laurenâs steps slowed. Her
father might have redone the room, boxed up Abbyâs things
and given them to charity -- or the room might look exactly
the same as it had the night Abby died. Her heart skipped a
She tapped on the door. âDad? Are you in there?â
When he didnât reply, she opened the door, scanned
the room quickly, and then pulled the door shut, her breath
coming hard and fast. Abbyâs side of the room was frozen
in time, as if it were still waiting for her to return.
Where the hell was her father? Sheâd called him that
morning and told him she was coming, and heâd seemed fine.
But according to the neighbors, who had sent numerous
letters to her mother over the past three months, her
fatherâs Alzheimerâs was getting worse. It was time for
someone in the family to come back and take care of him.
Her mother had refused. Sheâd divorced Ned Jamison eleven
years earlier, and she had no intention of reuniting with
him now. Her brother, David, was back east at college. So
Lauren had returned to Angelâs Bay to deal with a man who
was little more than a stranger to her. But he was still
her father, and she needed to find him; she just wasnât
sure where to look. She hadnât spent more than a half
dozen weekends with her dad since sheâd left home at
seventeen, and all those visits had occurred in San
Francisco. She didnât know who his friends were anymore,
what he did, where he went.
Or did she?
Her father had always been a creature of habit.
During her childhood, heâd spent most of his time at one of
three places, home, the bait and tackle shop heâd run up
until two years ago, and his fishing boat, the Leonora,
named after his great, great, great-grandmother, who had
been one of the founders of Angelâs Bay.
Lauren headed out the front door toward the marina.
It was only a half dozen blocks away, an easy ten minute
walk. She buttoned up her sweater as she hurried down the
street. It was seven oâclock on Friday night, the
beginning of the weekend, and there was already a chill in
the darkening September sky. Soon thereâd be pumpkins and
Halloween decorations on every porch, but for now the
neighborhood was quiet.
While some of the homes had been remodeled, the
streets were very familiar. Sheâd been born in Angelâs Bay,
and this neighborhood was where sheâd taken her first
steps, learned to ride a bicycle, roller skated into the
Johnsonâs rosebushes, gotten her first kiss in the
moonlight, fallen in love âŠ and fallen out of love.
She blinked away the sudden moisture in her eyes, and
picked up her pace. She had a life in San Francisco now,
an interesting job and good friends, and she had no regrets
about leaving her hometown. She just wished that she
hadnât had to come back.
By the time she reached Ocean Avenue, she was
breathless. She quickened her pace as she passed by the
Angelâs Heart Quilt Shop where she and Abby and their
mother had partaken in the townâs longstanding tradition of
community quilting. Quilting was the way mothers and
daughters, sisters and friends connected the past with the
present. Sheâd once loved to quilt, but she hadnât picked
up a needle and thread since sheâd left town. She didnât
want those connections anymore. Nor did she particularly
want to see anyone she knew now.
Crossing the street, she kept her head down as she
passed Carlâs Crab shack. The line was out to the sidewalk
and the delicious smells of clam chowder and fish and chips
made her stomach rumble. Sheâd done the four hour drive
from San Francisco without stopping for food; she certainly
couldnât make that stop now.
As she reached the marina, she saw a new sign on her
fatherâs bait and tackle shop which was now called Bradyâs
instead of Jamison's. The store was closed. She moved
down the ramp that led to the boat slips. Luckily the gate
had been propped open by a slat of wood, so she didnât need
a key. Her fatherâs old trawler had been moored at the
second to last slip in the third row since she was a little
girl. Hopefully it was still there.
The marina was quiet. Most of the action occurred in
the early morning or late afternoon when the sport and
commercial fishermen took off for a day of work or
pleasure. Her pulse quickened as the lights on her
fatherâs boat suddenly came on, followed by the sound of an
engine. She could see his silhouette in the inside cabin.
What on earth was he doing? He couldnât go out to sea by
Dad,â she yelled, breaking into a run. She waved
her arms as she screamed his name again, but either he
couldnât hear her, or he was ignoring her. By the time she
reached the slip, her fatherâs boat was chugging toward the
middle of the bay. She had to stop him. She needed to
call the Coast Guard or find someone to go after
him. âHello, hello, anyone here?â she called.
A man emerged from a nearby boat. She hurried down
âWhatâs going on?â he asked.
The familiar voice stopped her dead in her tracks,
and as he hopped on to the dock and into the light her
heart skipped a beat.
Shane. Shane Murray.
He moved towards her with the same purposeful,
determined step she remembered. She wasnât ready for this â
ready for him.
She knew the split second that he recognized her.
His step faltered, his shoulders stiffened, and his jaw set
in a grim line. He didnât say her name. He just stared at
her, waiting. Shane had never been one for words. Heâd
always believed actions spoke louder than explanations.
But sometimes the truth needed to be spoken, not just
implied or assumed.
âShane.â She breathed his name, wishing her voice
didnât sound so husky, so filled with memories. She
cleared her throat. âI â I need help. My father just took
off in his boat. I donât know if you know, but he has
Alzheimerâs.â She waved her hand toward the Leonora, the
lights of which were fading in the distance. âI need to
get him back. Will you help me? There doesnât seem to be
anyone else around.â When he didnât answer right away, she
added, âI guess I could call the Coast Guard.â
For a moment she thought he might say no. They
werenât friends anymore. If anything, they were enemies,
but finally Shane gave a crisp nod.
âLetâs go.â He didnât wait for a reply, just headed
back to his boat.
The last thing she wanted to do was go with him, but
she couldnât stand by while her father sailed off to sea
with probably no idea of who he was or where he was going.
Shaneâs boat was a newer thirty-foot sports fishing
boat with all the modern conveniences. There were rod
holders in the gunwales, tackle drawers and ice coolers
built in to the hull. As she stepped on board, Shane
released the lines and pulled in the bumpers, then headed
toward the center console. He started the engine and
pulled out of the slip.
She stood a few feet away from him, feeling awkward
and uncomfortable. She wondered how long it would take
before heâd actually speak to her. And if he did speak,
what would he say? There was a lot of history between
them, a great deal of pain. Part of her wanted him to
break the silence -- the other part was afraid of where a
conversation might lead.
Shane was the first man sheâd ever loved. Sheâd
fallen for him just after her seventeenth birthday. Heâd
been eighteen, only a year older in age, but a half dozen
in experience. Sheâd been a shy, good girl, whoâd never
done anything impulsive in her life, and heâd been the town
bad boy, moody, rebellious, and reckless.
Shane definitely wasnât a teenager any more. In
his faded blue jeans, gray t-shirt and black jacket it was
quite apparent that he was all man. Heâd filled out his
six foot frame with broad shoulders, and long, lean legs.
His black hair was wavy and windblown, the ends brushing
the collar of his jacket, and his skin bore the dark ruddy
tan of a man who spent a lot of time outdoors.
The set of his jaw had always been his âno-
trespassingâ sign, and that hadnât changed a bit. Shane
had never let people in easily. Sheâd had to fight to get
past his barriers, but as close as theyâd once been, sheâd
never managed to figure out the mysterious shadows in his
dark eyes, or the sudden, sharp glimpses of pain that
flashed briefly and then disappeared just as quickly.
Shane had always kept a big part of himself under lock and
Her gaze dropped to his hands, noting the surety of
his fingers on the wheel. His hands were strong, capable,
and she couldnât help but remember the way theyâd once felt
on her breasts, rough, and hungry, the same way his mouth
had felt against hers, as if he couldnât wait to have her,
couldnât ever get enough.
Damn. Her heart thumped against her chest, and she
forced herself to look away. She was not going back to
that place. She couldnât. Sheâd barely survived the first
time. Heâd swept her off her feet, into a whirlwind of
emotions and finally broken her teenage heart.
âIt took you long enough to come home,â Shane said
finally, glancing at her, his expression unreadable.
âI just came to get my dad. Iâm planning to take
him back to San Francisco with me.â
âDoes he know that?â
âHe will when you can catch him.â
Doubt filled Shaneâs eyes. âYour father has lived in
Angelâs Bay his entire life. I canât see him moving
âHis illness will only get worse. Itâs the best
âFor you or for him?â
âFor both of us.â Her father might not like the
idea of leaving Angelâs Bay, but it was the most practical
decision. If she moved him closer to her, she could take
care of him, and perhaps her mother would help. Her
fatherâs family was in San Francisco and thatâs where he
Of course, her dad hadnât cared to be with his family
the past thirteen years, but she was trying to look beyond
that fact. And if the neighbors were right, and her
father was rapidly losing touch with the world â would it
really matter where he was?
Shane opened a nearby compartment and pulled out a
jacket. âYou might want to put this on. It will get
colder outside the bay.â
She accepted the coat with a grateful nod, relieved
with both the change in subject and the warm jacket. Sheâd
left San Francisco straight from work, and her thin skirt
and blouse offered no protection against the elements.
Shaneâs coat was far too big but it enveloped her like a
warm hug, reminding her of the way sheâd once felt in his
arms. She quickly pushed that thought out of her
âSo, this is a nice boat,â she put in, wanting to
break the increasingly awkward silence. âIs it yours? Or
is it part of the Murray charter fleet?â Shaneâs father had
run a charter fishing business as long as Lauren could
âItâs mine. I picked it up last year when I came
back,â he said shortly.
âCame back from where?â
âEverywhere,â he said with a vague wave of his
hand. âWherever there was water and fish and a boat to
âSounds like you got the life you always wanted.â
He shot her a look that she couldnât begin to
decipher. âIs that what it sounds like, Lauren?â
Her name rolled off his tongue like a silky caress.
Sheâd always loved the way heâd said her name, as if she
were the most important person in the world. But that
wasnât the way heâd said her name now. Now there was anger
in the word and God knew what else.
She sighed. âI donât know what to say to you,
Shane. I guess I never did.â
His gaze hardened. âYou knew what to say, Lauren.
You just wouldnât say it.â
That was true. Thirteen years ago heâd wanted her to
say that she believed in him, that she trusted him, that
she knew in her heart that he didnât kill her sister.
All sheâd been able to say was good-bye.
âI donât want to talk about the past.â The words had
barely left her lips when she found herself compelled to
speak again. âYou lied to me, Shane. I trusted you more
than Iâd ever trusted anyone, and you lied to me.â
He gave a little nod, his eyes dark and
unreadable. âYeah, I did.â
âAnd youâre still not going to tell me why, are
âI thought you didnât want to talk about the past.â
She debated that for another second. There were so
many things she still wanted Shane to explain, but what was
âYouâre right. I donât want to talk about that
night. It wouldnât change anything. In the end, Abby â
Abby would still be gone.â Despite the heavy coat, she felt
a chill run through her. She glanced at the coastline. It
was too dark now to see the Ramsay house where her sister
had been found murdered, but she knew where it was; she
could feel its presence even if she couldnât see it.
âSomeone set fire to the house about nine months
ago,â Shane said, following her gaze. âOne wing was
âI wish it had burned to the ground." Sheâd never
understood how her father could stay in Angelâs Bay, wake
up every day and see the house where her sister had spent
the last minutes of her life. But then there were a lot of
things she couldnât understand about her dad.
Lauren grabbed hold of the back of the captainâs seat
as Shane increased their speed. On the open sea, waves
slapped against the boat, and the wind increased, lifting
her hair off the back of her neck. Her nerves began to
tingle. She could handle being on the water when the day
was sunny and bright and she could see the shoreline, but
sheâd never liked going out at night or being hours away
âWhere is my father?â She couldnât keep the rising
note of panic out of her voice. âI donât see any lights.
Maybe we should go back.â She hated being a coward,
especially in front of Shane, who had never met a fear he
didnât want to meet head on.
âYour father didnât disappear. Heâs just around the
bluff.â Shane pointed to the GPS on his console. âSee that
dot â thatâs him. Weâll catch up in a couple of minutes.â
âOkay, good.â She gulped in a deep breath of air and
wrapped her arms around her waist.
âAre you scared of me?â Shane asked, sending her a
âDonât be ridiculous.â
âYou seem nervous.â
âI just want to get this over with.â
A few minutes passed, and then Shane added, âYour
father loves this town. Do you really think you can drop
in after all this time and sweep him away without an
âI have to do something. When I arrived at my
fatherâs house tonight, the stove was on. He could have
burned the house down. And who knows where heâs headed
now?â She shook her head in confusion. âThis shouldnât be
happening. Heâs too young to be losing his memory, his
âSome days are worse than others,â Shane
commented. âOther times heâs the same as he always was.â
âYou talk to my father?â she asked in surprise.
âHeâs on his boat almost every day. Mort took his
key away from him a while ago. I donât know where he got
âMy father doesnât ââ She broke off the sentence,
realizing she was heading into dangerous territory.
âBlame me for Abbyâs death?â Shane finished, a hard
note in his voice. âSome days he does, some days he
doesnât. But he does blame me for you going away and never
âThat wasnât because of you.â
âWasnât it?â He tilted his head, giving her a
considering look. âWhatâs making you so jumpy, Lauren?
Donât tell me itâs just the water. You donât like being
alone with me.â
âI got over you a long time ago. It was a
ridiculous crush, thatâs all. We were kids, caught up in
the moment. It didnât mean anything. Itâs not like Iâm
still attracted to you. I donât think about you at all. I
am way, way over you. I have moved on.â
âAre you done?â he asked when she finally ran out of
He eased up on the throttle so abruptly she stumbled
right into his arms. Her lips had barely parted in protest
when his mouth came down on hers, hot, insistent, demanding
the truth. A mix of conflicting emotions raced through
her. She should break it off, pull away, but she couldnât
bring herself to move.
What the hell was she doing? She didnât want this.
She didnât want him. But God, he tasted good. She felt
seventeen again, hot, needy, passionate, reckless, on the
verge of something incredible and exciting and âŠ
She had to stop. Finally, she found the strength to
push him away. She stared at him in shock, her heart
pounding, her breathing ragged.
He gave her a long look in return. âYeah, Iâm over
you, too,â he said, as he put his hands back on the wheel.
Okay, so she was a liar. Her body still had a thing
for him. That didnât mean her head or her heart intended
to go along. Loving Shane had never gotten her anything
but a heart full of pain.
âIâm glad weâve settled that,â she said sharply.
A tense silence fell between them, and the air around
them grew thicker, colder, damp. Her hair started to curl
and a fine sheen of moisture covered her face. As they
sailed around the point, a silvery mist surrounded them.
Her father had spoken often of the angels that danced above
the bay, that watched over them, protected them. Sheâd
believed him with the innocence of a child, but sheâd lost
her faith when Abby died. What kind of angel could let a
fifteen-year-old girl be killed?
She felt a wave of panic as the mist enveloped them
in a chilling hug. It had been clear only moments ago.
She had to fight a powerful desire to fling herself back
into Shaneâs arms.
Why are you fighting? Heâs the man youâve always
The voice wasnât in her head, it was on the wind.
Lauren certainly hadnât said the words, because they
werenât true. She didnât want Shane, not anymore.
A melodic laugh seemed to bounce off the waves, as if
the ocean found her amusing. She shook her head, forcing
the fanciful thought away. Her father had always talked to
the sea, but that was her father, not her. She didnât
believe in angels, or much of anything for that matter.
Believing in someone always led to disappointment.
She let out a breath of relief as the fog lifted, and
a beam of light danced off the waves ahead of them â her
Shaneâs boat was moving at a faster pace now. Theyâd
reach the Leonora within minutes. But then what? âHow
will we stop him?â she asked.
âWeâll pull up next to him. If he doesnât stop on
his own, one of us will have to jump on to his boat and
âExcuse me. Did you say one of us is going to jump
between the boats while theyâre moving?â
âItâs not that difficult.â
âWell, it wonât be me,â she declared.
âThen you can drive.â
She didnât like that scenario either. âI havenât
driven a boat in a long time.â
âYou can do it. Take the wheel now. Get comfortable
with it. Iâll see if I can get your dad on the radio.â
She gripped the wheel with tight and nervous hands as
Shane tried to roust her father on the radio. When they
neared the Leonora, she could see her father standing
inside the cabin. He had the door closed and seemed
oblivious to their presence. Shane switched frequencies
and the sound of music blasted through. Her father had
always loved opera, a strange passion for a simple
fisherman, but he found some affinity between the music and
âI donât think he can hear us,â Shane said. âBring
the boat as close as you can.â
âAre you sure you donât want to do it?â
âJust hold her steady, Lauren. Iâll jump on to your
dadâs boat and drive him back. You can follow us.â
âYouâre going to leave me alone on this boat â on the
ocean?â The idea terrified her more than just a little. It
had been a long time since sheâd allowed herself to get
into a situation she couldnât control. This was way out of
her comfort zone. âI donât think I can do this.â
He looked her straight in the eye. âYou can.â
His words, his gaze, reminded her of a conversation
from a lifetime ago when heâd handed her a helmet and
taught her how to drive his motorcycle. Heâd always pushed
her beyond her limits, forced her to believe in herself.
âYou want your father back or not?â he challenged.
She lifted her chin and drew in a deep
breath. âYou jump. Iâll drive.â
âGood. Donât worry, I wonât let you out of my
sight. It took me a long time to save enough cash to buy
this boat. I donât intend to lose it.â
âIâm touched by your sentiment.â
She bit down on her bottom lip as Shane moved toward
the side of the boat. She wasnât worried about him. Shane
could take care of himself. Fearlessness was part of his
make-up. He wasnât a man to sit on the sidelines and wait
for someone else to take charge, and at the moment she was
grateful for that.
Shane stepped over the rail, paused for one second,
and then jumped. He landed in the middle of the fishing
platform on her fatherâs boat. He stumbled slightly, then
straightened and yanked open the door to the cabin. Her
father finally turned his head. He exchanged a few words
with Shane, and then Shane took over at the wheel. A
moment later his voice came over the radio. âLetâs go home,
His words brought with them a bittersweet rush of
emotion. She was going back to shore, but Angelâs Bay
wasnât her home now, and it never would be again.
It took about twenty minutes to get back to the
marina. Shane kept in constant contact on the radio and
Lauren made sure that she stayed as close to her fatherâs
boat as possible. She breathed a sigh of relief when she
drove the boat into the slip. Shane came on board to tie
the lines down while she joined her father, who was waiting
for her on the dock.
Her dad wore a pair of khaki pants and a black
windbreaker that hung loosely on his thin frame. Heâd lost
weight in the years since sheâd last seen him, and heâd
aged quite a bit. His dark hair was all gray, including
the stubble on his cheeks, and he stood with his shoulders
hunched, but he didnât seem upset or concerned about his
jaunt out to sea. She didnât know if that was good or
When he saw her, his eyes widened with surprise,
followed by what appeared to be teary emotion. He shook
his head, as if he couldnât believe she was there, and she
felt a rush of guilt at all the years sheâd let go by.
This man was her father. Heâd tucked her in at night,
scared away the monsters under her bed, been there for her â
well, at least some of the time.
Maybe they hadnât shared a lot of common interests,
but they were connected by blood, by love. How could she
have let him go? How could she have forgotten what they
were to each other?
âHi, Dad,â she said softly.
âAbby,â he murmured, holding out his arms. âMy
sweet, precious girl. Youâve come back to me at last.
Iâve missed you so much.â
Laurenâs heart came to a crashing halt. âIâm Lauren,
Dad. Iâm not Abby. Iâm Lauren,â she repeated, seeing the
disappointment and fear fill his eyes.
âWhat have you done with Abby?â he asked in
confusion, his arms dropping to his side. âWhat have you
done with your sister?â
Suddenly it was easy to remember why sheâd left and
why sheâd stayed away so long.
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