Barefoot by the Sea - Barefoot Bay


The team kills it again! Many thanks to all of the people who make this job look so easy and fun, even on the days when it is anything but easy or fun. I have to call a few out for their outstanding contributions:

My partners at Grand Central Publishing/Forever, especially Executive Editor Amy Pierpont, who has proven she can perform magic on a rough draft, along with the entire team who gets the job done every single time (Lauren Plude, Michele Bidelspach, Bob Castillo, Jamie Snider, and Jihan Antoine are standouts!) and the talented folks in art (love this cover!), sales, marketing, and distribution. What an amazing group of dedicated individuals I get to work with every day.

Big love to literary agent Robin Rue of Writers House, who has my back and holds my hand, and assistant Beth Miller for keeping everything running smoothly.

Huge thanks to the awesome Ottawa Romance Writers Association, who showed me true Canadian love and a tour of the city that makes an all-too-brief appearance on these pages. In particular, I’d like to thank Malena Abel, who shared her British intelligence and helped me create a realistic background for the hero.

A very special hug to Elizabeth Brooks, who guided me through the Florida garden, taught me the fine points of harvesting sweet potatoes, and has become my very own Mema. More hugs to Miss Lib’s son, awesome Sonny Brooks, who let me drive his tractor and happens to be the finest bro-in-law ever.

My writer friends are the best in the business and I guarantee you wouldn’t be reading this without the moral support of a small but mighty group of women who know who they are and why I love them. Kristen, Kresley, Louisa, Laura, Leigh…I’m talking to you. In addition, I’m grounded spiritually by my amazing “quad”—Nina, Megan, and Jill—who aren’t writers but know exactly where the story comes from.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the readers who keep coming back to Barefoot Bay! I’m thrilled to have found such a loyal audience and love connecting with each and every one of you through our small cyber world. Thanks for inspiring me every day and major thanks to my Facebook followers who did the honor of naming Ian/John in this book. You all are amazing!

Of course, I have to acknowledge the home team, who loves me no matter how bad the writing is going, how late the book is, how knotted the plot, how certain I am that “this time I can’t do it” even though they know I will. My husband, Rich, our wonderful children, Dante and Mia, and our superdogs, Ginger and Pepper. You make my home and my heart so happy.

Finally, but never last, I thank my Father, the source of all my joy!

Chapter One

I suppose I could just walk up to a man and ask for sperm.” Tessa picked up her bottle to punctuate the statement with a sip of cold beer, but froze midway as she took in the reaction around the booth. “Guys, that was a joke.”

Her friends weren’t laughing. Although the evening out at the local dive was supposed to be a business strategy session, the conversation had, of course, turned personal. After all, the four women might be partners in the Casa Blanca resort, but they were best friends long before that, and no topic was off limits. Not even this one.

“No harm in asking.” Next to Tessa, Jocelyn leaned in to make her point over the din of the Toasted Pelican crowd. “They love to give that stuff away.”

“Absolutely,” Lacey agreed from across the table, her topaz eyes lit with enthusiasm instead of humor. “Knowing your donor takes all the guesswork out of it. What you see is what you get, unlike anonymous sperm.”

“Sperrrrrm.” Zoe made a disgusted face, her gaze drifting over the action in the bar. “Couldn’t man’s life force have a more inviting name? You know, like chocolate or Cabernet?”

“Baby juice?” Jocelyn suggested.

“Liquid gold,” Lacey added.

“Nature’s protein smoothie,” Tessa said dryly.

That made Zoe laugh, but she didn’t take her eyes off the crowd. “Says the organic girl.”

Tessa waved her beer bottle to prove that she could have plenty of lapses in clean living and to move the conversation along to a more comfortable subject.

“We have bigger issues than my baby needs,” she said, looking down at the paper Lacey had printed for them to read, the last line of the brutal review jumping off the page. “Did she really have to call the dining room ‘as