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Authors: Barbara Freethy

Taken

Praise for Barbara Freethy’s novels

Don’t Say a Word

“This is one of those books that gives you the shivers, it’s so good. This story of a woman with a haunting and secret past will wrap around your heart and won’t let go until the last page is turned. Poignant, romantic, and suspenseful, it’s the perfect read.”

— Susan Wiggs

“Sheer hold-your-breath suspense. Powerful and moving, its characters will have you cheering them on to the end.”

— Karen Robards

“Barbara Freethy at her best! An absorbing story of two people determined to unravel the secrets, betrayals, and questions about their past. The story builds to an explosive conclusion that will leave readers eagerly awaiting Barbara Freethy’s next book.”

— Carla Neggers

“A page-turner that engages your mind while it tugs at your heartstrings . . .
Don’t Say a Word
has made me a Barbara Freethy fan for life!”

— Diane Chamberlain

All She Ever Wanted

“A haunting mystery . . . I couldn’t put it down.”—Luanne Rice

“Freethy succeeds in developing a suitably eerie atmosphere.”


Publishers Weekly

“A gripping tale of romantic suspense. . . . Barbara Freethy is a master storyteller. A fascinating blend of romance, mystery, and suspense. Don’t miss it!” — Romance Reviews Today

“Sizzling. . . . Freethy’s expertly penned novel is a true page-turner.”


Romantic Times

“A fabulous story! The perfect mix of romantic suspense . . .

the perfect story to curl up in front of a fire with.”

— RomanceJunkies.com

Golden Lies

“An absolute treasure, a fabulous, page-turning combination of romance and intrigue. Fans of Nora Roberts and Elizabeth Lowell will love
Golden Lies
.”

— Kristin Hannah

“Freethy’s smooth prose, spirited storytelling, and engaging characters are sure to send readers on a treasure hunt for the author’s backlist books.”


Publishers Weekly

“Multidimensional characters at all levels (especially the strong-willed hero and heroine), realistic and sometimes funny dialogue, and a well-constructed plot that Freethy un-wraps with such consummate skill that the conclusion is at once surprising and totally logical result in a rich and compelling tale.”


Library Journal

“Wonderfully intriguing . . . an excellent book.”


Romantic Times

Summer Secrets

“Barbara Freethy writes with bright assurance exploring the bonds of sisterhood and the excitement of blue water sailing.

Summer Secrets
is a lovely novel.”

— Luanne Rice

“Freethy skillfully keeps the reader on the hook, and her tan-talizing and believable tale has it all — romance, adventure, and mystery.”


Booklist
(starred review)

“An intriguing, multithreaded plot, this is an emotionally involving story . . . sure to please Freethy’s growing fan base and, like Kristin Hannah’s novels, neatly bridges the gap between romance and traditional women’s fiction.”


Library Journal

“Freethy’s zesty storytelling will keep readers hooked.”


Publishers Weekly

“Freethy is at the top of her form.” —
Contra Costa Times

“A knock-your-socks-off tale of deception, family, and love.

Master storyteller Barbara Freethy draws readers into the characters’ lives on the first page and keeps them engrossed and enthralled to the end. This riveting tale . . . will resonate in readers’ hearts long after the last page is turned.”

—Romance Reviews Today

Further praise for Barbara Freethy

“In the tradition of LaVyrle Spencer, gifted author Barbara Freethy creates an irresistible tale of family secrets, riveting adventure, and heart-touching romance.”

— Susan Wiggs

“A fresh and exciting voice in women’s romantic fiction.”

— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

“Superlative.”— Debbie Macomber

“Kudos to Barbara Freethy for a first-class reading experience.”


Affaire de Coeur

“Freethy is an expert at creating believable characters.”


Library Journal

“Barbara Freethy delivers strong and compelling prose.”


Publishers Weekly

“If there is one author who knows how to deliver vivid stories that tug on your emotions, it’s Barbara Freethy.”


Romantic Times

“Freethy is a strong storyteller with an unerring ear for dialogue.”


The Romance Reader

“Ms. Freethy paints a sensitive tale of some of the different kinds of wonderful that is love.” —
Midwest Book Review
OTHER BOOKS BY BARBARA FREETHY

Don’t Say a Word

All She Ever Wanted

Golden Lies

Summer Secrets

TAKEN

Barbara Freethy

A S I G N E T B O O K

SIGNET

Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ISBN: 1-4295-0635-0

Copyright © Barbara Freethy, 2006

All rights reserved

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or oth-erwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

To Terry, Kristen, and Logan

You’re the best!

A c k n ow l e d g m e n t s

While writing is a solitary endeavor, I also received a great deal of help along the way from my writing friends in the San Francisco RWA chapter, especially the Fog City Divas: Candice Hern, Diana Dempsey, Carol Grace, Julie Anne Long, Barbara McMahon, Kate Moore, and Lynn Hanna.

They usually ask more questions than I can answer but in the end the story is better for those questions. I also want to thank Christie Ridgway for offering long-distance support.

And last but definitely not least, thanks go to my terrific agent, Andrea Cirillo, as well as the team at the Jane Rotrosen Agency, for their endless support and attention to detail.

prologue

“To my wife.” Nick Granville gave Kayla Sheridan a dazzling smile as he raised his champagne glass to hers.

Kayla tapped her glass against his. As she looked into the gorgeous blue eyes of the man she had married, she felt a rush of pure joy. She could hardly believe she was married, but an hour ago she’d vowed to love this man above all others. He’d put a ring on her finger and a diamond necklace around her neck and he’d promised to stay forever, which was really all she’d ever wanted. A child of divorce, she’d split her time between two houses, two sets of parents, two cities, and she’d said more than her share of good-byes. That was over now. She was Mrs.

Nicholas Granville, and she would make her marriage stick.

The champagne tickled her throat. She felt almost dizzy with delight. “I can’t believe how happy I am,” she murmured. “My head is spinning.”

“I like it when you’re off balance,” he said.

“I’ve been that way since the first second we met,” she confessed. “Marrying you tonight is the most impulsive, reckless thing I have ever done in my life.” She glanced
2

Barbara Freethy

down at the two-carat diamond ring on her finger. It was huge, dramatic, and wildly expensive. It wasn’t the kind of ring she’d imagined wearing. She’d thought she’d have something set in an old-fashioned silver band, and in her wildest dreams the stone had never been this big; she was an incredibly lucky woman. And Nick was a very generous man. He’d been spoiling her rotten since their first date.

“You do impulsive well,” Nick commented. “Better than I would have thought when we first met.”

“Because you’re a bad influence,” she teased.

His grin broadened. “I’ve been told that before. Life is supposed to be fun. You are having fun, aren’t you?”

“Absolutely. This day has been perfect. The chapel was lovely. The minister made a nice speech about love and marriage. I was afraid it would feel like a quickie wedding, but it didn’t. And this hotel room — it’s incredible.” She waved her hand in the air as she glanced around their honeymoon suite. Nick had ordered in scented candles that bathed the room in a soft light, ri-otous colorful wildflowers on every table, rose petals lin-ing a romantic path to the bedroom, and silver trays with chocolate-covered strawberries, her favorite dessert. She couldn’t have asked for a more romantic setting in which to begin her new life. “You’ve made me so happy, Nick.

You’ve given me exactly what I wanted.”

He nodded. “I feel the same way.” He leaned forward and kissed her softly on the mouth, a promise of what was to come. “I’m going to get some ice.” He sent her a meaningful look. “I think we’ll want some cold champagne . . . later.”

A tingle of anticipation ran down her spine. “Don’t be long.”

TA K E N

3

He picked up the ice bucket and headed for the door.

Once there, he paused and pulled out the antique pocket watch she’d given him as a wedding present a few minutes earlier. “Thanks again for this,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”

“My grandmother told me I should give it to the man I love. And that’s you.”

Kayla wanted him to say he loved her, too, but he simply smiled and gave her a little wave as he left the room.

It didn’t matter that he hadn’t said the words. He’d married her. That was what was important. She’d spent most of her twenties with a commitment-phobic boyfriend who couldn’t bring himself to pop the question. Nick had told her almost immediately that he intended to be her husband. She’d been swept away by his love and his confidence that they were perfect for each other. Now, only three weeks since that first date, she was his wife. She could hardly believe it. Three weeks! This was definitely the craziest thing she’d ever done.

Well, so what? She’d been responsible and cautious her entire life. She was almost thirty years old. It was about time she took a chance.

Too restless to sit, Kayla got up to look out the window. Their luxurious honeymoon suite was on the hotel’s twenty-fifth floor and offered a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. She was only four hours from her home in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it felt like a million miles. Her entire life had changed during a simple wedding ceremony that had been witnessed by only two strangers. It was her one regret that neither her family nor Nick’s had attended the wedding. But the past was behind her. Tonight was a new beginning.

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