|Period||1996 - present|
|Genre||contemporary romance, romantic suspense, women's fiction|
|Notable awards||RITA award – Best Contemporary Single Title|
1997 Daniel's Gift
RITA award – Best Contemporary Single Title
2013 The Way Back Home
Barbara Freethy (born in California) is a #1 New York Times bestselling American author of women's fiction, contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She is a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance for Daniel's Gift in 1997, and for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance for The Way Back Home in 2013. She has sold over 5 million books, with 18 books making the New York Times bestseller list. In 2014, she was named the Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of All Time.
Freethy is a native of California and earned a degree in Communications from UC Santa Barbara. She worked for a while in public relations before launching her writing career with novels published by Silhouette Romance, Harper Collins, Penguin and Simon and Schuster. In 2011, she started self-publishing by releasing backlist titles, and then new works. In 2012, she hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List with Summer Secrets. She attributes her success to building a consistent brand, as well as releasing multiple books—backlist and new—a year. In an article in The Economist, a columnist visited a booth of eight self-published authors which included Freethy and Bella Andre and reported that traditional publishers were skeptical of their claim that between them they'd sold 16 million books. Freethy was quoted as saying, "No one is counting our books in any survey that comes out in the media."
In 2014, Amazon's Kindle Worlds added Freethy's "The Callaway" series as one of four new offerings.
- Suddenly One Summer. July 2009 .
- On Shadow Beach. April 2010 .
- In Shelter Cove. May 2010 .
- At Hidden Falls. January 2011 .
- Garden of Secrets. September 2011 .
Bachelors & Bridesmaids
- Kiss Me Forever. November 2014 .
- Steal My Heart. December 2014 .
- All Your Loving. December 2014 .
- Before I Do. March 2015 .
1. On A Night Like This. December 2012 .
2. So This Is Love. April 2013 .
3. Falling For A Stranger. July 2013 .
4. Between Now And Forever. October 2013 .
4.5 Nobody But You. December 2013 .
5. All A Heart Needs. February 2014 .
6. That Summer Night. June 2014 .
7. When Shadows Fall. September 2014 .
8. Somewhere Only We Know. February 2015 .
- Taken. June 2006 .
- Played. October 2006 .
- Silent Run. March 2008 .
- Silent Fall. April 2008 .
- A Secret Wish. December 2011 .
- Just A Wish Away. April 2012 .
- When Wishes Collide. September 2012 .
- Daniel's Gift. March 1996 .
- Ryan's Return. October 1996 .
- Ask Mariah. May 1997 .
- One True Love. August 1998 .
- The Sweetest Thing. April 1999 .
- Almost Home. January 2000 .
- Just The Way You Are. November 2000 .
- All She Ever Wanted. 2000.
- Some Kind of Wonderful. January 2001 .
- Love Will Find A Way. March 2002 .
- Summer Secrets. May 2003 .
- Golden Lies. February 2004 .
- Don't Say A Word. January 2005 .
- The Way Back Home. May 2012 .
Awards and reception
- 1996 - Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for Best Contemporary for Ryan's Return
- 1997 - Romance Writers of America RITA Award for Best Contemporary Single Title for Daniel's Gift
- 2013 - Romance Writers of America RITA Award for Best Contemporary Romance for The Way Back Home
We need to buy rafts, hire guides, and update the reservation software, and I have no idea where we’re getting the money to do any of that,” Alicia Hayden told her father, frustration overwhelming her as she walked across the back deck of Hayden River Adventures. The one-story building, set on the banks of Northern California’s Smoky River, was the launchpad for their world-class river-rafting adventures company. Next to the one-room office was the boatyard where they kept their rafting equipment. On the other side of the building, tucked behind the trees, was a dirt parking lot that was empty now. About a hundred yards away and up a grassy incline stood the family home.
In the spring and summer months, they rented rafts and launched day trips off the pier. For more adventurous white-water experiences, they bused their guests ten miles north for the higher-class guided rapids tours. They’d been in business for more than sixty years, and three generations of Haydens had run the company. But now their business was sinking fast, and Alicia wasn’t sure they could save it.
Her father, George Hayden, didn’t reply. Leaning heavily on his cane, he’d fixed his gaze on the wide, winding river that ran through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The late-afternoon foggy mist that had given the river its name was a little thicker than usual. While the winter rains had finally tapered off, the late-March air was cold, and luminous clouds shadowed the sun.
As a brisk wind lifted the hair off the back of her neck, Alicia shivered and wrapped her arms around her waist, wishing she’d thrown a jacket over her knit shirt and worn jeans. She’d been hunkered down in the office all afternoon, trying to find a way out of the mess they’d gotten themselves into, but there was no clear path. Rafting season would officially open in two weeks, and they weren’t even close to being ready. She needed her father to understand that, but he was living in a world of denial, believing that nothing had changed since the rafting accident six months before, since her brother’s death three weeks before. But everything had changed. Their world had turned completely upside down in less than a year.
Sadness, anger, and fear ran through her, but she couldn’t let her emotions take hold. This was the time for thinking, not feeling. She’d been trying to talk to her dad about the business since her brother’s funeral three weeks earlier, and he’d always managed to evade her. But not now, not today.
“Dad,” she prodded, stepping up to the railing next to him. “We need to talk about whether or not we can keep on going.”
He slowly turned his head. In his early sixties, her father had aged considerably in the last year. But while there was weariness in the weathered lines of his square face and more white than gray in his rapidly thinning hair, he still had some fight in his eyes.
“We’ve never missed an opening day, and we won’t start now, Alicia,” he said.
She sighed. “We need more than just a ‘can-do’ attitude, Dad. We need money and manpower, and we don’t have either.”
“We’ll get the money, and we’ll find some guides. We have time.”
“We’ll figure it out. This is our family business, a business that will one day go to Justin. You don’t want to jeopardize your son’s future, do you?”
“His future is exactly what I’m worried about. I’m afraid our family business will take every last penny we have and still fail, and then where will we be? I need to make sure I can send Justin to college.”
“He’s nine years old, Alicia.”
“Almost ten, and I should be saving now. I’m a single mother, so it’s up to me.”
“Being a single mother was your choice,” he said with a frown.
She wasn’t about to get into that old conversation. “We’re getting off track.”
“Bill already got us some rafts. We just have to pick them up tomorrow.”
Bill ran the local hardware store and was one of her father’s best friends, but he was also one of her father’s enablers, continuing to tell him that he would be back on the river any day now, when the doctors were saying the opposite.
“Dad, we need to face reality.” She drew in a deep breath, then plunged ahead with words that needed to be said. “People have to trust us to keep them safe, and they don’t anymore. They don’t want us to reopen. They want us to shut our doors for good.”
Her father’s face paled. “Once we get back on the river, the trust will come back. We’ve had one accident in sixty years. It’s a damn good record. And it wasn’t our fault.”
Fault was debatable, but she wasn’t going to get into that. “Wild River Tours is breathing down our necks. They’re a national company with a sophisticated Web site, and they want our rivers, our runs. How will we compete with corporate money?”
“We’ll find a way. I’m not afraid of them. We know the river better than anyone, and we’ve always made our money on it. The river gives us life.”
“And sometimes it takes it away,” she reminded him.
It wasn’t only her father who had been hurt last year. A local man, twenty-nine-year-old Brian Farr, had lost his life when one of their rafts flipped over, and she’d come close to drowning herself. Another chill ran through her at the memory of those terrifying moments.
“Let’s go inside,” she said abruptly. “It’s getting cold.”
“In a minute.” He turned his gaze back to the water. “She tested us, that’s all, wanted to know if we were worthy.”
“We will be next time.” Her father raised his fist to the river. “I’ll give you another run for your money. You can’t take me down.”
Her father often spoke of the river as if it were a woman. Her mother had complained on more than one occasion that George was more married to the river than he was to her. It was probably why she’d left when Alicia was twelve years old; Margaret Hayden just couldn’t take coming in second.
Distracted by the sound of barking, Alicia turned her head as Justin, her nine-year-old son, came running up the steps of the back deck, followed by Sadie, their very excited golden retriever.
“Grandpa, look,” he said. “I finished Uncle Rob’s boat.”
Her son held up a model boat that he’d been working on. Her brother had sent Justin the kit a few months earlier. It was a project they’d planned to do together when Rob got out of the Marines. But Rob had been killed in action on the other side of the world six days before he would have completed his service. Just six days, and then he would have been safe. She couldn’t get the bitter taste of injustice out of her mouth.
They’d taken one hit after another in the past few months, and she couldn’t quite get her feet under her. But she pretended she was coping, because that’s what her family needed her to do.
“I did it all by myself,” Justin added as he let his grandfather inspect the boat.
With his sandy brown hair, freckled cheeks, and blue eyes beaming with pride, Justin looked a lot like her twin brother. She and Rob had shared blue eyes but not much else. Her hair was golden blond, her skin tanned instead of freckled, and she’d never made it past five foot five, while her brother had topped the family at six foot three. Her heart ached as Rob’s smiling face flashed through her mind. Whenever she thought of her brother, she thought of his big toothy grin, his goofy personality. He’d been the bright, shining light of their family, and now everything seemed darker.
“Good job,” her father told Justin.
“Can I try her out, Mom?” He turned to her with a plea in his eyes.
“It’s getting late. You have homework, and I have dinner to make,” she said. “We’ll do it tomorrow.”
His face fell. “But Mom—”
“Why don’t you let him try it out?” her father cut in. “Homework can wait.”