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Daring Deception

Daring Deception

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"The action was intense and kept me on the edge of my seat! Barbara Freethy is an amazing writer who captures the reader's attention from the very first sentence, so much so, I read this book in one sitting." 5 Stars! Booklover's Anonymous

He didn't just break her heart, he broke her soul…

When a bomb exploded at her college, Caitlyn Carlson's life changed in an instant. Ten years later, she's no longer a vulnerable, trusting girl, but a tough, ruthless, FBI agent. But her hard exterior covers a deep, aching hole in her heart.

Quinn Kelly has changed his life, too, trying to make up for the horrific mistakes of his youth. But some mistakes can't be outrun or forgiven. Some feelings don't stay buried, no matter how hard you try.

An explosion at a local university takes them back to the past, to the one place they never wanted to go again…and to each other. They barely survived loving each other the first time around. The secrets and lies almost killed them. Will this be their second chance, or will this be the end of everything?

A shattered love story, a fatal explosion, and a web of secrets and lies await in this exciting tale of ecoterrorism from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy! For fans of James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Rachel Grant, Mary Burton, and Laura Griffin!

What the readers are saying…

"Standing in the shadows of love, you can't help but feel the heartache to come. 
Daring Deception paints a thrilling picture of a dangerous love story. Brodie and Caitlyn pull emotions into a maze that is powerful, intriguing and never ending. With Freethy there is always a twist to tie emotions up in knots and leave readers feeling breathless." Isha – Goodreads

"There were a lot of twists and turns in this series that kept me guessing about what was going to happen next, and I definitely did not see the ending coming! 
This book was the perfect mix of romance and suspense, a page turner from beginning to end! Kate – Bookbub

"A story that builds on revenge, kidnapping, and forgiveness. 
DARING DECEPTION is a definite winner in this series." Ellen - Goodreads

"Just finished this gem by Barbara Freethy...I can honestly say it was 
one of the best books I have read this year. This author is a genius at creating authentic characters!" Claire – Goodreads on Daring Deception


Ten years earlier…

"It's not what we planned. It's not even close," Caitlyn Carlson said, wanting her boyfriend to refute every word. 

"Life rarely goes the way we plan, but we can make it work," Quinn Kelly said.

She wanted to believe him, but she couldn't. She also didn't think it was a coincidence that he wouldn't look at her, that his sea-blue eyes were fixed on his phone. 

She took a sip of the hot chocolate they'd just picked up at the coffee cart and looked toward the heavily forested hills above Bolton College, a private university located just north of San Francisco. She loved her school, which was set in a beautiful and somewhat isolated location between the mountains and the California coast. She loved the guy by her side even more. 

But despite Quinn's reassuring words, there was something wrong. It wasn't just the March weather that was making her cold; it was the growing distance between them, a gap she didn't understand. In the last year, they'd become incredibly close, so close she knew he wasn't telling the truth. 

Did she want the truth? 

Their lives were about to change. Maybe neither one of them was ready. 

Quinn tossed his empty coffee cup in a nearby trash can and frowned once more at his phone. 

"Something wrong?" she asked. 

"Lauren needs to change the time of our study group. They're going to meet now instead of at three."

"But we have the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new environmental center in an hour. Will you be done by then?"

"I'm sorry, Caitlyn. I don't think I can make it." 

"But it's important." Quinn was getting his master's in ocean sciences, and the new three-story building would provide environmental scientists with incredible new tools. "The facility will directly impact your research."

He finally looked at her, and she could see the conflict in his eyes, which made her feel marginally better. 

"I know," he said. "But it's a group project, and I need to be there. Frankly, I think you should blow off the event, too." 

"I can't do that, Quinn."

"Why not? Your family is giving it a pass. Who are they sending? Some PR rep?"

"My brother is coming, too."

"Your brother, but not your father. He's the one who should be there. He's the head of Carlson Industries, a conglomeration of companies who have done far more to harm the environment than to help it. If your family was really focused on change, they'd be doing more than just building a study center. It's easier to throw money at a problem than time and genuine commitment."

"You have a point, but the center is a good thing. It's a start. We can at least celebrate that, can't we? I don't want my family or their business to come between us, especially not now." She felt a desperate need to convince him of that. The love she felt for him was deep, overwhelming, and all-consuming. It shouldn't have gotten so serious so fast, but it had—against all odds. They came from different worlds. But when they were together, there was only one world, one island of love, and they were the only ones on it. No one else mattered. 

However, as Quinn checked his phone once more, she couldn't help wondering if that was true. Maybe she was on the island alone.

"Why do you keep looking at your phone?" she demanded. 

"I'm getting a lot of texts from the study group."

"Is that it? Or is there something else going on? There isn't going to be a protest, is there?" Quinn was part of an environmental activist group on campus, and there were many people in the group who weren't thrilled with Carlson Industries. 

"No. There won't be a protest. I made sure of that, Caitlyn. Donovan gave me his word."

"But you still don't want to go, because you're caught in the middle between me and your friends. Isn't that the real reason you're blowing me off?"

"No. And I'm not caught in the middle. The study session is just too important. I'll see the center when it opens. Is it really that big of a deal?"

She sighed. "I guess not." 

He put his hand on her shoulders and gave her a smile that made her feel immensely better. "We'll meet up later."

"You promise?"

"Of course. Why would you even ask me that?"

"I just feel like something is off."

"It's going to be all right, Caitlyn. We'll work everything out."

"Are you sure? You haven't really said what you're feeling about all this, Quinn. I've had longer to think about it than you have. I know I sprung it on you."

"You don't have to worry. I'll take care of you."

"I'm not worried about someone taking care of me. I want you to be happy. I want us to be happy."

"You make me happy." He pulled her in for a kiss, and the heat of his mouth drove the fears away. "You're the best thing that ever happened to me."

"I feel that way, too."

"I'll see you later." 

As he walked away, her gaze followed him across the quad. She felt a deep yearning to be back in his arms, to feel his lips against hers, to be connected to him, because despite his words, she could feel their connection slipping away, and it scared her.

She'd never loved anyone the way she loved Quinn. She'd fallen for him at first sight, his blue eyes capturing her heart with one look. He was incredibly handsome with his dark hair, sexy mouth, and long, lean, powerful body, but it was his passion for science, changing the world, and doing something important in his life that had really sealed the deal for her. He wasn't just a sexy scientist; he was also a fighter, and she liked that he fought for the world he wanted to live in. But she wondered sometimes if he thought she didn't fight enough. There were cracks appearing in their relationship; some she understood, some she didn't.  

As Quinn reached the edge of the trees by the library, he looked back and gave her a wave, and it made her feel better, like they were connected again. Maybe her fears were all in her head. That was probably it. She waved back, watching until he disappeared. 

She needed to give him time and space. He'd been through a lot in his life, losing his dad when he was eleven and his mother when he was sixteen. Quinn had been on his own ever since then, and he'd told her more than once that he'd forgotten what love felt like until he'd met her, that he was always afraid he was going to lose it. That's why he slept with his arms wrapped around her. 

Well, she would keep showing him that love until he was smothered in it, until he could trust that it wouldn't disappear, that she wouldn't disappear. 

They would work through their problems and would move forward. They would be together forever. It was what they both wanted.

Feeling better, she turned and continued on her way across campus. She had an hour before the ceremony. She could go back to her apartment and study. She had tests to worry about, too. As she checked the time, her phone buzzed, and her brother Spencer's number flashed across the screen. 

"Hey, are you on your way?" she asked. 

"Sorry, but I can't make it," Spencer replied. 

"Are you serious? Why not?"

"I broke my tooth. I'm on my way to the dentist. I'm sorry, Caitlyn."

"I'm sorry, too, about your tooth, and the fact that I'll have to do this event alone." 

"Dad said he's sending Marian down to represent the company, so you won't be completely alone."

"There should be more family members there."

"Well, it's not going to happen. You should let Marian handle it. I know you've been feeling caught in the middle between Quinn and his environmental activist friends and our family business. Why don't you skip the ceremony?"

"I think someone from the family should be there."

"Our name is on the building. It's not like anyone will forget who built it."

She frowned. "That's not the point. You were supposed to talk about how the company is changing and making efforts to go green and protect the environment."

"Yeah, Dad didn't really want me to say much. He said just cut the ribbon and raise a champagne glass."

"Sometimes, Dad really pisses me off," she said with annoyance.

"Sometimes? It happens to me more often than that. I have to go. Just bail on it, Caitlyn. Don't put yourself in the position of having to stand up for a company you don't really have anything to do with. There could be protestors. And you don't want to get caught up in that."

"I've been assured there won't be."

"Well, good, but I'm sure Quinn doesn't want to go. Why don't you hang with him, do your own thing?"

"I'll think about it. Good luck with the dentist."


As she ended the call, she considered her options. She didn't really want to hang out with the dean and smile for pictures or have to say something about the company plans when she knew nothing about them. Marian was more than capable of handling the ceremony. But it still felt wrong for no one from the family to be there.

Still debating, she kept on walking. When she got to the front of the new building, which sat on a hilly rise with a perfect view of the sea, she paused, feeling proud of the new center. It would house four classrooms, three labs, a study lounge, and a small auditorium. The center wouldn't make up for the questionable business choices her family had made in the past, but it was a good move in the right direction.

She walked up the steps and opened the front door, stepping into the foyer. There was a table set with empty champagne glasses for the reception. Everything felt new: the floors polished, the walls artfully decorated, and the air clean and crisp. There was a distant murmur of conversation, probably coming from a floor up, but there was no one in sight. She stepped into the study lounge, which was also a library. It was impressively filled with an array of books. 

Walking over to the nearest shelf, she ran her fingers down the spine of a new textbook. She'd always loved to read and to write, which was why she planned on being a journalist. She had a lot of questions, and that seemed to be the best way to get them answered. 

The sound of ticking drew her attention to the wall, but she didn't see a clock. 

She just heard a tick, tick, tick. An eerie feeling shot down her spine. 

It suddenly felt too quiet.

She turned toward the door, but before she could take a step, a thunderous blast lifted her off her feet and threw her against the shelves behind her. The ceiling and walls collapsed around her. 

She screamed as she put a protective hand against her stomach, in one last desperate attempt to save herself and her baby…

THE FBI SERIES takes readers on thrilling, romantic, and suspenseful adventures! While an overarching mystery plays out over the first five novels, every story stands completely on its own and there are no cliffhangers!

The books feature complex and exciting storylines ranging from kidnapping to organized crime, terrorism, and espionage. Personal stories often play out against a bigger, broader storyline, and surprising twists will keep you up all night. Start reading today!

Check out more books in the series!

  • Perilous Trust
  • Reckless Whisper
  • Desperate Play
  • Elusive Promise
  • Dangerous Choice
  • Ruthless Cross
  • Critical Doubt
  • Fearless Pursuit
  • Daring Deception
  • Risky Bargain
  • Perfect Target
  • Fatal Betrayal
  • Deadly Trap