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Hopelessly Romantic

Hopelessly Romantic

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Welcome to OCEAN SHORES in Oceanside, California where the ocean pounds the shore, surfers ride the early morning waves, and the local military base sends roaring jets into the sky. Steps from the sand sits a large apartment building filled with quirky tenants and possible love connections.


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Welcome to OCEAN SHORES in the sun-soaked paradise of Oceanside, California where the ocean pounds the shore, surfers ride the early morning waves, and the local military base sends roaring jets into the sky. Just steps from the sand sits a large apartment building filled with interesting and quirky tenants, possible love connections, and more than a few secrets! Once you come to visit, you'll never want to leave…

In HOPELESSLY ROMANTIC, Ava Campbell, a pragmatic and fiercely independent woman, is housesitting for her newlywed sister Serena, whom she practically raised. Struggling with the void left by her sister's departure and the feeling that life is passing her by, Ava's solitude is shattered by Liam Nash, a laid-back Australian surfer with a smile as captivating as the waves he rides. 

Liam is clearly someone with absolutely no boundaries, and he insists that he has the green light from Serena's hubby, Brad, to crash at the apartment. With no room for negotiation, these two opposites are forced into a shared living arrangement, further complicated by the antics of Miss Daisy, a feisty feline with a knack for mischief.

As Ava's grumpy, cynical attitude clashes with Liam's sunny optimism, sparks fly, and an unexpected connection blooms. Can Liam's infectious charm thaw Ava's very well-guarded heart? Will Ava discover that the best things in life often arrive when you least expect them?

Get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions in this humorous and heartwarming tale that proves love can sneak up on you in the most unexpected places, leaving you breathless and yearning for more. 

HOPELESSLY ROMANTIC is the first book in the utterly charming and irresistibly appealing Ocean Shores Series from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy. For fans of Robyn Carr, Susan Mallery, and Lucy Score!


"A fabulous, page-turning combination of romance and intrigue. Fans of Nora Roberts and Elizabeth Lowell will love this book." — NYT Bestselling Author Kristin Hannah on Golden Lies

"A warm, moving story of the power of love." — NYT Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber on Daniel's Gift

"Freethy's zesty storytelling will keep readers hooked, and the sisters' loving but prickly interactions will make anyone with a sibling smile." Publishers Weekly on Summer Secrets

 "Gifted author Barbara Freethy creates an irresistible tale of family secrets, riveting adventure and heart- touching romance." — NYT Bestselling Author Susan Wiggs on Summer Secrets


"To your future…may it be everything you dreamed of." Ava Campbell lifted her champagne glass to the crowd gathered around the pool in the courtyard of the Ocean Shores apartment building in Oceanside, California. She smiled through teary eyes at her younger sister, Serena, who had married Brad Morrison several hours earlier, and was now ready to take off on her honeymoon. 

Serena raised her glass in return as they exchanged a look filled with so many emotions it was impossible to define them all. It had just been the two of them for the last ten years. But now her sister had a husband, a man she loved. It was bittersweet. But this moment wasn’t about her. 

"To Brad and Serena," she finished. 

"To Brad and Serena," the crowd echoed, clinking their glasses together and sending more happy wishes to the bride and groom. 

It hadn’t been the wedding reception Ava would have planned for her sister, but Serena had wanted to get married within two months of getting engaged, which had limited her options. Not that Serena had had any desire to have her reception anywhere but the courtyard where she and Brad had shared their first kiss seven months earlier. 

Their love had happened so fast. Maybe too fast. 

She worried that Serena had lost her mind in a dizzying spin of love and lust. She was only twenty-six years old. She didn't need to rush into marriage with a man she barely knew. But when she’d expressed her concern, Serena had only laughed and said everyone lost their mind when they were in love. That’s what was so magical about it. And that she should try it sometime. 

Magical was a word Serena had used a lot lately, ever since she’d left what she'd called her boring office job in Los Angeles and moved into this Oceanside building with a girlfriend. Within weeks, Serena was waiting tables at Maverick's Bar and Grill, which was only supposed to be a temporary gig while she looked for a more permanent job. But that plan went out the window when Serena had met Brad, who owned the bar with his brother, Tyler Morrison. 

Ava should have come to Oceanside long before now to check up on her sister, but she’d never imagined her sister would fall in love so fast and change her entire life, a life that now didn't seem to include her. But as Serena walked over to her, a smile on her glowing face, Ava had to admit that her sister had never looked so happy. 

Serena had changed out of her off-the-shoulder, gauzy wedding dress into skinny white jeans and a colorful crop top, her long brown hair flowing around her shoulders. She looked like the beautiful free spirit she'd always been. Not for the first time, Ava felt like the too-rigid, not-as-much-fun older sister, whose blonde hair and blue eyes were cool and off-putting, while Serena's dark looks were warm and friendly. 

"Thank you for everything, Ava." Serena grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the crowd that had gotten louder as the margaritas and champagne had flowed. 

The reception had been going on since five. It was now eight and time for Serena and Brad to head to the airport for their late-night flight to Paris, another dream coming true for her younger sister. 

"I realize this was a lot of work for you," Serena continued. “But I knew if anyone could pull it off, it would be my big sister." 

"I hope you won’t regret not having something fancier."

Serena shook her head, not a trace of doubt in her brown eyes. "It was perfect. And it’s not like I would have had that many people to invite to a bigger or more formal wedding." 

She couldn't argue with that statement. Their parents had died when she was thirteen and Serena was ten. After that, they’d gone to live with their aunt and uncle who had been kind enough to give them a roof over their heads and food on the table. But she'd essentially been Serena's second mom, and they had always been incredibly close.

It would be difficult to let that closeness go, to make room for a husband. Just watching her sister move to Oceanside eight months ago had been hard, but she'd thought her sister would come back to Los Angeles, not get married and set up a life in a city two hours away from her. 

"This was the perfect wedding," Serena continued. "I know you didn't understand why I wanted to have the wedding on the beach and the reception here by the pool, Ava, but Ocean Shores is home, and these people have become my family. Not like you, of course," she added hastily. "You're my first family; they're my second family. No one, and I mean no one, will ever replace you, Ava. You know that, right?"

"I wouldn’t let Brad hear you say that." She blinked as moisture crept into her eyes and she tried to hold back the flood of emotion that was making her eyes water.

"Brad knows you're the first love of my life. I can’t wait for the two of you to get to know each other better. I know you feel blindsided by our love and are worried about me, but it’s right. I know it. I feel it." 

The conviction in Serena's voice was unmistakable. "Then I’m happy for you. But I'm still going to worry because that's what I do best."

Serena laughed. "That's true. You are the best at worrying, but you don't have to be concerned. Brad is a good man."

"He does seem pretty great," she admitted. She'd only had a few conversations with Brad, but he'd assured her more than once that making her sister happy would be his top priority. She hoped that was true, but she thought they were both dazed by love.

"I guess it's time to say goodbye," Serena said. "Before I do, I want to thank you again for agreeing to stay in our apartment for the next ten days until we get back from Paris. Miss Daisy hates strangers, and if someone else was there, I'm not sure she'd ever come out of hiding long enough to eat. She barely tolerates Brad, and he's been sneaking her treats for months. But she loves you, and I'll be able to relax and not worry about her." 

"I wouldn't say Miss Daisy loves me." The cat Serena had brought home five years ago had barely tolerated her for the time they'd lived together. Her sister's cat was finicky, snooty, and disdainful. She was much more likely to hiss than to purr at anyone who wasn't Serena.

"Of course she loves you. And I'm very grateful you can work remote. I know how impossible it is for you to take time off." Serena hesitated for a split second, as if she wanted to say something else, then shrugged and said, "I better make the rounds."

"Wait! Were you going to say something?" she asked, giving her sister a curious look. She'd always been able to tell when Serena was holding something back.

"No. Just goodbye." 

Serena gave her a long, tight hug that reminded her of the key moments in their lives when they'd clung together, having only each other to hold onto. She had a feeling Serena was remembering, too. 

"I love you, Ava," Serena said as they broke apart. 

"I love you, too."

"And while you're here, don't be your usual standoffish self. Be friendly, talk to people, get to know my friends. You'll have a better time, I promise. And if you need anything, ask Josie."

"Don't worry about me. I'll be working most of the time."

"That's what I don't want you to do. You'll be living at the beach. Have some fun. And don't forget the hot guys in 12B. Max and Gabe are both very single."

She rolled her eyes. Serena had pointed out the two attractive men several times, but she wasn't interested in meeting anyone new, not when she would only be in town a short time. "The last thing I need is a man."

"Not if it's the right man," Serena said earnestly. "Love can change your life."

"I'll take your word for it. You should go. Don't worry about me or Miss Daisy. Just have fun."

"I will." Serena smiled again, and then moved away to join her new husband. 

As she watched Serena and Brad say goodbye to their friends, she was reminded again of how far apart they'd grown. Serena had all these friends she didn't even know. She had somehow become the outsider in her sister's life, and that was a strange feeling. But life moved on, even if she didn't want it to. She'd learned that hard truth a long time ago. 

She drained the rest of her champagne, thinking that maybe she'd get a little drunk tonight, which was not something she usually did, because she was the responsible one. But there was no one to be responsible for tonight. Serena was off, and she was alone. 

Walking over to the table, she grabbed an open bottle of champagne and took it upstairs to the two-bedroom apartment she'd promised to house-sit for the next two weeks. 

Miss Daisy immediately jumped off her perch on the back of the couch to skid into the larger of the two bedrooms and under the bed. She'd deal with her tomorrow. Her sister had already fed her and given her the medicine she had to take every night, so she didn't have to worry about the cat right now.

Drawing the blinds, she picked up the bottle of champagne she'd set on the coffee table and poured herself another glass. Then she sat down on the couch and kicked her feet up on the table. It had been a long day and an even longer couple of months since the beginning of Serena's whirlwind engagement. But all her duties were over now. She could relax and anything else could wait until morning. 

* * *

Ava woke up with a start, not sure where she was for a moment, until she realized she'd fallen asleep on the couch in her sister's apartment. She didn't know what had woken her until she heard a thump outside the front door. 

Jumping to her feet, she caught sight of the clock on the wall. It was after midnight, and someone was trying to get into the apartment. Her heart raced as she searched for a weapon, something to use to defend herself. 

She ran toward the kitchen, but there wasn't time to find a knife. The front door was opening. She grabbed the broom and raised it as she ran back toward the man coming into the apartment. 

It was too dark to see him clearly, but he was tall, with broad shoulders, and there was something glinting in his hand. 

Oh, God! He had a gun!

She swung the broom at him as hard as she could, hoping to knock him down long enough for her to get out of the apartment. 

He saw her at the last second and ducked. Her broom connected with the lamp by the couch, sending it against the wall so hard it shattered. As she attempted to take another swing at him, he caught the handle with one quick hand. 

"What the hell are you doing?" he demanded. 

She struggled to get the broom away from him, but he hung on to it. 

"Get out of my apartment," she ordered, trying to sound as strong and forceful as she could, but he was much taller and stronger than she was. 

"This isn't your apartment. It's Brad Morrison's apartment."

His words gave her pause. "You know Brad?"

"Yes. He gave me the keys so I could stay here while he was on his honeymoon."

"I'm staying here while Brad and Serena are away."

"That doesn't sound right. He said I could stay here and take care of his cat."

"Miss Daisy is Serena's cat, and Serena is my sister. I'm the one who's taking care of the cat and this apartment." 

"Okay, it sounds like there's been a misunderstanding. If I let go of this broom, will you take another swing at me?"

Not one to trust easily, she thought about that for a second; then, she slowly shook her head. He knew Brad, so he wasn't just a random burglar. 

He let go of the broom. "How about I turn on a light? If I can find one you didn't break."

"There's a switch by the wall," she said. 

He moved toward the door and flipped the switch, flooding the living room with the light from the ceiling, and she got her first real look at him. He was over six feet tall, with wavy brown hair and bright-green eyes that dazzled, along with the smile that slowly lifted his lips. He was probably in his early thirties and was tan and fit in worn jeans and a maroon T-shirt with the Maverick's Bar and Grill logo on it, the bar that Brad ran. 

"Liam Nash," he said, holding out his hand. 

"Ava Campbell." She moved the broom so she could shake his hand.

His warm fingers closed over hers, and she felt a tingle run down her spine. 

"Nice to meet you, roomie," he said. 

"We're not going to be roomies. I promised my sister I'd take care of her cat."

"And Brad promised me I could stay here until he got back. There are two bedrooms, right?" 

"Yes," she said with a frown. "But I'm not going to share this apartment with you. You're a stranger." 

"Think of me as a new friend," he said with an Australian accent that made her gaze narrow. 

"I don't need a new friend," she muttered.

"Well, I don't have anywhere else to go tonight."

"How about a hotel?"

He turned around and walked out of the apartment. 

For a moment, she thought she'd won the argument. Then he returned, pushing a large suitcase with a duffel bag resting on top into the apartment. Then he went back outside and brought in a long, thick case. 

"Surfboards," he said at her confused look. He shut the door. "Since there are two bedrooms, I'm taking one. It really shouldn’t be a problem for you." His smile dimmed, his accent thicker, as he added wearily, "And I have as much right to stay here as you do. I'm surprised your sister didn't tell you. I'm sure Serena knew."

She suddenly remembered the gleam in her sister's gaze, the way she'd hesitated as if she knew she should say something, but she didn't want to. She suspected Serena had known about Liam all along but knew she wouldn't like sharing the apartment with a stranger.

Serena probably hadn't wanted to say no to her new husband, so she'd let her be blindsided. Of course, looking at Liam, she was quite sure there was also the ulterior motive of forcing her to meet an attractive man. 

"Where are you from?" she asked curiously. 

"Sydney, originally."

"And tonight?"

"I just got off a plane from Hawaii that was delayed for seven hours, which is why I missed the wedding and got here so late."

"Do you live in Hawaii?"

"No. I was there for a surfing championship."

"You're a surfer." That wasn't surprising considering how tan he was, and she knew Brad liked to surf as well. "Did you win?"

"Came in second. Last wave took me down. But still a decent cash prize. How was the wedding?"

"It was beautiful."

"Good. I'm happy for Brad. He's crazy about your sister."

"The feeling is mutual. Look, I really think you'd be more comfortable in a hotel."

"I'm comfortable here, but you can leave." His glance moved toward the empty champagne bottle on the coffee table. "But maybe you shouldn't drive. Looks like you enjoyed the wedding."

"I am completely sober." Although she did have a headache threatening to rage. "And I can't leave; I have to take care of the cat. Miss Daisy needs medication every night." 

"Then it looks like we're both staying. Which bedroom do you want? Never mind, I'll take this one," he said, heading toward the smaller room with the double bed. He gave her another wicked smile from the doorway. "See you in the morning. I'll make breakfast."

The door closed before she could sputter out an indignant answer. And then she heard the click of the lock. 

He was locking her out! And there was not a damn thing she could do about it. 

She walked over to the front door and made sure that the deadbolt was turned, which it would have been earlier if she hadn't fallen asleep on the couch after too many sips of champagne. Not that she had killed the entire bottle. It had been only half full when she'd grabbed it. But still, she should have locked up before falling asleep. 

That would have been the smart, responsible thing to do, which was what she usually did, but this wasn't her usual life. 

Maybe she'd made a mistake in agreeing to take care of Miss Daisy. Tomorrow she'd tell Serena that Brad's friend could handle the job, and she could go back to her nice, safe life, free of an incredibly good-looking surfer with a sexy Australian accent. He had trouble written all over him, and the last thing she needed was trouble.

Welcome to OCEAN SHORES in the sun-soaked paradise of Oceanside, California where the ocean

pounds the shore, surfers ride the early morning waves, and the local military base sends roaring jets into the sky. Just steps from the sand sits a large

apartment building filled with interesting and quirky tenants, possible love connections, and more than a few secrets! Once you come to visit, you'll never

want to leave…

Hopelessly Romantic - Book #1

Summer Loving - Book #2

Moonlight Feels Right - Book #3

Customer Reviews

Based on 63 reviews

Love her books. My order arrived promptly.

Leslie Sherwood
Great story!

I loved this story. It takes place in Oceanside, CA. I lived I Oceanside, so I was able to picture the beach and the apartment building the characters live in, which added to the story for me. Hopelessly Romantic is a fun journey to HEA between Liam and Ava. I love the way Barbara Freethy writes. Her stories and her characters are wonderful. I highly recommend this book.


5/5 Swooning Stars!

Hopelessly Romantic is a fun, sweet, engaging story that leaves you wanting MORE! I fell into this new series so effortlessly and fell head over heels in love with these characters.

Barbara Freethy breathes so much life into her characters, they feel like instant friends. I was completely enamored and completely hooked. I read these pages with a smile on my face and a yearning in my heart.

I so wish I could visit Ocean Shores and the people in it.

I absolutely recommend this heartwarming, pleasurable and delightful read!!

Laura Childs
Loved it.

Can’t wait for the next one.

Gwendolynne Larson
Wonderful new community

Ocean Shores, the apartment complex in Barbara Freethy’s new series reminds me of everything I nostalgically love about growing up in a small town. Of course, in the moment I didn’t appreciate it.
In Ocean Shores, we meet young people starting their adult lives in a place where they create families of the heart. Ava, however, doesn’t appreciate that everyone knows who she is — older sister to Serena, who is off on her honeymoon while Ava apartment sits and takes care of her cat.
Enter, Liam, an Australian surfer who has been asked by Serena’s new husband to stay in the apartment and watch the cat. What Ava has yet to realize is that she is at a crossroads in her life, and viewing the world through Liam’s eyes may just help her find some answers.
I loved this first book in Freethy’s new series. Ava has spent her life caring for others and always choosing the safe path so others can thrive. Liam takes life one surf competition at a time. He, too, is at a bit of a crossroads as he works to fashion the life he wants post-competition.
HOPELESSLY ROMANTIC is classic Barbara Freethy: vividly drawn characters that I would easily welcome into my own life. This first title is filled with a supporting cast, and I’m sure we will learn more about them when they each earn their own stories.
Another welcome piece of the Ocean Shores community is that it is intergenerational. While most characters are in their 20s and 30s, we also have some in middle age and even looking at retirement and the difficult decisions that can entail.
HOPELESSLY ROMANTIC is an easy read that will leave you waiting impatiently for the next title.