Title: Pearl (Gem Series, #2)
Author: Freya Barker
Genre: Romantic Suspense-Slow Burn Romance

Release Date: August 25, 2023
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

GEM: a privately-funded organization operating independently in the search for—and the rescue and recovery of—missing and exploited children. Although, at times working in conjunction with law enforcement, GEM aims to ensure the victims receive justice…by whatever means necessary.


Operator Pearl; layered, mysterious, a protector.

She masks as delicate, analyzes, and moves stealthily.

Hot on the trail of a young accomplice in a child exploitation ring, Pearl finds herself posing as a teenager to get close. Unfortunately, joining a group of kids on a wilderness quest means stepping out of her comfort zone and into uncertainty. But with the target in her sights her focus stays razor-sharp.

The last thing she needs is the dogged journalist who’s been close on her heels catching up and rattling her cage. When he inserts himself into her investigation, she has no choice but to go along.

Thrown together in a mutual pursuit of justice, the negative energy between them sparks up in a new way.


I take a sip of my coffee, wincing at the strong dark brew, but I can’t allow myself to indulge in cream and sugar. Next thing you know, I’ll be stealing bacon from his plate. 

“Are you suddenly on some kind of health kick?” he asks, tilting his head slightly as he doctors up his own cup with copious amounts of both. “Or was last night’s raid on snacks an anomaly?”

“That wasn’t for me,” I fib, trying to look down my nose at him. A hard thing to do when he towers over me by a good foot, even sitting down.

“Liar.” He grins, looking much too smug. “So, are the egg white omelet and black coffee penance for last night’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and chips? Because I don’t think you need to worry about your weight.”

I press my lips together. Little does he know weight is the last thing I’m concerned about.

“If I’d known your reason for having breakfast with me was to critique my dietary habits, I would’ve passed,” I can’t seem to stop myself from sniping.

To my surprise, he dissolves into laughter. To my annoyance it makes him even more attractive. 

Suddenly, he leans across the table.

“Hey, Tiger, need I remind you who started it?” 


He’s got a point.

“Let’s talk about something else,” I quickly suggest. “Why journalism?”

He follows my segue with ease, answering without hesitation.


“For your mother?” I probe.

I know his mother worked in housekeeping at Transition House and was supposed to have been killed for what she knew. During the years I was there, I recall a few black women on staff, but we weren’t really given the chance to interact. It’s possible one of them was Lee’s mother. 

“That’s how it started, but now I simply want justice,” he clarifies. “Money, power, and inequity often get in the way.”

I hum in agreement. It’s what I’m after as well, although I’m sure our idea of justice differs greatly.

“Wouldn’t law enforcement have been the more logical choice?”

He snorts. “Not for me. Law enforcement not only could’ve prevented her death, but they were eager to write it off as an accident, ignoring evidence to the contrary.”

He’s referring to former Lanark police chief, Browning. He and his son—also law enforcement—are currently in jail on a laundry list of charges, including kidnapping and sexual exploitation of children. One of those assholes gave me a scar when one of their bullets grazed my head during the rescue of Mitch’s daughter, Sawyer. 

“Your egg white and spinach omelet? And one classic breakfast for you.” 

The waitress slides our plates in front of us and sets a thermos of coffee in the middle of the table. 

“That way I don’t have to bother you,” she explains with a wink.

“That looks anemic,” Lee comments, pointing at my plate.

Sadly, it does. The smell of bacon grease teasing my nostrils doesn’t help, and my eyes drift over to his breakfast, which looks amazing. 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” he mumbles as he grabs a couple of strips of bacon and deposits them on my plate. “Eat,” he orders.

It’s on my lips to tell him off, but instead I grab a piece. With a satisfying crunch, I sink my teeth into it, closing my eyes and groaning when the greasy saltiness hits my palate.

When I open them, I catch Lee watching, an unfamiliar gleam in his eyes. 


USA Today bestselling author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
With forty-plus books already published, she continues to create characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy.
Recipient of the ReadFREE.ly 2019 Best Book We’ve Read All Year Award for “Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, and Finalist for the 2020 Kindle Book Award with “When Hope Ends”, Freya spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!



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