Bibi Fortunata was the hottest ticket in town; singer, actress, and celebrity. Two years ago she was arrested on suspicion of murdering her lover and his new mistress, who was also Bibi's best friend. Bibi was front-page news in a way her publicists had never dreamed off. But the police were never able to prove anything and Bibi was set free, with the cloud of suspicion and murder still hanging over her. Bibi left for Barcelona where she quite simply disappeared. But when Bibi's daughter comes to Mac and Sunny for help, they can't resist the temptation to solve this mystery once and for all. Who really killed Bibi's husband and her lover? Who would want to frame Bibi? And who is beckoning them from Barcelona? Filled with Adler's trademark lush descriptions, twisty plots, and decadent luxury, From Barcelona, With Love is the perfect escapist novel.
About the Author
ELIZABETH ADLER is the internationally acclaimed author of 22 novels. She lives in Palm Springs, CA.
Read an Excerpt
From Barcelona, with Love
By Elizabeth Adler
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Elizabeth Adler
All rights reserved.
Much later, when Mac thought about it he realized the story had not begun in Barcelona, but at his own funky Malibu beach house, a pistachio-colored wooden shack built in the thirties by an adventurous would-be movie actor who'd never made it. It was rumored to have been lived in by sex goddess Marilyn Monroe, in her early Norma Jean days, and had ended up like a small green barnacle stuck on the end of a row of expensive houses owned by mega-moguls and billionaires, whose sea-view decks took up more space than Mac's entire home.
Anyhow, he happened to be sitting on his own, smaller deck, with his dog, the three-legged, one-eyed Pirate, whose underbite gave him a permanent smile and whose ragged gray-brown fur looked as though the moths had been at it. Mac had rescued him one dark rainy night driving over Malibu Canyon, stopping to scoop up what he thought was a dead mutt, only realizing when it opened its one uninjured eye and looked gratefully at him, that it was still alive. He took off his shirt, wrapped the dog in it, and drove straight to the emergency vet in Santa Monica, where they'd performed a miracle of surgery. The dog lived, and of course he had become Mac's dog.
He'd named him Pirate because of the eye patch the dog had worn, Long John Silver–style, until the eye socket healed, and Pirate was now his best buddy. Mac loved that dog and the dog loved him.
"And never the twain shall part," misquoted Sunny Alvarez, Mac's fiancée. Well, she was his fiancée again, after the debacle in Monte Carlo the previous year. At least Mac hoped she was. But that was another story, and anyway, she was right about the dog.
He remembered the evening the Barcelona saga began perfectly. He'd propped his feet on the deck rail and was watching waves crashing onto the sand, comfortable in shorts and a favorite old blue T-shirt, dark hair still wet from the shower and combed hastily back, eyes narrowed against the flame of the setting sun, with not a thought in his head other than that Sunny, his girlfriend — his lover — his on-again fiancée — was busy in the kitchen. She had gone to fix "something to nibble on," while they drank what she called "the good stuff," which meant the bottle of expensive champagne she'd bought to celebrate their reunion.
They had been apart too much these last few months but were now as passionate about each other as ever, though Sunny still maintained it was Mac's PI work — and his inability to ignore a ringing phone that they both knew usually meant "trouble" — that had caused the rift. As well as Mac's calling off the wedding, one more time, due to "work," of course, and that's when Sunny had run off to Monte Carlo. But Mac wasn't about to bring that up now. They would simply drink their champagne and make a toast to "true love."
Mac had been sorting out other people's lives for a lot of years now. He had a sixth sense for "trouble" and a double-six for bad guys, no matter how charming and plausible they might appear. In the past few years, as well as his PI "day job," he had become TV's super-detective, with his own show, Mac Reilly's Malibu Mysteries, appearing on your screens Thursday nights in real-life docu-drama style, reinvestigating old Hollywood crimes, with Mac looking extra-cool in jeans and the black leather Dolce & Gabbana jacket Sunny had bought him and that had somehow become his trademark. It was typical of Mac that when Sunny told him the designers' names he had no idea what she meant. "Dolce" sounded like Italian ice cream to him. And after all, he was more usually to be found in shorts and T-shirt hiking up Malibu Road to the supermarket, or breakfasting in Coogie's, than decked out in black leather.
Anyhow, the show had brought him unexpected fame, though of course it was all relative, but the money was good, which had made a change.
So, there Mac and Pirate were, that glowing sunset evening, with Sunny in the kitchen fixing something to go with the celebratory champagne, when he saw the child again, walking along the otherwise empty beach. In fact it was Pirate who spotted her first. He was up on his feet — all three of them — in an instant, pointing like a hunt dog ready to retrieve.
The girl was maybe eight or nine years old, whippet-thin, wearing clumsy black granny boots, clomping along at the edge of the waves. It wasn't the first time Mac had seen her; she'd taken to walking by his place several times a day for the past week, always in the same gray hoodie, always with the hood partially covering her face, and always alone. And she always slowed down opposite his house, casting quick sideways glances his way before hurrying on.
Sunny had noticed her too. "She's probably just starstruck and wants your autograph," she'd said.
But Mac didn't think so. There was just something about this child, something in the stoop of her thin shoulders, the sheer vulnerability of her sticklike legs and the huge shadowy eyes that spelled trouble. Watching her now, coming down the beach one more time, he wondered what was up.
Sunny caught sight of her too, from the open sliding doors leading from the kitchen onto the deck. Not that she was really thinking about the child, she just sort of took in her presence in a passing glance. The sun was going down and Sunny was already in her pajamas, cream satin boy-shorts and a cami with taupe lace over the appropriate bits, plus she had on her tall black sheepskin Ugg boots, her favorite softies. A girl needed to keep her feet warm on these cool Malibu nights.
It was only six thirty but Sunny had felt like an early start to love and life tonight, with a little grilled cheese sandwich because all she could find in Mac's fridge was an ancient lump of Monterey Jack. Still, along with the fizz and "just a little lovin'" as Dusty Springfield so wisely put it on the CD wafting from the tiny living room, it should be a wonderful night.
Looking at Sunny, you would never think she was a great cook — which she certainly was. Nor would you take her for a Wharton School of Business graduate and owner of her own PR company, which she also was, though you might have caught a glimpse of her former wild-child days if you ever saw her tearing down Pacific Coast Highway on her Harley, hair streaming from under her helmet, and her Chihuahua, Tesoro — the "fiend on four paws" Mac called her — tucked into the saddlebag.
Sunny was a golden-limbed Latina with a fall of long black hair Mac once told her, romantically he'd thought, was as glossy as a Labrador's coat emerging wet from the sea. She had amber eyes under brows that winged up at the sides, a longish slender nose, and a mouth that defied description. Sufficient to say it was generous and infinitely kissable, especially as she always wore a bright red lipstick only she could have gotten away with. And she smelled delightfully of her own warm skin and Guerlain's Mitsouko, a rich old-fashioned scent because, as she always said, at heart she was an old-fashioned girl.
The champagne was already cooling in an ice bucket out on the deck and Sunny grabbed a pair of flutes in one hand and the plate with the sandwich in the other and went to join Mac.
The girl had stopped opposite the house and was skimming pebbles across the waves, which had picked up speed and height and were slamming onto the shore and covering her in spray. She didn't seem to care — or perhaps she didn't notice. She looked small and somehow so alone on that long empty beach, that Sunny was puzzled. Children her age usually ran around in groups, laughing, yelling, pushing each other, there was always movement, noise, laughter, life.
It all happened in a moment. Pirate gave a sudden warning high-pitched whine then hurled himself down the wooden beach stairs, just as the giant wave licked over its own top, unfurled in a green glaze, and came crashing down on the child.
Mac was down those steps in a flash, wading into the swirl, aware of the fierce pull of the sudden riptide, reaching out for the girl with one hand and the struggling dog — her would-be savior — with the other. Kicking powerfully, parallel to the undertow, he dragged them both back to shore, emerging several yards down the beach where he flung himself, spent, onto the sand beyond the next wave's reach.
Sunny was already running to them. She dropped to her knees and began thumping the girl's back, getting her to retch up what seemed like half the Pacific Ocean, while Pirate shook himself all over her cream satin pajamas.
"I'm calling the paramedics," she said.
"No." The girl lifted her head, panicked. "No, please don't. My aunt wouldn't like it."
It crossed Sunny's mind briefly to wonder what kind of aunt would not want to call the paramedics to make sure her niece was not half drowned, but then the girl insisted she really was okay.
On his feet now, Mac stared worriedly down at her. The child's voice was rough from all that choking. The gray hoodie had been ripped off by the wave and she lay exhausted, on her back, arms and legs splayed, looking like a stranded starfish. Her huge chestnut brown eyes were anxious, her pale face was dotted with freckles, and her terrible cropped thatch of carroty-red hair looked as though it had been shredded by a runaway electric razor.
"Thank you." She spoke at last. "I'm Paloma Ravel," she added in a small voice, as though, Sunny thought, she was embarrassed to tell them her name. Then Pirate came up and sniffed her, looking anxious too, and Paloma sat up and put her arms round him.
"I love him," she said, burying her face in his sodden fur. Wet, Pirate resembled the proverbial drowned rat, skinny as the girl, and Sunny wondered if that wasn't one of the reasons Paloma loved him. They looked alike.
"He tried to save me," Paloma said, kissing Pirate's wet inquiring nose. "I will always love him. You're so lucky ... you know, to have a dog like that," she said, looking up at Mac.
"I know," he said. "And I know he barked to try to warn you. You're a lucky girl, Paloma Ravel. But, since there seems no need to call for help, you'd better come into the house and let Sunny dry you off before I take you home." He hauled her to her feet. "I'm Mac Reilly," he said, looking down at her.
"I know," Paloma said, blushing as Mac took her hand and walked with her back to the house she had been casing for the past week. It was as if her dream had come true. "Thank you, Mr. Reilly," she added, remembering her manners and that she was glad to be alive.CHAPTER 2
Paloma felt strange actually being inside Mac Reilly's house. She had viewed it so often the past few days from the beach and now she was surprised to find it so small. The Malibu house her aunt Jassy rented, a mere half mile away, was enormous compared with this, and even then Jassy had complained, saying beachfront property was always skimpy because of the location and the cost. But looking at Mac's low-slung living room that also acted as dining room and front hall, with the dog-hairy blanket covering the comfy sofa meant for lounging in front of the old-fashioned white brick fireplace, it did occur to Paloma, who'd been brought up rich in whichever of her many lives so far, to wonder if Mac was as successful a detective as she had previously thought.
A small tan-color Chihuahua bared its teeth in a snarl and threw itself across the floor at her, skidding to a stop only inches from her black granny boots, that squelched, waterlogged, as she jumped, about two feet in the air.
"Tesoro!" the beautiful woman who seemed to be Mac Reilly's girlfriend yelled.
Paloma observed the pink heart-shaped diamond ring and decided she must be his fiancée. Lucky her, she thought enviously, though she had never yet, in all her nine years, even thought about having a crush on a boy. But Mac Reilly was different, and besides, he had rescued her from a watery grave and she had gone rapidly from "crush" to "idolizing." She had read somewhere about watery graves and they did not sound too appetizing; you got all green and puffed up and didn't even look like yourself. If she had really drowned her aunt Jassy probably would not even have recognized her and that would have been annoying.
"Tesoro!" Sunny yelled again, and the dog, who'd been sniffing Paloma's boots suspiciously, retreated backward, keeping a warning growl just behind its teeth. "That's my Chihuahua," Sunny told the shivering child.
"The fiend on four paws," Mac explained. "But you don't have to worry, he only bites me."
Eyes still fastened nervously on the dog, Paloma wondered about that. But then the fiancée, who told her her name was Sunny Alvarez, said it was true and the Chihuahua was only defending its territory because it had a thing about Pirate and the two were always at war.
Paloma noticed Pirate, still lurking outside on the deck, and said anxiously, "Oh, poor, brave Pirate." Then she looked more closely at the dog and said, astonished, "But why does he have only one eye? And what happened to his other leg?"
"It's a long story," Mac said. "But don't worry, the Chihuahua didn't do it."
Paloma silently thanked God for that; but then Tesoro bounced toward her, jumping up and down, gazing adoringly all the while into her eyes.
"How sweet she is." Paloma bent to pick up the tiny dog but Tesoro didn't like her cold, wet embrace and quickly wiggled away.
"Come on, Paloma Ravel," Sunny said, putting an arm round her thin shoulders, regardless of the sopping T-shirt. "We've got to get you out of these wet things."
She showed her to the bathroom, handed her a large towel, then told her to take off her wet clothes and put them in the plastic bag she gave her. She told Paloma to take a hot shower, then dry herself thoroughly, really scrubbing with the towel, to get her circulation going again.
"You're looking a bit blue," she said, still worried, watching as Paloma took off the boots, and handed them to her.
Sunny tipped them upside down over the sink and little rivers of water poured out.
"Will you look at that," she marveled. "I thought you'd swallowed half the Pacific and now here's the other half."
She pulled out the sodden gym socks Paloma had stuffed into the toes, and added, surprised, "These boots are way too big, you even had to stuff the toes. So, why are you wearing them? Most kids wear flip-flops on the beach," she added. "In fact, I do myself."
Paloma felt herself blush again. She turned her face away, wishing she didn't do that. It always revealed her true feelings, which were usually that she was nervous or embarrassed, like now.
"It's ... well ... the boots are my mother's," she said. Which was sort of true. They had belonged to her mother once, but Paloma could not bring herself to say they "were my mother's." She hated to speak of her mother in the past tense, and still thought of them as belonging to her mom. She was only keeping them for her until she could return them.
"Oh my God." She clutched at her wrist, drooping with relief when she found the gold bracelet with its seven jiggly charms still there. "I thought I'd lost it in the sea. Ohh!" She'd just remembered her iPhone was in the pocket of her lost hoodie. "My iPhone's gone," she said, stunned. "My aunt bought it for me."
"I'll bet your aunt will be so pleased you are still alive she'll buy you another," Sunny said. "The bedroom's right across the hall. Meet me there when you're ready."
Paloma stood looking around at the famous detective's bathroom. It was very masculine with white oblong-shaped tiles like the ones she'd seen in city subways in New York and Paris, all the way to the ceiling, which was painted a very dark blue. Blue like midnight, Paloma thought, impressed.
There was an oversized claw-foot tub, a white pedestal sink with a mirrored cupboard over it that Paloma, who knew about such things because of her sophisticated aunt Jassy, thought must be Art Deco, and a walk-in shower with an unframed clear-glass door that, if you were not aware, you might easily walk into and smack your nose. The shower had lots of jets at various heights as well as an overhead rain shower, and Paloma threw off her wet T-shirt and shorts and her sodden underwear, opened the heavy glass door cautiously, turned on the faucet that she hoped was only the overhead one because otherwise she'd get drowned all over again. She waited till she saw she had guessed correctly and the water was coming down just hard and hot enough to bear, before she stepped under it.
Excerpted from From Barcelona, with Love by Elizabeth Adler. Copyright © 2011 Elizabeth Adler. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Interesting but the characters get confusing and sometimes it is best to go back and reread to find out who they are. All in all a fast and fun read.
My first book by Elizabeth Adler and I read it in a day. Enjoyed the plot and the characters.
If you like a good love story as well as a good mystery Elizabeth Adler, knows how to mix the two together.I could not put the book down.
I love Ms. Adler's books. This was a great book as well.
Pop singer Bibi Fortunata faces charges of murdering her lover and his mistress. However, a jury in Los Angeles acquits her of both murders. She sends her nine years old daughter Paloma Ravel to live with relatives in Spain before coming over to join them. Bibi never makes it to her family as she vanishes. At the beach just outside his home in Malibu, TV private eye Mac Reilly and his dog Pirate save Paloma from drowning. The child explains to Mac and his lover Sunny Alvarez the cook that she was looking for him because she wants him to find her missing mother Bibi. Paloma's step-grandmother Lorenza worries about the child; the kid's avaricious stepfather wants control of Paloma's money. She calls her former lover Mac who travels to Barcelona to search for Bibi. Sunny follows him to Europe. This is an enjoyable Reilly-Alvarez investigation as the California pair takes Barcelona by storm. The breezy story line is fast-paced with terrific settings and a strong support cast although the missing person's case is thin. Series fans will appreciate the Malibu mates return to Europe (see It All Began in Monte Carlo and There's Something about St. Tropez). Harriet Klausner
The style of the book was off. Very jumpy. A lot of elements added just because it seemed. I liked that there was a mystery of where Bibi went but then it just dragged on with all the old and new love elements. I didn't read the first books in the Mac Reilly series. Probably won't and unless this author is picked by my bookclub again I won't be reading her other novels.