Madi Pilgrim, Barbara J. Duell’s stubborn, courageous and headstrong photojournalist protagonist in A Place by the Bay, has spent most of her life willingly throwing herself in the middle of wars worldwide. As a woman who seems to be drawn to danger, it’s crucial that she travels with only the necessities: her camera and a steadfast bottle of Jack. 

Madi isn’t afraid to get down and dirty to get a good shot. She is used to dodging bullets, stepping around bombs, and has suffered her fair share of physical injuries. It’s an occupational hazard, but she’s managed to skirt any serious bodily harm … until recently, that is. Having been stretched too thin, physically as well as mentally, while on an assignment in Bosnia, she isn’t able to dodge one bullet quick enough. 

Her life hanging in the balance, Madi is transported to a hospital in Germany. Enter trauma surgeon Dr. Baker. 

Colonel Neal Baker has dedicated his life to saving each person that comes through his OR. He has seen his fair share of war operating in field hospitals that are never far enough from the battle, where the wounded pile up faster than he can save them. Since his reassignment to Landstuhl, Germany, he’s been granted a reprieve from the traditional kind of warzone … but he hasn’t met anyone like Madi before. 

Neal, having taken over the care of severely wounded Madi, soon finds out about the type of woman she is: someone who cares more for the welfare of others than herself, a quality that leads her to regularly insert herself in the middle of dangerous situations — not ideal in a patient you’ve just stitched back together. Despite this, Neal wants to shelter her and keep her safe.


The line between doctor and patient quickly becomes blurred, and Madi, scared by her intense new feelings for Neal, grows more restless each day. Accustomed to the fact that her entire life can fit into a backpack, she’s never stayed in one place too long; “Her home is anywhere she is needed to tell a story.”

Needing to take back control, Madi throws common sense out the window. She goes against doctors’ orders, determined to return to her life the only way she knows how: “living in a world ruled by chaos.” Barely able to walk, Madi arrives in San Francisco where she is faced with a different type of war: homeless youth.

Left behind, Neal must grapple with both his frustration and infatuation with a woman who has broken promises and is constantly throwing caution to the wind. Taking a page out of Madi Pilgrim’s book, he travels halfway around the world to find her. Together, as they work to save the lives of homeless youth on the streets of San Francisco, they find love, pain, trust and, most importantly, a new beginning. 

A Place by the Bay isn’t just a story about romance; it’s a journey with two people that have seen their fair share of the horrors of war, both at home and abroad, but somehow still have the capacity to show compassion in their own ways. On the surface, it would seem like Neal and Madi wouldn’t get along, let alone create a life together, but once they’ve bared it all, you realize they are different sides of the same coin.

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International bestselling author Barbara J. Duell loves to travel around the world, sometimes without ever leaving her home. A history buff, she continues to seek answers as to how we got to where we are today, how different civilizations have changed, usually due to the impact of war.

Barbara can be found each day at her computer, laughing or crying, just tagging along wherever her characters decide to take her. Barbara has lived by the sea, high in the pine forest where eagles soar, in a valley near the river’s edge, and now resides in the delicate land of the southwestern desert.