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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann comes a thrilling tale of romance and suspense, filled with all the surprise, passion, and mystery of a new love.

When Kayla Grey travels from Boston to Montana, the last place she expects to end up is huddled beneath a blanket of dirt in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. And the last person she expects to rescue her is the very man she’d come to find. Cal Bartlett was a true-blue ...
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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann comes a thrilling tale of romance and suspense, filled with all the surprise, passion, and mystery of a new love.

When Kayla Grey travels from Boston to Montana, the last place she expects to end up is huddled beneath a blanket of dirt in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. And the last person she expects to rescue her is the very man she’d come to find. Cal Bartlett was a true-blue cowboy, complete with a horse, and the most amazing eyes Kayla had ever seen. He was also the brother of the man who’d wanted to marry her. But she didn’t discover that until it was too late–after they’d kissed by a roaring fire and Kayla felt a desire she’d never known. Cal could handle Mother Nature, but could he handle the news Kayla brought with her? That his dead brother might not be dead after all?

Cal couldn’t imagine why he was being tested in this way–irresistibly drawn to the woman his brother had loved. Now she was insisting he might be alive, asking Cal to join her on a dangerous search based on a rumor from a stranger…. And torn between guilt and longing, Cal would do just that, hoping against hope that wanting this woman wouldn’t mean losing his brother once again.


From the Paperback edition.

Cal Bartlett can't deny his attraction for Kayla Gray, the woman who once betrayed his brother. But once he's tasted paradise, can he sacrifice the woman he loves? Suzanne Brockmann again dazzles readers with this sensual love story. Original.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553904833
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/25/2007
  • Series: Loveswept Series , #832
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 66,448
  • File size: 354 KB

Meet the Author

Suzanne Brockmann
Bestselling author, Suzanne Brockmann has won numerous awards, including the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, seven Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, sixteen WISH Awards, and two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America. She lives outside Boston with her husband and two children.


From the Paperback edition.

Biography

Although Suzanne Brockmann can't remember a time when she wasn't scribbling something (one of her earliest masterpieces was an action-packed radio play called "Mice on Mars"), she didn't begin to write seriously until she was married with young children. She spent several years trying to break into the super-competitive field of screenwriting before deciding to try her hand at genre fiction; and, it was only after months of intensive research that she finally homed in on Romance. In June of 1992, she sat down to write her first book. By year's end, she had completed ten manuscripts, and in August of 1993, she sold her first book, the contemporary romance Future Perfect.

Brockmann's first novels were stand-alones. But as her career progressed, she noticed that romance mini-series, with their opportunities for character development and intersecting story lines, had become extremely popular. Seeking to increase her readership, she decided to write a mini-series of her own. She found her "hook" in a magazine article on Navy SEALs and, in 1996, she released Prince Joe, the first novel in her Tall, Dark and Dangerous series. The alpha males of Brockmann's fictional SEAL Team 10 proved to be the perfect romantic heroes, and the series was an immediate hit with readers. Four years later, she launched a second series of military/romantic thrillers centered on the friendships, romances, and working relationships among a team of Navy SEALS and members of an elite security agency called Troubleshooters, Inc. Starting with The Unsung Hero in 2000, the Troubleshooters books have catapulted the author to the top of the charts.

Brockmann is known in the industry as a risk-taker, having written stories around such sensitive topics as interracial romance and homosexuality, In 2004, she garnered attention for her eighth Troubleshooters novel, Hot Target, which involved one of her most popular recurring characters, openly gay FBI agent Jules Cassidy, in a romantic subplot. Brockman, who dedicated the book to her gay son Jason, was not sure how readers would respond. To her surprise, the reaction from gay and straight alike proved positive. She stated on her website: "I love the fact that the world I've created in my books -- a diverse American world filled with the same variety of people who live in my urban American neighborhood -- has been so enthusiastically embraced by readers."

Brockmann's distinctive literary blend has come in for its fair share of praise. Writing in the Chicago Tribune, veteran Booklist reviewer John Charles stated: "Brockmann strikes the perfect balance between white-knuckle suspense and richly emotional romance." And USA Today has called her "[t]he reigning queen of militaray suspense." As further proof of her mainstream appeal, she remains one of a handful of Romance novelists to have made the leap from mass market paperback to hardcover.

Good To Know

In an interview with the online magazine All About Romance, Brockmann says: "I started reading when I was three (my first 'real' book was Beverly Cleary's Here Comes the Bus -- I remember this because no one believed that I was really reading it and I got really upset when my older sister took it back to the school library before I'd finished it!)."

A serious history buff from her youth, Brockmann has read widely on WWII and has been known to incorporate stories from that era into the books of her Troubleshooters series.

Brockmann loves music. She attended Boston University as a film major with a minor in creative writing but dropped out to perform with a rock and roll band. She also sang with and served as music director for a Boston-based a cappella group called "Serious Fun" and produced its first and only CD in 1998.

Brockman is married to novelist Ed Gaffney.

The mother of an openly gay son , Brockmann is a proud member of PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays).

In her writing, Brockmann employs a device she calls Deep Point of View. She explains it in an interview with the online writers' journal Writers Write: "In my books, I use subjective point of view, but I'm not satisfied with merely showing the reader what that camera sees from its perch atop a character's head. I bring the camera down, inside of that character's head, so we see the world through that character's eyes. We hear things through his ears. We smell what he smells, feel what he feels, think what he think. With deep POV, I write using words that that character would use. I tell the story with that character's voice."

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The storm came out of nowhere.

Or at least it seemed to. Mikayla Grey hadn't noticed the thunderously dark storm clouds as they filled the sky, but then, she had been preoccupied. By the time Kayla checked into the town's only guest house it was five o'clock and she was too tired to face the idea of driving out to the Bartlett ranch. She'd come out here instead, out into the wide open space of the countryside to get some fresh air, to take a walk on the rolling hills, and to gaze at the mountain range that loomed in the distance.

The truth was, Kayla was losing her momentum. She was starting to wonder exactly what on earth she was doing. She'd come all the way from Boston to Asylum, Montana, without even a phone call to announce her impending arrival, simply to talk to a man she'd never met before. And what she was going to tell him was going to sound crazy.

"Hi. I was a good friend of your brother Liam's. In fact, right before he died, he asked me to marry him. I know you probably don't understand why I didn't attend the memorial service you held for him two years ago, but you see, I couldn't admit that he was dead."

It had taken months—no, nearly an entire year—before Mikayla was able to acknowledge that Liam was not, indeed, ever coming back.

She had no idea of the reception Liam's older brother was going to give her. Liam had always spoken of the man ten years his senior with respect in his usually irreverent voice. Calvin Bartlett, Cal for short, was an odd mixture of father and brother to the younger man. Cal had raised Liam after their parents were killed in a car crash when Liam was five and Cal was fifteen. A grandfather had supposedly taken charge of the two boys, but according to Liam, the old man had been an invalid, barely able to care for himself, let alone a five-year-old.

Kayla looked up at the menacing clouds as the first fat drops of cold rain began to fall, blown sideways and upside down by great gusts of wind. Slowly at first, then faster and harder the rain fell, soaking her through her lightweight shirt and hiking shorts. Her shirt was a turtleneck, with a long row of tiny buttons down the front, but there were no sleeves, and the armholes were cut diagonally toward the neckline, exposing her shoulders. Shivering, Kayla picked up her pace, hurrying back the way she'd come, toward the town and the warmth of her room. But when she reached the crest of a hill, the driving rain obscured her vision, and she realized with a sinking heart that she no longer knew in which direction the town lay.

Her short blond hair was dripping into her eyes, and she pushed it out of her face as she turned in a slow circle. She'd climbed through the barbed-wire fencing that lined the road and had wandered away from town, assuming she'd simply be able to wander back.

She'd been wrong.

The wind blew harder, colder, and Kayla shivered again. At least it wasn't an electrical storm. At least there was no lightning.

Then a huge fork of lightning split the sky. Kayla dropped flat to the ground as the thunder roared around her.

She was in big, big trouble.

The phone rang.

Cal almost didn't hear it over the roar of the rain on the roof. And then when he did hear it, he wasn't so sure he wanted to answer it. These days the phone rang only when someone wanted something from him. And on a night like tonight, with the wind sending sheets of icy rain blowing slantwise across the hills, he'd just as soon not have anyone want anything from him.

But Thor lifted his head from between his front paws and gazed inquisitively at Cal with his brown, intelligent eyes. Aren't you going to answer the phone? the dog seemed to ask.

Cal picked it up. "Yeah."

"Good, you're there." It was Bob Monroe, the sheriff of Asylum.

"I am," Cal said. "Didn't you get that notice in your last phone bill, saying how it wasn't a good idea to make a phone call during an electrical storm?"

"Yeah, well, this is an emergency."
An emergency. Something told Cal he was about to get very, very wet. He was silent, waiting for Bob to go on.

"Tourist girl went out for a hike about an hour before the storm hit," Bob told him. "I just got a call from Ned over at the hotel, saying that she hasn't come back yet. She's out there somewhere, Cal, caught in the storm, probably lost."

"You want me to join one of the search parties," Cal said evenly. "All right. I'll be right—"

"No, no, son, I want you to be the search party," Bob interrupted. "You and that crazy dog of yours."

Cal didn't say a word. He just looked again out the window at the deluge and waited for the sheriff to explain.

"Lightning hit Matt Tucker's barn," Bob told him. "It was full of dry hay, and despite this rain, we've got damn near everyone in town working to keep the blaze from spreading to the house. I can't spare a single deputy, and Matt's neighbors aren't willing to leave him shorthanded either, not for some fool stranger who didn't have enough sense to stay indoors with a storm brewing." He paused.

"That leaves you folks who live a bit outside of town, and unfortunately we've just had a report that the road washed out about a quarter mile past your place. You're it, Cal. You and Thor."
Cal glanced over at his dog. The animal's tail thumped and he seemed to smile. His ears were up, alert, as if he were listening to Bob's request for help.

"Anna Henrikson said she saw the girl out on one of your pastures," Bob continued. "We think she's probably still on your land."

"I got six hundred acres of land," Cal pointed out. He pulled the telephone's extension cord as far as it would go, taking it with him into the mud room. He pulled on his boots and shrugged into his long duster.

"I'm counting on you to find her," Bob said. "Weather report says this storm's gonna get worse before it gets better. We may even get an early snow. Dress warm and wear your hat, son."
"Right." Cal jammed his cowboy hat on his head as he hung up the phone. He gave a whistle for Thor and stepped out the kitchen door and into the driving rain.

It had stopped thundering and lightning, but now there was ice mixed in with the rain. The wind howled and Kayla shivered uncontrollably. She was going to freeze to death. It was only September, technically still summer, yet she quite possibly was going to die of exposure.
But not if she could help it.

The side of the hill she was huddled against actually felt warm to the touch. Of course, anything would have felt warm to her—with her arms and legs bare and icy cold. But still, it gave her an idea.
She was carrying a pocketknife, and with freezing, fumbling fingers she pried the biggest blade open. She stabbed down at the sod, cutting the tough roots of the grass, exposing the dirt beneath.
The soil was warm. It had been sunny for most of the day. The sun had heated the earth, and it still retained that warmth.

Kayla dug. She used her knife, her hands, a rock she found. She tried to keep the sod intact, peeling it back from the dirt sort of like a blanket.

Exactly like a blanket.

The exertion should have been warming, but the wind stole any heat from her body as it ripped past her.

The hole wasn't nearly big enough, but Kayla climbed into it anyway, curling into a ball. She refused to think about bugs and spiders and worms. She focused instead on the warmth of the soil as she covered herself with the sod and the dirt.

The possibility that she had just dug her own grave crossed her mind, but she pushed it away. Thinking that way wasn't going to get her any warmer. Thinking that way wasn't going to keep her alive.

Thor had found something.

Cal nudged his horse forward, peering through the curtain of rain that poured off the wide brim of his hat.

The dog barked again, dancing happily back and forth, leading Cal forward, unmindful of the tempest around them.

"What you got, boy?" Cal called, dismounting from his horse. He held tightly to the reins as he walked forward, well aware that his mount was skittish in this kind of weather. He couldn't blame the animal for wanting to make a beeline back to the warmth of the barn. Hell, he wanted to head straight to the barn himself.

Thor barked again, digging at the ground.

What the hell . . . ?

A booted foot protruded from the earth. And a hand.

Sweet Jesus, they found the girl. She'd gone and dug herself under the sod!

Quickly, Cal hobbled his horse, then slid and skidded down the slick slope to where Thor was waiting.

He pushed back the grass and dirt, revealing drenched curls and a dirt-smeared face. She was shaking, shivering from the cold. Her eyes opened slowly, as if she were too cold to lift her lids.
She looked up at him. She had eyes the color of the hillside—green with flecks of gold and brown.
Cold. Her mouth formed the word, but she made no sound.

Thor was beside himself with happiness. "Good boy," Cal said to the dog as he pulled the girl up and out of the dirt. "Good dog."

Lord, underneath a layer of dirt, the girl was dressed in summer clothes—a light sleeveless top and a pair of ridiculously short shorts. He had to get her warm, but how? He was closer to town than he was to his ranch house. It was probably better to take her there anyway, in case she needed the doctor.

Cal drew her up into his arms. She was taller than he'd first thought from the way she'd been curled up under the sod. Her legs were impossibly long, her skin smooth and soft against his hands. When was the last time he'd touched a woman? Damned if he could remember. Not since the kid had died, and that had been two years ago this past summer.

Still holding the girl, Cal easily unhobbled his horse. Getting them both up and into the saddle was a different story. He had to sling her over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. Once on the horse, though, he positioned her in front of him, holding her close, wrapping his big duster around them both, ignoring the dirt that was smearing across his own clothes.

Cal dug his heels into his horse, heading at a gallop toward town.

It would take five minutes at the most. Five short minutes. But five minutes had never felt so blasted long. Cal tried his best to warm the girl. But he was starting to feel the chill of the rain and wind himself. He was trying not to think about how soft she felt against him, or the way she was burrowing her face into his chest, or the arm she'd weakly thrown around his neck, or those incredibly long, graceful legs.

Or the beautiful greenish-brown color of her eyes.

Cal reined in his horse at the southernmost gate of his ranch, unhooking it on horseback and pulling it shut after he and Thor went through. He took his horse more slowly on the paved road into town.
Cal could tell that Thor was mystified. He didn't know why his master was riding into town during a stormy evening. But he was a good-natured dog, and he trotted gamely alongside Cal's horse.
The rooming house was dark, but so was the rest of Main Street. The power had gone out. Still, Cal gave a shout for help as he slid down off his horse. He tossed the reins around a hitching bar and carried the girl up the wooden steps to the porch. The door was unlocked, so he pushed it open, bringing the girl inside. Thor followed, obediently curling up on the tile floor beside the door. Cal shut the door behind him with his foot.

"Ned!" he called. "Irma?"

There was no answer.

Dripping water and mud, he carried the girl down the hall to the kitchen. But the big room was empty, as was the dining room and the parlor.

"Is anyone here?"

There were no candles lit, even though Ned and Irma kept enough of them on hand. Power outages were frequent occurrences in Asylum, Montana. But the owners of the rooming house wouldn't have left candles burning if they weren't going to be around. And they weren't around. There was no one here at all. They were all probably out at Tucker's, fighting the barn fire.

Cal picked up the telephone, but the line was dead.

It wasn't a big surprise. When the power went, the phone lines usually went too. So now what? He was still on his own. And he couldn't just leave the girl there. He had to figure out some way to get her warmed up.

A hot bath.

Ned's heating system ran on gas and solar power. He could run the girl a hot tub of water, warm her up that way.

Cal carried her up the stairs to the guest bedrooms. It didn't matter which one. He opened the first door he came to and brought the girl inside. He took her straight into the big bathroom and set her down on the floor. He peeled off his duster and wrapped it around her.
It was dark in there, but he got the water started running into the deep old-fashioned tub, sealing the drain with a stopper.

There was an array of candles on the wide counter that surrounded the sink. Cal found his matches and lit them all, and the room was filled with a golden glow. A thermostat on the wall controlled the little radiator that sat in the corner, and he turned the heat up as high as it would go, shutting the bathroom door to keep the warmth inside.

The girl was trying to untie her boot laces. She saw the tub, saw what he was intending to do, but her fingers weren't cooperating. Cal knelt down next to her.

"I'll get that," he said.

She nodded, pulling the duster more tightly around her.

Like a little kid, she'd double-knotted the laces of her boots. When Cal finally got them untied, he slipped them off her feet, pulling her socks off too.

From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 29 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2012

    Very good narrator on audio

    This is one of Brockmann's better novels: full of emotion, passion, and action, without being overly long. True to form, it contains a few clumsy scenes with lame dialogue. This narrator navigates them beautifully! Her timing, tone, and inflections are excellent. I love the ebook and I love this audiobook too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Lava

    "Need one of who?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Cats

    If you ever need one of them, go to force mate result 4. I don't want the other toms to find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    Good

    Loved the story, but the ending could have been less rushed.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    Pleasantly surprised

    I did not know what to expect when I started this book, but I enjoyed both the story and the characters, and the plot went places I definitely wasn't expecting. This is my favorite book by Brockmann.

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Romantic Love Story

    An ok short read. Its well written and laid out and the writter doesn't repeat the same thing that happens on both sides (his and hers). She moves the story forward with each persons side to progress on the journey they go on together. Thought the ending came together kinda faster then I expected. I also didn't particularly like how trouble kept finding them over and again. Overall not a bad read.

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  • Posted July 28, 2009

    nice read

    Suzanne really gets you into the story. She writes so well. I have truly enjoyed all of her books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2007

    Loved It

    This book was the first book I read from Suzanne Brockmann. I loved it. I want to read more of her books.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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