Night Whispers

( 45 )

Overview

Nine New York Times bestsellers and more than twenty million books in print have affirmed Judith McNaught's stature as the reigning monarch of superb storytelling. Now, she creates breathtaking suspense and harrowing plot twists In her most masterful, enthralling novel yet.
Night Whispers
A policewoman in a small Florida community, Sloan Reynolds knows that her modest upbringing was a long way from the social whirl of Palm Beach, the world ...

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Overview

Nine New York Times bestsellers and more than twenty million books in print have affirmed Judith McNaught's stature as the reigning monarch of superb storytelling. Now, she creates breathtaking suspense and harrowing plot twists In her most masterful, enthralling novel yet.
Night Whispers
A policewoman in a small Florida community, Sloan Reynolds knows that her modest upbringing was a long way from the social whirl of Palm Beach, the world inhabited by her father and her sister, Paris. Total strangers to Sloan, they have never tried to contact her — until a sudden invitation arrives, to meet them and indulge in the Palm Beach social season.
A woman who values her investigative work more than a Dior dress, Sloan is unmoved by the long-overdue parental gesture. But when FBI agent Paul Richardson informs her that her father and his associates are suspected of fraud, conspiracy, and murder, Sloan agrees to enter into her father's life — while hiding her true profession.
Sloan's on top of her game until she meets Noah Maitland, a multinational corporate player and one of the FBI's prime suspects — and finds herself powerfully attracted to him, against her deepest instincts. When a shocking murder shatters the seductive facade of the wealth and glamour surrounding her, Sloan must maneuver through a maze of deceit and passion, to find someone to trust — and to decipher the truth behind those terrifying whispers in the dark.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Judith McNaught is one of the finest writers of popular fiction, let alone romance novels. She's come up through the ranks of storytellers by penning fine novels vividly imagined with full-blooded characters in extraordinary circumstances. Her ranking as one of the top bestselling writers is no accident — McNaught's talent shone through early with such books as Whitney My Love and Something Wonderful — and in the past few years her fictional sense has become more refined and her stories more powerful. McNaught is at her peak with her new book, Night Whispers, a romantic suspense story that sizzles under the Palm Beach sun. Never miss a McNaught!

Sloan Reynolds is beautiful, but don't let her looks fool you. Inside, she's still the same little girl who once refused to let her mother beg for money from Sloan's father, who had abandoned them both. As a kid, Sloan had a rough life as she tried to keep her emotionally fragile mother from having to humiliate herself before her ex; even now, Sloan manages to hold her own emotional life at arm's length in order to more fully give herself to others. While Sloan is a bit of a hero in the small city of Bell Harbor, along the eastern edge of Florida, she's spent as much time as possible avoiding the spotlight. A cop who really believes in truth, justice, and the law, Sloan has managed to put her ideals before her own needs, and she feels stronger for it. Her mother, Kimberly, has always been more of the child than Sloan herself, and even Sloan's best friend, Sara, has always looked to Sloan for adviceandprotection.

But now, Sloan may be in danger.

A man has been watching her — stalking her — as she goes about her duties, whether it be getting a kid's kite down from a tree, teaching a class in self-defense, or rescuing a child from a deadly fall. Sloan becomes dimly aware of his presence, although she can't seem to pinpoint his exact whereabouts. It's as if portents of doom are on the horizon — the worst of them being that her father, Carter Reynolds, has called for the first time in 20 years to invite her to meet him and her sister, Paris, in Palm Beach. Carter Reynolds is a multimillionaire who left Sloan's mom way back when, taking their daughter Paris with him, leaving Sloan to raise her own mother up from the ashes of a bad marriage and a family tragedy. Now Carter wants back in Sloan's life? Too little, too late, in Sloan's opinion. And then, there's that stalker — Sloan finally corners him and demands that he identify himself. Loaded to the hilt with guns and ammo, he looks like a psycho drug dealer, but it turns out he's FBI.

And Sloan's life takes a turn that will change her forever.

Paul Richardson is on the track of something far more dangerous than anything Sloan has encountered before as a cop in Bell Harbor. He's the FBI agent who's been following Carter Reynolds and his possibly shady dealings for a long while — and he needs someone to get him on the inside of Carter's life. Sloan Reynolds may just be the ticket.

As Sloan discovers that family often has darker secrets than she could ever have previously imagined, the magic of Judith McNaught takes off, and Night Whispers heads like the Titanic toward its iceberg of a climax — with shocking revelations for Sloan.

Judith McNaught has written her most stunning work of fiction to date with Night Whispers. Sexy, smart, and page-turning, this is a must-read. — —Jessi Rose Lucas

From the Publisher
barnesandnoble.com Never miss a McNaught! Night Whispers heads like the Titanic toward its iceberg of a climax — with shocking revelations....Judith McNaught has written her most stunning work of fiction to date. Sexy, smart, and page-turning, this is a must-read.

BookBrowser.com Fans of romantic suspense will shout that the great Judith McNaught has written something wonderful with her perfect novel, Night Whispers....A tender triumph that will leave readers awed....The characters are warm and charming, and will long be remembered.

Rendezvous McNaught has truly outdone herself with Night Whispers. It is a testimony to her impressive talent....Equal parts romance and suspense, this is a must read for mystery and romance fans alike....You'll find yourself delighted with this excellent book.

People Magazine
A fast-paced romantic thriller...
Library Journal
McNaught follows up eight New York Times best sellers with this story of a policewoman, raised apart from her wealthy family, who joins in an FBI investigation of her father -- and falls for the wrong man along the way.
USA Today
When it comes to romance, Judith McNaught is in a class by herself.
People Magazine
A fast-paced romantic thriller...
Dallas Morning News
McNaught undoubtedly knows a thing or two about love.
Chicago Tribune
Judith McNaught comes close to an Edith Wharton edge...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671525743
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 6/29/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 184,998
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 4.14 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith  McNaught

Judith McNaught is the New York Times bestselling author who first soared to stardom with her stunning bestseller Whitney, My Love, and went on to win the hearts of millions of readers with Once and Always, Something Wonderful, A Kingdom of Dreams, Almost Heaven, Paradise, Perfect, Until You, Remember When, the #1 bestseller Night Whispers, Someone to Watch Over Me, and other novels. There are more than thirty million copies of her books in print. Judith McNaught lives in Houston.

Biography

USA Today has said, "When it comes to writing romance, Judith McNaught is in a class by herself." Interestingly, while McNaught's career as a bestselling author has been thriving for many years, she has led the life of a Renaissance woman, dabbling in the fields of radio, film, and finance before settling into her writer's role. The first female executive producer at a CBS radio station, McNaught also served stints as an assistant director of a film crew, a comptroller of a major trucking company, president of a temporary employment agency, and president of an executive search firm.

McNaught first clicked with the reading public when her book Whitney My Love (considered by many to be the first full-length Regency historical novel) was published as a paperback original in 1985, promptly winning the Romantic Times Award for Best New Historical Novel. As a result of her newfound fame, two previously published romantic tales were reissued with commercial success. By the 1990s, McNaught had switched to contemporary romance, and with 1998's Night Whispers, she segued into romantic suspense, an area she has honed to polished perfection.

A spectacular storyteller with legions of loyal fans, McNaught proves her chops with each successive book. Honors and awards have followed in a steady stream. In addition to the Affaire de Coeur Golden Pen Certificate, she has received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award honoring her entire body of work. Hers was the first romance novel ever chosen as a main selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club; and her titles consistently turn up on The New York Times bestseller list.

In between books, McNaught devotes herself to several charities and is active in the promotion of women's literacy.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
He'd been following her for three days, watching. Waiting.
By now, he knew her habits and her schedule. He knew what time she got up in the morning, whom she saw during the day, and what time she went to sleep. He knew she read in bed at night, propped up on pillows. He knew the title of the book she was reading, and that she laid it facedown on the nightstand to keep her place before she finally turned off the lamp.
He knew her thick blond hair was natural and that the startling blue-violet color of her eyes was not the result of the contact lenses she wore. He knew she bought her makeup at the drugstore and that she spent exactly twenty-five minutes getting ready to go to work in the morning. Obviously, she was more interested in being clean and neat than in enhancing her physical assets. He, however, was very interested in her considerable physical assets. But not urgently and not for the "usual" reasons.
At first, he'd taken great care to keep her in sight while ensuring that she didn't notice him, but his precautions were more from habit than necessity. With a population of 150,000 people, 15,000 of them college students, the little city of Bell Harbor on Florida's eastern seaboard was large enough that a stranger could move unnoticed among the population, but not so large that he would lose sight of his prey in a jumble of metropolitan expressways and interchanges.
Today he'd tracked her to the city park, where he'd spent a balmy but irksome February afternoon surrounded by cheerful, beer-drinking adults and shrieking children who'd come there to enjoy the Presidents' Day picnic and festivities. He didn't like children around him, particularly children with sticky hands and smudged faces who tripped over his feet while they chased each other. They called him, "Hey, mister!" and asked him to throw their errant baseballs back to them. Their antics called attention to him so often that he'd abandoned several comfortable park benches and was now forced to seek shelter and anonymity beneath a tree with a rough trunk that was uncomfortable to lean against and thick knarled roots that made sitting on the ground beneath it impossible. Everything was beginning to annoy him, and he realized his patience was coming to an end. So was the watching and waiting.
To curb his temper, he went over his plans for her while he turned his full attention on his prey. At the moment, Sloan was descending from the branches of a big tree from which she was attempting to retrieve a kite that looked like a black falcon with outstretched wings tipped in bright yellow. At the base of the tree, a group of five- and six-year-olds cheered her on. Behind them stood a group of older adolescents, all of them boys. The young children were interested in getting their kite back; the adolescent boys were interested in Sloan Reynolds's shapely suntanned legs as they slowly emerged from the thick upper branches of the tree. The boys elbowed each other and ogled her, and he understood the cause of the minor male commotion: if she were a twenty-year-old coed, those legs of hers would have been remarkable, but on a thirty-year-old cop, they were a phenomenon.
Normally, he was attracted to tall, voluptuous women, but this one was only five feet four with compact breasts and a slender body that was appealingly graceful and trim although far from voluptuous. She was no centerfold candidate, but in her crisp khaki shorts and pristine white knit shirt, with her blond hair pulled up in a ponytail, she had a fresh wholesomeness and prim neatness that appealed to him — for the time being.
A shout from the baseball diamond made two of the older boys turn and look his way, and he lifted the paper cup of orange soda toward his mouth to hide his face, but the gesture was more automatic than necessary. She hadn't noticed him in the past three days as he watched her from doorways and alleys, so she wasn't going to find anything sinister about a lone man in a park crowded with law-abiding citizens who were enjoying the free food and exhibits, even if she did notice him. In fact, he thought with an inner smirk, she was incredibly and stupidly heedless whenever she was off duty. She didn't look over her shoulder when she heard his footsteps one night; she didn't even lock her car when she parked it. Like most small-town cops, she felt a false sense of safety in her own town, an invulnerability that went with the badge she wore and the gun she carried, and the citizens' sleazy secrets that she knew.
She had no secrets from him, however. In less than seventy-two hours, he had all her vital statistics — her age, height, driver's license number, bank account balances, annual income, home address — the sort of information that was readily available on the Internet to anyone who knew where to look. In his pocket was a photograph of her, but all of that combined information was minuscule in comparison to what he now knew.
He took another swallow of lukewarm orange soda, fighting down another surge of impatience. At times, she was so straight, so prim and predictable, that it amused him; at other times, she was unexpectedly impulsive, which made her unpredictable, and unpredictable made things risky, dangerous, for him. And so he continued to wait and watch. In the past three days he'd collected all the mysterious bits and pieces that normally make up the whole of a woman, but in Sloan Reynolds's case, the picture was still blurry, complex, confusing.
Clutching the kite in her left fist, Sloan worked her way cautiously to the lowest branch; then she dropped to the ground and presented the kite to its owner amid shouts of "Yea!" and the sound of small hands clapping excitedly. "Gee, thanks, Sloan!" Kenny Landry said, blushing with pleasure and admiration as he took his kite. Kenny's two front teeth were missing, which gave him a lisp, both of which made him seem utterly endearing to Sloan, who had gone to high school with his mother. "My mom was scared you'd get hurt, but I'll bet you never get scared."
Actually, Sloan had been extremely afraid during her downward trek through the sprawling branches that her shorts were snagging on the limbs, hiking up, and showing way too much of her legs.
"Everyone is afraid of something," Sloan told him, suppressing the urge to hug him and risk embarrassing him with such a show of public affection. She settled for rumpling his sandy brown hair instead.
"I fell out of a tree once!" a little girl in pink shorts and a pink-and-white T-shirt confessed, eyeing Sloan with awed wonder. "I got hurted, too, on my elbow," Emma added shyly. She had short, curly red hair, freckles on her small nose, and a rag doll in her arms.
Butch Ingersoll was the only child who didn't want to be impressed. "Girls are supposed to play with dolls," he informed Emma. "Boys climb trees."
"My teacher said Sloan is an honest-to-goodness hero," she declared, hugging the rag doll even tighter, as if it gave her courage to speak up. She raised her eyes to Sloan and blurted, "My teacher said you risked your life so you could save that little boy who fell down the well."
"Your teacher was being very kind," Sloan said as she picked up the kite string lying on the grass and began winding it into a spool on her fingers. Emma's mother had been another classmate of Sloan's, and as she glanced from Kenny to Emma, Sloan couldn't decide which child was more adorable. She'd gone to school with most of these children's parents, and as she smiled at the circle of small faces, she saw poignant reminders of former classmates in the fascinated faces looking back at her.
Surrounded by the offspring of her classmates and friends, Sloan felt a sharp pang of longing for a child of her own. In the last year, this desire for a little boy or little girl of her own to hold and love and take to school had grown from a wish to a need, and it was gaining strength with alarming speed and force. She wanted a little Emma or a little Kenny of her own to cuddle and love and teach. Unfortunately her desire to surrender her life to a husband had not increased at all. Just the opposite, in fact.
The other children were eyeing Sloan with open awe, but Butch Ingersoll was determined not to be impressed. His father and his grandfather had been high school football stars. At six years old, Butch not only had their stocky build, but had also inherited their square chin and macho swagger. His grandfather was the chief of police and Sloan's boss. He stuck out his chin in a way that forcibly reminded Sloan of Chief Ingersoll. "My grandpa said any cop could have rescued that little kid, just like you did, but the TV guys made a big deal out of it 'cause you're a girl cop."
A week before, Sloan had gone out on a call about a missing toddler and had ended up going down a well to rescue it. The local television stations had picked up the story of the missing child, and then the Florida media had picked up the story of the rescue. Three hours after she climbed down into the well and spent the most terror-filled time of her life, Sloan had emerged a "heroine." Filthy and exhausted, Sloan had been greeted with deafening cheers from Bell Harbor's citizens who'd gathered to pray for the child's safety and with shouts from the reporters who'd gathered to pray for something newsworthy enough to raise their ratings.
After a week, the furor and notoriety was finally beginning to cool down, but not fast enough to suit Sloan. She found the role of media star and local hero not only comically unsuitable but thoroughly disconcerting. On one side of the spectrum, she had to contend with the citizens of Bell Harbor who now regarded her as a heroine, an icon, a role model for women. On the other side, she had to deal with Captain Ingersoll, Butch's fifty-five-year-old male-chauvinist grandfather, who regarded Sloan's unwitting heroics as "deliberate grandstanding" and her presence on his police force as an affront to his dignity, a challenge to his authority, and a burden he was forced to bear until he could find a way to get rid of her.
Sloan's best friend, Sara Gibbon, arrived on the scene just as Sloan finished winding the last bit of kite string into a makeshift spool, which she presented to Kenny with a smile.
"I heard cheering and clapping," Sara said, looking at Sloan and then at the little group of children and then at the kite-falcon with the broken yellow-tipped wing. "What happened to your kite, Kenny?" Sara asked. She smiled at him and he lit up. Sara had that effect on males of all ages. With her shiny, short-cropped auburn hair, sparkling green eyes, and exquisite features, Sara could stop men in their tracks with a single, beckoning glance.
"It got stuck in the tree."
"Yes, but Sloan got it down," Emma interrupted excitedly, pointing a chubby little forefinger toward the top of the tree.
"She climbed right up to the top," Kenny inserted, "and she wasn't scared, 'cause she's brave."
Sloan felt — as a mother-to-be someday — that she needed to correct that impression for the children. "Being brave doesn't mean you're never afraid. Being brave means that, even though you're scared, you still do what you should do. For example," she said, directing a smile to the little group, "you're being brave when you tell the truth even though you're afraid you might get into trouble. That's being really, really brave."
The arrival on the scene of Clarence the Clown with a fistful of giant balloons caused all of the children to turn in unison, and several of them scampered off at once, leaving only Kenny, Emma, and Butch behind. "Thanks for getting my kite down," Kenny said with another of his endearing, gap-toothed smiles.
"You're welcome," Sloan said, fighting down an impossible impulse to snatch him into her arms and hug him close — stained shirt, sticky face, and all. The youthful trio turned and headed away, arguing loudly over the actual degree of Sloan's courage.
"Miss McMullin was right. Sloan is a real-life, honest-to-goodness hero," Emma declared.
"She's really, truly brave," Kenny announced.
Butch Ingersoll felt compelled to qualify and limit the compliment. "She's brave for a girl," he declared dismissively, reminding an amused Sloan even more forcibly of Chief Ingersoll.
Oddly, it was shy little Emma who sensed the insult. "Girls are just as brave as boys."
"They are not! She shouldn't even be a policeman. That's a man's job. That's why they call it policeman."
Emma took fierce umbrage at this final insult to her heroine. "My mommy," she announced shrilly, "says Sloan Reynolds should be chief of police!"
"Oh, yeah?" countered Butch Ingersoll. "Well, my grandpa is chief of police, and he says she's a pain in the ass! My grandpa says she should get married and make babies. That's what girls are for!"
Emma opened her mouth to protest but couldn't think how. "I hate you, Butch Ingersoll," she cried instead, and raced off, clutching her doll — a fledgling feminist with tears in her eyes.
"You shouldn't have said that," Kenny warned. "You made her cry."
"Who cares?" Butch said — a fledgling bigot with an attitude, like his grandfather.
"If you're real nice to her tomorrow, she'll prob'ly forget what you said," Kenny decided — a fledgling politician, like his father.

Copyright © 1998 by Eagle Syndication, Inc.

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First Chapter

Chapter One

He'd been following her for three days, watching. Waiting.

By now, he knew her habits and her schedule. He knew what time she got up in the morning, whom she saw during the day, and what time she went to sleep. He knew she read in bed at night, propped up on pillows. He knew the title of the book she was reading, and that she laid it facedown on the nightstand to keep her place before she finally turned off the lamp.

He knew her thick blond hair was natural and that the startling blue-violet color of her eyes was not the result of the contact lenses she wore. He knew she bought her makeup at the drugstore and that she spent exactly twenty-five minutes getting ready to go to work in the morning. Obviously, she was more interested in being clean and neat than in enhancing her physical assets. He, however, was very interested in her considerable physical assets. But not urgently and not for the "usual" reasons.

At first, he'd taken great care to keep her in sight while ensuring that she didn't notice him, but his precautions were more from habit than necessity. With a population of 150,000 people, 15,000 of them college students, the little city of Bell Harbor on Florida's eastern seaboard was large enough that a stranger could move unnoticed among the population, but not so large that he would lose sight of his prey in a jumble of metropolitan expressways and interchanges.

Today he'd tracked her to the city park, where he'd spent a balmy but irksome February afternoon surrounded by cheerful, beer-drinking adults and shrieking children who'd come there to enjoy the Presidents' Day picnic and festivities. He didn't like children around him, particularly children with sticky hands and smudged faces who tripped over his feet while they chased each other. They called him, "Hey, mister!" and asked him to throw their errant baseballs back to them. Their antics called attention to him so often that he'd abandoned several comfortable park benches and was now forced to seek shelter and anonymity beneath a tree with a rough trunk that was uncomfortable to lean against and thick knarled roots that made sitting on the ground beneath it impossible. Everything was beginning to annoy him, and he realized his patience was coming to an end. So was the watching and waiting.

To curb his temper, he went over his plans for her while he turned his full attention on his prey. At the moment, Sloan was descending from the branches of a big tree from which she was attempting to retrieve a kite that looked like a black falcon with outstretched wings tipped in bright yellow. At the base of the tree, a group of five- and six-year-olds cheered her on. Behind them stood a group of older adolescents, all of them boys. The young children were interested in getting their kite back; the adolescent boys were interested in Sloan Reynolds's shapely suntanned legs as they slowly emerged from the thick upper branches of the tree. The boys elbowed each other and ogled her, and he understood the cause of the minor male commotion: if she were a twenty-year-old coed, those legs of hers would have been remarkable, but on a thirty-year-old cop, they were a phenomenon.

Normally, he was attracted to tall, voluptuous women, but this one was only five feet four with compact breasts and a slender body that was appealingly graceful and trim although far from voluptuous. She was no centerfold candidate, but in her crisp khaki shorts and pristine white knit shirt, with her blond hair pulled up in a ponytail, she had a fresh wholesomeness and prim neatness that appealed to him -- for the time being.

A shout from the baseball diamond made two of the older boys turn and look his way, and he lifted the paper cup of orange soda toward his mouth to hide his face, but the gesture was more automatic than necessary. She hadn't noticed him in the past three days as he watched her from doorways and alleys, so she wasn't going to find anything sinister about a lone man in a park crowded with law-abiding citizens who were enjoying the free food and exhibits, even if she did notice him. In fact, he thought with an inner smirk, she was incredibly and stupidly heedless whenever she was off duty. She didn't look over her shoulder when she heard his footsteps one night; she didn't even lock her car when she parked it. Like most small-town cops, she felt a false sense of safety in her own town, an invulnerability that went with the badge she wore and the gun she carried, and the citizens' sleazy secrets that she knew.

She had no secrets from him, however. In less than seventy-two hours, he had all her vital statistics -- her age, height, driver's license number, bank account balances, annual income, home address -- the sort of information that was readily available on the Internet to anyone who knew where to look. In his pocket was a photograph of her, but all of that combined information was minuscule in comparison to what he now knew.

He took another swallow of lukewarm orange soda, fighting down another surge of impatience. At times, she was so straight, so prim and predictable, that it amused him; at other times, she was unexpectedly impulsive, which made her unpredictable, and unpredictable made things risky, dangerous, for him. And so he continued to wait and watch. In the past three days he'd collected all the mysterious bits and pieces that normally make up the whole of a woman, but in Sloan Reynolds's case, the picture was still blurry, complex, confusing.

Clutching the kite in her left fist, Sloan worked her way cautiously to the lowest branch; then she dropped to the ground and presented the kite to its owner amid shouts of "Yea!" and the sound of small hands clapping excitedly. "Gee, thanks, Sloan!" Kenny Landry said, blushing with pleasure and admiration as he took his kite. Kenny's two front teeth were missing, which gave him a lisp, both of which made him seem utterly endearing to Sloan, who had gone to high school with his mother. "My mom was scared you'd get hurt, but I'll bet you never get scared."

Actually, Sloan had been extremely afraid during her downward trek through the sprawling branches that her shorts were snagging on the limbs, hiking up, and showing way too much of her legs.

"Everyone is afraid of something," Sloan told him, suppressing the urge to hug him and risk embarrassing him with such a show of public affection. She settled for rumpling his sandy brown hair instead.

"I fell out of a tree once!" a little girl in pink shorts and a pink-and-white T-shirt confessed, eyeing Sloan with awed wonder. "I got hurted, too, on my elbow," Emma added shyly. She had short, curly red hair, freckles on her small nose, and a rag doll in her arms.

Butch Ingersoll was the only child who didn't want to be impressed. "Girls are supposed to play with dolls," he informed Emma. "Boys climb trees."

"My teacher said Sloan is an honest-to-goodness hero," she declared, hugging the rag doll even tighter, as if it gave her courage to speak up. She raised her eyes to Sloan and blurted, "My teacher said you risked your life so you could save that little boy who fell down the well."

"Your teacher was being very kind," Sloan said as she picked up the kite string lying on the grass and began winding it into a spool on her fingers. Emma's mother had been another classmate of Sloan's, and as she glanced from Kenny to Emma, Sloan couldn't decide which child was more adorable. She'd gone to school with most of these children's parents, and as she smiled at the circle of small faces, she saw poignant reminders of former classmates in the fascinated faces looking back at her.

Surrounded by the offspring of her classmates and friends, Sloan felt a sharp pang of longing for a child of her own. In the last year, this desire for a little boy or little girl of her own to hold and love and take to school had grown from a wish to a need, and it was gaining strength with alarming speed and force. She wanted a little Emma or a little Kenny of her own to cuddle and love and teach. Unfortunately her desire to surrender her life to a husband had not increased at all. Just the opposite, in fact.

The other children were eyeing Sloan with open awe, but Butch Ingersoll was determined not to be impressed. His father and his grandfather had been high school football stars. At six years old, Butch not only had their stocky build, but had also inherited their square chin and macho swagger. His grandfather was the chief of police and Sloan's boss. He stuck out his chin in a way that forcibly reminded Sloan of Chief Ingersoll. "My grandpa said any cop could have rescued that little kid, just like you did, but the TV guys made a big deal out of it cause you're a girl cop."

A week before, Sloan had gone out on a call about a missing toddler and had ended up going down a well to rescue it. The local television stations had picked up the story of the missing child, and then the Florida media had picked up the story of the rescue. Three hours after she climbed down into the well and spent the most terror-filled time of her life, Sloan had emerged a "heroine." Filthy and exhausted, Sloan had been greeted with deafening cheers from Bell Harbor's citizens who'd gathered to pray for the child's safety and with shouts from the reporters who'd gathered to pray for something newsworthy enough to raise their ratings.

After a week, the furor and notoriety was finally beginning to cool down, but not fast enough to suit Sloan. She found the role of media star and local hero not only comically unsuitable but thoroughly disconcerting. On one side of the spectrum, she had to contend with the citizens of Bell Harbor who now regarded her as a heroine, an icon, a role model for women. On the other side, she had to deal with Captain Ingersoll, Butch's fifty-five-year-old male-chauvinist grandfather, who regarded Sloan's unwitting heroics as "deliberate grandstanding" and her presence on his police force as an affront to his dignity, a challenge to his authority, and a burden he was forced to bear until he could find a way to get rid of her.

Sloan's best friend, Sara Gibbon, arrived on the scene just as Sloan finished winding the last bit of kite string into a makeshift spool, which she presented to Kenny with a smile.

"I heard cheering and clapping," Sara said, looking at Sloan and then at the little group of children and then at the kite-falcon with the broken yellow-tipped wing. "What happened to your kite, Kenny?" Sara asked. She smiled at him and he lit up. Sara had that effect on males of all ages. With her shiny, short-cropped auburn hair, sparkling green eyes, and exquisite features, Sara could stop men in their tracks with a single, beckoning glance.

"It got stuck in the tree."

"Yes, but Sloan got it down," Emma interrupted excitedly, pointing a chubby little forefinger toward the top of the tree.

"She climbed right up to the top," Kenny inserted, "and she wasn't scared, cause she's brave."

Sloan felt -- as a mother-to-be someday -- that she needed to correct that impression for the children. "Being brave doesn't mean you're never afraid. Being brave means that, even though you're scared, you still do what you should do. For example," she said, directing a smile to the little group, "you're being brave when you tell the truth even though you're afraid you might get into trouble. That's being really, really brave."

The arrival on the scene of Clarence the Clown with a fistful of giant balloons caused all of the children to turn in unison, and several of them scampered off at once, leaving only Kenny, Emma, and Butch behind. "Thanks for getting my kite down," Kenny said with another of his endearing, gap-toothed smiles.

"You're welcome," Sloan said, fighting down an impossible impulse to snatch him into her arms and hug him close -- stained shirt, sticky face, and all. The youthful trio turned and headed away, arguing loudly over the actual degree of Sloan's courage.

"Miss McMullin was right. Sloan is a real-life, honest-to-goodness hero," Emma declared.

"She's really, truly brave," Kenny announced.

Butch Ingersoll felt compelled to qualify and limit the compliment. "She's brave for a girl," he declared dismissively, reminding an amused Sloan even more forcibly of Chief Ingersoll.

Oddly, it was shy little Emma who sensed the insult. "Girls are just as brave as boys."

"They are not! She shouldn't even be a policeman. That's a man's job. That's why they call it policeman."

Emma took fierce umbrage at this final insult to her heroine. "My mommy," she announced shrilly, "says Sloan Reynolds should be chief of police!"

"Oh, yeah?" countered Butch Ingersoll. "Well, my grandpa is chief of police, and he says she's a pain in the ass! My grandpa says she should get married and make babies. That's what girls are for!"

Emma opened her mouth to protest but couldn't think how. "I hate you, Butch Ingersoll," she cried instead, and raced off, clutching her doll -- a fledgling feminist with tears in her eyes.

"You shouldn't have said that," Kenny warned. "You made her cry."

"Who cares?" Butch said -- a fledgling bigot with an attitude, like his grandfather.

"If you're real nice to her tomorrow, she'll prob'ly forget what you said," Kenny decided -- a fledgling politician, like his father.

Copyright © 1998 by Eagle Syndication, Inc.

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Interviews & Essays

On Monday, December 7th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Judith McNaught to discuss NIGHT WHISPERS.


Moderator: Welcome, Judith McNaught. We are thrilled you could join us to discuss your new romantic suspense novel, NIGHT WHISPERS. How are you this evening?

Judith McNaught: I am wonderful! I am thrilled to be here.


Marcia from Austin, TX: Judith, we know you as a historical and romance writer, and now you have branched off into romantic suspense. NIGHT WHISPERS looks almost like pure suspense. What caused this departure for you?

Judith McNaught: It may look like pure suspense, and it is the most suspenseful of the novels I have written, but it is also one of the most romantic. It is really not a departure, it is an expansion -- but you decide and let me know what you think!


Whitney from Pikes Peak, CO: In NIGHT WHISPERS, Sloan Reynolds (the heroine) is a cop who has basically had to raise her own mother and has a big grudge against her father. Her father's really wealthy and wants a reunion in Palm Beach. Sloan has never wanted to see her father. Why is Sloan so tough on him?

Judith McNaught: I think you have to read the book and find out. Because he has never shown any interest in her mother's financial plight -- until Sloan is 30 years old. He suddenly wants to set things straight, not because he cares about Sloan but probably because he is afraid of dying.


DreadNaught Jane Chick from Washington, D.C.: Hello, Judith McNaught! NIGHT WHISPERS was a great read, and I thank you for it. I particularly liked the scene where Sloan teaches her self-defense class -- I was learning right along with the class, as I am sure all of us were. Sloan isn't the first heroine you feature teaching other women: In PERFECT, Julie teaches illiterate women to read, and in some of your historicals, the heroine teaches women as well -- Alex teaches and befriends the cottagers at Hawthorne, and Jennie Westmoreland helps the women at Claymore obtain better looms and equipment. Your heroines seem to feel as though it's important for women to help each other learn and succeed, and it's one of the things I most admire about them. Is it something you do consciously when creating a character like one of your heroines?

Judith McNaught: I feel it is important for women to help each other, so I try to do it through my heroines. In the scenes that you mention, I am trying to impart information to readers in a way that is interesting -- without lecturing or slowing down the story. That is a very astute observation on your part.


Jessica Mays from Alabama: Hi, Judith! Congratulations on Nickels's first birthday and on NIGHT WHISPERS, which was positively divine! My question is, what was your original concept for NIGHT WHISPERS, and how did it change as the book progressed (if it changed)? Also, Sloan's self-defense class was extremely informative. Was it only your desire to raise awareness by including that scene, or did you have another driving factor?

Judith McNaught: The original concept for the book changed almost on a weekly basis until it materialized into the present form. That is true of every book I have written. I start out going in one direction convinced that is the right way to go, and along the way the characters or events point in a different direction. If I follow their lead, the story benefits; if I continue trying to do it my way instead of their way, the story doesn't work as well, and I always end up going back and doing it their way. Regarding the advice given to women who are stranded on the highway (which is what you are calling the self-defense class), it is my hope and belief that one woman somewhere will read that advice and be spared a tragedy. That is exactly why I put the advice in the book.


Bab from Atlanta: Did you ever dream you would be a bestselling author? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Judith McNaught: No. I wanted to play the piano, and when I found out I couldnt play, the only other thing I wanted to do was write a book. Even when I sold my first book, I never dreamed of being a bestselling author. It was beyond my boldest imagining. My only goal was to write a book that someone would really love, and it never occurred to me that a whole lot of people would love it enough to keep reading it after 15 years. I feel enormously blessed and unbelievably lucky that the things I write speak to my own sex in a way that brings us closer, even if it is only that we laugh at the same scene.


Nancy from Vancouver, BC, Canada: I read the short novel you did featuring the character Nikki from WHITNEY, MY LOVE and UNTIL YOU. I have heard somewhere that you were planning a full-length book about him. Is this so? If so, when might it be available? And what other books are in the works? Thanks.

Judith McNaught: I am planning to do a Nikki story as a full-length novel, and because of your question here, barnesandnoble.com is inadvertently breaking the news right now that Pocket Books and I will release an unabridged version of WHITNEY, MY LOVE in hardcover probably sometime in the next year. This version would have the full scenes as originally written as well as the epilogue. If you like this idea, contact your local bookstore, because we will be doing it in a limited edition.


Lisa from Chicago: What is the one thing about you that makes you fulfilled or complete? I love all your books, and the new book is an expansion into more fully dimensional characters (that's not to say they weren't before). Thank you very much for all your time and the love you have committed to writing them.

Judith McNaught: That is one of the loveliest compliments I have ever gotten. Thank you. The one thing that makes me feel most fulfilled or complete? Not in order of importance: looking at my adult children and seeing kind, mature, responsible people; finishing a novel that I know is my very best effort and that I believe readers will love; remembering my marriage to Michael McNaught, who was the most magnificent man I have ever known; Barbra Streisand singing my favorite song (there is something about music that makes me feel like there really is a God); and anytime I look at my grandson and see my daughter's eyes and my son-in-law's smile.


Mary Ellen B. from Mississippi: One of the themes of your book seems to have to do with trust: Who do you trust? Do you trust the man who seems to love you? Do you trust your own instincts? Do you trust your father? All of it. Sloan has a suspicious nature, particularly when it comes to men and trust. Do you feel that you and Sloan have anything in common?

Judith McNaught: The timing of your question makes me laugh out loud. Let's just say that one of the most important things occupying my mind right now is whether to trust my judgment about someone who seems pretty wonderful. I guess I will let you know next year! The danger in the inability to trust is every bit as great and destructive to us as women as being too trusting. One locks us up emotionally and the other opens us up to emotional disaster. I don't know where the balance is, but I think that in most cases, people will live up to our highest expectations of them as long as the expectations are reasonable.


Shirley from California: Hello, Judith McNaught! In NIGHT WHISPERS, I was very partial to the character Courtney, Noah's sister. Anyhow, is there a chance that you will do a spin-off story on her? She very much reminds me of a younger Alicia Avery from PARADISE. Also, her wit in the novel truly made me laugh out loud. You always tend to make your novels heartwarmingly funny and at the same time tear-drenching. How is it that you manage to create such a phenomenal effect?

Judith McNaught: Regarding Courtney, she lit up the page from the moment she walked into the first scene, and I don't know why or how. As you will probably know, I almost never involve children in my novels, but Courtney really did just appear out of necessity and take over every scene that she was in. She was the most effortless character I have ever created, and I loved her for making it so easy on me. Everybody from the day the novel came out came asking for Courtney's story -- and down the road I would like to try it -- but remember, the outrageously flippant, innocently insensitive remarks that made us laugh and love her would not be so appealing in a grown woman as a heroine unless they were tempered by a little empathy. So the answer is, I would like to write her story but only if I can smooth out her edges but still maintain that joy and uniqueness she has. I will give it a shot, and thanks for asking!


Bella Didonato from New York: Ms. McNaught, I wanted to say that I really love your books! I have two questions: Are you going to be making a story about Dorothy (Victoria's sister) and the Marquis de Salle (in ONCE AND ALWAYS)? My second question is: I loved ALMOST HEAVEN. Are you going to make a book with Ian and Elizabeth as secondary characters? Thank you.

Judith McNaught: When I do another historical, I want to bring Ian and Elizabeth in if possible. They are two of my very favorite characters! I enjoyed them, but even more, I admired them both. As for Dorothy's story, I probably will someday, but only if I can come up with one stronger enough for her and for you as readers.


Lauren from North Carolina: You are famous for your secondary characters and romances among those secondary characters. In NIGHT WHISPERS, it appeared that Jess and Sara had had a love/hate relationship that would eventually become just love but didn't. Why? Sequel?

Judith McNaught: You guessed it! I am toying with the idea of detailing their romance in a future novel with them again as secondary characters. I do not think I would use them as primary characters. The reason I wouldnt may interest you, because it is a glimpse into my philosophy of writing and the difficulties of writing: Sara is a fun character, but she is mercenary, and even though you know her background and understand why money could be so important, it is not an admirable trait. I have always tried to write about women that we as women would admire as well as like. So I would like to have fun resolving their romance as secondary characters in the future.


Janice H. from Grand Rapids: What's the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you during the holidays?

Judith McNaught: The most romantic thing? It was actually last year around Christmas: I was just finishing a novel and the man in my life saw that I was working myself into the ground. With less than 24 hours to do it, he contacted my assistant in secret, had her pack a suitcase for me, and at 10am the next morning, a limo pulled into the driveway. My suitcase was put into the car and my assistant came to get me and handed me my purse. She told me that the man of my life was waiting for me at the airport. I had no idea where we were going until he met me at the airport and took me to the gate, where the plane was leaving to Las Vegas. Now, what made this so romantic and so touching? It wasn't the limo or the first-class seats on the plane or the beautiful suite in the hotel -- what made it so special was, I slept for 36 hours straight and he never complained! This is completely true!


Diana from Glendale, New York: The Westmorelands have to be one of the families most near and dear to us. Are you planning on expanding their story or taking us into the next generation of Westmorelands? It seems that we can't get enough!

Judith McNaught: Please refer to the question on the board that we will release an unabridged version of WHITNEY, MY LOVE in hardcover as a special limited edition. Contact your bookseller to reserve one. I will not do a sequel to WHITNEY, MY LOVE for the same reason I have not done sequels to any of the historicals, and the reason is simply this: I have never read a sequel that was equal to the original; and moreover, at the end of the book, when I leave those characters with you, they are everything I want them to be for you and everything I want you to remember them being. I don't want to see Clayton with gout, or Whitney with gray hair. On the other hand I don't like to abandon characters any more then you do, and for that reason I let them reappear to you as secondary characters in other novels set at the same approximate time.


Jacki from Indiana: Hi, Judith. My favorite book is PARADISE. I think I've read it a dozen times. I noticed several authors have written under other names. Why is that?

Judith McNaught: If you are referring to other authors writing books with the name PARADISE, the answer is you can not copyright a book title, and so there are countless book titles that have appeared more than once.


DreadNaught Jane Chick from Washington, D.C.: I loved the character of Courtney Maitland in NIGHT WHISPERS -- her awkwardness reminds me so much of Whitney Westmoreland when she was young. I was so happy to see her much happier by the novel's end. Do you see her as becoming a heroine in her own right some day?

Judith McNaught: Hi, Jane! We already answered this one, but I loved Courtney too!


Anne from New York: You've been with Pocket Books a long time. Do you have a good relationship with your editor there?

Judith McNaught: I have been with Pocket Books since my they bought my first title, WHITNEY, MY LOVE. This is very unusual, as you might know. The reason I have stayed with Pocket is straightforward and based on the following business judgment: They are a splendid publisher who have kept every promise they have ever made me, and of their own volition gone out of their way to ensure the success of my novels. I hold my editor, Linda Marrow, and the staff and president Gina Centrello in the highest regard because they all deserve it. I say this to you because I have a feeling you may be writing a book, and it is vitally important to remember that publishing is a business but that publishers are people, and to make your decision cautiously and wisely. As a further bit of information, my editor, who is now vice president, was the first reader who approved WHITNEY, MY LOVE for purchase 15 years ago. Working with the right editor makes being an author a joy. Working with the wrong one would make it a nightmare.


Moderator: Thank you, Judith McNaught! Best of luck with NIGHT WHISPERS. Do you have any closing comments for the online audience?

Judith McNaught: Yes, I do have a comment. The interactive editor, who has been relaying your questions to me and posting your answers on the Web, has paused repeatedly during this hour online to comment on the insight and quality of the questions you have been asking. It is a reflection on the caliber of all of you as readers, and I am honored and flattered that you are the people that read my books. So I can't say anything more but thank you for being who you are and for being here with me tonight. You can check out Pocket Books's web site at www.SimonSays.com to join my readers there who have a very active and entertaining message board going.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2005

    Sloan and Noah!!

    I love romance novels, recently because of my newfound discovery of 'Night Whispers'. This book made me think of the romance that I share with my present partner. I recommend this book to anyone who would like to read a book interlinked with action, suspence, and definately romance. I also disagree with the comments of others on how the book is not up to its standards. This book has really been sent to my A-list.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2005

    AMAZING!

    This is definitely one of Judith McNaught's best novels (if not the best). I have no idea what the other reviewers were thinking when they gave it fewer than five stars. Awesome characters...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    Perfect!!!!! Loved the book so much I was sad when it ended :(

    Perfect!!!!!
    Loved the book so much I was sad when it ended :(

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Gotta love Judith!!!

    Good read ,as ar almost all of McNaughts books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    I didn't want to put it down. I lost a lot of sleep that night. I can hardly wait for her next book to come out.

    Exciting, fun & adictive. Keeps you guessing to the very end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    Unpleasantly surprised....

    I've been a fan of JM for many years and I just got around to reading her 2 more recent books. 'Every Breath You Take' was the first I read and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!! So I was really looking forward to this one - but, uh, no. This was not good, I'm sorry to say. Sloan's character was wonderfully developed, I loved her and was rooting for her all the way but Noah's character was not well developed at all. I still don't know if I liked him or not. Their romance was so glossed over I just didn't feel like it was that much a part of the story, oddly enough for a romance novel. Then it ended so quick. No, definitely not her best work. Maybe in the future she'll revise it like she did EBYT. I didn't read the original, I only picked it up after if was revised and it is FANTASTIC in the new version, anyway. Maybe she could take another stab at this one...HINT, HINT!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2008

    Could have been better!

    It was an okay book as far as romance novels go. Although, I would have liked it better if they had given more information about the investigation that was taking place during the reunion of Sloan and her family. You hear more about what Sloan and her family are doing then you do about the main reason that she came to Palm Beach in the first place. However, it is a very good plot and I can feel the emotions quite well. How can you help pin your family to a murder if you find that they're not as bad as you thought they were? It has beautiful scenes and captivating charicters, but I would have liked a little more action.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2007

    Loved it!!!!!

    I haredly ever read romance and since reading this book i definitely am going to read many more romance books, especially Judith McNaught's books. The only thing I wished to did was eloborate more on Sara and Jess. I hope she writes a spin-off book about Sara and Jess. She could have also given Jess a different last name. No one never has a name Jess Jessup. That's stupid. But anyway loved the book and I will continue on with more of her books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    It was ok

    It was better then most books, but not as good and most of Judith Mcnoughts books are. I like the story, but felt it ended to quickly, the undercover work and murder mystery should have wrapped up quicker and more time spent on reuniting sloan and noah. The ending just felt unnatural.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    i loved it !

    this was the second Judith McNaught i've read. i really enjoyed the story line of this book. but what happens with jess and sara ? is there another book that follows up in their story ? anyways, i just thought she could have expanded on them a little bit.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2006

    There wasn't that humpphh

    It was a good book, but it lacked that really romantic touch. There were some points during the book where it really tugged at my heart, but I thought it could have gone into depth a bit more. I loved Sloan and Noah. They were great. It was more of a mystery than a romance, I have to agree. Paradise is still #1 in my book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2006

    Pretty Good

    Well, this book was not bad. Actually it was pretty good. It was a nice mix of two completly different topics- (Mystery and romance) but if your really into romance, it wasn't that enjoyable. The charcters were well formed. But in my opinion, they dialouge could have been better. But this was a very very good book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2005

    fantastic

    I thought this book was great! This is the first one I have read from her and now I want to read more. This book had me laughing, crying, and jumping for joy. It was so good I couldn't put it down. It took me 1 1/2 days to read it.. Thanks so much for this experience.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2005

    A Disappointment

    I felt that the premise was unbelievable in that it would have been too easy to discover Sloan's profession. It would seem that this would have been the first thing that Carter, the Great-grandmother or the assistant would have done before invitation was issued given their dedication to security and their current activities. Additionally, what was with all the illegal weapons where did they go, and why did Noah really need them? It seems that Noah was guilty of something and was suddenly recast as a good guy. The ending was also disappointing as Sloan gives up her profession as a detective for Noah. Give me a break, there were too many hanging threads that were not explained adequately in the epilogue. The whole book was too contrived and unbelievable to be one that I would recommend. I've read one other book by this author which I liked. I hope that 'Night Whispers' is an aberration and not typical of her work.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2004

    Not the norm...

    I was a bit disappointed with Night Whispers. I mean it was okay, but after reading all of Judith McNaught's other books, I was left feeling empty with this one. I usually can't put down one of her novels, but with this one....well let's just say it was layed down more than a few times. There was hardly any romance and the characters were a bit lacking. And it also seemed to just drag on and on. I have read everyone of JM's books and this one was a disappointing one to end with. I wouldn't recommend this one too strongly to my friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2004

    it was ok

    it was an ok read. not one of her best books but i was curious. i would have liked to have learned more about the other characters. i was more interested in sarah and jess. i hope she explores a storyline for these two characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2003

    AMAZING!!!

    Judith did it again. This book is amazing. I read it in 2 days, couldn't put it down. The suspense and the love in this book is great. Makes you think you're part of it!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2003

    AWESOME

    I really loved this book. This book was very mysterious and romantic. As I read this book, I felt as if I were in it. I hope you read this book, because I know you'll enjoy it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2003

    This book was OK, but it wasn't like the rest..

    I liked this book very much, but it didn't have very much romance in it like the book 'Pefect' had... I liked all the charaters.. esp. Sloan's, Noah's, and Paul's... They were the best..! Judith McNaught writes books like nobody had before... It's amazing,you feel like your actually there. She just gives us an amazing feeling while reading her books... she makes us fall in love..everytime!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2003

    One of the BEST!!

    I thought this was one of the best books I have ever read! You can not put it down and when you do you want to pick it up and read it again. The characters were all great as well!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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