The Ocean Between Us

The Ocean Between Us

4.2 80
by Susan Wiggs

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After years of following her navy officer husband on assignment around the world with their three children, Grace Bennett realizes that she's left something behind—herself.

Steve Bennett can't understand the unraveling of his wife's heart. He wants to set things right, but when a secret from his past is revealed just as he's sent out to sea, their

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After years of following her navy officer husband on assignment around the world with their three children, Grace Bennett realizes that she's left something behind—herself.

Steve Bennett can't understand the unraveling of his wife's heart. He wants to set things right, but when a secret from his past is revealed just as he's sent out to sea, their already-strained relationship is pushed to the edge. Now, with plenty of space to ponder the true distance between them, Grace begins to reinvent herself.

Just as her new self is coming to terms with her family life, the unthinkable happens. A disaster aboard Steve's ship shatters Grace's world and all she can do is gather her children around and wait for news to come, good or bad. A navy wife's worst nightmare collides with the cold truth that life's biggest chances can slip away while you're busy looking for guarantees.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A midlife marital crisis threatens the stability of a squeaky-clean navy family in Wiggs's latest, which overcomes a listless, saccharine start thanks to a rousing finale aboard an aircraft carrier. Steve and Grace Bennett look like the perfect military couple: Steve, a former pilot, has become an ambitious officer, and Grace successfully cares for their three bright, talented kids while he's deployed. But rips appear in the marriage fabric when Grace, seeking more in life, starts a relocation business, begins a fitness program and buys a small but lovely house near the Seattle base they temporarily call home. Wiggs's light, engaging style keeps the story moving in the first half, despite too many syrupy family scenes and a far-fetched subplot in which Josh, a fledgling pilot under Steve's command, is revealed to be his long-lost son from a brief, ill-advised teen marriage. This revelation widens the gap between Grace and Steve, who never told her about wife number one, and Wiggs balances their turmoil with a subplot involving their oldest daughter, Emma, and a hunky but predatory high school boy whose father is Steve's boss. But the tension isn't all emotional: Josh goes on a training exercise that nearly turns deadly, and Steve, trying to stop a deadly fire aboard his aircraft carrier, gets swept overboard into the icy Pacific. While Wiggs tends to nip suspense in the bud and linger on overripe romantic sentiments, her characters are sympathetic and her tale of frayed loves mended is sure to strike a responsive chord in a maturing audience. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
There's a mishap aboard the carrier Dominion: Ordinanceman Michael Rivera is badly burned when a flare explodes on deck, and Capt. Steve Bennett goes overboard while trying to remove the damaged cylinder. Lt. Josh Lamont and his men are waved off from landing their Prowler (an all-weather aircraft) and must eject when the plane goes out of control. This latest novel by Wiggs (Home Before Dark) opens at sea, then moves to those left behind at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington State and further still to nine months before the fateful day. How did Steve and his wife, Grace, come to the disconnect that was on his mind when he approached the flares? Josh was a "nugget" (fairly new pilot), but did thinking about Lauren, to whom he had proposed, make him negligent? Could Grace continue to accept the life of a navy wife when she had goals of her own? And where do Grace and Steve's three children find their lives headed? Readers will be swept up in the struggles of these individuals as they face the challenges of military service and its familial repercussions. We learn as much about the minefields of marriage and relationships as we do about navy regs and procedures. This engrossing novel will keep readers turning the pages. Recommended for all fiction collections; fans of TV's JAG will find it especially rewarding.-Bette-Lee Fox, "Library Journal" Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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The Ocean Between Us

By Susan Wiggs

Thorndike Press

Copyright © 2004 Susan Wiggs
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0786266716

Chapter One


Mishap: Unplanned or unexpected event causing personal injury, occupational illness, death, material loss or damage, or an explosion of any kind whether damage occurs or not.


USS Dominion (CVN-84) 0037N 17820W

Speed 33 2215 hours (Time Zone YANKEE)

Steve Bennett glanced at the clock on his computer screen. He ought to be in his rack and sleeping soundly. Instead, he sat with his feet propped on the edge of the workstation, hands clasped behind his head while he stared at a scenic Washington State calendar and thought about Grace.

He was ten thousand miles from home, on an aircraft carrier in the middle of an unofficial communications blackout instigated by Grace herself. His wife. The mother of his children. The woman who had not spoken to him willingly since he'd been deployed.

She had maintained radio silence like a wartime spy. He received official communiquis about the children, and sometimes the occasional report that made him regret giving her power of attorney. But never more than that.

The cruise was nearly over, and for the first time in his career Steve felt apprehensive about going home. He had no idea whether or not they could put their marriage back together again.

"Captain Bennett?" Anadministrative officer stood in the doorway with a clipboard in one hand and a PDA in the other.

"What is it, Lieutenant Killigrew?"

"Ms. Francine Atwater is here to see you, sir."

Bennett hid a frown. He'd nearly forgotten their appointment. In the belly of a carrier there was no day or night, just an unrelenting fluorescent sameness, stale recycled air and the constant thunder of flight ops rattling through the steel bones of the ship.

"Send her in." He unfolded his long frame and stood, assuming the stiff and wary posture schooled into him by twenty-six years in the Navy. Killigrew left for a moment, then returned with the reporter. Steve would have preferred to use the public affairs office on the 01 deck, but apparently Ms. Atwater was adamant about exploring every facet of carrier life. It was, after all, the era of the embedded reporter.

Francine Atwater. Francine. A member of the "new media," eager to take advantage of the military's newly relaxed information policy. According to his briefing notes, she had arrived COD - carrier onboard delivery - and intended to spend the next two weeks in this floating city with its own airport. Both the skipper of the Dominion and Captain Mason Crowther, Commander of the Air Group, had welcomed her personally, but they'd quickly handed her off to others, and now it was Steve's turn.

"Ms. Atwater, I'm Captain Steve Bennett, Deputy Commander of the Air Group." He tried not to stare, but she was the first civilian woman he'd seen in months. In a skirt, no less. He silently paid tribute to the genius who had invented nylon stockings and cherry-colored lipstick.

"Thank you, Captain Bennett." Her glossy lips parted in a smile. She was a charmer, all right, the way she tilted her head to one side and looked up at him through long eyelashes. Still, he detected shadows of fatigue under her carefully made-up eyes. Newcomers to the carrier usually suffered seasickness and insomnia from all the noise.

"Welcome aboard, ma'am."

"I see you've been briefed about me," she said, indicating his notes from the PAO.

"Yes, ma'am."

"What a surprise. Everyone on this ship has. I swear, the U.S. Navy knows more about me than my own mother. My blood type, shoe size, visual acuity, sophomore-year biology grade -"

"Standard procedure, ma'am." Even in lipstick and nylon stockings, the media held no appeal to the military. Still, he respected the way she stood her ground, especially while wearing three-inch heels. Civilians were advised on practical shipboard attire, but apparently no one had wanted Francine to change her shoes.

A tremendous whoosh, followed by a loud thump, rocked the ship. She staggered a little, and he put out a hand to steady her.

"Tell me I'll get used to that," she said.

"You'd better. We're launching and recovering planes around the clock, day and night. It's not going to stop." He slid open a desk drawer and took out a sealed plastic package. "Take these. I always keep plenty on hand."

"Earplugs?" She slipped the package into her briefcase.


He motioned her to a chair and she sat down, setting aside her bag. She took out a palm-size digital recorder, then swept the small space with a glance that shifted like a radar, homing in on the few personal items in evidence. "You have a beautiful family."

"Thank you, ma'am. I think so."

"How old are your children?"

"Brian and Emma are twins. They're seniors this year. Katie's in ninth grade. And that's Grace, my wife." A world of pain and hope underlay his words, but he prayed the reporter wouldn't notice. Every day he looked at that picture and tried to figure out what would fix this. He'd never deceived his wife before, so he didn't know how to undo the damage he'd caused. An ordinary husband would go home, take her out to dinner and say, "Look, honey. The truth is ..." But Bennett couldn't do that from the middle of the ocean.

And sometimes he wondered if he even wanted to, damn it.

He'd done his best to keep her from being hurt, but she didn't seem to appreciate that.

In the photo, taken at Mustang Island when they were stationed in Corpus Christi, the four of them were laughing into the camera, sunburned faces glowing.

"This is a great shot," said Ms. Atwater. "They look like the kind of people nothing bad ever happens to."

Interesting observation. He would have agreed with her, right up until this deployment. Grace and the kids were part of the all-American family, the kind you saw on minivan commercials or at summer baseball games.

"What's it like, being away from them for months on end?"

What the hell did she think it was like? A damned fraternity party?


Excerpted from The Ocean Between Us by Susan Wiggs Copyright © 2004 by Susan Wiggs. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. Visit her website at

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Ocean Between Us 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
kristielippert More than 1 year ago
As a Navy brat growing up, seeing my dad go on several deployments to a Navy Wife watching my husband leave as well, this book brought everything together for me. Not only did it show the thoughts and feelings of the military man that was deployed and what he had to endure, but it also showed the children and wife he left behind and what they went through without him. I truly bonded with this family and highly recommend this book! You will cry, laugh, etc along with the characters as Susan Wiggs really opens up each one of them for you to see into their hearts.
hannahprescott More than 1 year ago
For twenty years Grace Bennett has been the perfect navy wife to her husband, Steve, traveling the globe with each re-station and raising their three children. There is conflict between Grace and Stephen that serves as a reminder of how much family members sacrifice also, so that their loved ones can serve in the military. Steve knows that his navy career puts a strain on his family. Grace is almost 40, has gained weight, and is still WAITING to get started with her life. She wants to settle down, start a career of her own.SOMETHING! Steve is bewildered by Grace's sudden change of heart towards him, when he believes that his career proves how much he cares for his family and his country. Their children are dealing with issues. Their son is rebelling against his father's pressure to attend the Navy Academy; their older daughter is dealing with her sexuality and gets caught in a dangerous situation; the younger daughter is shy, a curse in a family that is forced to move every few years and must make new friends. A past secret rears its ugly head amongst the naval suspense thriller background and the emotional struggle drama that is thought-provoking and keeps the reader spellbound! Another one that kept me absolutely spellbound was EXPLOSION IN PARIS!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wasn¿t sure how I was going to feel about this book, An Ocean Between Us, as I knew it was not a historical romance (which is my preferred genre of love stories to read) and that it contained the story line with many characters (I was worried I might get lost along the way with too much going on) and that it was a book heavily on the military life of a Naval family (I knew little about this way of life so, unsure if I would find it interesting or too different and a bit boring). But¿.true to form, SW writes another great one. Let¿s face it, real emotion, real conflicts, real life surpasses time and space so, when an author brings you into the heart of the story line you can¿t help but be interested and fascinated all at one time. I was impressed that SW had so many characters in live action in this book yet, no one got lost along the way. That included the main characters of Grace (mother/wife), Steve (husband/father/military man), kids Emma, Katie, Brian(their teen-aged children), Josh (Steve¿s unknown first child/military man), Lauren (Josh¿s love interest) and others such as Patricia/Officer Riviera, ex-wife Cissy, and others. As the book went on, I noticed each new chapter dealt with a different person and their view point/perspective and life event was profiled and then a new character would arrive and a switch would occur again. Eventually, you got to know everyone and back and forth it went and of course, the inevitable happens, the story life comes full circle and show why everyone is tied together. The difficulty Naval and other military families go through in service to their nation was a powerful and moving story to tell. Life apart is more common than life together. Sacrifice to a thankful nation is critical element to these families but, so is the impact of living apart for a life time when it comes to husbands, wives, kids and relatives. This book showed what can happen to even the best families when distance and time take their toll. Who do you become? What do you do? What do you hope, wish and desire? Who follows who? Who stays behind? How does life go on while loves ones are away? And all the difficulty to patching up a family due to the affects of distance and duty. I found all the twists and turns in this book enjoyable. The most important of course being, the soul searching Grace did as a middle aged woman with grown kids, a duty bound Naval man moving up the ranks of his profession and trying to figure out who you are in mid life with no career, no house, no set place to call home and a lost identity. Her journey of self ¿discovery was powerful and important ¿ I¿m sure many, many women can relate. Grace¿s story re-affirmed that you teach people how to treat you so¿treat yourself goooooood! Of course this book ended up being pretty thick and long. There was some elements that could certainly have used more time and expansion but, book can only get so big. This book over-all is a great read. Pick it up soon, read it and add it to your Susan Wiggs library. You won¿t be sorry you did. If you enjoy honest and real love stories and seeing the human spirit prevail, then this is the one for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For two decades Grace Bennett has been the perfect navy wife to her beloved Steve while traveling the globe when her husband gets restationed and raising their three delightful children. So why is the devoted family matriarch feeling worthless and dissatisfied? Perhaps it is simply that her youngest is in ninth grade and like her older siblings needs mom less, but Grace thinks it goes deeper as she believes it is her identity that she lost....................................... Steve is bewildered by Grace¿s sudden change of heart towards him, as he believes that his career proves how much he cares for his family. Now deployed, he knows his marriage is in jeopardy especially since Grace has established a communication black out. He refuses to accept that he lost her without going down fighting as he loves his wife and children, but panics that Grace will not be there when he redeploys. When Stephen¿s ship is in troubled waters, Grace may not have a choice whether to remain a sailor¿s spouse with the overseas danger to her husband and the rest of the sailors on board.................................... THE OCEAN BETWEEN US excitingly plays out on two levels. There is the conflict between Grace and Stephen that serves as a reminder of how much family members sacrifice so that their loved ones can serve in a military that constantly ships out to hot spots (whom else but the military and their family have really sacrificed anything for the Global War on Terrorism?). The second theme is an action subplot that shows how dangerous the world is. Both the relationship drama and the naval suspense thriller combine to make a terrific thought provoking tale......................... Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book at the library even though I'm not a big reader of romance novels. Well, I stayed on the beach until 6 p.m. so I could finish it in one day! Just loved this author and can't wait to read them all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable and in true Wiggs' fashion. Loved all the characters and their interaction with one another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give t his a 5-star rating. I've read this book twice and it's one I can't put down. Having been a military wife for over 18 years, and now retired with the same man many more years, I can totally relate to Grace and sense that she wants more out of life. She is the epitome of what a commanding officer's wife shoud be, be there for the women or men who are left behind when the ship (or unit or spouse) goes to seas or other shores. The problem is, who should she go to when she's blue, unhappy, scared? At the same time she can and should look for ways she can enhance her life beyond being the CO's wife. Sometimes it's hard, especially when you have children who also need nurturing when the spouse is gone. Grace did find her self and made some changes in her life that affected all in her family. She had the respect of her children and her friends, but she had to convince her husband of the changes she made in her life that affected him as well. A well written book by Susan Wiggs, as always. This book is fast reading and interesting; I hated to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Susan Wiggs has written another good read. The characters were believable and true to life. I look forward to my next one by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SW tells her most powerful story about how loves grows, changes, and needs to be nurtured in this fabulous book. It reminds us that we also change through our life and experiences, just like our relationships. I feel this is her most touching novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story, great characters, really like this author.
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ASHCLOUD Locked out
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I want to train.
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Wiggs characters are believable and it's easy to get invested in their lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Susan Wiggs at her best. This is a great book. Hard to put down.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a mom, you can relate to Grace in this book. It is a great story of Grace finding herself again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago