Unspeakable

( 30 )

Overview

Carl Herbold is a cold-blooded psychopath who has just escaped the penitentiary where he was serving a life sentence. Bent on revenge, he's going back to where he began—Blewer County, Texas...
Born deaf, lately widowed, Anna Corbett fights to keep the ranch that is her son's birthright, unaware that she is at the center of Herbold's horrific scheme—and that her world of self-imposed isolation is about to explode...
Drifter Jack Sawyer arrives ...

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Overview

Carl Herbold is a cold-blooded psychopath who has just escaped the penitentiary where he was serving a life sentence. Bent on revenge, he's going back to where he began—Blewer County, Texas...
Born deaf, lately widowed, Anna Corbett fights to keep the ranch that is her son's birthright, unaware that she is at the center of Herbold's horrific scheme—and that her world of self-imposed isolation is about to explode...
Drifter Jack Sawyer arrives at Anna's ranch asking for work, hoping to protect the innocent woman and her son from Herbold's rage. But Sawyer can't outrun the secrets that stalk him—or the day of reckoning awaiting them all...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A 20-year-old unsolved murder in a small East Texas town sets the stage for this fast-paced and romantically charged, if stiffly written, thriller, the latest (after Fat Tuesday) from the prolific Brown.

Everyone in Blewer, Texas, assumes that the nefarious Herbold brothers, Carl and Cecil, murdered Patsy McCorkle two decades ago, but neither was ever charged with the killing. Carl, the more menacing brother, has spent those decades in an Arkansas prison for an unrelated crime. But now Carl has escaped and Blewer residents fear he might come back to town. Local rancher Delray Corbett has more to fear than most -- the Herbolds are his estranged stepsons. So when drifter Jack Sawyer swaggers onto Delray's ranch looking for work, Delray hires him, thinking that Jack's presence will ease his mind regarding the safety of his deaf, widowed daughter-in-law, Anna, and her five-year-old son, David. But Delray doesn't know that Jake has a closer connection to Blewer, and to the Corbetts, than he's letting on.

Brown's deftly plotted narrative twists and turns without losing hold of its suspense. Her characters are fully fleshed out, and she pays particular attention to Anna's situation as a deaf woman facing ignorance in a rural community. Some graphic sex and violence and the voices of these east Texan good (and bad) ol' boys animate this harrowing tale of crime, revenge and redemption.

Library Journal
Deaf widow Anna Corbett, her young son, and her father-in-law hire a drifter, Jack Sawyer, as a handyman on their small east Texas ranch. There's much to do around the place since Anna's husband died and his two wild stepbrothers were sent up for murder. Patriarch Delray Corbett wants to preserve the ranch despite increasing pressure from a smarmy developer. Jack's a hard worker, and he's deeply attracted to Anna and young David. Meanwhile, evil stepbrother Carl escapes from prison and sets off a chain reaction of robbery, brutality, and murder as he moves ever closer to the Corbett ranch. He's bent on revenge for being nailed by his daddy for a murder he claims he didn't commit. As the story plays out in a maelstrom of death and destruction, it becomes increasingly clear that Jack holds the key to Carl's alibi, an unsolved murder, and the mystery surrounding Anna's self-imposed silence.

Brown (Fat Tuesday, LJ 5/1/97) is a master at weaving a story of romance, action, and suspense into a tight web that catches and holds the reader from first page to last. This is sure to be a hit with fans of her previous works and gain her an even wider readership. Highly recommended.
--Susan Clifford, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA

Library Journal
Deaf widow Anna Corbett, her young son, and her father-in-law hire a drifter, Jack Sawyer, as a handyman on their small east Texas ranch. There's much to do around the place since Anna's husband died and his two wild stepbrothers were sent up for murder. Patriarch Delray Corbett wants to preserve the ranch despite increasing pressure from a smarmy developer. Jack's a hard worker, and he's deeply attracted to Anna and young David. Meanwhile, evil stepbrother Carl escapes from prison and sets off a chain reaction of robbery, brutality, and murder as he moves ever closer to the Corbett ranch. He's bent on revenge for being nailed by his daddy for a murder he claims he didn't commit. As the story plays out in a maelstrom of death and destruction, it becomes increasingly clear that Jack holds the key to Carl's alibi, an unsolved murder, and the mystery surrounding Anna's self-imposed silence.

Brown (Fat Tuesday, LJ 5/1/97) is a master at weaving a story of romance, action, and suspense into a tight web that catches and holds the reader from first page to last. This is sure to be a hit with fans of her previous works and gain her an even wider readership. Highly recommended.
--Susan Clifford, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Styleless and cliche-besotted though the works of the queen of Texas melodrama may be, her last novel—1997's Mardi Gras sleaze extravaganza Fat Tuesday—got a first printing of 500,000 and the nod from two book clubs.

Here, convicted killer Carl Herbold escapes from Tucker prison and heads for East Texas. Drifter Jack Sawyer, with whom Herbold has a fatal destiny, has also arrived in East Texas and landed a job at a cattle ranch where deaf widow Anna Corbett and five-year-old son David live with her father-in-law—and where the vile acts of Herbold will be played out. Will Sawyer get "unspeakable" Anna to speak at last?

Most Texans who read this will think these pages, with their strong Texas twang singing through, could have dropped from their own mouths. And they did.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446607193
  • Publisher: Warner Books (NY)
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 191,101
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is the author of sixty New York Times bestsellers, including TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008), PLAY DIRTY (2007), RICOCHET (2006), CHILL FACTOR (2005), WHITE HOT (2004), HELLO, DARKNESS (2003), THE CRUSH (2002), ENVY (2001), THE SWITCH (2000), THE ALIBI (1999), UNSPEAKABLE (1998) and FAT TUESDAY (1997), all of which have jumped onto the Times bestseller list in the number one to five spot. Brown now has over eighty million copies of her books in print worldwide, and her work has been translated into thirty-four languages.

Biography

In 1979, Sandra Brown lost her job at a television program and decided to give writing a try. She bought an armful of romance novels and writing books, set up a typewriter on a card table and wrote her first novel. Harlequin passed but Dell bit, and Brown was off and writing, publishing her works under an assortment of pseudonyms.

From such modest beginnings, Brown has evolved into multimillion publishing empire of one, the CEO of her own literary brand; she towers over the landscape of romantic fiction. Brown has used her growing clout to insist her publishers drop the bosom-and-biceps covers and has added more intricate subplots, suspense, and even unhappy endings to her work. The result: A near-constant presence on The New York Times bestsellers list. In 1992, she had three on the list at the same time, joining that exclusive club of Stephen King, Tom Clancy, J. K. Rowling, and Danielle Steel.

Her work in the mainstream realm has taken her readers into The White House, where the president's newborn dies mysteriously; the oil fields and bedrooms of a Dallas-like family dynasty; and the sexual complications surrounding an investigation into an evangelist's murder. Such inventions have made her a distinct presence in a crowded genre.

"Brown is perhaps best known now for her longer novels of romantic suspense. The basic outline for these stories has passionate love, lust, and violence playing out against a background of unraveling secrets and skeletons jumping out of family closets," wrote Barbara E. Kemp in the book Twentieth-Century Romance & Historical Writers . Kemp also praises Brown's sharp dialogue and richly detailed characters. "However, her greatest key to success is probably that she invites her readers into a fantasy world of passion, intrigue, and danger," she wrote. "They too can face the moral and emotional dilemmas of the heroine, safe in the knowledge that justice and love will prevail."

Critics give her points for nimble storytelling but are cooler to her "serviceable prose," in the words of one Publishers Weekly reviewer. Still, when writing a crack page-turner, the plot's the thing. A 1992 New York Times review placed Brown among a group of a writers "who have mastered the art of the slow tease."

Staggeringly prolific, Brown found her writing pace ground to a halt when she was given a different assignment. A magazine had asked her for an autobiographical piece, and it took her months to complete. Her life in the suburbs, though personally fulfilling, was nonetheless blander than fiction. That may be why she dives into her fiction writing with such workhorse gusto. "I love being the bad guy," she told Publishers Weekly in 1995, "simply because I was always so responsible, so predictable growing up. I made straight A's and never got into any trouble, and I still impose those standards on myself. So writing is my chance to escape and become the sleaziest, scummiest role."

When she started writing, her goal was always to break out of the parameters of romance. After about 45 romances, the woman who counts Tennessee Williams and Taylor Caldwell among her influences told The New York Times that felt she had reached a plateau. In fact, she doesn't even look at her books as romances anymore. "I think of my books now as suspense novels, usually with a love story incorporated," she said. "They're absolutely a lot harder to write than romances. They take more plotting and real character development. Each book is a stretch for me, and I try something interesting each time that males will like as well as women."

Good To Know

  • "I hate to exercise and only do so because I absolutely must."

  • "I love to eat and my favorite foods are all bad for the body. Fried chicken and gravy, TexMex, red meat (hey, I'm from Texas!). My only saving grace is that I'm not that fond of sweets. Salty is my thing. Chocolate cake and ice cream I can skip. But a bag of Fritos. . ."

  • "It takes me a long time to go to sleep, usually because I read in bed and hate to put down the book. But when I do nod off, I'm a champion sleeper. I can easily do eight or nine hours a night."

  • "My worst "thing" is mean-spirited people. People who deliberately belittle or embarrass someone really irk me. The people I admire most are the ones who find something good about even the most undesirable individual. That was a quality my mother had, the one I hope most to emulate."

  • "I have a fear of gravity. Recently my whole family went to Belize. We had several adventures. We tubed a river through miles of cave, wearing head lamps so we'd have illumination. No problem. I scaled Mayan ruins. I rode horseback (on a monster named Al Capone) through the rain forest. No problem. But I couldn't zip line. Even though my five-year-old grandsons did it with glee, I just couldn't make that leap."

  • "I and my husband are huge fans of Jeopardy! We never miss it if we can help it. Does that make us complete dorks?"

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Also Known As:
        Laura Jordan, Rachel Ryan and Erin St. Claire
      2. Hometown:
        Arlington, TX
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 12, 1948
      2. Place of Birth:
        Waco, Texas
      1. Education:
        Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt

    Unspeakable


    By Sandra Brown

    Warner Books

    ISBN: 0-446-60719-3


    Chapter One

    "Myron, are you listening to me?" Carl Herbold glowered at his fellow convict, impatiently shook his head, and muttered, "Stupid, stupid."

    Impervious to the insult, Myron Hutts's vacant grin remained in place.

    Carl thrust his face closer. "Lose the grin, okay, Myron? This is serious stuff I'm talking here. Has anything sunk into that lump of shit riding on top of your shoulders? Have you heard a fucking word I've said?"

    Myron chomped down on his PayDay candy bar. "Sure, Carl, I heard you. You said for me to listen good and pay attention."

    "Okay then."

    Carl relaxed somewhat, but he wasn't convinced that even a fraction of what he told Myron would register. Myron wasn't what you'd call brainy. In fact, stretching, Myron's IQ might range in the single digits.

    He was physically strong and eager to please, but his shortage in the smarts department made him a risk to Carl's carefully laid plans. Having someone with Myron's limitations as an accomplice wasn't without its drawbacks.

    On the plus side, Carl needed a Myron Hutts. He needed a nonthinker who did what he was told, when he was told to do it, without question or argument or scruple. That's why Myron was a perfect choice. Even if he'd been a fucking Einstein with gray matter to spare, Myron was missing a conscience.

    A conscience was "internal dialogue." Now wasn't that a catchy phrase? Carl had picked it up from an article in a magazine. He'd committed it to memory, then pulled it out and used it on the parole board the last time he came up for review. For five minutes he had waxed eloquent on how he had been having internal dialogues with himself about his past misdeeds and the havoc he'd wreaked on his life and the lives of others. These dialogues had shown him the error of his ways and pointed him toward the light of self-discovery and accountability. He was remorseful and wished to atone.

    The board members weren't impressed by the big words he'd thrown in. They'd seen his speech for the string of bullshit it was and rejected his petition for parole.

    But supposing the conscience was internal dialogue. That entailed abstract ideas and concepts, which Myron was just too plain stupid to grasp. Actually Carl didn't give a damn whether Myron had a conscience or not. He would act on his impulses of the moment, period. Which was precisely why Carl had chosen him. Myron wouldn't go squeamish on him if things got ugly.

    And speaking of ugly, Myron was one butt-ugly dude. His skin had only a trace of pigmentation. Most of his coloration was concentrated in his lips. They were large and unnaturally red. By contrast, the irises of his eyes were virtually colorless. Pale, sparse eyebrows and lashes made his vacuous gaze appear even emptier. His hair was thin, but coarsely textured, radiating from his head like crinkled wire. It was almost white.

    He was particularly unattractive with the half-masticated nougat center of a PayDay oozing from the corners of his fleshy lips. As his tongue swabbed up the drool, Carl looked away.

    Many would wonder why he and Myron were pals, as the contrast between them was so striking. Carl was tall, dark, and handsome. He worked out with weights when the mood struck him, but he religiously did push-ups and sit-ups in his cell to keep his torso hard. He had a killer smile that was reminiscent of a young Warren Beatty. At least that's what he'd been told. Personally, he thought he was better looking than the actor, whom Carl had always thought of as a fruit. Beatty had a great-looking wife, though. A real sweet piece was Mrs. Beatty.

    Carl was certainly superior to Myron Hutts in the brains department. The quantity Myron lacked, Carl had as extra. He was a great planner. Brilliant ideas just seemed to come to him naturally. He also had a real talent for taking a loosely woven idea and pulling all the strings tight until it became a grand scheme.

    If he'd been in the military, he would have been a general. But even the highest-ranking officers needed soldiers to carry out their strategies. Thus, Myron.

    He could have picked his partner from any man in the joint. Myron spooked most people, even hardened criminals. They steered clear of him. But Carl's leadership qualities drew people like a magnet. Seniority had given him a lot of clout among the convict population. That and his innate charisma. He could have anointed any number of inmates as his partner, all of them smarter and meaner than Myron-because for all his violent tendencies, Myron was sweet-tempered. But anybody brainier also could have caused Carl problems.

    He didn't need anybody with a conflicting opinion giving him lip along the way. Disharmony led to distraction, and distraction led to disaster, namely getting recaptured. All he needed for this escape plan was an extra pair of eyes and ears, and someone who could shoot and wasn't afraid to when necessary. Myron Hutts filled the bill. Myron didn't need any cunning. Carl had enough for both of them.

    Besides, he was going to catch enough guff from Cecil. Cecil thought too much. He overanalyzed every goddamn thing. While he was weighing the odds, he missed opportunities. Like that funny postcard Carl had seen one time of a man holding a camera to his face and taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower while a naked French lady was strolling past-that was Cecil.

    But Carl didn't want to think about his older brother now. Later, when he was alone, he'd think about Cecil.

    As he leaned back against the chain-link fence, his gaze roved over the exercise yard. The vigilance was second nature. Twenty years of incarceration had taught him always to be on the alert for the first sign of trouble from an enemy, declared or otherwise. He wielded a lot of influence and had a wide circle of friends, but he wasn't a favorite of everyone.

    Across the yard a gang of weight-lifting blacks were flexing their well-oiled muscles and glaring at him with undiluted hatred for no other reason than that he wasn't one of them. Society was all hepped up about rival gangs, street warfare, vendettas. Laughable. Until you'd been inside, you didn't know shit about gangs. The society inside was the most demarcated, polarized, segregated, in the universe.

    He'd had differences of opinion with the black prisoners, which had caused exchanges of insults, which had eventually led to fights, which had resulted in disciplinary actions.

    But he wasn't going to get anything started with anybody today or in the near future. Until the day he and Myron had their turn to work on the road crew, Carl Herbold was going to be an ideal prisoner. It was a new program, part of prison reform designed to make convicts feel like contributing members of society again. He didn't give a crap about the social implications. All he cared about was how it affected him. When his turn came to leave these walls and work outside, he would be first on the bus.

    So he was keeping a low profile, doing nothing that might call the screws' attention to him. No rule-breaking, no fights, not even a bad attitude. If he heard a mumbled insult directed at him, he ignored it. What he didn't like, he pretended not to see. A few nights back, he'd had to stand by and watch Myron suck a guy off. The other prisoner, a white trash wife-killer two years into a life sentence, had bribed Myron with a prize, so Myron had obliged him.

    Frequently the more aggressive prisoners tried to take advantage of Myron's mental incapacity. Carl usually intervened. But this close to their break, it hadn't been worth the risk of a confrontation. Besides, Myron hadn't minded too much. In exchange for the blow job he'd been given a live mouse, which he'd later disemboweled with his long pinkie fingernail.

    "Now, remember what I told you, Myron," Carl said to him now, realizing that rec time was almost up and they would have little privacy for the rest of the day. When our turn comes up to work the road crew, you can't seem too excited about it."

    "Okay," Myron said, becoming distracted by the bleeding cuticle around his thumb.

    "It might even be good if we could look sorta pissed that we gotta pull that detail. Think you can manage that? To look pissed?"

    "Sure, Carl." He was gnawing the pulverized cuticle with all the relish he'd shown the PayDay.

    "Because if they think we're eager to go, then-"

    He never saw it coming. The blow literally knocked him off the bleacher on which he'd been sitting. One second he was looking into Myron's slack-jawed, candy-encrusted grin. The next he was lying on his side in the dirt, his ears ringing, his vision blurring, his gut heaving, and his kidney getting the piss kicked out of it.

    He forgot about his resolve not to cause or continue any trouble. Survival instinct asserted itself. Rolling to his back, he brought his foot up and thrust it into his attacker's crotch. The black weight lifter, who obviously depended strictly on muscle instead of fighting finesse, hadn't anticipated a counterattack. He fell to his knees, yowling and clutching his testicles. Of course the other blacks sought reprisal by piling onto Carl and hammering him with their fists.

    The screws came running, swinging their clubs. Other prisoners began either to try to break up the fight or to cheer it on, depending. The struggle was quickly contained. When order had been restored and the damage assessed, it was found to be minimal. Only two prisoners were sent to the infirmary with injuries.

    One of them was Carl Herbold.

    (Continues...)



    Excerpted from Unspeakable by Sandra Brown 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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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 3.5
    ( 30 )
    Rating Distribution

    5 Star

    (11)

    4 Star

    (10)

    3 Star

    (2)

    2 Star

    (3)

    1 Star

    (4)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 12, 2013

      P

      After 270pages, it is mindnumbing

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 21, 2004

      fan of Sandra Brown

      This was the worst book I have read of hers. I still tell everyone about Mirror Image(my favorite) and Exclusive. I am glad I still had faith in her to read later books such as Envy. Unspeakable was too gruesome and depressing. Would never recommend this to anyone.

      1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

      Posted March 19, 2004

      unspeakable

      breathtakingly suspensful, sandra brown keeps you coming back for more. You can't put it down

      1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

      Posted May 31, 2000

      Not Worth the Money

      I bought this book because my mother in law is deaf and I am very interested in the deaf so I thought this would be interesting. I could not keep my interest in the book, I felt the story drug on and I found my mind wondering as I was reading this book. I Love Sandra Brown but this book was not one of her better ones.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

      Posted December 8, 1999

      Action Packed Novel

      Enjoyable reading. Many interesting twists and turns. The good guys are really likable and the bad guys are really bad.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

      Posted April 27, 2014

      page turner

      Another winner by brown. Intriguing and complex. A couple characters too bizarre to br believable

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

      Posted August 27, 2013

      Good read per ususual from this author

      Interesting and sometimes crude people but it was an easy read. Ending was a bit if of a twist. Enjoyed it.

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

      Posted August 25, 2013

      Highly Recommend that you read this bloskbuster!

      A true page turner from beginning to end.Continuous action & characters that you route for & grow to love along with characters that seem straight out of hell!Please read this book!!!!!

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted July 6, 2013

      I could not put this book down! Loved it!

      I could not put this book down! Loved it!

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    • Posted May 10, 2009

      Deafness

      How was Anna treated as a deaf person?
      Was she treated well? Unfairly?

      0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 29, 2008

      Just okay

      This book was fairly good, but a lot of sensitive themes related to sex, rape and murder. The criminals in the book are like the depraved, psychotic, backwoods knockoffs of Frank and Jesse James. Most of the other characters were very likable and you were worried about them. You wanted to know what was going to happen to them. The secret about who one of the main characters was carried right till the last and was a very big surprise. There was also more or less a happy ending, which I liked. With as much heartache as they'd endured, I figured they deserved that. I think I'd have liked it more if there wasn't so much of the sensitive theme that I mentioned before throughout, but it was an okay read.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 30, 2002

      Great book

      My mother this book in audio tape it was her first from Sandra brown she love it

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 30, 2000

      not as good as i thought!

      This book was the poorest example of romance fiction I have read so far. The book was extremely boring and the ending was very obvious, I consider Sandra Brown one of the most experienced romance writers, but this book was not even worthy.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 15, 2000

      A wonderful Book

      This was the first book of Sandra Brown's I have ever read. I was captivated with this book. I couldn't put it down. I look forward to reading more of Sandra's work.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 29, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted October 11, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted July 7, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted October 11, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted September 22, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted January 26, 2014

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