In a novel of action, intrigue, and romance, a U.S. Navy SEAL and an FBI agent race to unravel a mystery–while confronting their own unresolved feelings for each other.
In his career as one of America’s elite warriors, Lt. Sam Starrett can do no wrong. In his private life, Sam–the king of one night stands–has done little right. Now, he’s waiting for a divorce and determined to stay active in his young daughter’s life. But when Sam shows up at the door of his ex-wife’s home in Sarasota, Florida, he makes a grisly discovery. His daughter is gone and the body of a woman lies brutally murdered on the floor.
FBI agent Alyssa Locke’s relationship with Sam has been overwhelmingly intense and nearly catastrophic, yet it refuses to end. The last time she saw Sam was six months earlier, when they worked together to stop terrorists from assassinating the U.S. President. Much to her dismay, Alyssa is assigned to lead the murder investigation and once again the two are face to face. When explosive information surfaces linking Sam to the still unsolved assassination plot, the stakes are raised. With her reputation hanging in the balance, and her loyalties in question, Alyssa is faced with an impossible dilemma:arrest a man she believes to be innocent, or risk her career.
While Alyssa tries to fight their intense attraction, Sam is determined to heat things up between them once again. And the complex case pushes them both to the wrong side of the law–and on the run to discover the truth. As more agents step into the chase, and with Sam’s daughter still unaccounted for, neither Alyssa nor Sam can predict just how deadly hot this situation is about to become. . . .
A thrilling novel that ranges back into the days of World War II, into friendships, families, liaisons, betrayals, and the code of honor that binds the U.S. Navy SEALs, Gone Too Far is an electrifying experience in suspense–and a brilliant tale of lives lived on the edge.
About the Author
Date of Birth:1960
Education:Attended Boston University
Read an Excerpt
Monday, June 16, 2003
Roger “Sam” Starrett’s cell phone vibrated, but he was wedged into the rental car so tightly that there was no way he could get the damn thing out of the front pocket of his jeans.
At least not without causing a twelve-car pileup on Route 75.
He had the air-conditioning cranked—welcome to summer in Florida—and the gas pedal floored, but the subcompact piece of shit that had been one of the last cars in the rental company’s lot was neither cool nor fast.
It was barely a car.
Feeling trapped in an uncomfortable place had been pretty much SOP for Sam ever since he rushed into marriage with Mary Lou nearly two years ago, and he waited for the familiar waves of irritation and anger to wash over him.
Instead, he felt something strangely similar to relief.
Because Sarasota was only another few minutes down the road. And the end was finally in sight.
Sam knew the town well enough—he’d hitched down here from his parents house in Fort Worth, Texas, four summers in a row, starting when he turned fifteen. It had changed a lot since then, but he had to believe that the circus school was still over by Ringling Boulevard.
Which wasn’t too far from Mary Lou’s street address.
Maybe he should make a quick stop, pick up a few more Bozos, turn this thing into a bona fide clown car.
On the other hand, one was probably enough to qualify for clown car status.
His phone finally stopped shaking.
What were the chances that it had been Mary Lou, finally calling him back?
Nah, that would be too damn easy.
Although, in theory, this should have been an easy trip. Pop over to Sarasota. Pick up the divorce papers that Mary Lou was supposed to have sent back to him three weeks ago. Put an end to the giant-ass mistake that was their marriage, and maybe even try to start something new. Like a real relationship with his baby daughter, Haley, who after six months probably wouldn’t even recognize him. Then pop back home to San Diego.
Fucking easy as pie.
Except this was Mary Lou he was dealing with. Yes, she was the one who’d filed for this divorce. Yes, she’d been compliant right up to this point. But Sam wouldn’t put it past her to change her mind at the zero hour.
And it was, indeed, the zero hour.
And, true to form, Mary Lou was surely messing with him.
Had to be.
Why else would she not have sent the papers back to the attorney after receiving them four weeks ago? Why else would she not return Sam’s phone calls? Why else would she not pick up the phone even when he called at oh dark hundred, when he knew she had to be there because the baby was surely sleeping?
Sam reached for the stick to downshift as he took the exit ramp for Bee Ridge Road, and came into contact with the stupidass automatic transmission.
Six months ago, this entire suckfest scenario would have made him bullshit. Everything sucked. This car sucked, the fact that he had to come all this way for something that should have cost the price of a first-class postage stamp sucked, and knowing that Haley was going to look at him as if he were some stranger really sucked.
But along with his weird feeling of relief came a sense of readiness. Maybe this wasn’t going to be easy, but that was okay. He was ready for it. He was ready for anything.
Like, Haley was probably going to cry when he tried to hold her. So he wouldn’t hold her at first. He’d take it slow.
And Mary Lou, well, she was probably going to ask him to get back together. He was ready for that, too.
“Honey, you know as well as I do that it just wasn’t working.” He tried the words aloud, glancing at himself in the rearview mirror, checking to see if he looked apologetic enough.
But, shit, he looked like roadkill. His eyes were bloodshot behind his sunglasses, and the flight out of Atlanta had been weather delayed for so damn long that he desperately needed a shower.
And he definitely shouldn’t start out by calling her honey. She had a name, and it was Mary Lou. Honey—and every other term of endearment he’d ever used, like sugar, darling, sweetheart, sweet thing—was demeaning.
He could practically hear Alyssa Locke’s voice telling him so. And God knows Alyssa Locke was the Queen of Right.
She’d hated it something fierce when he’d called her sweet thing. So he’d called her Alyssa, drawing the S’s out as he whispered her name in her perfect ear as they’d had sex that should’ve been listed in the world record books. Best Sex of All Time—Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke, Champions of the Simultaneous Orgasm.
What was Alyssa going to think when she heard about his divorce?
Sooner or later the news was going to get out. Up to this point, his commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Tom Paoletti, and the SEAL team’s XO, Lieutenant Jazz Jacquette, were the only ones who knew that Sam and Mary Lou were finally calling it quits. He hadn’t told Nils and WildCard yet—his best friends in Team Sixteen. Shit, he hadn’t told his sister, Elaine. Or even Noah and Claire.
And he sure as hell hadn’t told Alyssa Locke.
Who was probably going to think, Thank God I’m in a committed relationship with Max so Roger Starrett doesn’t come sniffing around my door, looking for some play. Max. The fucker. Even after all this time, Sam was still insanely jealous of Max Bhagat. Despite his new sense of relief and hope, he was feeling neither when it came to thoughts of Alyssa and Max.
“How could you fuck your boss?” Sam asked.
Alyssa, because she wasn’t in the car, didn’t answer him, of course.
It wasn’t too tough of a question. Sam could come up with plenty of answers without Alyssa’s help. Because Max was handsome, powerful, brilliant, and, yes, probably great in bed.
Yeah, and who was he kidding with that probably? Max was no doubt definitely great in bed. Sam knew Alyssa, and she wasn’t about to spend more than a year of her life with someone who couldn’t keep up with her sexually.
And as far as the fact that the man was her boss . . .
She and Max were incredibly discreet. In fact, they were so discreet, there were some people in the Spec Ops community who refused to believe that they actually had an intimate relationship.
But Sam knew better. He’d gone knocking on Alyssa’s hotel room door about six months ago. And, yeah, it was a stupidass thing to do. He and Mary Lou hadn’t even separated back then. He had no business knocking on anyone’s door.
But an FBI agent matching Alyssa’s description—a woman of color, in her late twenties—had been killed that day, and until the news came down that Alyssa wasn’t on the casualty list, Sam kind of lost it.
Except who had opened that hotel room door that he’d knocked on? Well, gee, hiya, Max. Sorry I woke you, man.
And that was it. Game over. It was looking into Max’s eyes that did it. The fucker cared deeply about Alyssa—that was more than clear.
And every day since then, Sam tried—he really honestly tried—to be happy for her.
And as for his own elusive happiness . . .
Well, he was done feeling sorry for himself. And he was done letting this divorce take place on Mary Lou’s timetable, with Mary Lou running this freak show.
Sam and his expensive new lawyer had worked out a schedule of visits—dates and times that he could see Haley. He wasn’t looking for joint custody—that would be crazy. As a SEAL he went out of the country at the drop of a hat, sometimes for weeks or even months at a time.
He just wanted to be able to see his kid a couple of times a week whenever he was Stateside. Surely Mary Lou would agree to that.
To make it a no-brainer for her, Sam was prepared to give her the deed to their house back in San Diego, free and clear. He’d take care of the mortgage and continue to pay the taxes. Now that Mary Lou’s sister, Janine, had split up with her husband, Sam’s plan was to talk all three of them—Mary Lou, Janine, and Haley—into moving back to California.
Where he would be able to see Haley every other weekend and once a week on Wednesday nights—instead of some pathetic twice a year bullshit.
Surely the idea of a free place to live would appeal to Mary Lou, who, in one of the bigger surprises of a marriage filled with complete surprises, was a total miser when it came to saving money.
So, yeah, Sam was hopeful that he and Mary Lou were going to be able to work this out.
And who knows? Once he did that, the rest of his life could start to turn around, too. Maybe perfect Max had a perfect sister who was beautiful, brilliant and great in bed, too. And maybe Sam and the sister and Max and Alyssa could all double-date.
Yeah, right. Just as Max wasn’t his favorite person, Sam wasn’t Max’s. The chances of them ever socializing—by choice—were in negative numbers.
Traffic in the city was light at this time of the morning. He was literally four minutes from Mary Lou’s door.
Please be home.
Sam had tried calling his soon-to-be ex-wife from a pay phone at the airport, right after his flight had gotten in. It had occurred to him that she was screening her calls and that maybe she’d pick up if her caller ID gave her a number other than that of his cell phone.
Not a chance.
He didn’t leave a message on her machine. He was just going to head over to the house and wait. Sooner or later Mary Lou or Janine would scoop up Haley from day care and come home.
And then he’d do whatever he had to do to get Mary Lou to sign those papers and move back to San Diego.
Hell, if she didn’t want to live in that same house they’d once shared, they could sell it and she could buy another. It didn’t matter to him as long as she lived in the San Diego area. He was going to move into the BOQ on base either way.
Sure, the bachelor officers quarters were tiny, and there was no pri- vacy to speak of. But since it was highly unlikely that he was ever going to have sex again, privacy wasn’t something that he needed.
Sam laughed at himself. That sounded really pathetic—never having sex again—like he was such a loser that no woman would want him.
Truth was, women went for him in a major way. In fact, the girl at the car rental counter couldn’t have been more obvious about her interest if she’d used semaphore flags.
“Where are you staying?”
“Are you in town alone?”
“If you’re looking for a good hangout, you might want to try Barnaby’s, down by the dock. I go there all the time after work.”
She was hot, too. A strawberry blonde with a lithe, athletic body and a cute little ass. But hot wasn’t enough for him anymore. No, thank you.
Sam was finished with casual sex. He was keeping his pants zipped, which actually wasn’t as hard as it seemed, even after he’d gone for well over nine months without getting laid.
It sounded like a really pansy thing to say, but he wanted more from life than a fast fuck with an empty-headed stranger.
Because, shit, he’d been there and done that—and ended up married to an empty-headed stranger who was pregnant with his child. And hadn’t that been a fun two and a half years of his life?
He wanted sex to mean something. He wanted to be fucked for more than his blue eyes and his muscles and the fact that he was a lieutenant with the U.S. Navy SEALs.
Unless, of course, Alyssa Locke called him up and begged him to come over, get naked, and light her world on fire.
If that ever happened, all bets were off.
Alyssa was neither empty-headed nor a stranger, but during the few nights they’d spent together, way back before Sam married Mary Lou, she’d definitely thought of him as only a temporary plaything, which still stung.
Sam leaned over to look at the numbers on the houses as he turned on to Mary Lou’s street: 458, 460, 462.
Number 462 Camilia Street was a tiny little single-story Florida-style house with a carport that sat empty. There wasn’t a car in the driveway either, nor one parked out in front.
Sam pulled up and sat, air-conditioning blasting, just looking at the house. With flaking paint and shutters that hung in crooked disrepair, it was about half the size of their place in San Diego. The yard was dry, the grass and plants brown, courtesy of the drought that was turning Florida into a desert.
A tired-looking palm tree provided the only shade out front. The door was shut behind the torn screen, and the dark shades on the windows were pulled all the way down and—
What the fuck . . . ?
From the Hardcover edition.
An Interview with Suzanne Brockmann
This installment in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series gets off to an explosive start when Navy SEAL Sam Starrett goes to Florida to visit his baby daughter and finalize divorce proceedings with his wife, Mary Lou -- only to find his daughter missing and the badly decomposing body of a woman (Mary Lou? her sister?) on the kitchen floor. As the local FBI looks hard at some suspects, especially Sam, and enlists the help of crack FBI agent Alyssa Locke, Sam engages in his own race against time as he tries to elude arrest, find his daughter, and solve the murder. Alyssa believes in Sam but is ordered to bring him in, a situation made even more complex by the intense mutual attraction both have been denying since their first encounter years earlier. Now it's time for Sam to confront the legacies of his childhood, and for Sam and Alyssa to face up to the possibilities of their relationship. Heart to Heart asked Brockmann where she got the idea for this unique series of romantic thrillers and what readers can expect from her next.
Heart to Heart: When did you start writing suspense thrillers featuring a Navy SEAL counterterrorist team? What got you started, and how do you do the research?
Suzanne Brockmann: I've been writing about Navy SEAL counterterrorist teams since the mid-1990s. The Troubleshooter series is my second series of books to feature SEALs. I also write the Tall, Dark & Dangerous series, about U.S. Navy SEAL Team Ten's Alpha Squad, for Silhouette.
Back in the mid-'90s, a good friend told me about an article he'd read in Newsweek about Navy SEAL BUD/S training. He knew I was looking for a series hook -- something that hadn't been used before to tie a series of books to together -- and he told me to run to the library, that he'd found what I was looking for. I still remember sitting in that library, reading that magazine and thinking, Yes! I felt that not only could I do justice to the subject matter but that I'd really enjoy doing the research.
As it turned out, researching Navy SEALs at that time was easier said than done, since SEALs are used for covert operations, but the books I read were filled with adventure and danger and real-life superheroes. These days, there's information available about both the Navy and the SEALs online. A wonderful reader (thanks, Vicky!) told me about the UDT/SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and the Discovery Channel has also come out with a number of informative videos on the SEALs and Special Operations.
HtoH: One of your trademarks is the ability to handle multiple plots (also multiple romances) over the course of many books and still keep up the momentum. How do you keep it all straight?
SB: I keep notebooks filled with information about characters and timelines, although, to be honest, I know these characters so well -- you wouldn't need a notebook to keep your friends straight, would you? When it comes to writing the stories, I outline extensively. I'm talking 80-page outlines. I know exactly where I'm going, how the story is going to end, and nearly every scene that happens along the way, before I sit down to write each book. I also plot way out, five or six books, into the future. This allows me to do extensive foreshadowing and to keep my characters consistent. Gone Too Far is the final book of Sam and Alyssa's six-book story arc. (But it's not the final book of this series -- there are plenty more coming!) I plotted their story arc way back when I wrote The Unsung Hero. I didn't work out all of the little details, but I did know generally where I was going with these characters -- as well as many of the highs and lows of their three-year relationship. You see, my goal with Sam and Alyssa was to write a series of books in which a romance hero and heroine's somewhat traditional backstory was delivered to the readers in real time.
Let me explain: In a romance novel, you'll often see characters in a situation similar to Sam and Alyssa's. Two people meet, they have something of a love/hate relationship, they have several one-night stands, and neither of them can deal with the emotions involved in a real relationship, so they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and are forced to work together to solve a mystery. Sparks fly and old feelings surface, but they've got issues to work through before they can achieve a true happy ending.
Now, in a more traditional romance novel, this unhappy shared past would be revealed through flashbacks or conversations. What I did with Sam and Alyssa was to take their backstory and make it into an ongoing subplot that ran through each of those five books that preceded Gone Too Far. The biggest struggle came from my attempts to make each book in this series stand alone. I didn't want readers new to the series to feel lost when they read about Sam and Alyssa, but I couldn't include too much, or I'd risk boring the readers who'd been following the series from the start. It was something of a balancing act!
HtoH: Have you seen a change in reader reaction to these series since 9/11 or even since the war in Iraq?
SB: I think there's a new awareness of who the SEALs are, and of what Special Operations means. I also think there's a certain gratification in reading books where the terrorists are thwarted and the good guys save the day. We live in an era where we really need heroes, don't you think?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Finally Alyssa and Sam's book! Suzanne Brockmann has a way of making her characters come to life and she doesn't disappoint with Sam, who is one of the most realistic characters I've ever read about and my new favorite of all of her SEALS.
It seems like a lifetime ago that we met Sam and Alyssa. Through several books we watched their ups and downs. Now in Gone Too Far they get their story. Its is well worth the wait. Sam Starrett is on his way to see his soon to be ex-wife and young daughter. What he finds at her house is horrific. It sets off a chain of events that rocks Team 16. Alyssa Locke gets dragged back into Sam¿s world. She realizes that she is his only hope to clearing his name and finding his daughter. The resolution of Sam and Alyssa¿s story has everything you want in a book. I can¿t recommend it enough, hurry and get this book.
I am not going to bore you with a synopsis of the book. Instead I am going to tell you why you have to own this title. I have been a Suz Brockmann fan from WAY back in the 'Loveswept' days and own almost everything ever published (darn Loveswept for making Ladies Man a subscriber exclusive). The last two books by Suz have been just sorta 'ok' and honestly, I was ready for her to make a change from the SEAL line, but this book has brought me back hoping for more stories from the guys of Team 16 and the 'new business' (you have to read the book to know what I am talking about). Typically Suz's full length novels are a little overcrowded with simultaneous story lines and frankly, the WWII stories had dragged most of the other books in this series down for me. But this novel has it all: a great Hero and Heroine, fast pacing, excellently interwoven sub-plots and a touching WWII story that fits nicely with the rest of the book. Now, I will say that if you are sensitive to cursing this might not be the book for you, because there is A LOT of cursing. You can't help but root for Sam and Alyssa and their journey is not an easy one. Mary Lou fans will be pleased as well. The story had me laughing and even crying a little. You won't be able to put it down and it is worth the hardcover rate. Don't pay attention to the Kirkus Review. Obviously they only skimmed the story because some of what they said is not close to the mark. I checked out their website and it seems sarcastic reviews are their stock and trade. Way to go, Suz! Please write faster!!!!
The problem I had with the book was that I don't like Alyssa. She just seemed so hard core and cold. Her career is first and foremost to her and to hell with anything else. I did like Sam who kept trying to do right thing. Other then that it was a really good story with other characters intertwined throughout with their own problems to solve. As with the other books by Suzanne it was really good, but just not my favorite.
I can't tell you the number of times I've read this book! It continues to be one of my favorite Suzanne Brockmann books of all time and I really love all of her books. She gets to to really care for these characters and they become like family. You want to know how they are doing and what's going on in their lives even after "their story " is finished. Sam & Alyssa continue to be one of my favorite couples and I really like how Alyssa got to see what a good man Sam is in this book and we get to see what a bad man he could have been. Both characters have grown & changed over the course of this series and I was happy they finally got together in this book!
A wonderful book filled with action and romance. A must read.
Sam and Alyssa are my favorite couple in this series hands down. The fire and pull of their relationship has keep me going with each new story. IT has been one of my favorite parts in reading tis series Brockman includes the side stories of the other characters and I find that great. I hate reading series that introduce couple in one book and you never hear about them again, not so with Trouble shooters and finally we get the complete Sam and Alyssa story that yes I found a little anticlimactic but still a great read
This was a fast read and very entertaining. You have to love Sam! Good book to read at the beach!
I love the whole series, I went from one to the next to the next non stop and loved each one more than the one before. Great characters and stories throughout the series!