"Touching and stupendously fresh... contemporary romance fans will savor every page."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review
Ian Sherwood may be gorgeous and a genius, but people skills aren't really his forte. Which is going to make for long nights indeed when he's sent to convalesce in a remote Canadian cabin with former medic Cecily Watts.
Years ago, former Marine Captain Cecily Knight fled her dark past and the nightmares forever haunting her nights. Alone in the remote Canadian wilderness, she survives day to day...until Ian Fairchild comes storming into her life and shatters her protective seclusion.
Aloof but intriguing, defensive but undeniable, Ian is everything Cecily shouldn't want but can't ignore. He watches her with shrewd blue eyes, as if determined to decipher her secrets...and for the first time in years, she finds herself coming alive beneath the hands of a man with too many scars to count.
As the hushed and harsh winter closes in around them, two lost souls find themselves on the precipice of a love that could save their lives...or destroy them forever.
Longest Night Series:
The Longest Night (Book 1)
The Deepest Night (Book 2)
Praise for The Longest Night:
"One of the best debuting romance writers in memory..."—Booklist, STARRED Review
"Refreshing and insightful... Braden will soon amass a strong readership."—Library Journal, STARRED Review
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Afternoon sunlight bathed the patient suite with a dull gold hue. Outside, pools of shadow darkened the carefully tended lawn as broken clouds passed before the sun. It was five minutes past four, another gorgeous New England October day. The view did little to soothe Preston's taut-strung nerves. He turned to regard his brother, Ian, who sat stiffly in an armchair beside the hospital bed.
Ian met his gaze with weary resignation. "I know," he said, his once-theatrical baritone gone thin and quiet. "I look like shit."
"You do," Preston admitted.
Ian sighed and let the white hospital blanket fall from his shoulders. "Kind of you to agree."
Preston caught the edge of the logo on Ian's T-shirt, a pair of crossed blue scimitars, and smiled affectionately. "Nice shirt."
Ian lowered the blanket enough to reveal Samaritan written under the scimitars. "If anyone catches me wearing this old thing, my reputation will be ruined," he teased, though the humor was bleak.
Preston studied Ian's face, wishing he knew what his brother was thinking. They were close, but this addiction had become a chasm between them. Ian had fifteen more days to go as an inpatient, followed by another three months of planned outpatient counseling. The program had an excellent rate of success, but only if the patient stuck through to the end, which had always been Preston's biggest concern. Ian blamed himself for his addiction. He tended to think he could do everything on his own.
"That's why I'm here: your reputation."
A hint of the old sharpness came to Ian's blue-gray eyes. "The firm contacted you."
Preston nodded. "They've reassigned your cases. You're on six months' leave-"
"Six months?" Ian sat forward, stubbled jaw set. "I have active cases. Trials-"
"And an addiction to painkillers," Preston interrupted ruthlessly. Guilt twisted through him as Ian sat back, going pale, but the time for gentle handling had passed. Since his postsurgical discharge nine months ago, Ian had sailed in and out of rehab programs, doing the minimum to satisfy the partners at his law firm. Painkillers had given him the false strength to handle a full caseload, but also to put himself back into physical therapy to try and fix the new damage he'd done to his still-healing back.
Ian glared at Preston. "What the hell am I supposed to do for six months?"
"Get clean. Get yourself squared away."
With a resentful huff, Ian snapped, "Fine. I need to catch up on continuing education credits."
"You'll have to do distance learning. One of their conditions was that you stay away from Manhattan."
The sharpness in Ian's eyes gave way to fire; he'd loved Manhattan since the day he'd first toured NYU in his senior year of high school. "What?"
Calmly, Preston reminded him, "You're a criminal lawyer, Ian. If you want to get painkillers, you know people."
Ian's jaw clenched. "I live in Manhattan. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Sleep on your damned couch?"
"You think I want you on my couch? Bad enough I have Ray crashing there between missions." Preston shook his head, hiding his horror at the thought of putting his brother and his business partner in the same room for more than an hour. "I have another plan."
Ian huffed and pushed up out of his armchair, abandoning the blanket. He steadied himself with a hand on the back of the chair and then walked to the window. His back was noticeably stiff, but once he had his balance, his steps were smooth. "If it's a round-the-world trip on your boat, you can forget it. I just got through withdrawal. I've had enough nausea to last a lifetime without seasickness."
Even before the law firm's partners had made their request that Ian stay away from the temptations of Manhattan, Preston had been thinking about how best to help his brother. Ian was both brilliant and arrogant. He'd pounce on any hint of weakness, which made rehab-especially group therapy-all but worthless. And while he had the willpower to avoid drugs for recreation, he was too good at justifying one more pill to get him through a tough case, never realizing that all those "one mores" added up to an addiction that would destroy his life.
Ian needed time to heal, to learn how not to push himself. He needed someone who could win, and hold, his respect. And after days of thinking about it, only one name came to Preston's mind, the single person who might be able to stand firm against one of Manhattan's most promising criminal defense lawyers.
Preston smiled reassuringly. "I promise, you'll be nowhere near the ocean."
For long, heavy seconds, Ian studied Preston's face. Then he closed his eyes and turned his face to the sun. "All right," he finally agreed, looking back at Preston. "Make whatever arrangements you need. I'll tell the staff I'm leaving."
Cecily Knight walked up the creaking wooden steps and opened the door to the double-wide trailer. Over one shoulder, she carried a large frame backpack filled with groceries and supplies. Her parka was unzipped, despite the chill wind that blew through the mountain town. She'd had years to get used to the cold.
"Mark?" she called, pushing her sunglasses up onto her head.
The back door opened, and the airfield manager, Mark Wallace, grinned at her across the combination office, lobby, and kitchen. "Just finished refueling. You're set to go."
"Thanks." Cecily held the door for Chuck, the kid from Pinelake Grocery and Feed, who was carrying a sixty-pound sack of chicken feed. He shifted the bag in his arms and trudged after her, exuding the teenage resentment that came with being required to do any work.
Pinelake Airfield hardly deserved the name. It had a single hundred-foot-wide runway paved with gravel that trailed off into weeds at the edges. Cecily's own aircraft, a blue-and-gray two-seater, was already parked at the end of the runway, puffing exhaust out into the crisp midday air. Overhead, the steel blue sky seemed to stretch into infinity.
Mark fell in beside Cecily, saying, "I did a full check on the engines, changed out the fluids, all that. You're ready for winter."
"I appreciate it. Put it on my card?"
She nodded as she swung her heavy pack off her shoulders. "Toss the feed in the passenger seat," she told Chuck as they reached the little aircraft. He nodded and jogged around to the other side while she opened the cargo hatch. She stowed the frame pack behind her seat, keeping an eye on Chuck as he strapped the sack securely in place.
"Think you'll make it back down before winter really sets in?" Mark asked.
Cecily shrugged. "Might."
"If not, see you next spring." Mark gave her a friendly smile. "You take care of yourself."
Cecily returned the smile and opened the cockpit door. She leaned across to pass Chuck a five-dollar bill and then climbed into her seat. "Thanks, Chuck."
"See ya, Miss Knight," he answered, shoving the five into his pocket and slamming the door.
She put on her headset, adjusted her sunglasses, and keyed the mic. "Charlie Foxtrot X-ray Lima Niner requesting permission for takeoff."
Mark took the radio from his belt and waved to her as he led Chuck off the runway. "All clear, Charlie Lima Niner. See you around."
In ten minutes, she was up in the sky. She'd never meant to be a pilot, but she'd never meant to be a lot of things. By now, she was supposed to be a major in the Corps or maybe dead in the desert-not living in the backwoods of Canada in a place so remote that she needed a plane or snowmobile to reach the nearest grocery store.
The radio crackled to life, startling her. "Charlie Foxtrot X-ray Lima Niner, this is Pinelake tower, over," Mark said.
Baffled, she toggled the mic. "Pinelake, this is Charlie Lima Niner. What's up, Mark?"
"Can you swing back around? Got a phone call for you. The guy says he'll hold to talk to you."
"Seriously?" She glanced out at the ridge of pine trees that hid the blue ribbon that was her highway home, upriver of Pinelake. The only thing she could imagine was that the Veterans Administration needed to get hold of her-possibly some issue with her disability payments-but that sort of thing could be handled through the mail. "What the hell?"
"Uh, says to tell you it's Samaritan?" Mark said uncertainly.
Cecily's hands clenched the controls. Her mouth went dry as she remembered smoke and gunfire before the flashbangs had rendered her temporarily blind and deaf. The first thing she'd seen when her vision cleared was a silvery badge, not from a nation but from a corporation. Two blue scimitars. Samaritan.
Numbly, Cecily answered, "Roger, Pinelake. Charlie Lima Niner turning back to the runway. Request clearance for priority landing."
"Pinelake acknowledges. Charlie Lima Niner, you are cleared to land. Drive safely, Cecily."
"Out." She keyed off the mic and took deep breaths as she eased the plane around. She circled wide and studied the brilliant, endless blue sky, so pale and different from the sky in her nightmares. Only when her hands were rock-steady did she turn fully and begin the descent back to Pinelake.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Marissa Book provided by NetGalley for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book How is it Men In Books (MIBs) always know what we women need, sometimes before we do, and how to deal with it? MIRL (Men In Real Life) do not seem to have this awareness, only an annoying dumbfoundedness whenever we want or expect them to understand what we’re going through emotionally but don’t. Ian is a true MIB – seemingly perfect (except for that pesky drug addiction, but that’s what got him to Cecily’s cabin and he’s beating it so it’s okay) in every way. He even cooks. But when Cecily freezes in the middle of a kiss and walks out on him, he doesn’t go running after her whining, “What’s wrong? Do I have bad breath?”. Oh no, he quickly replays the whole kiss and voila! He’s got the whole PTSD thing figured out. While Ian was likable enough, his “perfectness” was annoying. I wanted to slap him. Or at least have a reason for Cecily to slap him. Cecily was more likable. I admire that she takes charge of her own life, living off the grid, learning to survive in country so rough most of us wouldn’t last a day. I like that she does this rather than submitting to a stack of PTSD medications and therapy sessions. However, even though she’s a loner and is a little put out by Ian moving in with her for several months, she accepts it and makes an attempt to be a good hostess. Overall, the book was okay. It might be your cup of tea but for me it was a little weak. Ian was just too perfect for my taste and, personally, I would have preferred more conflict between the two. Favorite Quote: “I don’t want normal. I want you.”
Love and commitment for these troubled souls who find their soul mstes...and become proud of learning to deal with every day life and memories that have sad thoughts. This is one of the best stories . I have read this year.
3 - "I don't want normal. I want you." Stars. The Longest Night is the first book I have read by Kara Braden, it was an enjoyable read, set in an unusual location, with a refreshing twist on characters trying to recover from P.T.S.D and overcome addiction. ”You’re not going to hurt me, and I’m not going to hurt you.” Cecily and Ian were both a bit starchy to begin with, and I liked the way that being together in close quarters loosened them up. Ian was extremely perceptive to Cecily’s issues and how he could help her with them, which I found quite adorable. But the lack of any real mention or inclusion of Ian’s recovery from addiction after the first chapter or two was what I felt let the story down a little. Seeing as the book initially is based around his brother sending him into the Canadian wilderness as a way to keep him away from the prescription drugs that he finds so readily and easily available in his hometown of Manhattan. This aspect of the story fizzled out almost immediately, apart from the inclusion of a couple of sentences when he takes Ibuprofen. ”I will never be bored of you. A nice romantic, but not overly dramatic read for this time of year as it begins in October and finishes New Years Eve. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
I picked up this story because of the back cover blurb, one of the best I’ve ever read. I especially loved the phrase “As the hushed and harsh winter closes in around them...” This story didn’t disappoint. It was full of poignant and tender moments (Ian is amazing!) yet flavored with a spicy need to hard to ignore. My newest phrase when it comes to books is “What do you get when...” So with this book, what do you get when you toss a scarred Manhattan-ite in with a feisty, haunted hermit living alone in the Canadian wilderness? You get The Longest Night. I definitely recommend this story. The only fault, if any, is that it ended too soon. :)
Don't like the filthy language!