|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.87(d)|
About the Author
Currently living in Missoula, Montana, Kat Martin is the bestselling author of over sixty historical and romantic suspense novels. More than fifteen million of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Greece, Argentina, China, and Spain. Before she started writing, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, L. J. Martin, also an author. Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in anthropology and also studied history. "I love anything old," Kat says. "I love to travel and especially like to visit the places where my books are set. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It's fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era."
Read an Excerpt
Night was always the worst. Brandy stared out through the wavy glass panes that distorted the darkness, saw only her weary reflection, and wondered how much longer she could stand it.
As far back as she could remember, every day of her nineteen years, Brianne Winters had worked from the first gray hint of dawn till blackness curtained the mullioned windows of the White Horse Tavern.
"Brandy, girl, you had better stop daydreamin' and get back to work. Your papa will be back any minute and there's customers with empty tankards out there." Her best friend, Florence Moody, a slender, dark-haired woman six years older than Brandy, stood at the kitchen door, her thin face nearly obscured by steam. They had worked together so long, Flo seemed more a mother or an older sister than merely a friend.
Brandy smiled. "Sorry. I didn't mean to be gone so long. Old Salty Johnson is back in port. He was telling me about his trip down from Halifax. I guess they ran into some weather and one of the masts went down. Nearly sank the blasted ship."
Flo wiped her hands on the apron tied over her skirt. "Old Salty always could tell a tale. Don't worry yourself about it. We just now started getting busy. The Fairwind's dropped anchor and the crew has begun driftin' in. They'll be a handful tonight, seein' as they been at sea for nigh on two months."
Brandy groaned as she walked out of the kitchen and into the smoky, dimly lit taproom. "I swear Dalton's crew is the worst of the lot. I don't look forward to their arrival." The tavern was nearly a hundred years old, with heavy oak beams and flagstone floors. Pewter sconces lined the walls, casting shadowy candlelight against the smoke-darkened wood. Though her father loved the old place, Brandy hated it. It was dingy, she thought, smelled of stale beer, and the walls were cold and dank.
"They're a rowdy lot," Flo said, "and no mistake. We'll be sportin' bruises from our backsides to our knees come mornin'."
"Not me. I'm sick unto death of these damnable sailors and their pinching and pawing ways. The first man who lays a hand on me will be feeling the weight of a tankard against the side of his head."
Flo just laughed. "Your papa won't much like that. Bad for business. He likes you to keep the sailors happy."
But Brandy didn't really care what her father liked. He certainly didn't care what she liked or wanted. All he cared about was his wretched tavern and making more money.
"I'm Big Jake Winters," he would say, "owner of the White Horse, finest tavern on the Charleston quay." He was always so proud of the place, a legacy he was building for his son. Only Big Jake never had a son.
In truth, his wife had died giving him his one and only heir, a petite daughter, with Ellen Winters's same red-gold hair. Nothing at all like the big strapping boy Jake had so desperately wanted. A second wife had birthed another girl, smaller even than Brandy, and so frail she hadn't lasted through the first Charleston cold. Frances Winters died of the yellow fever when Brandy was ten years old, and Big Jake finally resigned himself to what he saw as God's will.
The bitter fact was he would never have a son. A daughter would have to suffice, but Jake's resentment of the fact hovered like a huge, dark cloud over Brandy's head every minute of every day.
"You went to market this morning, didn't you?" she asked Flo. In a simple brown skirt that showed a bit too much ankle, a lace-up stomacher, and a scoop-necked white peasant blouse that exposed the tops of her breasts — the attire of the White Horse serving maids — Brandy leaned over a scarred wooden table to mop up a spilled tankard of ale, her single long braid sliding over one shoulder.
"Matter of fact, I just got back," Flo said. "We ran short of eggs. Picked some up along with some side pork for your papa's breakfast."
"So what interesting tidbits of gossip did you hear?" "Bless me — I nearly forgot. I did hear a bit of news you'll want to hear."
"Good news, I hope. I could stand a little of that for a change."
Flo moved behind the wide plank bar to tighten the loose bung on a cask that had started dripping brandy. "Word is Seahawk's comin' in. Should be docking anytime now. Cap Ogden down to the lighthouse spotted her off the point, sailin' in toward the harbor."
Brandy's heart began thudding uncomfortably. Seahawk. Surely not. But her pulse inched up several notches just the same. "I thought Captain Delaine was headed back to England. I didn't expect we'd be seeing him again for at least a couple more months."
Flo shrugged her shoulders. She was a slender woman with broad hips and a wide, welcoming smile. "Wouldn't know about that. Cap sounded pretty sure, though. He don't make many mistakes."
Brandy's hand shook faintly. "No ... no he doesn't make many mistakes." Absently, she walked away, her mind on the big, full-rigged ship Seahawk and its handsome owner, Captain Marcus Delaine. Or more accurately, Captain Delaine, Lord Hawksmoor, his newly inherited title as much a surprise to him as it was to everyone else.
Recalling his lean, dark, slightly arrogant profile, she thought that it probably shouldn't have been. He had always had a presence about him. His aristocratic blood was apparent in every gesture, every self-assured movement. He was born to command and it showed in every line of his darkly attractive face, from the high-carved cheekbones to the firm set of his well-formed lips.
He was tall and broad-shouldered, with narrow hips and not an ounce of spare flesh over his bones. He was solid and sinewy, his hair coal-black and slightly curly, always a little too long, feathering over the collar of his perfectly tailored navy blue coat. Marcus Delaine was a man among men. His crew knew it and so did Brandy Winters.
Which was why, for as long as she could remember, she had been a little in love with him.
"Better get movin', girl." Flo nudged her toward the bar. "Big Jake's comin' down the stairs."
Brandy sighed and nodded, pasted on a smile, and set to work. The afternoon slid past and evening crept in. The taproom had begun to fill up, mostly with Fairwind sailors. Smoke hung in patches above the wide plank bar, burning her lungs with the harsh smell of tobacco. Raucous laughter drifted into the heavy, age-darkened rafters.
The hours moved sluggishly past, a blur of bawdy jokes and fending off the sailors' roaming hands. God, she hated this place. If the Lord would grant her a single wish, it would be escape from the mindless drudgery and endless hours of boredom at the White Horse Tavern.
Someday, she thought wistfully. Someday, I'll find a way to leave.
The evening wore on. She waited on a table of British seamen and found herself enthralled by a story told by a sailor named Boggs. He'd been forced into service by an English press gang when he was just a boy. Oddly, over the years, the boy had become a man who loved the sea and its many adventures. Brandy listened with a sharp pang of envy, wishing as she had a hundred times that she had been born a lad who could run away to sea and seek a life of adventure, instead of being shackled like a prisoner to a dreary future in the White Horse Tavern.
The hour grew late. It was nearly midnight when Cole Proctor, first mate aboard the Fairwind, shoved through the swinging doors with some of his men and walked into the taproom. Brandy had been up since dawn. Her feet hurt, her eyes burned, and a dull ache stabbed into her lower back. Now, big, burly, loudmouthed Cole Proctor was here. Brandy wondered if the night could possibly get any worse.
Hoping he would take a seat on Flo's side of the taproom, she slipped silently into the kitchen and peered through a crack in the door.
"What the devil do you think you're doin'?" Big Jake strolled up, his bushy salt and pepper brows drawn together in a scowl. "We've help enough in the kitchen. Get back out there where yer needed. There's customers a-waitin'. Get yerself back to work, or I'll be takin' a switch to yer fanny."
She started to argue, to ask him to let her stay hidden for a minute or two so she might avoid Cole Proctor and his too-friendly hands, but she knew it would do her no good. Big Jake was a strict disciplinarian and to him the customer always came first. His daughter was only a woman. A little mauling never hurt her and it was good for business. At times Brandy wondered just how far her father would go to ensure the success of the White Horse Tavern.
"Get along with ye, now." He gripped her arm so tight she winced, and dragged her back toward the door.
"I'm going, Papa." Unconsciously rubbing the red spot on her arm, she walked back into the room, heading straight for the table in the corner Cole Proctor had chosen, a place he had purposely selected on her side of the taproom.
"Good evening, Mr. Proctor." She forced herself to smile, being careful to stand just out of his reach. "What'll it be for you and your men tonight?"
"Well, now, look what we have here, mates." His eyes raked downward from the top of her head to the soles of her sturdy brown shoes. They lingered for a moment on her ankles, then crept upward to settle on her breasts. "What ya say, mates? Ain't she the prettiest bit of baggage this side of the Atlantic?"
She colored a little and her chin went up. Compliments from women-hungry sailors were hardly new, but Proctor's were always slightly crude. And none of them looked at her with the same naked lust the big first mate always did.
"I asked what it was you would like to have."
He laughed, long and lewdly. "Did you hear that, lads? The lady wants to know what it is that we'd like to have." A meaty hand snaked out and grabbed her wrist. She tried to pull away, but he was more than twice her size and his hold was unbreakable. With little effort, he dragged her down on his lap and wrapped a beefy arm around her waist.
"What we'd like, my little dove, is a big piece of you."
"Let me go — I have work to do." Brandy started to struggle but he merely laughed in that vulgar way of his. Clamping both her wrists together in one of his big hands, he settled her more squarely on his knees.
"No, sir, I can't think of a thing that would please me more than spreading those pretty white thighs of yours and burying my big, hard —"
"That's enough, Proctor." Brandy's eyes slashed upward to the tall dark figure with the deep, forbidding voice. "Let the girl go."
Her cheeks were flaming. She felt embarrassed and humiliated, yet she had never been so relieved as she was to see Marcus Délaine.
"The girl asked me a question. I was only just giving her an answer. I'd advise you, Captain, to trim your own sails and stay the devil out of this."
Brandy squirmed but she couldn't break free. The captain watched her struggle and the hand at his side balled into a fist.
"I told you to let her go. I won't say it again."
Brandy bit her lip. Her father would be furious if she were the cause of a fight in the tavern. She forced her eyes to the captain's face, hoping she looked more composed than she felt. "It's all right, Captain Delaine. Mr. Proctor was only teasing. Weren't you ... Cole?" She said with what she hoped was a soft, cajoling voice that disguised the anger bubbling up inside her.
The big first mate cracked a lustful smile. "That's right, Captain. We was just bein' friendly-like. Nothin' for you to get all worked up about."
Eyes an intense midnight blue so dark they looked black speared into her. "Is that right, Miss Winters? Mr. Proctor is just being friendly?"
She nearly choked on the word. "Yes." The thought of Marcus Delaine believing she actually enjoyed the pawing attentions of a man like Cole Proctor made her stomach turn in disgust. But fear of her father's wrath was far worse.
He straightened, drawing himself up to his full, imposing height. "Then I shall have to beg your pardon." He made a slight bow, but his smile was hard-edged and cold. He started to turn away and she might have survived the moment with only a bit of humiliation. She might have been able to discreetly extricate herself from Cole's octopus-tentacled embrace if the beefy sailor hadn't chosen that moment to crudely pinch her bottom.
Fury swept her like a gale-force wind and all her good intentions flew right out the window. With a shriek, Brandy leaped to her feet, moving so swiftly the first mate lost his hold. She slapped him hard across the face.
"You are the most despicable, foulest creature I have every had the misfortune to meet. If you ever touch me that way again I swear I'll find a pistol and shoot you!"
She whirled away from him and smack into Marcus Delaine's broad chest. A corner of his mouth quirked upward in the barest hint of a smile. "I thought he was just being friendly."
Brandy flushed and backed a step away. "Cole Proctor wouldn't know the first thing about being friendly. I just didn't want to cause any trouble."
"The fault was hardly yours."
"True, but that's the way my father would see it." She started to say something else, to thank him for his effort to intervene, when she heard Cole Proctor's chair scraping backward and turned to see him coming to his feet.
His thick fingers rubbed a reddened cheek. "You little hellcat, you hit me. I'll teach you what happens when you raise a hand against Cole Proctor." He reached for her but the captain pulled her out of harm's way and stepped between them.
"You had that slap coming, Proctor, and you know it. You want to teach someone a lesson, why don't you start with me?"
Big teeth flashed in a feral grin. "Now, there's a good idea. I'll take care of you, then haul the girl out back and deal with her."
"Her father might have something to say about that."
Proctor scoffed. "Big Jake don't give a damn about her. Odds are, if he thought she'd bring a high enough price, he'd sell her off for the night to the highest bidder."
Brandy's face went pale, and a muscle tightened in the captain's lean cheek. "Why don't we go outside?" he said softly. "Perhaps we can discuss the subject more fully."
But the beefy first mate had no intention of leaving the safety of his men. Instead he swung a roundhouse punch that Marcus Delaine neatly sidestepped, then a second powerful blow that would have sent a strong man to his knees. The captain dodged them both, avoided the chair the first mate tossed at his head, stepped in, and landed a crushing blow to Proctor's stomach that doubled him over.
A second hard punch, neatly delivered to the side of Proctor's jaw, sent him sprawling into a corner, his head thudding loudly against the wall. With a grunt of pain his eyes rolled back and the fight was over.
Unfortunately, by now every Fairwind crewman in the tavern was on his feet and itching to take up the gauntlet against the men in the crew of the Seahawk who had come in behind their captain. Someone swore, another curse followed, and the tavern erupted in chaos. Chairs flew through the air. Tankards of ale crashed against men's skulls. Brandy dodged an upended table and squeaked out a warning to Flo, who ducked a flying pewter mug and crawled to safety behind the bar.
By the time Big Jake Winters had the fighting under control, the inside of the tavern looked as if it had been through a hurricane. Though his men were only partly to blame, Captain Delaine offered to pay for the damage. Brandy's father eyed the small leather purse the captain set on the bar.
"I'll take yer coin for what's been done, but the payment for me trouble will come from me daughter's hide." Gripping her wrist, he started dragging her toward the stairs. "'Tis past the time she learned the price of her high and mighty ways."
"This wasn't my fault," Brandy argued, setting her heels and pulling against him. "I didn't start this — Cole Proctor did."
"Your daughter is right. She was a victim, not the cause. It would be unjust for you to make her pay for something she had no control over."
Big Jake's jaw firmed up. His grip tightened painfully on her wrist. "She's trouble, just like her mother and every other woman I ever knew. Never should have paid for that fancy tutor. Thinks she's too good for the rest of us just 'cause she's got a little schoolin'."
"That isn't true. I —"
His palm cracked hard across her cheek. "Ye need to learn yer place, girl. I mean to see that ye do."
Excerpted from "Night Secrets"
Copyright © 1999 Kat Martin.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have loved this book for years and I am so glad it is now available on my Nook. I have read this several times and my paperback version somehow has mold on the pages. This is a different cover but same great story. Brandy is a hellion of the first order in that she refuses to be quelled into submission!
First of all I loved this book! I started reading romance with Kat and am entranced. Her books are fast paced, energetic, and never leave me feeling incomplete.
Many romance novels seem to follow a formula of an undying love on the females part to an oblivious male. They have a squabble then fall in love and marry. Night Secrets has the story of an endless, giving love with high sea adventure and action! Accidents prevail on the shipping get line damaging ships. Then Marcus is critically injured. Brandy is by his side to encourage him. The rest is an emotionally exciting adventure!
Thanks kat for another great book. This is a must read.
I've read lots of Kat Martin's work and she is in fact one of my favorite authors. She has drawed out whirlwind of my emotions. She has insired me as well. In short, she has affected me with her words, entertained me with her stories many times in the past. However, I am sad to say Secret Nights isn't one of her best. I would have given this book a 3.5 stars if I could. The first part of this book was exciting and pulling, I told myself I'll only read few chapters as I started this book late at night but alas, I ended up reading almost half way through the book towards the early dawn for I refuse to part with it. The first part is where we were introduce to Marcus and Brandy. I ache reading about Brandy and her situation. I admire her determination and her ambitions. I hoped and wish the best for her! On the next day, as I read the second half, I begun to feel discontented and restless. I scanned-read the pages, searching for a climatic moments perhaps even praying for a spur of excitement to set in. Unfortunately, that initial 'pulling' moment never came back to life. I couldn't figure out what went wrong, exactly. Even till the end, I am sad to say, I never regain that enthusiastic feelings nor did I feel fulfilled. Let's see... The hero and the heroine, Marcus and Brandy are well developed just like in all of Kat Martin's book that I've read. Their love was undeniably hearty. Brandy's character is a typical one for a woman in love since her childhood days. Of course, it was hard to let go even if she knows she was on the loosing end. Marcus, selfish as it may seem, was always honest and straight forward about his feelings. His life is at sea and that's that. Contrary to one reviewer, I didn't mind their seperation, it was the heart wretching part of the book. Together, they are heart warming. Seperate, they are heart wretching. The overall plot was a new one for me too, so I kindda enjoyed that one. Lots of adventure: Sea quest, Port stops, and the ship scenes was an interesting read. The mystery-suspense twist was alright, though not too exciting, it wasn't the main problem for my restlesness. I think it's just the way everything was written and represented towards the second half of the book. Like I said, I really don't know what made the second half boring... I also don't intend to read this book again just to find out why. If I am not mistaken, I think what got in the way is the over-analyzing, over detailing, over emphasizing of everything. It's also the repetitive reasoning of actions and explanations of emotions. I do like detailing but not overly much. I also do like humor in my romance books which is not found much in here. However, from time to time, I don't mind a melancholy stories so long as the ending would make up for it. Sadly (once again), the ending just didn't fit in properly for me to form an impression. I wanted an Epilogue and I hate to admit it but towards the middle of the book, I was hoping for a child to be conceive (you'll know what i mean once u read the book). Perhaps there is a sequel for this one? Overall, this book is not an awful read. It's still enjoyable, no doubt. It's just not up to my 'KAT MARTIN' expectation. Perhaps it's only my own preferences or perhaps it's only my personal expectation of Kat Martin base on her other books that I've read. I see many reviewers who rated this book a fiver...so go right on ahead and pick up this book. Read it with open mind. Who knows you might like it more than I have.
This book without a doubt tops the list of favorite books. You haven't read a romance novel until you have read this one. I fell in love with Marcus Delaine just as Brianne did, and was lost in their world wishing i was Brianne. PLEASE read this book it will take your breath away as it did mine and Marcus's strong character will always follow you when you look loningly into the sea!
OMG THIS BOOK WAS ONE OF THE BEST ROMANCES THIS BOOK PROVES THAT POOR OR RICH DOESNT MATTER WHAT MATTERS IS LOVE...
This was one of the most schizophrenic romance novels I've ever read. The story, that of a poor tavern wench named Brianne 'Brandy' Winters and the dashing and handsome Captain Marcus Delaine, is delightfully entertaining. Brandy stows away on Marcus's ship so she can escape an abusive, cheapskate of a father. Of course, Brandy is discovered, a vicious crewman attempts to rape her, Marcus helps rescue her, and they end up sharing close quarters because ... as we all know ... that's the only way Marcus can keep her safe during their relatively short voyage from Charleston to the Bahamas. There's a nice twist to the conflict between Brandy and Marcus. He becomes a real S.O.B. after he's paralyzed because of sabotage on his ship. Brandy's love and devotion are just the therapy Marcus needs, and us romance lovers get our happy ending. However. Getting to that happy ending is a serious chore because of the writing. There are sentences with backward logic. Ex: 'The cracker Josh Dobbs brought had helped to settle her stomach, though she still didn't dare try to eat.' If she didn't eat, how did the cracker get in her stomach to settle it? Another example: 'Josh Dobbs's worried voice hurrying toward her was the last thing she saw.' You can't SEE a voice. You hear it! There are repeated words. '... boxes came crashing down on the the hull of the ship.' There are tiny redundancies. 'The anger he'd been fighting rose up.' Well, things don't rise down, do they ... There are misplaced modifiers. '... she came to her feet and made her way to the porcelain pitcher on the table, the only furniture besides the bed and the chamber pot beneath it in the room.' 'in the room' should go after 'furniture.' That's a small one, but still. I noticed it. I'm sure it caught the notice of other readers, too. Then there's the complete misuse of a word, 'nonplussed.' Kat Martin uses the word to describe Brandy's attempt to act like her first kiss with Marcus didn't affect her. Nonplussed means the exact opposite of that. One or two of these things, I wouldn't have commented on them. But all these things occur within the first 67 pages of the book. Grammatical and style mistakes are jarring to me, as a reader, and detract from my ability to enjoy a story. The only thing I didn't like story-wise was a scene with Marcus, following Brianne's near rape. In lyrical, descriptive prose that describes Marcus's remembrance of the attempted rape - complete with the would-be rapist 'nestled' between Brianne's splayed 'pretty legs,' Kat Martin allows Marcus to fantasize being in the rapist's place. It's just too big a reach for me. Marcus lost some hero points and gained some creepy points for envisioning Brianne's rape as though Zalman King had directed it. Yes, this is just a romance novel and it's for entertainment purposes only. This book could have been more entertaining without the incidents of poor writing/editing and without Marcus thinking that a near-rape is sensual.
This is the best book I ever bought at the Dollar Tree. It was much better than 'Love Shack'. I spend my sleepless nights dreaming about my muscular pirate hero and his wooden peg. I miss scratching his parrot, and hearing words of comfort in his screechy Voice uttering'Polly wants a fat chick'