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Night Watch Mass Market Paperback – May 31, 2011


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About the Author

Suzanne Brockmann is an award-winning author of more than fifty books and is widely recognized as one of the leading voices in romantic suspense. Her work has earned her repeated appearances on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America’s #1 Favorite Book of the Year and two RITA awards. Suzanne divides her time between Siesta Key and Boston. Visit her at www.SuzanneBrockmann.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Brittany Evans hated to be late. But parking had been a pain in the butt, and she'd spent way too much time trying to decide what to wear—as if it really mattered.

She surveyed the scattering of people standing around the college baseball stadium's hot dog stand as she came out the door that led from the locker rooms.

And there he was.

Standing under the overhang, out of the gently falling rain, watching the players on the ball field. Leaning against the wall with his back to her.

At least she thought it was him. They'd never really met—at least not for more than two and a half seconds. Brittany, this is whatever-his-naval-rank-was Wes Skelly. Wes, this is Melody Jones's sister, Britt.

Hey, how are you, nice to meet you, gotta go.

The man who might or might not be Wes Skelly glanced at his watch, glanced toward the main entrance of the stadium. His hair was longer and lighter than she remembered—of course, it was hard to remember much from only two and a half seconds of face time.

She could see his face better as he turned slightly. It was…a face. Not stunningly handsome like Mel's husband, Harlan "Cowboy" Jones. But not exactly Frankenstein's monster, either.

Wes wasn't smiling. In fact, he looked a little tense, a little angry. Hopefully not at her for being late. No, probably just for being. She'd heard a lot about Wes Skelly over the past few years. That is, assuming this was really Wes Skelly.

But he had to be. No one else in the place looked even remotely like a Navy SEAL.

This guy wasn't big, though—not like her brother-in-law or his good friend Senior Chief Harvard-the-Incredible-Hulk Becker—but there was something about him that seemed capable of anything and maybe a little dangerous.

He was dressed in civilian clothes—khaki pants with a dark jacket over a button-down shirt and tie. Poor man. From what Mel had told her about Wes, he would rather swim in shark-infested waters than get dressed up.

Of course, look at her. Wearing these stupid sandals with heels instead of her usual comfortable flats. She'd put on more than her usual amount of makeup, too.

But the plan was to meet at the ball game, and then go out to dinner someplace nicer than the local pizza joint.

Neither of them had counted on rain screwing up the first part of the plan.

Wes looked at his watch again and sighed.

And Brittany realized that his leaning against the wall was only feigned casualness. He was standing still, yet somehow he remained in motion—tapping his fingers or his foot, slightly shifting his weight, searching his pockets for something, checking his watch. He wasn't letting himself pace, but he wanted to.

Gee whiz, she wasn't that late.

Of course maybe her five-minute delay wasn't the problem. Maybe this man just never stood still. And wasn't that just what she needed—a date with a guy with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Silently cursing her sister, Brittany approached him, arranging her face into a smile. "You have that same 'Heavenly Father, save me from doing favors for friends and relatives' look in your eyes that I've got," she said. "Therefore you must be Wes Skelly."

He laughed, and it completely transformed his face, softening all the hard lines and making his blue eyes seem to twinkle.

Irish. Darnit, he was definitely at least part Irish.

"That makes you Brittany Evans," he said, holding out his hand. It was warm, his handshake firm. "Nice to finally meet you."

Nice hands. Nice smile. Nice steady, direct gaze. Nice guy—good liar, too. She liked him instantly, despite the potential ADD.

"Sorry I'm a few minutes late," she said. "I had to drive almost all the way to Arizona to find a parking space."

"Yeah, I've noticed that traffic really sucks here," he said as he studied her face, probably trying to figure out how she could possibly be related to gorgeous, delicately angelic-looking Melody Jones.

"We don't look very much alike," she told him. "My sister and I."

She'd surprised him with her directness, but he recovered quickly. "What, are you nuts? Your eyes are a little different—a different shade of blue. But other than that, you're a…a variation on the same lovely theme."

Oh, for crying out loud. What had her sister's husband told this guy? That she was a sure thing? Just liberally sling the woo, Skelly, and she'll be putty in your hands because she's lonely and pathetic and hasn't had a man in her bed—let alone a date—in close to a decade?

It was her own stupid fault for giving in to Melody's pressure. A blind date. What was she thinking?

Okay, she knew what she was thinking. Mel had asked her to go out with Wes Skelly as a favor. It was, she'd said in that baby sister manipulative manner of hers—the one that came with the big blue eyes, the one that had enabled her to twist Britt around her little finger for the past several decades—the only thing she wanted for her upcoming birthday. Pretty please with sugar on top…?

Britt should have cried foul and gotten her a Dave Matthews CD instead.

"Let's set some ground rules," Brittany told Wes now. "Rule number one—no crap, okay? No hyperbole, no B.S. Only pure honesty. My sister and your so-called friend Harlan Jones manipulated us to this particular level of hell, but now that we're here we're going to play by our own rules. Agreed?"

"Yeah," he said. "Sure, but—"

"I have no intention of sleeping with you," she informed him briskly. "I'm neither lonely nor pathetic. I know exactly what I look like, exactly who I am and I happen to be quite happy with myself, thank you very much. I'm here because I love my little sister, although right now I'm trying to imagine the most painfully horrific way to torture her for doing this to me—and to you."

He opened his mouth, but she wasn't done and she didn't let him speak.

"Now. I know my sister, and I know she was hoping we'd gaze into each other's eyes, fall hopelessly in love and get married before the year's end." She paused for a fraction of a second to look searchingly into his eyes. They were very pretty blue eyes, but her friend Julia had an Alaskan husky with pretty blue eyes, too. "Nope," she said. "Didn't happen for me. How about you?"

He laughed. "Sorry," he said. "But—"

"No need for excuses," she cut him off again. "People think alone means lonely. Have you noticed that?"

He didn't answer right away. Not until it was good and clear that she was finally finished and it was his turn to talk.

"Yeah," he said then. "And people who are together—people who are a couple—they're always trying to pair up all of their single friends. It's definitely obnoxious."

"Well meant," Britt agreed, "but completely annoying. I am sorry that you got roped into this."

"It's not that big a deal," he said. "I mean, I was coming to Los Angeles anyway. And how many times has Lieutenant Jones asked me to do him a favor? Maybe twice. How many times has he bailed out my butt? Too many to count. He's an excellent officer and a good friend, and if he wants me to have dinner with you, hey, I'm having dinner with you. He was right, by the way."

Britt wasn't sure she liked either the gleam in his eye or that grin. She narrowed her own eyes.

"About what?"

"I was having a little trouble there for a while, getting in a word edgewise."

She opened her mouth, and then closed it. Then opened it. "Well, heck, it's not exactly as if you're known throughout the SEAL teams as Mr. Taciturn."

Wes's grin widened. "That's what makes it all the more amazing. So what's rule number three?"

She blinked. "Rule three?" She didn't have three rules. There was just the one.

"One is no bull— Um. No bull," he said. "Two is no sex. That's fine 'cause that's not why I'm here. I'm not in a place where I'm ready to get involved with anyone on that permanent of a level, and besides, although you're very pretty—and that's not crap. I'm being honest here as per rule one—you're not my type."

"Your type." Oh, this was going to be good. "What or who exactly is your type?"

He opened his mouth, but she thumped him on the chest as the action on the field caught her eye. It was a very solid chest despite the fact that in her heels she was nearly as tall as he was.

"Hold that thought," she ordered. "Andy's at bat."

Wes fell obediently silent. She knew that he didn't have children, but he apparently understood the unspoken parental agreement about paying complete and total attention when one's kid was in the batter's box.

Of course, her kid was nineteen years old and a college freshman on a full baseball scholarship. Her kid was six feet three inches tall and two hundred and twenty pounds. Her kid had a batting average of .430, and a propensity for knocking the ball clear over the fence, and quite possibly into the next county.

But it had just started to rain harder.

Andy let the first ball go past him—a strike.

"How can he see in this?" Britt muttered. "He can't possibly see in this. Besides it's not supposed to rain in Southern California." That had been one of the perks of moving out here from Massachusetts.

The pitcher wound up, let go of the ball, and… tock. The sound of Andy's bat connecting with the ball was sharp and sweet and so much more vibrant than the little anemic click heard when watching baseball on TV. Brittany had never known anything like it until after she'd adopted Andy, until he'd started playing baseball with the same ferocity that he approached everything else in life.

"Yes!" The ball sailed over the fence and Andy jogged around the bases. Brittany alternately clapped and whistled piercingly, fingers between her teeth.

"Jones said your kid was pretty good."

"Pretty...

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Books (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373776284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373776283
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Suz Brockmann is the award-winning author of over fifty books, and is widely recognized as one of the leading voices in romantic suspense. Her work has earned her repeated appearances on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America's #1 Favorite Book of the Year and two RITA awards.

Married to author Ed Gaffney, Suz divides her time between Sarasota, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts and New York City. They have two grown children, Melanie, who is a personal trainer and a writer, and Jason, who is an actor and tap dancer, and two miniature schnauzers, C.K. Dexter-Haven and Little Joe, both of whom (unlike Mel and Jason) still live at home.

Suz is a proud member of PFLAG -- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She is also a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, and MassEquality. A firm believer in civil rights for all people, she has fought hard to bring equal marriage rights to all citizens of her home state, Massachusetts.

Suz also recently produced her first independent feature-length movie, a romantic comedy called THE PERFECT WEDDING, that she co-wrote with her husband Ed and her son Jason. The Perfect Wedding will be released on DVD from Wolfe Releasing in December 2013 (and is available here on Amazon). (Find out more at www.ThePerfectWeddingMovie.com)

Suz has also co-written a YA novel called NIGHT SKY--set in the world of her paranormal Fighting Destiny series--with her daughter, Melanie, set to be released by Sourcebooks Fire in October 2014.

Visit Suz's Website at www.SuzanneBrockmann.com
Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SuzanneBrockmannBooks
Follow her on Twitter @SuzBrockmann

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By baltimore0502 on September 13, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Girls, if you're the saving type - you know, stray kittens, kicked puppies, men with low self-esteem so afraid of their emotions that they choose not to feel them - then Wes Skelly is the hero for you! He's so emotionally closed down that he only allows himself to feel much of anything when he's drunk (not a pretty sight!). This guy's going to need the mother of all savers!
And Brittany Evans is a saver if ever there was one! A woman who adopted a thirteen-year-old "juvie" to save him from foster care (he's now nineteen and a baseball prodigy) she's also a nurse and a very nurturing sort. But she's not nauseatingly sweet or annoyingly good. She's smart, sassy and on occasion a smart aleck and I liked her a lot. She fully recognizes her weakness for guys like Wes and so she tries to keep things light and casual when they are set up on a blind date. A sweet friendship results and it is clear that these are two people that truly like each other. All's well until she tries to help this intense emotional cripple to see the good and the positive in himself. Well she's really got her work cut out for her as we hear all about (she's a "talk it out" kinda gal) every issue Wes has: low self-esteem, height sensitivity, the death of a sibling, a cold, distant father, his possible drinking problem and his unrequited love for the wife of a friend. Phew! This guy either needs some serious therapy or an abundance of friendship and support from the most patient, understanding woman in the world! Lucky for him he meets Britt.
Don't get me wrong, I did like this story. But if you've got little patience for this particular brand of tortured hero, consider yourself warned. I'm a bit of a sucker for them myself on occasion, even though at times his problems seemed over the top.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a super addition to Suzanne Brockmann's Tall, Dark, and Dangerous series and here's hoping it won't be the last! I'd miss this series too much!
What a beautiful story! Navy Seal Wesley Skelly has got to be my favorite and I loved all heroes of TDD! It's been a long time time since a story has made me cry, but this one did! I just finished and then started reading it again.
Brittany Evans is the best heroine I've come across in stories! She and Wes are pefect together!
Quick plot- Wes and Brit are set up on a date by her sister and his fellow Alpha Squad teammate(husband and wife)Melody and Cowboy Jones(TDD story- Everyday, Average Jones). Neither expects much to come of it, and are they both in for a shock when they discover how much of a match they really are! They are both falling hard for each other and don't say it but can't stop feeling all of the effects! Wow! Brit gets Wes to finally open up about the tragedy in his family's past and I swear Ms. Brockkmann's got a gift! I cried as I read it. Wow!
And I love how this couple fell in love. It was really sweet and very romantic! Great love scenes!
Ladies, Wes will just steal your heart and you'll cheer for this couple. I know I did!
I LOVED this one!! I could read it tons of times! It just made me go back and get out the other books of TDD and read them again, too!I can't wait for the next book in the series! Bravo, Ms. Brockmann!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been reading Suzanne Brockmann for a while now, and I think she does the humor thing well (but not as well as Jennifer Crusie), the sex thing in a way that's really quite extremely very (I can't think of another intensifier, but you get the idea) hot, and that usually doesn't make me cringe (sorry, I start laughing when sensitive things get laved and suckled), and the testosterone-blessed alpha-male thing like nobody else, but this is her first book that I don't have ANY quibbles with. And I really fell for Wes--maybe because he WASN'T tall, dark and handsome, he was short, fair, and his face was "...a face. Not stunningly handsome...but not Frankenstein's monster, either." When the two of them begin feeling the attraction, they start describing each other as beautiful/handsome, but this feels quite appropriate. The inner dialogue of both characters seems very authentic, and the conversations always read very smoothly--none of the jarring turns of phrase that can take you right out of a storyline. And it was a compelling story, because they were easy characters to care about. Only after reading it again did I start having any 'wait a minute' moments--like, why did Wes bring along a dress uniform to LA in the first place? How can he reach into his pocket for his wallet and the condom in it when...maybe this one should be left to the imagination. But I couldn't really even call those quibbles, I just had to admire how smoothly such details were slipped by me the first time. In fact, I just had to admire it by rereading it over and over again.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nodin on September 3, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Where to start? In my home, there is a box made to spec/acid free, etc. In it are all the best Suzanne Brockmann books - and into it this one will go! Chief Wes Skelly, who was a minor SEAL character as I recall, is on a short leave. Man, these guys do more with a two-week leave.... Wes has been in love - secretly, of course - with a fellow SEAL's wife, Lana Quinn. Now it gets kind of convoluted here so bear with me. There are members of my immediate family who are or were SEALs. They are as tight as Ms. Brockmann portrays, so familiar names crop up in each new TD&D. We met Brittany Evans, Britt for short, in Brockmann's Everyday, Average Jones. She is the sister of the premier romance heroine, Melody Evans, of that particular gem. Britt is a self-sufficient single mom of an adopted troubled teen, a nurse - Britt is the independent one of the sisters. But Melody knows her sister's deepest desire; to have a happily-ever-after with kids that she raises from babies. So little sister and SEAL hubby Cowboy Jones conspire with Wes Skelly's swim buddy/best friend Bobby Taylor (who had just married Wes's sister Colleen - convoluted) in setting up Wes & Britt on a blind date. Now if you're not confused here you're either a devoted Brockmann fan or haven't read this carefully! During the blind date the couple set up the ground rules. I just loved how they vehemently agreed that they were to simply meet and tell all their meddling family members they had. But as circumstances will out with this series, Wes & Britt kind of drifted into a closer friendship while he was in L.A. to help his 'unrequited' love, Lana Quinn's famous actress sister. He sure seemed to spend a lot more time with Britt than he did working on the famous sister's security problems.Read more ›
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