Cover image for Night secrets
Night secrets
Martin, Kat.
Personal Author:
St. Martin's Paperbacks edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1999.
Physical Description:
342 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Mass Market Paperback Romance
X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf

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Book after book, New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin wins extraordinary acclaim from readers and reviewers alike, for her fresh, sexy novels that combine adventure, wit, and romance. Now Kat takes you to England, America, and the high seas for a tempestuous voyage of the human heart-a journey you'll never forget...

Their passion was a force of nature, as wild and powerful as the sea

They came from opposite worlds: Brianne, a young woman trapped in a life from which she longs to escape; and Captain Marcus Delaine, the Earl of Hawksmoor, a man whose heart and soul cannot be touched by anyone. When Brianne briefly stows away on his ship, their lives are filled with beauty and passion...But when tragedy strikes, Brianne and Marcus are torn from each other, and the love between them is buried beneath the agony of betrayal. Traveling to England, Brianne is determined to touch the heart of the vengeful, embittered man Marcus has become...even if it means losing him forever.

Author Notes

Kathleen Kelly Martin was born July 14, 1947 in the Central Valley of California. She obtained a degree in Anthropology and History from the University of California in Santa Barbara.She is an American writer of romance novels under the pen names of Kat Martin, Kathy Lawrence and Kasey Marx. Martin is a member of the Romance Writers of America. To date, she has been published in England, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Russia, South Africa, China, and Korea. She has written several series which include Southern Series, Garrick Family Series, Kingsland Series and Litchfield Series. Her novel titles include Magnificent Passage, The Secret, and Secret Ways. She made The New York Times Best Seller List with her title Into the Firestorm.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Romance??? In 1803, Charleston native Brandy Winters is anxious to escape her drudgery-filled life working at her father's tavern, so she stows away on Marcus Delaine's ship. When Marcus finds her, he is furious, and he becomes even angrier when she is almost raped by a member of his crew. But at last his rage turns to desire and passion. Brandy responds in kind, even though she knows that his first love is the sea. When an accident leaves Marcus paralyzed, Brandy helps him learn to walk again even though she knows he will leave her for life on board his ship. And so he does, only to realize, once he is sailing the high seas, how much he has left behind. Martin's newest book has few surprises but lots of energy and adventure. The writing is crisp and clear, and the characters are larger than life. --Ann Bouricius

Publisher's Weekly Review

Martin continues her seagoing Regencies with this breast-heaver about tavern girl Brianne Brandy Winters and hard-muscled Marcus Delaine, Lord Hawksmoor and the owner of Hawksmoor Shipping. Brandy, the prettiest bit of baggage in Charleston, S.C., hates the boredom and the pawing at her fathers White Horse Tavern, so she stows away on Marcuss ship, the Fairwind, in order to see a bit of the world. While Brandy learns about life on the open sea, Marcus unsuccessfully fights off the urge to bed her. Disaster comes when someone trying to sabotage Hawksmoor Shipping sets up an accident that leaves Brandys lover paralyzed from the waist down. Its only after Brandys father dies, leaving her rich, that she goes to England, nurses the crippled, impotent Marcus back to health and virility and learns how to be a lady. Unfortunately, while historical romances often rely on an acceptable share of clichs, Martins at best are flat and puerile. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One March 1803 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 Delaine.     "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 yet 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."     The captain's dark eyes locked on her face, which stung and had begun to turn red. The only sign of his anger was the muscle that throbbed in his cheek. Very slowly he shoved the pouch of coins on the bar in front of Jake Winters.     "The fault was mine and my crew's. If the girl is made to pay, it won't sit well with the men." He smiled but his lips were tight with warning. "Everyone knows the White Horse is the finest tavern on the quay. It would certainly be a shame if my men no longer felt welcome."     Jake Winters heard the words and the underlying threat that went with them. Marcus Delaine was a wealthy, powerful man. He was an earl and the owner of Hawksmoor Shipping. It wouldn't be simply the crew of the Seahawk Jake would be losing as customers but five other ships' crews as well--and anyone else under the captain's influence.     Her father clamped hard on his temper, but the ruddy color of his skin told Brandy how difficult a task it was. "Perhaps ye be right, Captain. Perhaps I was a bit too hasty." He flashed Brandy a menacing look and shoved her toward the stairs leading up to her room. "You've the captain to thank for sparing ye the beatin' ye deserve. The next time yer uppity ways bring trouble down on yer head, I promise ye won't be so lucky."     Brandy nodded, embarrassment colliding with relief. She gave the captain a grateful, trembling smile, and started up the stairs, her long copper braid bobbing against her back all the way. She wasn't a child anymore but her father treated her as if she were, and Marcus saw her that way as well. Why was it only men like Cole Proctor saw her for the woman she had become?     And how much longer would she put up with her father's tyranny before she decided to do something about it?     Not much longer, Brandy vowed. Not much longer at all. Her chance came far sooner than she had imagined. It was fate, she thought, God's answer to one of her thousands of prayers. It happened the following morning as she was walking past an inn called the Pines, just a few doors down from the tavern. She had just stepped into the street when Marcus Delaine appeared through the carved front doors of the inn, striding off toward the spot where the Seahawk was docked.     Brandy watched his tall, leanly muscled frame moving with brusque authority and felt the same thread of warmth she always felt when she saw him. She hurried her steps, catching up to him as he crossed the street and began to walk along the quay.     "Good morning, Captain." She gave him a bright, sunny smile. "I saw you come out of the inn. I wanted to thank you for what you did for me last night in the tavern."     He slowed his long strides so she didn't have to run to keep pace with him. "I assure you, Miss Winters, it was my pleasure. Proctor has had that beating coming for a very long time." He smiled faintly. She noticed a slight bruise darkened the skin over one of his high cheekbones.     "I thought you were off to England. I didn't think to see you hack in port for some time."     Black brows drew together above a fine, straight nose. "We had some problems with the rudder on our way back from Virginia. Had to have it replaced before we set sail for home."     He was so tall she had to crane her neck to look up at him. When she did, sunlight glinted on his wavy black hair. Brandy felt the oddest urge to run her fingers through it. "As I recall, you were having trouble with your ship the last time you were in port."     A hint of displeasure roughened his voice. "Bad luck seems to be dogging us lately. I hope that's going to change. In the meantime, we've contracted for a short sail to the Bahamas, a load of flour we took on in Alexandria, some timber, and a few other trade goods. We'll be returning here to pick up a load of cargo before we head back home." Her pulse kicked up with a sudden thread of interest. "How long will you be gone?"     "If all goes well, less than a month. It isn't far to the islands. We'll off-load and return as quickly as we can."     Her pulse began beating even faster as an idea took root in her head. "You'll be traveling to the Bahamas, then coming straight back here?"     "That's right. We hadn't planned to make the run, but the money is good and with the setbacks we've suffered of late, we can certainly use it."     "When will you be leaving?"     "As soon as the rudder is put right. If all goes well, that should be the day after the morrow."     They had reached the landing where his ship was moored and the captain turned to face her. "Should I not see you again before the Seahawk sets sail, take care of yourself, Miss Winters." He smiled, a flash of white against his sun-darkened skin. "With luck the Fairwind will be leaving Charleston as well."     Brandy grinned, seeing in her mind's eye the captain's fist connecting with the first mate's jaw. "With luck."     He reached out and touched her cheek, ran his hand lightly over her hair. "How long have we known each other, Miss Winters?"     "The better part of ten years, I would say." She remembered the exact moment she had first seen him, a handsome young lieutenant in a British Navy uniform walking through the tavern's front doors. She was little more than a child back then, but still, he had intrigued her. (Continues...) Excerpted from Night Secrets by Kat Martin. Copyright © 1999 by Kat Martin. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.