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Kiss and Tell [Mass Market Paperback]

Suzanne Brockmann
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 28 2008
From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann comes a funny, feisty, romantic tale about childhood rivals who discover the mystery of grown-up love.

When Leila Hunt is swept off her feet by a ninja at a New Year's Eve costume party, she has no idea who the masked man is—but after he disappears into the night, she’s determined to find him. When the clock struck twelve, what began as a friendly New Year's greeting quickly became the most unforgettable kiss Leila had ever experienced with anyone—including her absent boyfriend. But of all the possible suspects, Leila hardly imagines that the ninja is the same man who’s teased, tormented—and secretly intrigued her—since childhood.

Marshall Devlin is finally ready to face the terrifying truth: he’s in love with his best friend’s sister, and has been for years. There’s just one complication: Leila didn't know he was her ninja. To win her, Marsh will have to woo her. But can he make Leila forget their decades of verbal sparring in time to stop her from making the biggest mistake of her life?

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About the Author

Bestselling author, Suzanne Brockmann has won numerous awards, including the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, seven Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, sixteen WISH Awards, and two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America. She lives outside Boston with her husband and two children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One


Leila Hunt stared into the mirror at the bottom of the staircase, and Cinderella did not stare back. And that was a shame, since Leila was dressed just like Cinderella—from the golden hairpiece that matched her own short, blond curls to the glittering off-white ball gown that hugged her tall, slender figure, all the way down to the delicate glass slippers on her feet. Well, they were plastic slippers, really. But like the real Cinderella's slippers, they fit Leila perfectly.

Regardless of all that, Leila didn't look like Cinderella. She looked at herself critically in the mirror, wondering why exactly that was.

Maybe it was because she didn't look as elegant as a fairy-tale princess should. Her face was a little too cute, a little too heart-shaped. Her nose was upturned at the end, and her chin was a shade too pointy, making her look elfin. No, strike that. She was much too tall to be elfin. Elfin implied petite, and at five feet ten inches, Leila hadn't been petite since she was an infant.

What she looked was perky.

God, Leila hated that word.

She stepped closer to the mirror and tried to look sexy instead. She tried to look as if she were keeping some incredible secret. She tried to smile mysteriously, moving her lips only slightly upward.

The smile only made her look mischievous. Perkily mischievous—more like Peter Pan than a princess.

Leila turned from the mirror with a sigh. She still wasn't sure why she'd bothered to leave New York City after Elliot called her at the airport and told her he wouldn't be able to catch the flight to Florida.

Yet here she was, back on Sunrise Key, her hometown, dressed as Cinderella, as if she hoped that somewhere out in the yard, on her brother Simon's rented dance floor, Prince Charming was waiting for her.

She looked around the room. A Batman and a clown lingered in the corner. King Henry VIII, turkey drumstick in hand, sat next to a wizard. There was nary a Prince Charming in sight.

Leila went out the french doors and into the backyard where most of Simon's guests were dancing under a tent to taped music that was blaring out of four sets of gigantic speakers.

"You look beautiful," a voice beside her shouted to be heard over the music. "That dress suits you."

Leila would have recognized that crisp English accent anywhere. It was Marshall Devlin. Dr. Marshall Devlin. Dr. Marshall High-and-Mighty, Better-than-Thou, Best-Friends-with-Her-at-Times-Equally-Annoying-Brother, English-Accent-Encrusted Devlin.

Six years older than Leila, Marsh had spent summers and school vacations on Sunrise Key starting when he was in high school. Despite his traditional Englishman's coolness and the short duration of his visits, Marsh and Simon had hit it off immediately. They stayed friends through the years, united in their single goal—or so it had seemed to Leila at the time—either to torment and thoroughly embarrass or to totally ignore Simon's little sister. Namely Leila.

It seemed hard to believe that Marsh Devlin could have been such good friends with one Hunt and such bitter enemies with another Hunt—again, namely Leila. Well, bitter enemies was perhaps too strong a phrase. But Marsh and Leila had been adversaries from the word go. Even now that they'd supposedly grown up and become mature adults, they still argued incessantly. Of course, now it was called debating or discussing a difference of opinion. But Leila knew better. She knew that Marsh still kept score.

Out of all of Simon's friends, Marshall Devlin was the one who had the power to infuriate Leila. Out of all of Simon's friends, Marsh was the one who had moved to Sunrise Key, to her hometown, and now lived here year-round as the island's only medical doctor.

Out of all of Simon's friends, Marsh also happened to be far and away the best looking. He wasn't handsome in the traditional sense. His face was slightly too lean, too angular. But his nose was impossibly straight and his cheekbones exotically high. His eyes seemed an unremarkable shade of brown until examined from a close proximity. Then they became a swirl of colors—different subtle shades of lighter and darker browns, flecked with greens and even yellows. Marsh was, like his eyes, quietly, subtly gorgeous.

"Poor Cinderella," Marshall Devlin continued as Leila gazed at him. "Have you lost your Prince Charming?"

"Actually, I have." Leila stepped away from the dance floor, away from the pounding music. She kept her voice cool and polite, hiding the familiar surge of adrenaline that seemed to be released into her system whenever she came face-to-face with this man. Her heart gave a little skip that she told herself had to be from jet lag. "Elliot was detained. He won't be here until tomorrow evening."

"Elliot?" Marsh said, a frown marring his lean features. "Ah. Your gentleman friend. That's right. Simon said he was coming for the weekend. What a shame he couldn't be here. New Year's Eve is hardly the time to be by oneself."

No kidding. But truth be told, New Year's Eve was hardly the time to be with Elliot.

Leila had been dating Elliot for the past year. She liked him. They were friends. But as far as romance went, they weren't about to set the world ablaze. Except Elliot had recently started talking about marriage.

Was Leila willing to settle for a life with a man she didn't love? That was the million dollar question. And if she weren't willing to settle, was she willing to risk never finding anyone to share her life with? Because, face it, romance took time. And with her crazy work schedule, time was something she didn't have a lot of. She knew she and Elliot were compatible. So, okay, her life wouldn't be filled with hot, steamy, passionate nights, but neither would she be alone.

Except here she was, on Sunrise Key, at the start of her two-week vacation, alone.

It wasn't the first time Elliot had postponed a trip.

And with his schedule, it certainly wouldn't be the last.

With very little imagination, Leila could project herself into the future, to that mystical world of Little League games and dance recitals and chorus concerts and science fairs. She could picture Elliot missing every single one—calling in his apologies to their children over his cellular phone. That would really, really stink.

But at least there would be children. Provided Elliot could find the time in his busy schedule to procreate.

"Quite a crowd this year," Marsh said, and looking over the array of costumed guests, Leila had to agree. Simon's guest list must have included nearly half of the year-round inhabitants of the small island town, and at least as many visiting vacationers and winter residents. Of course, in a town as small as Sunrise Key, the island visitors outnumbered the locals nearly six to one during the winter season.

The costumes Leila saw were as varied as their wearers. Many of them were charmingly homemade, but quite a few, like her own, had been rented.

Simon, looking dashing as Indiana Jones, was dancing with a mermaid. But not everyone was as easy to recognize. The light from the Japanese lanterns strung around the dance floor was dim at best, and many people had masks that covered their entire faces.

It was odd and slightly frightening—all of these people with hidden identities. With their faces carefully concealed behind masks, everyone had a certain bizarre freedom. For one night, they could actually become kings or clowns or veiled harem girls. Or Cinderella.

Leila spotted a second Batman dancing with a Catwoman, and she didn't have a clue as to who either of them were. At least three ninjas were scattered throughout the crowd, impossible to recognize beneath their masks.

"What are you dressed as?" Leila pulled her mask away from her face to look at Marsh more closely.
He was wearing khaki pants and a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows.

"A harried, overworked small-town doctor." His sudden smile made him look boyishly handsome. "I just came from a house call. The youngest Knudsen boy got a piece of rust in his eye. Scratched his cornea. He'll be fine, but it hurts like the blazes. This has been a record-breaking week for the Knudsens. John Jr. knocked out his front tooth playing football—no helmet—and Melissa got seven stitches in her knee after trying to jump the curb in front of Millie's Market while wearing her Rollerblades."

Marsh looked tired. The lines around his eyes and mouth had deepened since Leila's last visit to the island, adding maturity to his face. Every year he became even more good looking. A lock of wavy brown hair had flopped forward into his eyes, but as usual he didn't seem to notice.

He never noticed when his hair was in his face. He simply looked through it. It drove Leila nuts.

"Have you made your New Year's resolutions?" Marsh asked.

"Funny you should ask," Leila muttered. In the past she hadn't had time for such things, but this year was different. Maybe it was because she'd just turned thirty. Maybe it was the impending second anniversary of her father's fatal heart attack. Or maybe it was Elliot's talk of marriage, but this year she'd spent the past few weeks looking back at her accomplishments and taking stock of where she was in life. Whatever the cause, never before had Leila felt so uncertain.

Careerwise, she couldn't have been happier. She had a thriving, successful private practice as an independent accountant in New York City. In a financial, business sense, she was precisely where she wanted to be. It was the other parts of her life—home, relationships, family—that were lacking. It was her personal life outside of the office that rated a big fat zero.

Even Elliot barely made a bump on her happiness index. But having children—babies—...

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too much telling and not enough kissing... Nov. 11 2000
By amf0001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really like Suzanne Brockman, she has a consistent energy and a complexity to her characters. Kiss and Tell feels like an early book of hers, it's quite heavy handed, and I have to say I was disappointed.
There was little romantic tension, not much of her trademark humour or energy. Her hero is Dr Marshall Devlin, who kisses his best friend's sister, Leila Hunt, whilst dressed as a ninja. There are fireworks, but to his surprise, she doesn't realise it was him. So instead of telling her it was him, well there wouldn't be a book if he did that, we go through 100 or so pages before she figures it out. There are some funny lines and situations, but the book never came alive for me.
All serial romances are by definition contrived, but many wear their plots more gracefully than Kiss and Tell does. I would still buy a Brockman on name alone, but if you don't need this to complete your collection, I would let Kiss and Tell go.
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4.0 out of 5 stars SURPRISINGLY GREAT Feb. 3 2011
By Buggy TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Kiss and Tell is a straightforward, very sweet, quickie romance that I ended up enjoying way more then I thought I would. Written in 96 you can tell it's one of Brockmann's early romances although her style still shines through with wonderfully written, fully developed characters. I love how she gives her heroes individual little traits (like his hair always being in his eyes and the heroine wanting to push it back)There is a thread of humour throughout this one with some amusing dialogue between the heroine and her brother. Brockmann does this really well. She also manages not to fall (too far) into the usual misunderstandings and clichés required from a serial romance, which may have played a part in why I enjoyed this so much. There is also the fact that the Sunrise Key Trilogy (this is book #1) takes place in Florida and for a Canadian in the deep of winter the white sand beaches, gently swaying palms and shorts and tank tops were a welcome relief.

Leila Hunt has returned home to Sunrise Key for her brother Simon's New Years Eve costume party. With a loosely based Cinderella theme, Leila dresses the part and at the stroke of midnight a ninja sweeps her onto the dance floor and off her feet. Kissing Leila like she's never been kissed before, including those from her all too often absentee fiancé. Then with the beep of a pager he disappears.

Unable to forget the kiss and with two weeks before she has to head back to New York Leila sets about finding her mysterious ninja. Calling on the talents of her private investigator best friend and wayward brother for help in eliminating possible suspects. Complicating matters is Marshall Devlin, Simon's recent house guest and the town Doctor.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too much telling and not enough kissing... Nov. 11 2000
By amf0001 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really like Suzanne Brockman, she has a consistent energy and a complexity to her characters. Kiss and Tell feels like an early book of hers, it's quite heavy handed, and I have to say I was disappointed.
There was little romantic tension, not much of her trademark humour or energy. Her hero is Dr Marshall Devlin, who kisses his best friend's sister, Leila Hunt, whilst dressed as a ninja. There are fireworks, but to his surprise, she doesn't realise it was him. So instead of telling her it was him, well there wouldn't be a book if he did that, we go through 100 or so pages before she figures it out. There are some funny lines and situations, but the book never came alive for me.
All serial romances are by definition contrived, but many wear their plots more gracefully than Kiss and Tell does. I would still buy a Brockman on name alone, but if you don't need this to complete your collection, I would let Kiss and Tell go.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Retread with no chemisty: 2.5 stars Nov. 18 2008
By Tracy Vest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While on holiday at her brother Simon's house, a sensuous New Year's kiss from a stranger dressed as a ninja sparks more passion in Leila than all the kisses from her current absentee boyfriend combined. She enlists the help of Simon to find this stranger, not realizing that it is her childhood nemesis who kissed her, British transplant Dr. Marshall Devlin. He meant to return for more, but a patient's page sent him to the delivery room. When he returns and is ready to take up where he left off, he learns that she had no idea it was him and that she's determined to find her mystery man. The plan is simple, wit the help of her PI friend Frankie, she will confront the three other guys dressed as ninjas and get them to kiss her... Marsh figures she'll know its him if they spent plenty of time together, but after the lukewarm kisses from the ninjas, clueless Leila wonders if she'll ever find her guy.

Penned over a decade ago, Brockmann's first in her "Sunset Keys" series shows its age with the kind of stilted unrealistic dialogue typical of the genre even a decade before that. You know, where a woman in her 20's says stuff like dreadful? And she's contemplating marrying a man she doesn't love but has dated for a year yet has never been intimate with him? While she doesn't have to be a slam hound, I found that a little hard to believe. I liked the love/hate thing between the two, but after awhile it got tedious and there was so little chemistry between the two that the story never really came alive. Frankly I wondered what Simon saw in a dreadful woman like her when he could have had a spitfire like Frankie.

© Tracy Vest, November 2008
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An early Brockmann gem July 18 2005
By Stacy ~ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the book that "introduced" me to the wonderful Suzanne Brockmann, and so it will always have a special place in my heart. It is not romantic suspense, so don't expect to see any Navy SEALs or terrorist plots. Instead what you have is a very simple yet very intense love story.

Leila Hunt has gone home to Florida for a much-needed vacation. She hopes to spend her days soaking up the sun, hanging out with her best friend Frankie, enjoying her brother's fun parties, and avoiding the British and annoying Dr. Marshall Devlin at all costs.

While at one of her brother Simon's infamous parties, Leila is given the most passionate and arousing kiss by a mysterious ninja (are there any other kind?), who ends up leaving Cinderella aka Leila behind at the ball instead of the other way around. Only instead of a slipper, she's left with the memory of a heated kiss.

Considering all the hostility and angst they went through as teenagers, Marsh can't believe he kissed Leila, but now that he has, he wants to do it again. Excited to see her, he gets quite the jolt when he realizes that Leila has no idea he was the one who kissed the breath out of her. So instead of being upfront and confessing he was her man of mystery, he keeps it to himself, convinced that if they spend more time together Leila will realize that he is the one she's been searching for all along. Of course he also realizes that she will end up hating him even more when she finds out he was her ninja, but it's a risk he's willing to take.

True, it's a contrived plot, one that could have been solved quite easily, but what fun would that be? It works rather well to increase the incredible tension that has always existed between Marsh and Leila. I remember being blown away by the intensity Suz used with her characters even back then, and it showcases hints of her burgeoning talents as a writer. Keep in mind this story was released in '96, and look how far she's come since then. Without cutting her teeth on K & T, we would not have had Sam & Alyssa, or more recently, Max & Gina.

If you are a diehard SB fan, or if you've never read anything by Suz, I highly recommend this book. Even if you have read her books, I still recommend reading K & T. I loved it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kiss And Tell- A Joyfully Recommended Title May 6 2009
By MNix - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Leila Hunt left Sunrise Key behind her gladly many years ago and even though she comes back to visit often, that's about as much as she can take of the small community. Nothing is private on the Key - nothing, which drives Leila absolutely nuts and reminds her vividly why she left in the first place. However, this time the visit is aggravated by the fact that her brother Simon has another house guest - Marshall Devlin, one of Leila's most hated tormentors from her childhood. But when Leila finds herself looking for a masked man that gave her the most enchanting kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve, it leads Leila to rediscover all the enchanting aspects of life on the Key. It also leads Leila to look at Marsh in a new light, but will it be enough to bring her back to Sunrise Key?

Marshall Devlin arrived the first time at Sunrise Key a lost and lonely young boy from England. However, Simon Hunt turned to be his best friend and first ally during those tumultuous months, never mind that they became partners in crime torturing Leila over every possible thing. Still, over the years Marsh grew to love Sunrise Key as his home, so after becoming a doctor he returned to become the Key's sole doctor and sometimes veterinarian. But deep down Marsh has discovered that it will never feel fully like home until he can get Leila for his own, but will he be able to convince her that his feelings are real and not a prank?

Kiss and Tell is the first installment of the Sunrise Key trilogy and it's a spectacular beginning that will bring a smile to your face and remind you why you fell in love with romance novels in the first place. Suzanne Brockmann weaves a wonderful and touching tale of love grown from childhood taunting to passion as adults. The first time I read Kiss and Tell when it was originally published in 1996 it forever made me a lover of romance tales and revisiting now has only served to remind me why I love romance novels so much. Kiss and Tell is packed with passionate emotions that spark remembrances of that all consuming passion and happiness of feeling love returned or keeping alive the ideal of such a romance. Leila and Marsh are absolutely enchanting and are not to be missed, even if their romance is a little simple it's made all the sweeter for it. Pick up Kiss and Tell if you haven't before - it will make you a fan of Suzanne Brockmann and if you haven't read it before, get it for yourself to bring a measure of charm and romance into your life!

Sabella
Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cinderella with a twist Aug. 17 2009
By Dina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was a quick, nice and sweet read, but Marshall and Leila drove me crazy sometimes. They were both likable, but I felt like shaking some sense into them a couple of times.

Marshall was a typical beta hero: kind, responsible, decent, and nice all around. I enjoy a beta hero now and then, but I thought Marshall's gentleness went a little too far when he just stepped aside and let Leila go around town kissing hunk bachelors in search of her "ninja in shining armor", the mysterious man who had kissed her passionately at her brother's New Year's Eve costume party and then disappeared without a trace. Seriously, I couldn't understand why Marshall didn't tell her he was the ninja and put a stop to her wild goose chase.

Leila wasn't as nice as Marshall, and her prejudice against him didn't endear her to me. Okay, I could understand her teen jealousy when they first met and he became her brother's best friend, making her feel "excluded", but she was 30 years old now and it was past time she'd realized he wasn't the "bad guy". She did say some cruel things to Marshall, in the past and in the present, and he didn't deserve it. He understood and forgave her - after all, he's a beta hero - but I can't say I did.

Even considering the less than stellar H/h, Brockmann's writing kept me entertained and the story was cute. It had kind of a Cinderella "vibe" - not by accident, Leila was dressed as Cinderella at her brother's costume party - but the roles were reversed: instead of having the prince looking for his princess, it had Leila looking for "her ninja". It was a funny twist to the original fairy tale.
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