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Featured Selections for This Month
Hello. I’m Dixie Brown. Thanks for joining me Between the Chapters. Today I’d like to introduce you to an American hero. I’ll be interviewing Lieutenant Commander Blake Sorenson, Navy SEAL, retired. He’s not a big fan of reporters, but that’s okay. I’m not really a reporter. I’m an author…of romantic suspense to be exact. The Lieutenant Commander is visiting fresh from the opening pages of FOR THE LOVE OF A SEAL. He’s not a huge fan of romance either, but, hopefully, we’ll be able to learn what makes the man tick. Here he is now.
Welcome, Lieutenant Commander. I’m glad you could make it today.
I’m not in the Navy anymore, so the fancy title isn’t necessary. Please, call me Blake.
All right, Blake. Have a seat and we’ll dive right in. How long were you a Navy SEAL and why did you quit?
(He flicks me a warning glance and mumbles something under his breath.) As you know, I didn’t exactly quit. After fifteen years, eight months and twelve days serving my country, my helicopter was hit by rocket fire. The mission was successful, but the Blackhawk didn’t make it. Shortly after that, I was medically discharged.
You seem to have recovered from your injuries quite well. I mean, you look strong, you’re in great shape and there are no visible scars. It was your leg, right? Didn’t your doctors think your only option was amputation? How is it you’re walking today with barely a detectable limp?
(He shrugs.) SEALs become SEALs because they don’t give up. Ever. I lost count of the number of times I could have come home in a body bag if I’d given up. Sometimes the only difference between life and death is deciding you’re not going to die today. I made the decision I was walking out of that hospital, and the doomsday doctors could either help me or get out of my way.
Just that simple?
I never said it was easy. Nothing worth fighting for is.
Did you fight for your marriage when your wife said she was leaving? (An instant chill in the air tells me I should have phrased that question better.)
(His chocolate-colored gaze pierces me even as a humorless smile touches his lips.) I see. No topic is sacred in spite of previous assurances. (He leans toward me and lowers his voice.) I trust you remember where the line is drawn?
(There’s no mistaking the promise of reprisal, and I nod my understanding.)
Celine was never meant to be a military wife—especially a SEAL’s wife. She was alone too much. There were so many things I couldn’t tell her. Would never tell her even if I could. Before long, there was nothing left for us to talk about. We became strangers. When I came home seriously injured, that was the deal breaker. The kindest thing I could do for her—for both of us—was let her go. A warrior learns to pick his battles.
(His openness forms a lump in my throat.) And now? Is there someone special in your life?
(He barks a laugh.) All women are special, and I meet my fair share. I’m not looking for a soulmate—if there even is such a thing outside of the greeting card industry. I guess you could say I learned my lesson the hard way. Forever is a fairy tale.
But… (He lifts an eyebrow, and I swallow the rest of my argument.) What is it that attracts you to a woman?
Confidence and a genuine smile. But red stilettos close the deal every time.
(His dark eyes sparkle with amusement as he gauges my reaction.) Moving on, what is your deepest regret in life?
(A shadow crosses his face.) The fighting men and women I couldn’t save. Not a day goes by I don’t remember…
(I wait for him to continue, but when he doesn’t, I change the subject.) What are you most proud of?
My kid brother, Christian. He’s a friggin’ inspiration.
(Surprise that he would mention his brother draws my gaze to his. The vulnerability is plain to see, beneath the I-dare-you mask. He’d made it clear from the start—he doesn’t answer questions about his brother. Christian is the reason Blake has no use for reporters. Suddenly, I realize the trust he’s given me.)
Your brother is a lucky guy, Blake. What do you say we stop right there and finish this off the record, maybe over a drink?
(He stands and offers his arm with a chivalrous gesture, a grin cutting a friendly swath across his face.) Now we’re talking my language. The rest of the story can wait.
Books We Can’t Wait to Share – Staff Picks
Reviewed by Alex
When you work on over 600 books every year, it’s hard to decide exactly what you want to read. And sometimes you know what you want to read, but there still aren’t enough hours in the day to actually get through all those pages. That was the story of me and Charlie Donlea’s books SUMMIT LAKE and THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN. I had heard from almost everyone I work with how absolutely fantastic Charlie’s writing is and how excellent his books are. So, finally, when the ARCs of DON’T BELIEVE IT arrived in my office, I knew it was the time to jump in. And once I jumped in, there was no stopping me…
Every day on the train, I would tear through as many pages as I could so that I could see what happened next, find out the true identity of the killer, see if justice would prevail. The writing was so lyrical, the imagery so expertly depicted—I knew why everyone had been recommending Charlie’s books for so long. I could see why they’d received so many wonderful reviews. Not only is the mystery expertly crafted, but the language is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying—taking you into the heart of a twisted killer.
DON’T BELIEVE IT is real edge-of-your-seat suspense, with a truly shocking ending that will stay with you…and if you’re anything like me, it will leave you angry, questioning everything, and so happy that you picked up a book by an author who would take a chance, turning thriller tropes and expectations on their heads. I love a book that doesn’t give you what you expect as a reader—an author who will leave you in disbelief. Charlie Donlea has done that with DON’T BELIEVE IT. Pick up your copy…don’t waste time waiting like I did!
Reviewed by Lulu
Like millions of people all across America I binge watch crime docudramas. I watched them all with obsession and curiosity, I stayed up late at night listening to the latest podcast about someone falsely accused of a crime, I’ve been late to appointments because I needed to watch just one more episode.
So when I heard that Charlie Donlea’s new book was a thriller that explores the dark side of docudramas I was hooked. I got my hands on the manuscript and read it in one weekend, and trust me, I didn’t see the end coming.
In Don’t Believe It we follow Sydney Ryan, a crime series TV producer, as she investigates the case of a young med student convicted of murdering her boyfriend while on vacation in Saint Lucia ten years earlier. Sydney’s TV show airs weekly, and she’s rushing to keep up with it, flying from New York to the scene of the murder on the island resort. But America is watching her documentary and public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. And as the show reaches its final episode Sydney receives a letter saying that she got it terrible wrong. Is Sydney working to free an innocent woman, or has she been drawn into a sinister game?
Now you see why I couldn’t put down the book. And if you are fan of shows likeEvil Genius and The Keepers, or podcasts like In The Dark and Up & Vanished, you will love this book. Because Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea is filled with breathtaking twists and high tension – the perfect summer suspense.
Reviewed by Michaela
If you’re a true-crime fan like me, you’re probably already aware that love triangles can be fatal, right? But some love triangles are deadlier than others. In WHERE MONSTERS HIDE, New York Times bestselling author M. William Phelps reveals the true story of a love triangle in which two of the three parties were killed by the third. At the heart of the story is a heartless woman, Kelly Cochran, who has been convicted of killing both her husband and her lover. Ruthless and manipulative, Kelly played a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with authorities, until dedicated law enforcement experts brought her to justice. Women who kill have always fascinated me, and in this case M. William Phelps has identified the ultimate female predator. Get ready to be shocked by what you’ll learn in this mesmerizing book.