Monday, September 21, 2020

Audible Review Rival's Break Interview with author Carla Neggers

Today I welcome one of my all time favorite authors, Carla Neggers who I first met when I became her RT (Romantic Times) reviewer and I fell in love with her storytelling and this romantic suspense, Sharpe and Donovan series staring her FBI husband and wife duo Colin Donovan and Emma Sharpe. After you read our conversation be sure and see what I thought of the latest in her series, Rival's Break. Usually it doesn't take me a year to read one of her books, in fact usually I have them read and reviewed before they release but last year our house flooded and well we all know how much of a challenge 2020 has been. Better late than never right!

ISBN-13: 9781488206689

Publisher: Harlequin Audio

Release Date: 8-27-2019

Length: 9hours 16minuites

Source: Purchase Audible

Buy It: Audible



A deadly poisoning, a stolen painting and a criminal mastermind challenge the skills of FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan as never before in their latest high-stakes case. New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers has crafted a gripping novel of international intrigue and suspense not to be missed.

Emma Sharpe is recovering from a shattering loss while her husband, Colin Donovan, is deep into his latest undercover mission. So they’re grateful to enjoy a peaceful autumn weekend together on the southern Maine coast to celebrate Colin’s brother Andy’s wedding.

But the peace is short-lived when Kevin Donovan, a marine patrol officer, receives a call to check on suspected food poisoning at a party aboard a yacht. Colin decides to tag along. He is surprised to recognize one of the victims as an undercover British intelligence officer, and it quickly becomes evident they’re dealing with something very sinister. At the same time a valuable painting by Irish artist Aoife O’Byrne—a friend of Emma and Colin’s—is missing from the yacht, and the connections make the investigation international and extremely personal.

Emma and Colin discover they are up against a deadly foe who plans to strike again. With the help of HIT, their small, elite Boston-based FBI team, they must foil an attack that will have devastating effects. It’s a case that will alter their lives beyond anything they’ve ever imagined…

My Interview with Carla:


Carla Hi. Welcome back to The Reading Frenzy to chat about your Sharpe & Donovan series and Rival’s Break.
First I’m sorry that it took me so long to get to this wonderful novel but these last two years have been challenging  to say the least. When I noticed that I had missed this one I decided to buy the audible edition and LOVED it! Susan Boyce does a great job.
Did you have any hand in the decision making for the narrator and does she narrate the entire series?
Susan Boyce is fantastic! She narrates the Swift River Valley series. This is her first Sharpe & Donovan. I did have a say, yes.

The series takes place all over the world but Colin and Emma are based in Maine. I know that you are a born and bred New Englander. How far from their little village are you from?
We’re two-to-three hours hours from the southern Maine coast. It’s an easy, beautiful drive. We love Maine!

The secondary characters are many and legendary, one of my favorites is Father Finian Bracken. His backstory is tragic yet he perseveres. And in this novel I felt a shift in his mindset. Do you have plans for our priest in future novels?
The elusive Finian Bracken! I hear from readers who want him to leave the priesthood and fall in love again, and from readers who want him to remain a priest. All I know is he has a mind of his own as a character.

Also the series is full of family dynamics on both the Sharpe and Donovan sides, but mostly with the Donovans because of their sheer number.  But Emma is the only female sibling in both families.
Was this by choice?
Emma is what I think of as an “organic” character, meaning she came to me through writing about her rather than through constructing her. It felt right that she’s the only female, as well as a former nun.

This is number 9 in the series and I personally hope it goes on and on, staying on the subject of the future of the series. Do you already know what the future holds for each of your characters or are you surprised by them as the series continues?
I’m often surprised. I do have plans for more Sharpe & Donovan tales so we shall see!

As with all of your novels in this series I had no clue whodunit until you decided to lift the wool from our eyes. Do you have the novels pretty mapped out from the get go or do you occasionally get blindsided by a character, scene or outcome?
I rarely have everything figured out from the get go. Strike that. I never do! I usually have what I think of as the “big rocks” of the story at least in my head. Things can and do change as I get into the writing. It’s part of the fun and excitement for me as a writer.

 Another favorite secondary character is Oliver York, he grew on me as you uncovered his many layers and yet when he first appeared I didn’t care for him. Is there a character who was left on the cutting room floor because you just couldn’t make him/her work for you?
Oh, great question. I have a villain that didn’t make it to the page. That might yet happen, though. I have a few characters I keep thinking will get their own story or we’ll revisit. Ivan Alexander in Heron’s Cove is one. Then there’s Sam Padgett. I love his sense of humor. Will he stay in the frozen north or head back to Texas? (Oh yes please for both of those characters)

Carla people may not know but I used to be your reviewer for RT (Romantic Times) book reviews, they unfortunately closed up shop several years ago and left many romance authors feeling their loss because it was the one place where it was all romance all the time. In fact the entire industry has gone through a seismic shift with digital, self-publishing etc… but enough time has passed where the new normal is feeling more comfortable. Did you go through a period of unease too?
I miss RT! I know a lot of authors do. I was at their first conference as a young writer. Publishing has gone through many changes since I sold my first books but none as seismic, as you put it, as the past decade or so. One thing that hasn’t changed: I love to write now as much as did when I climbed a tree with a pad and pen as a kid. 

Speaking of the new normal I think this year definitely fits in that category and I hope that you and your family are well and untouched by Covid19. Has the pandemic kept you from planned travels?
We’re doing well, thanks. I hope you and your family are, too. We postponed trips to Ireland and to visit my cousins in the Netherlands (my father was Dutch) but we’ll get there soon. We’re fortunate to be able to spend time with your young grandchildren. 

Carla thank you so much for chatting with me today. When does the next Shape and Donovan novel come out?
Thank you, Debbie. Always a pleasure. My schedule is off this year but stay tuned!

And what about the next installment in your Swift River Valley series when can fans look forward to it?
Same answer! I’m filled with ideas and writing, writing, writing. Thanks again for the great chat, and best wishes to you and your family as we get ready for winter. Great to have books, isn’t it? Happy reading!

My Review:

Rival’s Break
Carla Neggers

Neggers brings fans another intense FBI thriller starring her fabulous married duo of Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan plus a fabulous cast of costars, a few specific to this story but most are series regulars. The plot is interesting and steady paced, the backdrops both on the wild coast of Maine and in Ireland are breathtaking and while she’s keeping readers up to date on her series character’s goings on Carla will dangle her clues for her audience and keep readers guessing whodunit until she decides to reveal. It’s not necessary to read this series in order as the mystery is unique to this novel and Carla does a good job filling in backstory musts but for readers who like the whole picture reading in order is the way to go.

Susan Boyce does a good job with the narration, her voice is bell clear and she skillfully plays both male and female parts and recites the emotions perfectly.


Emma Sharpe and her husband Colin Donovan were hoping for a short break at home in Maine from their demanding FBI jobs plus Emma is still mourning the death of her father and Colin needs a much needed respite from his latest undercover assignment. Unfortunately their break is short lived when a yacht full of people get sick from apparent food poisoning and one of the passengers is not the art expert he’s pretending to be but a British Intelligence officer. Then a valuble painting goes missing and something is definitely fishy and too coincidental when two friends from across pond one MI5 agent and one former art thief show up saying they came to town for a visit. Not Likely!

About Carla:
Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sharpe and Donovan series featuring Boston-based FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan and the Swift River Valley series set in small-town New England. With many bestsellers to her credit, Carla and her husband divide their time between their hilltop home in Vermont, their kids' places in Boston and various inns, hotels and hideaways on their travels, frequently to Ireland. Learn more at


  1. I really do like this author, I will have to make sure and add this one to the pile as well!

  2. I remember reading this one, you are bringing it all back. I love the family aspect of this book and I laughed at CN's comment about Finian Bracken. Looking forward to the next one.

    1. Yes I am too and I love Finian and am hoping he makes some big decisions in the near future

  3. I have never read Neggers, but she sounds good