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Friends on Both Sides of the Law

Charlene Johnson

Charlene Johnson Author Interview

Blown Away follows a homicide detective tasked with solving a murder at his friends hotel when things quickly go awry. What were some sources that influenced this thrilling crime story?

Blown Away is part of a multi-author book series. The series was to take place in Las Vegas and the theme was to include casinos and/or crime/organized crime and four male friends. Each book was to focus on one friend and incorporate one or more of the other friends from the series.

Zack is a compelling character that I enjoyed watching develop as the novel progressed. What were some themes that were important to capture in his character?

One of the character suggestions for the series was someone in law enforcement. I chose a police detective with some personal baggage, a strong sense of justice and friends on both sides of the law.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

The action scenes were a challenge. I wanted it to be fast-paced and for the action to flow effectively. I had to do research on weapons and security systems to ensure those scenes were realistic.

This is book two in The Crimes of Passion Series. What can readers expect in book three?

True Lies, Book 3 by Stephanie Nicole has been released.

I plan on writing another book in the series in 2021. The main character will be Sasha Petrov. Even before finishing Blown Away, I knew I wanted to write Sasha’s story.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookFacebook GroupFacebook PageInstagramWebsite | Sterling Woods Series

Zack Daniels grew up in a rundown apartment complex off the Las Vegas Strip. At an early age, he learned to protect and support his mother and sister with determination and grit. After his sister is raped by the son of a local Russian mobster and commits suicide, he joins the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police to seek justice for her and to protect the public.

When a high-profile executive is murdered in his best friend’s hotel, Zack is assigned to track down the killer. The sole witness to the murder is a beautiful high-priced escort. He must let go of his vendetta against his sister’s rapist to work the case.

Sonnet Banks goes to the wrong hotel room and witnesses a murder. She is stunned. She knows the killer. He’s someone from her past. Someone she hoped to never see again.

During her police interview, Sonnet tells Zack she doesn’t recognize the killer, but Zack is convinced she’s lying. Zack needs the lovely, evasive woman to tell him what she knows and is willing to use seduction to get it. Yet, was it still seduction when all he could do was think about her?

Zack Daniels is so hot he makes Sonnet’s knees weak. He checks every box for her. Every box. But even if he wasn’t her protector, she can’t risk getting close to him or anyone. And she can’t tell him the truth.

After a bold attempt on Sonnet’s life, Zack enlists the help of two close friends and someone completely unexpected to protect her. The countdown to an all-out war looms before them. Would they all survive? Time was running out.

Blown Away

Blown Away (The Crimes of Passion Series Book 2) by [Charlene Johnson]

Blown Away (The Crimes of Passion Series Book 2) by Charlene Johnson is a romantic suspense thriller about Zackary Daniels, a homicide detective in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police who also works as a security consultant at a hotel owned by his friend, where his past suddenly collides with his present. When a murder occurs at the Majestic Peacock Hotel and Casino, Zack must set aside his personal search for revenge in order to focus on his current case–discovering the identity of the killer and protecting the beautiful witness, Sonnet Banks. But Sonnet is not what she appears, and she’s not ready to reveal the secrets from her past. Can Zack gain her trust and stop the hit-man before he kills again?

I enjoyed thoroughly reading this book, but I had trouble getting into the story at the beginning. I felt that there were too many characters introduced in the first few pages (almost a dozen names were mentioned), and I struggled to keep them all straight. There were times when I had to go back and check who someone was when they were mentioned again because I couldn’t remember the details of that particular character. Part of the issue might have been that there was a lot of backstory explained all at once. I appreciated the detailed narrative of past events as it created an intricate and well throughout world, but it slowed the pace of the story prior to Sonnet witnessing the murder.

After this point the story accelerates with a consistently fast pace, engaging characters, and a gripping plot. I liked the surprises that were revealed about Sonnet’s character, which weren’t what I had been expecting and added much welcomed dimension to an already stand out character. There were several other unexpected twists in the story which kept things interesting and far from being your standard crime thriller. Charlene Johnson was able to make me care about Sasha Petrov, who seemed completely beyond redemption when we’re first introduced to him at the beginning of the story. But by the end of the book, when the truth about what really happened to Zack’s sister had finally been revealed, I wanted to read more about Sasha, and I was even hoping that there will be another story with him as the hero.

With well defined characters thrown into the middle of a perilous situation things naturally take off and go in unexpected directions. Anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller will find plenty to like.

Pages: 224 | ASIN: B087NSZJRG

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The Sterling Wood Series

Charlene Johnson Author Interview

Charlene Johnson Author Interview

Homecoming follow Lily as she goes back to her small hometown where she discovers that someone is out to kill her. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

I grew up in a small town in Southwestern Pennsylvania and had relatives and friends that worked in the coal mines. Everyone knew each other , and it was a nice place to grow up. When I decided to write a Romantic Suspense, I thought it would be fun to create a small town and a storyline located in that area.

Lily was an intriguing character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

I drew very loosely from my own life for Lily’s character. The town where I grew up was predominantly white. There was a small group of black families living in town, and I was related to most of them in one way or another. In the local cemetery, blacks were buried separately from whites for the most part. After attending college and working for a few years in town, I wanted to see more of the country and advance in my career. There wasn’t much opportunity for upward mobility in my field of study. I took a job with the federal government, moved to California, and thirty-six years later, I still live there.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was it planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

I’m a plotter, not pantser. I had the main storyline before I started writing. I planned to write a standalone, but as I developed some secondary characters, I thought they had stories of their own. Thus, why I decided to write a series. I’m planning five books in the series, but who knows? I created two other local towns while writing Homecoming that will play a role in the other books in the series.

This is book one in your Sterling Woods series. What can readers expect in book two?

I’m currently finishing up the 5th book in my paranormal romance series, Circle of the Red Scorpion. I will immediately start working on Changing the Rules, Book 2 in the Sterling Wood Series, and hope to have it done in the late 3rd quarter of this year.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookFacebook GroupFacebook PageInstagramWebsite | Sterling Woods Series

Lily Sommers reluctantly returns to Sterling Wood to attend her Uncle Jimmy’s funeral – a town she left years ago.

Sterling Wood holds painful memories she’s tried to forget.  One, in particular, is still raw and every time she returns pulls the scab off a wound that will not heal – Luc Pearson, the handsome high school sweetheart who betrayed her.

Seeing Luc again isn’t the only problem she has to face in Sterling Wood.  Someone is trying to kill her, and she doesn’t know why. 

She soon learns shocking revelations that could change the course of her life as a ruthless killer stalks her. Will the people closest to her be able to save her?

Things like that aren’t supposed to happen in Sterling Wood.

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Homecoming

Homecoming (The Sterling Woods Series Book 1) by [Charlene Johnson]

For Lily, a high school heartbreak had given her few reasons to be fond of seeing her hometown, and trips to Sterling Wood were as short and infrequent as she could manage. All that changed quickly, though, with the death of her Uncle Jimmy. Suddenly reconciled with her high school sweetheart while dealing with her grief, Lily becomes involved in a mystery with decades old origins, and twists that will change almost everything she knows about her family. Unshakable love, senseless murder, and shocking secrets will all be uncovered to rattle the small town of Sterling Wood.

Homecoming by Charlene Johnson is equal parts enduring love story and twisted murder mystery. Sterling Wood is depicted as the typical small town, full of people who are happy to stay and continue the status quo. Lily is the one who made it out, becoming a successful photographer with her own business and high profile clients. Her short trips home to visit family are in large part a means of avoiding Luc, the high school love who broke her heart. When she has to return for her uncle’s funeral however, she knows it will be a longer visit, and soon, years of misunderstanding are washed away and the two are an item again. It only takes a little longer than that before it becomes clear that someone has malicious feelings toward both Lily and her family.

Love, family, and maybe more accurately, what makes a person family, are the themes that are constantly revisited throughout the book. The idea of a small town that breeds intense friendships and well as deep seeded resentments is a common one, and Johnson does well to create her own version of it here. She uses a variety of concepts that can be found often, but infuses enough originality and backstory to keep it fresh.

The book quickly delves into an engaging and well thought out mystery. Many of the characters represent common personality tropes. While Lily is presented as fiercely independent and successful, it quickly becomes clear that most, if not all, of her motivations are driven solely by her past issues with Luc. Even when she returns to Sterling Wood and begins to uncover her family history, Luc stands as more of a driving force. I felt the the other characters in the book were interesting and well developed in comparison to Lily.

The compelling mystery at the heart of this enchanting novel kept me turning pages and I was very eager to find out the next twist. Although I would have enjoyed a deeper dive into Lily’s character, the big reveal at the end was well worth the read.

Pages: 270 | ASIN: B085SZP4B1

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