White House public relations assistant Joan DaCosta is assigned to coordinate with representatives from the Coronado Naval Base for a presidential visit. Lieutenant Mike Muldoon is tagged to be her liaison, providing her a tour, demonstrations involving the SEAL Teams and anything else she may need to finalize the plans for the visit. Mike may have movie star looks but the Teams consider him to be one of their most reliable and respected members. Joan thinks he looks like a kid and couldn’t possibly be one of those formidable SEALs she’s heard so much about. Mike, however, is quite taken with Joan and isn’t used to being the pursuer, especially going after someone who doesn’t quite take him seriously. Meanwhile, Sam Starrett’s wife Mary Lou is struggling in her marriage to a man who clearly isn’t invested. She’s forming friendships with neighbors and other acquaintances as an outlet to salve her loneliness and some may not be who they’ve represented themselves to be.
This was my second time around but my first on audio and the difference was remarkable. I listened to the original version with one narrator who delivered a strong performance but may have reshaped my opinion of Joan. I recall being annoyed at how dismissive she was with Mike because he seemed so young but this time she came across as bordering on cruel and a bit of a bully. I actually wanted him to give up on her but to his credit, Mike saw the essence of the woman and refused to give up on her, even though I did.
I appreciated getting more insight into Mary Lou, making her a much more sympathetic character but still with too many flaws for me to root for her. Her new relationships provided the suspense as it was clear that they had ulterior motives. She also didn’t win any awards for how she handled the aftermath. As with the earlier stories, there was another storyline about events from World War II involving Joan’s grandparents, Charlotte and Vince DaCosta whose histories I found engrossing and fascinating. I loved the way they connected to the SEALs and other aspects of the story.
Despite my issues with the Joan/Mike romance, I enjoyed the story because of the strength of the other storylines. And, listening to the book continues to elevate the reading experience as I’d forgotten a lot from my first time. It’s now much more memorable.
- Release Date: August 29, 2006 (originally 2002)
- Series: Troubleshooters #5
- Narrator: Deborah Hazlett
- Audio Length: 15 hours, 57 minutes
- Publisher: BBC Audiobooks of America