Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Hank Phillipi Ryan | The Many Secrets Of Drive Time

February 1, 2010


Okay, I see you all leaning forward…she’s going to tell us something big, you’re thinking. A secret. And yes yes yes, we can keep it.


What if—all you had to do was tell, and it would change your life? Would keeping the secret as you promised be more important? Or would you be tempted… What if—all you had to do was tell the secret—and you would be a huge success? And what if—you really thought telling my secret would make someone else’s life better? Would it be more important to keep your promise to me? Or to tell for the greater good?

Okay, I don’t have a secret. (Not that I’m going to tell you today, at least.) But secrets are at the heart of mystery, and certainly at the heart of romance. Right?

How many times have you wondered just how much you can really share—or SHOULD really share— with that amazing guy across from you at the restaurant table? And haven’t you wondered exactly what he’s keeping from you? Or curled up, cozy, propped up on pillows with just a downy quilt over the two of you…what have you been tempted to divulge? Or not?

If your loved one asks: “can you keep a secret”– what do you say?

And if you know a secret do you tell your significant other? When you say—oh, I’ll never tell—does he/she count? And in that floating time just before—or after,–um….when it seems like its only the two of you. What would you tell then?

And it’s not just in your personal life, of course. How about on the job? As a TV reporter for the past 30 years, keeping things confidential is the hallmark of my work. There; are things I’ve been told that I can never reveal. Sources have divulged documents and reports and financial information and medical info, but where it all came from, I can never tell.

When you hear some juicy gossip at work…and you know you’ve got to keep it confidential—can you do it?

And what happens when the secrets of your personal life (and we all have them, including my main character TV reporter Charlotte McNally and the secrets of your professional life (and we all have them, including Charlie McNally) are coming together on a deadly collision course?

In this excerpt from DRIVE TIME, Charlie and her brand new fiancé are asleep in Josh’s bedroom. At least, Josh is asleep. Charlie is wondering what her life will be like when she leaves her home on Boston’s chic Beacon Hill and move sin with her dishy prep-school professor husband. And then—it turns out Josh is having a difficult night, too.

“Sweets?” Josh whispers. “You asleep?”

“Not one bit,” I say. “I’m trying, but not terribly successfully. My brain won’t turn off. Nor will the rest of me, thanks to you.” I turn to face him, eyes open again, smiling with possibility, glad for a good excuse to be awake. I’ll just be tired tomorrow. It’s happened before. I expect Josh to reach out for me, but his expression is—concerned? And why are his glasses back on? My Josh-radar pings into the red.

“What?” I ask. “What’s wrong?”

“Can you keep a secret?” he says. He’s still on his back, hands clasped over his chest, head turned to watch me.

I sit up, yanking the comforter over me, and twist around to look down on him, assessing. Can I keep a secret? What kind of a question is that?

“Um, keeping a secret, that’s the reporter’s credo, right?” I smile, trying for adorable-cheerful. Maybe I’ve misread his mood. I squint at the digital alarm clock. It’s hard to be perceptive at 3:34 AM. “Confidential sources stay confidential?”

(Josh tells Charlie she has to keep this to herself—but there have been some threatening phone calls coning in to he school where Josh teaches. Charlie’s an investigative reporter for a Boston TV station, and she thinks this could be a big story. Josh says his boss ordered him not to tell any one. But he’s trusting his new fiancée.)

“I don’t agree with him, but he’s the boss. “ Josh says. “And that’s why I asked you about keeping a secret. You can, right?”

Silence has never been so noisy. How do I answer that? For the past twenty years, my loyalties have been only to journalism. I stare at my engagement ring again. Somehow, now, the glitter contains a bit of a taunt. Who’d have imagined a continental divide in the middle of a king-sized TempurPedic?

“I’m just thinking,” I begin. “It’s my responsibility as a journalist to investigate what people are trying to hide. Right?”

Josh’s turn on the tightrope. Are his loyalties to me? To his boss? This is a discussion we’ve never needed to have. Now we’re having it in the middle of the night, naked, and when I kind of have to go to the bathroom.

“Wrong,” Josh says.

I shiver, though it’s not cold. I need to let him continue. I need to hear this.

“Wrong,” he says again. “Because it’s your job to—to wait. Until you have all the facts. And we don’t have any facts. I told you something in confidence.”

He turns to me, face softening, then picks up my hand, twisting the diamond on my finger. “We’re not source and reporter here, sweets. We’re almost husband and wife.”

He’s right. But I’m right. Is there a right?

In DRIVE TIME, Charlie is torn between her loyalties to her fiancé, her new daughter, her job, her career, her future and her dreams…can Charlie really have it all? Can anyone? And perhaps, as DRIVE TIME explores—maybe the real secret of a secret—is knowing when to tell.

So—when is it right to tell a secret? Ever? Are you faithful as a tomb when it comes to keeping our mouth shut? Have you ever told a secret—and regretted it? Have you ever KEPT a secret-and regretted it?

Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston’s NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine working with Hunter S. Thompson.

Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. It was also was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, a DAPHNE nominee, a TOP PICK and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner. FACE TIME (August 2009) and AIR TIME (Sept. 2009) are IMBA bestsellers. DRIVE TIME is out February 1 from MIRA Books.

Her website is

To comment for a chance to win please click here.

GIVEAWAY! The choice of any one of Hank’s Charlie McNally series—to five lucky commenters! And one grand prize winner get the first three books–plus a terrific limited edition black canvas tote bag.


  • Hank Phillippi Ryan February 1, 2010 at 11:37 am

    HI all! Hope you'll let me know how you feel about secrets!

    Let's say someone was going to give you a surprise party–would you rather have someone tell you?

  • Lil February 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    That is quite the sticky dilemma your characters are given.

    An innocuous secret like the surprise party would not be something I would feel a need for someone to tell me. But if my boyfriend or husband were cheating on me or my child were using drugs, someone might not wish to be the one to say. However, those issues would be ones I would want to be made aware of in order to change or intervene or help.