Award-winning, USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J Stewart writes sweet to sexy romances for Harlequin and ARC Manor’s CAEZIK (Kay-Zehk) Romance. Her sweet Harlequin Heartwarming books include the Butterfly Harbor series as well as the ongoing Blackwell continuity series. She also writes the Honor Bound series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense and has contributed to the bestselling Coltons. Her Circle of the Red Lily romantic suspense series, published by CAEZIK, will launch with EXPOSED in November of 2022.
Q: What inspired you to create the story for the final book in the “Honor Bound Series”?
Anna: This final book in the “Honor Bound Series” evolved. I wanted it to be Eaman’s story, appearing first in Gone in The Night, book three. When I ended the series, I wanted to go full circle with this book eight. Since book three he has made appearances in all the books. It made sense to me to make his love interest someone he knew but could not get involved with because she was married.
Q: Could you delve into the character traits that make Eaman stand out in your series?
Anna: Honorable, protective, loyal, calm, and confidant. He is somewhat lost, questioning his own motivations as to why he still is an FBI Agent. He specializes in child abductions and child killings.
Q: Lana plays a pivotal role in the story. How would you characterize her?
Anna: Lana is the one who really guides the story. She can kick butt. She was an alcoholic but is now ninety days sober. Determined, skittish, stubborn, with a lot of inner strength. She makes poor decisions.
Q: What motivated you to explore the theme of alcoholism in Lana’s character?
Anna: I made her newly sober. An alcoholic is always an alcoholic. I wanted her to be in a place where a relationship is not an impossibility, but she must be careful to take care of herself. I wanted to write a character with substance abuse for quite a while. For this romantic suspense it added an extra layer.
Q: Can you talk about the dynamics of the relationship that develops in your story?
Anna: She comes back into his life after her husband died eighteen months before. Lana has burned bridges because of her grief. He is the only person she can trust. Lana is an interesting counterbalance to him. He wants something more than work and darkness.
Q: What was the genesis for your other novel, “Vanished” in the “Red Lily Series”?
Anna: It is book two in the series. Exposed was the first book that ended with the heroine in Vanished, Mabel, having her sister disappeared eight years ago. I wanted to write a book where she experiences the loss of her identical twin sister but without any answers. There is a bit of a cliff hanger.
Q: In “Vanished,” Mabel is a central character. How would you describe her?
Anna: A single mom to an eight-year-old daughter, born at the same time her sister disappeared. She lives in an apartment building with four of her best friends, trying to help her what happened to her sister. She is going through a lot of emotional traumas. She is spiraling downward after Sylvie was tragically murdered. She is trying to deal with her emotions of anger, sadness, and frustration to find answers. Logically she knows Sylvie is dead but has a slimmer of hope she is alive.
Q: Sylvie’s presence in Mabel’s dreams is intriguing. What significance does this have in the story?
Anna: My editor is a twin. I read a lot and talked to them about the psychological connection of identical twins. She is part ghost and so much a part of Mabel. There is this inherent connection. Readers can think of Sylvie as a dream, ghost, and/or Mabel’s self-conscious. I hope they consider her as an actual character in the book.
Q: How do Mabel and Sylvie differ as characters?
Anna: Mabel is practical, level-headed, logical, haunted, determined, and energetic. Sylvie was a dreamer, the romantic one, and happy. She chased the dream of stardom in Los Angeles. She always persevered.
Q: Paul Flynn is another key character. How would you describe him?
Anna: He grew up in Los Angeles and has always hated it. He is charming, kind, empathetic, tender with a little attitude. He is a high-profile DA which comes with a lot of confidence. I liked playing with the dynamic that depending on who he is in contact with he has some different personality traits. He is very good at adapting to different situations and handling different types of people. He thinks quickly on his feet.
Q: Can you share some insights into the relationship dynamics in the novel?
Anna: Paul and Mabel have an instant connection. He sees in Mabel someone who really needs answers.
Q: What can readers expect from your upcoming books?
Anna: Book three picks up a couple of weeks after Vanished ends. The epilogue of Vanished has a cliff hanger. The titled is Buried out in November. This will be the story of Dr. Cassia Davis, a forensic expert. She is has not left her apartment in four years, but the hero is hired as her eyes and ears.
The next book is the third book in my “Hawaiian Reunion series,” titled Surprise Second Chance. The plot has a single father who is dealing with some custody issues of his children with his ex. He needs to find the work-home balance. He is given the opportunity to reconnect with his high school sweetheart living in Hawaii.
A Detective’s Deadly Secrets by Anna J. Steward is sadly the last in the series. The hero is FBI Agent Eaman Quinn, someone readers should be familiar with. He is reunited with a former girlfriend, Lana Tate. She is searching for answers surrounding her late husband’s death but needs his help. Together they work the case and become reacquainted.
Vanished is the second book in the “Red Lily series.” It features single mother Mabel Reynolds who wants to find answers regarding her twin sister’s disappearance. When new revelations shed light on what may have happened not only to her twin, Sylvie, but dozens of other women, Mabel hopes to find answers. New to the case is Assistant DA Paul Flynn who is willing to listen to her concerns and to investigate the case. Even allowing Mabel and her friends to add their input. As they get closer to finding what happened their lives become endangered. As they work together there is an instant attraction which complicates matters further.
Both these books have a riveting suspenseful story with some romance. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they won’t want to put these books down.