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 this storyline?
Anna: I came up with the idea that “The Bourne Identity” meets “The Hangover.” I wanted to think outside the box and do some unusual twists and turns. The heroine, Darcy, appeared in a previous book so I knew she would be the featured character.
Q: Why did you choose to portray antagonists within the US Military?
Anna: I also had the hero who was in Army Intelligence. He is a very devoted military man. The biggest betrayal for him is someone he trusts complicity. He had put his life in the hands of someone who he thought he could trust and now it is someone he is not safe with as they turned on him.
Q: Can you explain the significance of Darcy’s profession in water rescue?
Anna: I never did go into freezing water. I have a water phobia and an issue with flying. I wanted my heroine with these as a fun challenge. The fear is based on having no control. She came on the page in book 2 of this series, being a part of the emergency water rescue team who recovered a body. People who do it for a living get used to going into freezing water and controlling their physical reaction.
Q: Could you provide some insights into Riordan’s character?
Anna: He is an interesting character to write because he cannot remember exactly who he is, instead living on his instincts. Riordan is honorable, determined, and protective. But he is also intense, strong, considerate, an alpha male who can be stubborn. He is on a journey of discovery as his memory comes back. I like exploring the aspect that even though his memory is lost his instincts are still there.
Q: How would you portray Darcy’s character?
Anna: Quirky, loyal, entertaining, sometimes inappropriate with little to no filter. She likes to jump in and help. She is also adaptable, charming, with a sense of humor. She does not care what anyone else thinks about her. Darcy goes with the flow.
Q: It seems Darcy played a more protective role towards Riordan. Was this intentional?
Anna: Yes. He had to have some kind of limit. He could not be a loner since he had no way of getting around, no ID, no cell phone, and no support. He was not willing to ask for help. But Darcy does not have to be asked, she just comes in and takes over. Part of why I made her profession water rescue is that she saves people’s lives and jumps into dangerous situations.
Q: Could you delve into the dynamics of their relationship?
Anna: Because they were in a life and death situation they bonded. It either will go flash-bang-boom-and its over or it creates feelings that are steady. The two of them found their Yin to the other’s Yang, balancing each other out. They understand and trust each other. They both are willing to step out on a ledge while holding each other’s hand.
Q: What’s the story behind the unique nicknames they use for each other?
Anna: You are referring to her saying, “Lancelot Sword,” and he calls her the “Red-headed Mermaid.” I wanted to use comic book hero analogies, but I am not allowed to do it with this publisher because of intellectual property trademark issues. I must be a little creative by ‘saying it without saying it.’
Q: Is the Medallion Hotel inspired by any real-life hotel in Vegas?
Anna: Not really. I created the hotel that I would like to walk through. I wanted to have some rooms with carpet and some with marble including the lobby. I had the suites accented with gold, black, and red. There was a lagoon pool, a square pool, and a waterfall with a koi pond. The hotel had gateways leading to gambling, eating, and entertainment. I do not gamble and am not a big concert person but do like all the different hotel themes.
Q: Can you share a bit about your upcoming books?
Anna: A sweet romance just came out, A Sweet Surprise Island Wedding. In October there is a collection of stories from different authors about Christmas romances. In November will be book two in my “Red Lily Series,” a darker romantic suspense where the heroine is trying to get answers about what happened to her sister eight years before.
In December there will be the final book in this series, featuring Eamon Quinn who was the FBI Agent that made an appearance in this story. It is titled, A Detective’s Deadly Secrets. There is a character that comes into the final book, and he will be the spinoff character for a new series of four books.
Deadly Vegas Escapade by Anna Stewart is a great suspenseful whodunit tinged with romance. What makes the story interesting is how Stewart shows the good side and the bad side to those serving. The hero is of course a military man, but as with some in the military there are those who sell their souls for money.
The plot begins with a car chase where Army Intelligence officer Riordan Malloy is forced off the road and into a freezing river. Luckily for him Darcy Ford, a member of the local water rescue team as well as a swim instructor, sees someone drowning in the river. She plunges in and saves him. Realizing he has no memory of his identity she allows him to recover in her apartment. There she and her friends find that he is wanted for murdering a military buddy. They team up to figure out if he is being used as a scapegoat and who is targeting him.
The twists and turns will keep readers guessing throughout the story. This is an action-packed story where the characters come to life.