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Welcome Suspense Bestseller: Anna DeStefano

Anna DeStefano

Remembering will save her life. But will the truth destroy their love forever?

 Shaw Cassidy’s nightmares are shredding her sanity. Her global empire, her freedom from federal prosecution for espionage, and her life are all on the line. Long-ago secrets of love and betrayal swirl like living fore through her dreams until she doesn’t know whom she can trust, or who is out to hurt her.

 Federal Marshal Cole Marino has one mission: infiltrate his former lover’s mountain retreat and force her to remember the shooting that triggered her amnesia.

 But when Shaw questions Cole’s motives, and his lies are revealed, will the connection they’ve begun to forge be torn apart, or will the soul-deep bond they once hadsave them both and crash through Shaw’s amnesia, once and for all?  Her Forgotten Betrayal.

Don’t miss this sexy, psychological thriller!

 Best-selling, award-winning author Anna DeStefano wants to you stop, look, and keep digging, until you find the soul of your own fantasies.

Her latest release, Her Forgotten Betrayal, one of the launch books for Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy romantic suspense line, is a psychological thriller she hopes will creep you out (she’s really playing up the Gothic imagery and spooky nightmares with this one).

But she’s also dying (heh) to inspire you with another of the happily-ever-after romance ending she’s famous for. No matter how moody the setting or impossible the dilemma, Anna’s characters and stories challenge you to hope and dream for your own exciting future, the way her strong heroines and hunky heroes do!

Read on for the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Her Forgotten Betrayal and Anna’s unique approach to story telling. For more, follow Anna to her blog (http://www.annawrites.com/blog), which she updates several times a week on a range of topics such as The Soul of the Matter, Dream Theories, How We Write, and Things My Teenager Says.

WELCOME ANNA! Your backlist has been described as genre-bending. Do you see yourself as a writer who works “outside the box,” and is this a conscious choice you’re making for your career?

 I don’t remember making the choice to push boundaries, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that didn’t challenge the limits of whatever line or genre I’ve written for. I’ve won a lot of awards for my Harlequin novels. But I’ve always tended to write edgy and darker characters, often with heavy backstories, even when I wrote for the lighter Superromance “home and family” line.  I’m always searching for the emotional heart of a story, wherever that takes me.

 For example, in my very first novel, The Unknown Daughter, my heroine is terminally ill throughout the entire book. Of course she gets her happily-ever-after “cure” (this is category romance). But she’s sick the entire book…she’s so NOT your average Harlequin heroine. Oh, and that was “accidentally” my first suspense novel, too—again, in a home and family line. And it won a Gold Medal review from RT, and my first RT Reviewers Choice Award. Who knew “outside the box” was going to be my happy place from then on?

 Even my first foray into paranormal romance (my Legacy series), turned out to be more of a thriller series, and most definitely more science fiction than urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I love the science behind the metaphysics and parapsychology that Dark Legacy and Secret Legacy are based on. As I wrote, I simply couldn’t push those elements (especially the dream theory) to the background.

 So, I guess I write what inspires and motivates and challenges me, whatever genre I happen to be writing in, and hope that my readers join me for the ride.

 In Her Forgotten Betrayal, your heroine, Shaw Cassidy, battles debilitating nightmares that she has to get to the bottom of to survive. You write a lot about dreams. What fascinates you most about them?

Dreams… Where do I begin with my fascination about dreams? My agent asks every once in a while when I’m going to stop writing stories where dreams are a key theme. Not that she wants me to, really, but dreams have clearly become a running inspiration for me. My answer is usually—never ;o) I even blog most every week about dream theory. It’s been a fascination for me my entire life. That was the impetus for creating my Legacy, metaphysical fantasy world that explores the science behind dreaming.

 For my contemporary romances, my “every day” stories, dreams take on an even more powerful purpose, than in my novels where people have supernatural powers. Our everyday dreams are our minds working for us, at the subconscious level. Whether we’re sleeping or awake, our dreams talk to us about the true purpose and meaning and desires of our lives. I like to see them as the very best and worst of who we are, and I think it’s important to pay as close attention to them as we can.

 To me, honoring our dreams is another way to slow down and look deeply and really see our reality. Focusing on dreams (or any small moment of our lives), helps us process and choose. We then get to move forward a bit more deliberately. In Shaw Cassidy’s case in Her Forgotten Betrayal, her dreams are telling her exactly who her villain really is, and just how important her forgotten childhood lover (our hero, Cole Marinos) can be to not only her survival, but also the thriving, loving, magnificent future waiting for her, is she can grow and make the difficult emotional choices she’s been running from her entire life. See. Aren’t dreams lovely?

 Your heroine has amnesia through most of this novel. Is this the first of your heroines to suffer from forgetting who and what she is?

 Actually, in To Protect the Child (part of my Atlanta Heroes series for Harlequin Superromance), my deep cover operative heroine wakes with amnesia and no recollection of what she was doing on her latest mission and how important it is for her to return to it, before a little girl’s life is destroyed.

 I guess a key difference between that story and Her Forgotten Betrayal, is that my Dead Sexy launch is a psychological thriller. I’ve written fast-paced procedurals before, and loved those novels. But I wanted to do a gothic, creepy, isolated-on-the-top-of-a-winter-mountain-at-night kind of contemporary romance this time. Shaw Cassidy has been injured, but she doesn’t remember anything (except the faceless man in her dreams). Her first memories begin to return when a dangerous stranger shows up, and she has to decide whether he’s the faceless man, or a hero from her past who can help her. Her Forgotten Betrayal is just as fast-paced as my procedurals, but Shaw’s battles are mostly in her mind, and in her relationship with Cole Marinos, her hero. She’s not battling the villain himself until the very end—and it takes her the entire story to fight her nightmares and psychological demons so that she’s ready to beat the bad guy that’s been messing with her mind, at his own game. Bwahahahaha

 Your stories tend to span short periods of time, particularly your thrillers. Is this to enhance the pacing of the plot?

 I think the one running theme through all my novels has been the drive to stop and look at the world and a character as closely as I can. As a commercial fiction writer, I’m also hoping the reader is entertained and finding the story impossible to put down. But I want to take our romance journey together to a deeper level. In the midst of the action of each of my novels, I’m doing my best to deliver characters with complex backstories and multi-layered motivation. I want my readers to have a flawed but admirable heroine and hero to journey with. I want you to feel what my characters feel in each scene, as if you were living through that moment with them

 I love making that happen by writing novels with short time spans. Not only for the pacing—though, you certainly have to keep your plotting tight in order to pull something like Her Forgotten Betrayal off, where I was working with less than a 48 hour window for the heroine to believably realize she’s being stalked, have nightmares that will either drive her insane or help her regain her memory, meet the hero, wonder if this stranger is her “bad guy,” learn to trust him, fall in love with him, remember their tragic past, of COURSE then think he’s betrayed her (see, it’s a romance, really it is ;o), only to have to face the villain with him at the end, in the story’s black moment and resolution.

 Which sounds like a lot to accomplish in sixty-thousand words and less than two days of on-page time. But actually, limiting the time frame gives me the chance to slow moments down, those important relationship moments as well as the ones where Shaw must grow as a character or she’ll never succeed, so that the reader really lives them with the heroine. If I were trying to cover the passage of more time with the number of pages allotted to me, I’d have to move on more quickly, more externally, and I think some of the richness of this type of story would be missed.

 You write a lot of “returning home” stories, as well as second chances at love. What about these themes drives your imagination?

 My first title (and I never get to keep my titles), actually the novel that won the Golden Heart and was later re-titled for Harlequin Superromance, was Forever Ago. It’s a play on words that resonates with me even today. I’ll write a book with that title one day. I’m determined.

 What this and my “coming home” and “second chance” stories say to me is that you have to go back and work through the things in your past that you’ve shoved down or shouldered aside. At some point, if you want to move forward and really live the rest of your life, instead of merely fighting and existing and getting through one day at a time, you have to conquer the things you weren’t able to face when you were younger.

 My characters tend to get their happily-ever-after forever, because they finally take on the conflicts of long ago, and conquer what still needs to be resolved. It’s the same with second chances at love. I’m mesmerized by stories where couples who didn’t make it with their soul mate in the past, find the courage to face one another and their combined issues once more, stronger and with newer insight, and find a way to finally make their dreams a reality together. What could be better than that? Sigh… You’re going to DIE for Shaw and Cole’s amazing ending!

 Imagery and setting seem like an important part of Her Forgotten Betrayal. What led you to choose a gothic backdrop for your latest suspense novel?

 I’ve fallen in love with Gothic imagery, since long before I wrote my first Legacy book. I’m more of a Bronte girl, than an Austen girl ;o) Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights… These are novels that read and re-read every year.

 With Her Forgotten Betrayal, I not only got to explore this fascination within the context of a contemporary romance, but I LOVED how I was able to incorporate Shaw Cassidy’s creepy mansion and the winter weather and the darkness of the surrounding woods and so forth, as another character in the book. All of it becomes a very real threat to our heroine. Is Shaw imagining what’s happening to her? Is her mind becoming unhinged by her nightmares, so she’s seeing and hearing things that aren’t there? Is someone after her, or is she actually hurting herself in her isolated mansion? How can she possibly know the difference? That is until our hero shows up. But is he part of the spooky landscape that she can’t trust, or is he really there to help her???! Dun-dun-dunnnn! LOL!

 Playing with symbol and imagery has become one of my favorite things in novel writing. I’m even now pinning images from my stories and my personal journeys up on Pinterest. Just look for Anna DeStefano (http://pinterest.com/annadestefano/) ;o) Check out Her Forgotten Betrayal’s board, where she’ll be posting blog tour updates and other surprises.

 Thank you for being here today, Anna! Check out Anna’s other recent titles when you have a chance, including the July 1st Harlequin Heartwarming, A Sweetbrook Family, and  October Montlake release (the first in her women’s fiction/contemporary romance series) Christmas on Mimosa Lane.

From Anna: I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions, your dreams and what you love best about suspense or any other type of romance you read. Sound off in the comments for your chance to win a free digital copy of Her Forgotten Betrayal!

Enjoy the Dark Seduction . . . with Cynthia Cooke

Cynthia Cooke is an award-winning, multi-published author who has published 11 books and short stories for Harlequin/Silhouette and Steeple Hill. Her latest book, Deadly Secrets, Loving Lies will be one of the launch books for Entangled Publishing‘s new Dead Sexy Romantic Suspense line. Cynthia is best known for writing page-turners that will keep you up at night.  So if you choose to take that ride, over the edge and into the dark, don’t forget to turn on the lights. Cynthia’s books aren’t sweet and they aren’t for the faint of heart.  Enjoy the Dark Seduction. 

SW: Welcome, Cynthia. We are so happy to have you here with us today. You are an award-winning, multi-published author with Harlequin/Silhouette. What made you decide to publish with Entangled?

CC: I’ve heard so many great things about Entangled, especially the author friendly contracts.  And the idea that I could write a book and have it published the same year was VERY enticing.
 

SW: Please tell me a bit about your new Entangled story Deadly Secrets, Loving Lies.

CC: After an all-out assault by a vicious terrorist bent on destroying her entire family, former government agent Genie Marsters must break the strict rules she has always lived by when she emerges from hiding to reluctantly accept the help of her all-too-sexy ex-lover.

Running a deadly race against time, they rush to rescue her kidnapped sister, find her missing father, and bring the notorious villain to justice. But nothing ever goes as planned. Bullets fly, danger abounds, and their passion reignites even faster than the lies are flowing. But stubbornly held secrets just might spell the end of their rekindled love and hopes for the future . . . as well as their very lives.

SW: It’s a great cover! Did you have any input in the design?

CC:  I did! I sent a bunch of shutterstock images and examples of covers I like And they worked that around the dead sexy brand. The cover is AMAZING!!!

 
 

SW: How fun! What is on your TBR pile?

CC: Oh, this is so huge. I’m one of those people who is reading several books at one time, and listening to audio books when I’m driving.  Right now, I’m loving Nevada Barr and J.T. Ellison.

SW: I love audiobooks as well. What is your next project?

CC: I have two Harlequin werewolf books coming out in 2014. Right now, I’m wrapping up revisions on my second book in my werewolf series, Lying With Wolves, for Harlequin Nocturne.

SW: What is your favorite type of hero? (dark, bad boy, vampire, etc)

CC: I’ve thought about this question for another blog. I really don’t have a favorite type. I love my dark and dangerous vampires, my tortured werewolves, my action-oriented no-nonsense cops. I guess I just love them all, especially if they love the heroines, especially if it’s the last thing they want to do.

SW: I know you still have teenagers around. Do you get much writing done during the summer?

CC: I do, but I also gain a lot of weight! LOL! With three teenagers at home and the constant revolving door of all their friends coming and going at all hours of the day and night, I have to leave the house and write in coffee shops. My favorite is Panera Bread, which means I eat out A LOT.

SW: I LOVE Panera also. Especially their cinnamon rolls. Is there another genre you’d love to write?

CC: Yes, I’ve been working on a YA for the past couple of years in between contracts. I would really love to take the summer and finish writing it.

SW: Who does your website (it’s beautiful!)


CC: Thank you so much. That honor goes to Tivi Jones at Creative Media. She does so much more than websites now. She a digital marketing queen and has lots of tips on her blog. http://creativityloft.com/


SW: Will you write any more books for Entangled?

CC: I’d love to, though I’ve been too busy to submit a second proposal.

SW: Do you have an excerpt we can read?

CC: I do!

Kyle stared in disbelief at the odd, mushroom-shaped structure rising up from the cracked, dry earth of the Nevada desert.

“There she is,” the voice of Johnny Garino, his crew chief and closest friend, buzzed in his earpiece.

Genie stood on the roof of the strange house. Three black SUVs were corralled on the ground far below her. She looked incredible, breathtaking, silhouetted against the brilliant blue sky. Kyle sucked in a breath as she clipped a cable to her belt.

“She’s getting ready to fly!” Johnny called out, his voice rising in pitch.

“Hold on, baby. I’m almost there.” Kyle pushed down on the throttle urging the bird faster, even as he willed Genie to turn and see him, to hold on until he could sweep her away from the danger. And once he did, once he had her safe and secure in his cockpit, then what?

Then he’d try not to kill her himself.

Fantastic!! Thank you so much for spending the day with us, Cynthia. And for one lucky commenter, Entangled is giving away a free copy of Deadly Secrets, Loving LiesNow we’d love to hear your questions!
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