Interview, Spotlight & Giveaway: Let Me Love You Again by Anna DeStafano

Let Me Love You Again is a reunion story. When the couple first see each other after years apart, what is their first reaction?

The best reunion stories are the ones where it’s love at first sight AGAIN when the hero and heroine see each other for the first time after many, many years—but, there are even more reasons they can’t be together now. The only thing is, how do they convince their hearts to walk away for the second time?

Selena and Oliver are both back in Chandlerville for the first time in seven years, neither expects to see the other, and it’s almost like a dream at first. They’ve both wanted this moment ever since their horrible break up (which we first learn about in Here in My Heart, the novella that launched the Echoes of the Heart series). Now they’re getting exactly what they’ve always wanted—in the worst possible way (to borrow from Joss Whedon’s philosophy for creating ultimate character conflict).

Here’s a taste of Selena’s first response. I’m such a tease…

Oliver was back in Chandlerville.

Through Tuesday morning shadows, Selena Rosenthal locked gazes with the one who’d gotten away. Next door, a ruggedly handsome man stared at her from the front steps of Joe and Marsha Dixon’s sprawling house—a yard, a hedge, and another yard away. Dark hair. Dramatic green eyes. Oliver had the face of an angel and a mouth that could tempt a woman into just about any sin on the books. She’d have known him anywhere.

Years had passed. Seven of them, filled with her wanting to go back and fix the mistakes that had led to her and Oliver’s last disastrous argument. She’d been too busy to miss him since she’d returned to town. At least she’d refused to dwell on how much she missed him—every time she saw someone from before or stumbled into a familiar place. And instead of reveling in the poignant memories she’d felt like half a person, because Oliver wasn’t there to share the moment with her. Then he’d stepped out of a shiny red truck in his foster parents’ drive just now, dressed in a wrinkled white T-shirt, jeans and ratty running shoes.

Her mother’s screened front door whooshed shut behind her, smacking Selena in the butt. She waited for Oliver to respond, to move, to do anything except stare back. She couldn’t stop her smile, or the pathetic half wave that followed it. While his nonresponse dripped with you’re dead to me, until she forced herself to look away. 

 Oh. My. God.

Oliver.

The story is very emotional (readers be warned: bring your tissues!). What was a scene you wrote that had you tearing up?

Ah, emotion, my little friend ;0)

Heartwarming and emotional are the two most frequently used words to describe my community-based romances. If you feel strongly as you read my novels, if you feel for and with my characters, I’m a happy author. I get tons of fan mail from readers who’ve lost themselves in the emotional ride—especially the triumphant happily ever after endings set up by our hero and heroine’s struggles along the way. Without those deeper moments in the book, glorious endings that give us hope for our own lives wouldn’t be nearly as sweet, right?

In Let Me Love You Again, just like my other Chandlerville stories, I tear up most when lead characters interact with their families and share their journeys. Fighting together with friends and loved ones to make the world better is the overarching theme in any book I write about community.

I think little Camille’s story in LMLYA touched me the most. She, like our heroine, Selena, is searching for the family of her dreams—and through her we get a glimpse of what Selena might have been like as a little girl. It was a wonderful way for me and readers to explore the heart of what family and love means to a young one. And how difficult it must have been for Selena not to find her family HEA as a little girl. Camille’s journey helps us understand better why Selena would do almost anything to protect her child from feeling as lost as she did growing up.

Here’s a snip of a “Camille” moment that had me smiling and tearing up every time I worked on it, because of how much Camille and all of us need someone strong and forever to care for us:

A father was a good thing, so whoever’s father the man from next door was looking for, Camille hoped he found him.

As much as Camille had always wanted a big family with tons of kids like the Dixons, she’d settle for just a daddy to go with the mommy she already had. A real daddy was one of the best things she’d never had. She figured a daddy would be even more fun than living with Grammy the last few months, and all Grammy’s flowers and quilts and bubbles, and Mommy’s old toys from when she was little.

A daddy would be better than anything Camille could think of.

One who’d be there when the other kids’ daddies were. And he wouldn’t do things to make Mommy decide to leave. He’d love Camille more than his job. He’d make Mommy laugh and smile, and he’d want to go to the playground and play games. And he would never make Mommy cry, not like Parker had, or the way Mommy looked like she might cry now, while Camille looked between her and the man from next door…

Sigh… It’s a magical story for Camille as well as Selena and Oliver, as these three become a family. And we’re along for the ride as Camille finds her “real” daddy, right up to the very last line of the novel. There are lots of heartwarming and happy tears along the way, and because of them we know we’re witnessing something special.

The way you describe the town of Chandlerville makes it seem idyllic in some ways, but also a difficult place to return to since the community has a long memory. Did you base the setting on a town you have visited?

Let Me Love You Again is my…fifth novel set in Chandlerville, with a sixth coming early next year. I’ve always written about small towns, based mostly in the South. But of all of them, Chandlerville is my favorite—because of the way I’ve been able to play the idyllic and charming aspects of the place that we see on the surface, against the reality of close-knot communities that you see “behind the scenes.”

The original idea for the first series of Chandlerville novels (my Mimosa Lane books) was to show what living in small Southern towns can really be like. Having grown up in Savannah, Georgia after being born in Charleston, South Carolina, and my family on both sides hailing from Augusta, I can safely say that there are parts of all of these picturesque places in my Southern-set stories. But most especially in Let Me Love You Again.

And let’s not forget that I raised my son in a charming suburb north-east of Atlanta, very much like Mimosa Lane in my Seasons of the Heart novels. For years, I watched everyone and everything around me fight tirelessly to look perfect on the outside while behind closed doors, where no one could see, my neighbors and I battled a lot of the same difficult issues. With Chandlerville, I wanted to throw those doors open and shine a spotlight on how much we all have in common. And how coming together as a community can make everyone’s lives and happy endings better.

It’s been an honor to hear from readers who’ve had exactly that response to reading these books. We’ve had a fabulous running conversation about it on my social medial pages since the first Chandlerville novel, Christmas on Mimosa lane, came out in 2012.

You define and then redefine what “family” means several times throughout this novel. Can you describe what the idea of family means to Oliver and Selena?

I’m so glad you caught onto to that.

Family and what it really means is a running theme in all my books, from the very first one I published with Harlequin ten years ago to my current work-in-progress. Whether I’ve written romance, women’s fiction, sci-fi/fantasy or suspense/thrillers, I’ve been exploring family on every page.

Lead characters in my stories is fighting to discover what family or community means to them. It’s the only way “belonging” can become a living, breathing cornerstone of how they live their lives.

Is family a place, a person, or an unattainable goal? Do you run to the idea of belonging, or do you run away thinking it can never be yours? Is being loved unconditionally, no matter what, what you want most in life—or does that need become your worst fear, because you’re not sure you’ll ever find it? Are we our worst enemies when it comes to trusting someone else enough to allow them to show us that what we’ve always wanted most, that place where we’ll always be welcomed home, has been within our grasp from the very start?

Selena and Oliver grapple with these questions, too. WHILE they fall back in love with each other and the life they can rebuild in Chandlerville.

What does family end up meaning to them? Honestly, for this couple it comes down to how much they’re willing to put on the line to have the family of their dreams.

“You don’t trust me, Selena. That’s what this is really about.” Oliver walked over to stare through the gauzy front curtains, at the waning light beyond. “Not enough to stick things out until they run their course. You never did… Let’s start dealing with the complications and the confusion and figure out today and tomorrow and next week—together. This is it for us. This is our chance. Are we in, or are we out?”

For Selena and Oliver, family ends up meaning trust, I think. Something that doesn’t come easily to our couple. Les sigh… ;o)

How do their views on family change throughout the course of the novel?

I’d so love to give you a glimpse of Selena toward the last of Let Me Love You Again, to show you how bravely our heroine claims for her happy ending. But I’ve promised my publisher no spoilers.

Suffice it to say, as you can see in Oliver’s excerpt, his and Selena’s journey becomes about looking inward to what they can change and claim and make happen on their own. Once these two stop looking around them at what is and isn’t theirs on the outside, true family and what they can build fresh and new in their lives begins to flourish—from within.

And by the time we reach our idyllic ending, their courage and strength and trust transforms the lives of friends and family all over Chandlervile. Yay!

Readers get to meet several intriguing secondary characters. Who is your favorite? Any chance that they will get their own story?

Secondary characters steal scenes in my books. Editors my whole career have asked me if that’s intentional. The answer? Nope. The little dears show up, announce their presence with authority, and literally take over while I’m paying attention to my “A” story. And it’s not until I come back to do my first round of edits that I notice how determined these “extra” players are to have their own plotlines. Thieves!

There are two characters already in the Echoes of the Heart books readers are clamoring for novels about. Travis Bryant, Oliver’s older foster brother, for certain will have a future book. Somehow. Some way.

Right now, though, there’s one more novel contracted in the series, and it belongs to Bethany Darling, Travis and Oliver’s younger foster sister. I’m currently finishing up the first draft of His Darling Bride, which will be out early in 2016. And it’s WONDERFUL. I’m so excited about Bethany finding her own way in the world as a former foster child, and finding the “sort of” cowboy hero of her dreams (and mine, LOL!).

But wait! There are new secondary characters cropping up all over His Darling Bride. Bethany has these zany, opinionated, independent girlfriends who refuse to stay on the sidelines of her story. These two are definitely angling for their own books, too. Argh! And of course in any future novels, we’ll keep watching the sprawling Dixon foster family grow, and we’ll revisit beloved places and characters in Chandlerville that fans ask about all the time.

So stay tuned…


let me loveTitle: Let Me Love You Again by Anna DeStafano
An Echoes of the Heart Novel Book 2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages

Summary:

Selena Rosenthal left behind her high school sweetheart, who was the love of her life, seven years ago.

Now, she and the once-rebellious Oliver Bowman are back in Chandlerville—after his foster father’s heart attack and Selena’s contentious divorce—to deal with her secrets, the recklessness that caused their breakup, and the almost-strangers they’ve become to each other and their families.

As soon as his father is stronger, Oliver must return to the successful career that helps support a new generation of foster kids. But he’s falling for Selena again, her daughter has a hold on his heart, and he can’t imagine leaving behind his brothers and sisters once again.

More attached by the day to their charming hometown and families, Selena and Oliver fall in love for the second time.

Has fate brought Chandlerville’s prodigal children together again…this time forever?

Purchase Link: Amazon


Author Bio

anna dAnna DeStefano is the award-winning, nationally bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including the Mimosa Lane novels and the Atlanta Heroes series. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, she’s lived in the South her entire life. Her background as a care provider and adult educator in the world of crisis and grief recovery lends itself to the deeper psychological themes of every story she writes. A wife and mother, she currently writes in a charming northeast suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, not all that different from her characters’ beloved Chandlerville. She is also a workshop and keynote speaker, a writing coach, and a freelance editor.

Author Links: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Newsletter * Pinterest


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9 Comments

Filed under Contest, Interview

9 Responses to Interview, Spotlight & Giveaway: Let Me Love You Again by Anna DeStafano

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for sharing

  2. Cindy DeGraaff

    Thanks for the blog stop and interview!

  3. denise

    looking forward to reading this book

  4. Sue

    I love your books about small towns Anna and the lives of your characters and the love that they have for each other. I guess what I love the most about small towns is that people seem to get to know each other better and look out for each other. Not so much in a large city.

  5. jenn

    That everyone knows everyone

  6. Cheryl Hastings

    I like how everyone knows and helps out one another

  7. Sonal

    I love everything about small towns, not just romance! I love how everyone knows eachother and no one is a stranger. I also think it is great that people help one another in times of need and its a close knit community.

  8. Sabrina Joy

    What I love is the drama or just that romances in small towns can spread quickly! Small towns are where everyone should at least know each other and hear about any gossip, so it’s going to get dramatic really quickly. I just LOVE that aspect. Super thrilling!