Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review and Spotlight - LET ME LOVE YOU AGAIN by Anna DeStefano

Title: Let Me Love You Again
Author: Anna DeStefano
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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?  Amazon.UK  Amazon.AUS


Q&A with Anna DeStefano
Thanks for having me over to play on Ripe for Reader. GREAT, intuitive questions. Let’s see if I and Let Me Love You again can do them justice…

Describe your hero Oliver in just three words. Honorable. Driven. Loyal.

Describe your heroine Selena in just three words. Protective. Driven. Fearless.

What about these characters make them different from other characters you have written about? I love how independent Oliver and Selena are from the start. Sure they’re picking up the pieces of their lives, in very different ways. But they’re both so determined at the beginning of the novel to carry out their plans for their future, misguided as they might be.

A lot of my recent novels have been about characters not knowing what they want, and their searching for the path they need to take. These two characters are definitely in for a wild ride. But on top of all of it, they’re starting out determined to stick to a plan for keeping their lives on track. THEN I hit them with their world falling apart, regardless of what they try to do to stop it.

So you take two fiercely independent and head-strong characters and force them into situations where they need each other if they’re going to come anywhere close to meeting their goals. You keep reminding them, forcefully, that pushing to do things on their own ISN’T going to work. And it’s a new take on a tried-and-true theme for me that I had a blast watching come to life.

Oliver and Selena have a unique courtship. This is a second chance love story, but you don’t stick to the usual tropes. What were some important topics that you wanted to tackle during the couple’s journey? Yeah… Me and “usual” and storytelling—NOT.

Second-chance love in a lot of romances can be a headfirst dive into the new love affair, and not coming up for air until our couple has their happily ever after. And that’s lovely and romantic and fun. But there’s so much more I wanted to explore.

As I wrote Selena and Oliver’s story, I made the choice to be as real-to-life as I could about the effects that relationships and families breaking up and breaking down have on everyone involved.

With a love as fierce and meant-to-be as Selena and Oliver’s, it takes a lot to break something like that up. In real life, at least, it takes a whole lot more than the central characters in the drama misunderstanding each other and calling it quits and staying away and then coming back together to agree that they made a mistake, and then remembering how good things once were so they can have it good again. It’s just not that simple for most of us. Other people take sides. Life has been altered in real ways for more people than just the two who’ve called it quits. That kind of “community” dynamic and how to bring everyone back to a place where love can thrive again is one thing I for sure that wanted to show

We also have other reunions going on in Let Me Love You Again that are just as amazing to watch play out. And early readers are loving the result. We get to watch Oliver fall in love with his foster family all over again. Selena gets a second chance with her mom, and she gets to for the first time fall head-over-heals for the hometown that never really fit when she was a kid. We root for Camille’s second chance at a “real” family and a “real” daddy, and when all her dreams come true, we’re clapping through happy tears.

AND at the heart of all of it, Selena and Oliver find their way back to each other in the most amazing way. Exactly because, I think, they have to lean on each other for help to manage the craziness of the other stories playing out around them. It’s a whirlwind, what happens after Oliver blows back into Chandlerville—and our hero and heroine know each other better than anyone else. They have since their love-at-first-site meet-up as kids. And because of that amazing beginning and all the growing they’ve done since they’re break up, they’re finally in the right place to make their second chance work.

I LOVE it when a plan comes together!

What was one of your favorite scenes to write? What was the most difficult? Watching Oliver learn how to parent by pitching in caring for his younger foster siblings was a hoot. Two of the most fun scenes in the book to write and read are when Oliver’s interacting with Fin, who we first rooted for in Love on Mimosa Lane. Fin is a feisty mini-me version of what Oliver might have been like at the same age, and he’s a handful—making for hilarious verbal exchanges between the two. But their scenes are also some of the most poignant in the book, because Oliver goes to bat for the kid, really trying to care for him and help Fin attach to the Dixon family in a real way. It’s a lovely dynamic, while we chuckle through Oliver very nearly going under trying to care for a brood of younger siblings on his own, when he has absolutely ZERO domestic skills whatsoever.

Watching seven-year-old Camille struggle to understand the complicated family dynamics she’s thrust into is both heartwarming (as everyone circles the wagons to help her) and heart-rending. It’s very confusing for a little girl who wants family so badly to try to come to grips with how broken things have been—and yet, still believe that all will end well. That leap of faith is something Selena, Camille’s mother, wasn’t able to make as a child. A lot of kids can’t, leading to bad choices and damaged behavior patterns for years to come. It’s wonderful to see everyone scrambling to protect Camille from the same difficult path, but that sort of honest, unfiltered love in the face of adversity isn’t always easy to write. I experience my characters’ journeys with them, and Camille’s was the toughest for me in Let Me Love You Again.

What scene, in your opinion, is the most romantic? Hands down the final scene in the book, when Selena and Oliver are reunited for the last time and forever—in every possible “good” way ;o)

These two have come so far at this point, and their family and friends and half the town of Chandlerville are there to witness their happily ever after. PLUS they really do get everything they’ve always wanted, after working hard on themselves and their relationships to make that possible. It’s one of the best endings to a story I’ve ever written, if I do say so myself.

What authors have most inspired you to write? So many authors, so little time to gush!

In contemporary romance, I’m a HUGE Linda Howard and Susan Elizabeth Phillips fan. Elizabeth Lowell, too. More recent authors I admire: Kristin Hannah, Kristan Higgins, Brenda Novak and Lori Wilde. “Classic” authors… I’m a Bronte girl all the way. In other genres, I lean toward authors like Neil Gaiman and Sarah Addison Allen who mix magic and fantasy and reality in remarkable ways.

The thing that connects all of these authors for me—I’m looking for a story to move me emotionally, and draw me into the characters’ worlds so completely I forget my life and only know theirs until the story releases me. Whatever you write, however you write it, if you transport me with your vision and voice for a story, I’m in!

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors? STOP worrying about what everyone else is doing and what’s selling the best right now.

START working as hard as you can on understanding your natural voice, what drives you to tell story, and why you can write the stories you write better than anyone else.

ALWAYS take care of yourself and your life, so you protect your writing and creativity and inspiration. If you don’t, no one else will in a world that’s pulling us in a million directions at once. Emotional fatigue is a death knell to putting your heart on the line with every story your write. Take care of your heart, so it’s there when you need it, and so the rest of us can share it with you through your books.

by Anna DeStefano

4 of 5 Stars

Selena is doing what she feels is best for her child. Finally leaving Parker who was anything but a real father to Camille. Leaving her home town 7 years ago when she was certain there was no place left for her there. After destroying the one man she loved no once but twice in one day. Fighting hard to make a new start, thanks to her mom for letting her back in. The last think she was prepared for was Oliver to come home. Her secrets are slowly compromised and she is forced to let them be known. Will she get what she always wanted for her daughter and maybe even herself?

Oliver left this town so long ago. He was crushed and rebelling in every way possible which forced Marsha and Joe to send him off. Not because they didn't love him and want him but he needed to get his act together. Making a very successful name for himself Oliver is a strong business man. But when you make business your only desire, life seems to very meaningless. Making sure that his family back home has what they need by sending his hard earned money. One thing that Oliver never managed to learn is that he is deserving of love and family. When he is forced to go home due to Joe's illness.

Will he learn to let his family in. Is he ready for the surprises waiting for him. Can he take a small step back from the busy work life and take time for him and family? Can Oliver let love in and will Selena be willing??

This was a wonderful book of finding your way back home. Home is not only a place to live but it is love and belonging that everyone dreams of.

**Copy provided in advanced for an honest review**

Anna 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.

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