Spotlight & Giveaway: A Surprise Second Chance by Anna J Stewart

Posted March 22nd, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 24 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Anna J Stewart to HJ!

Hi Anna  and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Surprise Second Chance!

Hi there and hello! Happy almost spring!

To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:

I’d love to! A SURPRISE SECOND CHANCE is the third in my Hawaiian Reunions series and features botanist and nature guide Daphne Mercer. She came to Nalani, Hawai’i a few years ago after her father’s arrest and her mother’s death. She’s built a new life with college friends, working for Ohana Odysseys, the local tour and excursion company. She’s very happy with how things are going. Which means it’s time to cause some chaos. And that comes in the form of Griffin Townsend.

Griff, a photojournalist, is Daphne’s high school sweetheart, the love that got away. He broke her heart, but not for the reasons she thinks. Griff’s been offered the interview of a lifetime–with Daphne’s father. But there’s a catch. Daphne’s father wants Griff to convince Daphne to come see him in prison–so he can make amends. Griff can’t say no as he’s now the main parent to his two kids, Cammie and Noah. With their mother backing out of taking the kids for the summer, the three of them are off to Nalani–to reunite with Daphne.

Let the fun begin!

Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:

“Noah’s pretending to turn Taco into sushi with his lightsaber!”

There was no missing the boy she’d loved in the face of the man he’d become. He was taller now, of course. Much taller than he’d been at seventeen when they’d first met, and he’d definitely lost that gangly, awkward physique he’d lamented on multiple occasions. No doubt carrying sleepy children in his arms had helped him bulk up. His once long, unkempt dark blond hair had been shorn short, to practical, easily manageable length, but it was those eyes. Those sparkling, stunning green eyes she never could have mistaken for anyone else’s.

“Just tell her first thing.” Unable to sit still, Griff paced one of the seating areas in the lobby of the resort while Noah and a now very awake Cammie explored the children’s activity center across from the registration desk. He’d needed a few minutes on his own, giving himself a good talking-to in preparation for what he was here for. “Just say, ‘Daphne, it’s not a coincidence I’m here. I have a message from your—’”


What inspired this book?

When Daphne first appeared in book one, I knew she’d had her heart broken. I tried to go in a different direction than I have in the past, but pesky, disappointing parents tend to provide the best answers to issues like that. I liked the idea of Daphne’s heart being broken multiple times, first by her father and then by her first love, Griff. That’s a lot of forgiveness that has to take place, but those are some of my favorite stories to write.

There’s one scene in particular that was inspired by a real life event. There’s a proposal scene that happens between Theo and Sydney, the couple from book 1. It’s a near replication of the story my cousin told me about how he proposed to his then girlfriend. This particular cousin is one I used to babysit during his first year of life, so it was a bit bittersweet. I dedicated the book to him and his fiance.


How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?

My characters always surprise me and I love that! With Daphne, I got to know about her by writing about her home and her garden. It gave me a real feel for her temperament and interaction tendencies. She’s very quiet, very much keeps to herself, except with those she knows and loves most. Then she lets loose. But when it comes to anything in nature that grows, she’s a bit of a magician.

With Griffin, I think I got to know him through his interactions with his children. Readers of my books know I have an affinity for single fathers. Griff has a lot of patience with his. But he’s also seen a lot of horrible things in his work. He’s worked in war zones and dangerous situations and he’s witnessed some of the worst that humanity offers. It makes him a wonderful parent and, while he’s a bit misguided in his approach to Daphne, I could actually feel his love for her when I finally got them on the page together. So the surprise was that when that breakup moment comes (as it always does, LOL), it was really going to hurt everyone involved.


What was your favorite scene to write?

Anything that includes the kids is always my favorite part I think. Especially the bonding moments between Daphne and especially Cammie. They have a lot in common. Daphne’s relationship with her father is beyond complicated and Cammie is trying to understand why her mother doesn’t want her anymore (her mother’s remarried and moved on). The moments between them really are the heart of this story, as it shows Daphne inching her way into a family like she’s always wanted but never thought she’d get.


What was the most difficult scene to write?

The dark moment is always tough. That “boy loses girl” scene. This one was particularly heartbreaking because it wasn’t just Griff Daphne had to cut ties with, but the children she’d come to love. Of course it all works out in the end (it’s a romance after all!), but yeah. When I make myself cry when I write it, I know I’ve hit the right mark.


Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?

As far as small-town romance goes, I think it absolutely showcases my style. There’s a lot of fun and humor and lighthearted moments, but there’s also some heartache and truth telling that needs to be spoken. Add in some fun secondary characters, along with previous couples and intro-ing couples to come, I’d say A SURPRISE SECOND CHANCE is a definite showcase of my usual writing.


What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I don’t want to sound preachy or anything, but I think the main theme of this book is the importance of forgiveness. Maybe not for the person who needs forgiving, but for the one who needs to forgive. It’s really easy to get caught up in the raw emotions of being hurt by someone we love, but overcoming that and moving on because it’s the best way to live your life, yeah. I hope that’s what people take away.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?

I just turned in book 4 in this series. This will feature Tehani Iokepa and her best friend Wyatt Jenkins. As far as releases, I’ll have quite a few for the rest of the year including being part of a new Blackwell series from Heartwarming (I’m book 3 this time). And I also got to write a new book for the Coltons of Owl Creek, the latest mini-series from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. That’ll be out in August. I think. Other than that, I’m getting anxious to write book 3 in my Circle of the Red Lily series, mainly because I can’t wait to find out what secrets my heroine is keeping from me!


Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Autographed copies of HER ISLAND HOMECOMING and THEIR SURPRISE ISLAND WEDDING to two winners (US only. If winners are outside the US, digital copies will be offered).


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Griffin, Cammie, and Noah head off to Hawai’i for a fantabulous summer vacation. It’s not what the kids expected, but it turns out pretty amazing. What was a fun summer vacation you remember with your family, either growing up or now?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from A Surprise Second Chance:

“You love every second of it, don’t you? Being a dad.”

“I really do.” He chuckled. “I wasn’t always a good one. It took me a while to realize what was important.”

“Are they why you stopped working on the road?”

“Yeah.” Guilt twisted in his belly and he took a long drink of his coffee. “Yeah, I saw enough working those last few years in some awful circumstances to realize I was completely missing how good I had it. My kids were happy, healthy, well cared for and safe. Can’t really say that for every part of the world.”

“That’s still a constant companion for you.” She motioned to the camera bag at his elbow.
“Ever since I was ten.” His now-late uncle, a wannabe photographer, had hoped to catch Griff’s interest with his own. He’d never have imagined just how obsessive Griff had become over the
years. Most people stressed if their cell phone wasn’t in their hand.

With Griff, it was all about the camera. “I’ve upgraded since high school.” He pulled his camera out again and, with barely any effort, centered Noah and Cammie not far from them and caught their first steps into this part of the Pacific. “It’s still magic.”

He wondered if she remembered all the pictures he’d taken of her.

Capturing her quiet moments in her garden, or when they’d been out with friends or even by themselves.

“I’m not quite so compulsive anymore,” he added and put the camera down. “I’ve been trying to remember to live in the moment and not be so worried about capturing things for posterity. Especially since there are a lot of pictures I never even look at again.”

Daphne glanced over her shoulder. “Some moments are worth it, though.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Some moments are.” It was odd, feeling at peace with her, despite keeping the truth about his visit from her. In almost every way it was as if the years between them had vanished and his feelings, his almost overwhelming feelings about her, surged to the forefront once more.

“You did good work, with pictures and words.” Daphne took another sip of her coffee and sat back a little. “I follow you on social media. You got into some pretty dangerous situations. Glad to know you got out of them all okay.”

“Yeah?” He was glad he didn’t know that before now. He might have been a tad self-conscious if he’d known she was reading his posts. “I don’t post a lot now that I’m staying put. I doubt most people would be interested in the trials and tribulations of a single dad. Not as much job security in ordinary life versus chaos, but I’m doing what I can to keep things going.”

“I’m sure there’s an audience out there for everything. What happened? With their mother?”


“If you’d rather not talk about it—”

“No, it’s fine.” He shrugged in a manner that was clear evidence of where Cammie got her attitude from. “Lydia liked the romantic notion of being married to an international journalist more than she enjoyed the reality of it. We met in New York a little over ten years ago. I’d just gotten back from spending six months in the Sudan and she was attentive and sparkly and exciting and so far removed from everything I’d been dealing with that I let myself get distracted.” And he’d needed a distraction—any kind of distraction—from the suffering he’d witnessed.

“Then she got pregnant with Noah, so we got married,” he continued. “She didn’t anticipate me wanting to keep my home base in Oregon and, well…” He inclined his head and sighed. “She got bored very quickly. She wasn’t particularly fond of motherhood and my parents weren’t able to help as expected. Then Cammie came along and my reputation got bigger, so the stories drew me farther away and for longer periods of time.” It was hard, admitting the truth. But he wasn’t about to shy away from it. He’d stayed away because, in a sense, it was easier than all the arguing and bickering, neither of which was good for the kids. His thought at the time was that it was better to be absent than cause them damage. “It wasn’t the life she’d anticipated and didn’t want. She filed for divorce a little over two years ago and told me she was done. With all of it.” He hesitated. “Me and the kids.”

Daphne winced, glancing over at Noah and Cammie. “How are they doing with that?”

“With her being gone? Okay, for the most part.” The disappointment in Lydia, and himself, surged. “It is what it is, right? She’s gone on to live whatever life she is happy to live. New rich
husband who thrives on social entertaining and being the center of attention. She just has a tendency to make promises she can’t keep. That’s the truly bad part.”

“Like taking the kids to Florida.” She dropped a hand over his and, for a moment, everything inside him quieted. “They must have been so upset.”

“I don’t know that there’s a word for what they are. Cammie especially. It’s a hard lesson to learn when you’re six. That your mother doesn’t want to be your mother anymore.”

“It’s a hard lesson to learn at any age,” Daphne said.

He hadn’t meant to walk down this particular road, at least not in this fashion. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring—”

Daphne waved off his concern. “I hate to say it, but I probably understand Lydia better than you do. She sounds a lot like my mother. Expectations for the life she hoped to have with my father
didn’t exactly meet with reality and motherhood.” She laughed a little. “I always felt like kind of, I don’t know, an afterthought. Or a kind of doll they dressed up and put on display when the need arose.”

He remembered her feeling like that all too well. There was a time it had been his all-consuming focus that she never ever felt anything other than completely herself when they were together. He’d wanted her to bloom, to flourish, not because of her parents, but more like in spite of them.

“Do you know,” she said with a light laugh, “I haven’t worn a pair of heels since I moved to Nalani? The last ones I did wear were to my mother’s funeral.”

“I read about it when she died.” He’d been in Taiwan when he’d heard about Veronica Mercer’s death. He’d wanted to be there for Daphne. Reading those online headlines, seeing the pictures of her scrambling to get out from under the attention of the press camped outside the Mercer compound’s front door. “I’m sorry you had to go through all that alone.”

He’d come so close to getting on a plane and coming back but he hadn’t. Because it would have meant facing the mistake he’d made years before when he’d been too young to understand the
consequences of being unable to stand up for himself. Or for her.

“It’s just as well you didn’t.” Her smile now was quick and bitter. “I know this is going to sound harsh, Griff, but it’s probably best that she left when she did. Lydia,” she added as if she needed to clarify. “If she’d stayed, she’d have only made everyone around her miserable and that isn’t what you or your children deserve.”

“Maybe.” He lifted Taco and held him out to Daphne. “I hand-wash this thing at least once a week.” He spun it around, looked into its googly ping-pong ball eyes. “And when I give it back to Cammie, it’s like I’m giving her the world. Every time.” He let his gaze wander to the shore where Noah and Cammie splashed in the water and chased each other in the damp sand. “As far as I’m concerned, being a dad’s the best job in the world.”

“Then it’s definitely Lydia’s loss,” Daphne said.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

Could a secret bring them together?

Lush rainforest, magical sunsets and a welcoming community—Nalani has everything botanist Daphne Mercer needs…except the only man she ever loved. Griffin Townsend broke her heart years ago. Now he’s in Hawai’i on vacation, a single dad with two kids. Daphne is charmed by Griff’s little family, and he longs for a second chance. But will she forgive him when she learns his true reason for seeking her out?

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google |

Meet the Author:

Anna J Stewart is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty sweet to spicy romances. She writes for Harlequin’s Heartwarming (sweet romance) and Romantic Suspense (spicy) lines, and also writes romantic thrillers for Arc Manor’s Caezik Romance. In addition to being a Maggie Award (EXPOSED) and a Holt Medallion (BRIDE ON THE RUN) winner, her books have finaled in the Daphne duMaurier Award for Excellence (EXPOSED, GONE IN THE NIGHT), the National Readers’ Choice and had one of her books optioned as a TV movie. No matter the story, Anna’s books are always about family—the ones we’re born to and the ones we create. Anna lives in Northern California where she loves going to the movies, attending fan conventions, and heading to Disneyland, her favorite place on earth. When she’s not writing, she is usually cooking, baking, binge-watching her newest TV addiction, or re-watching her all-time favorite shows, Supernatural and all things Star Trek. She also spends a frustrating amount of time wrangling two monstrous cats named Rosie and Sherlock.
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24 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: A Surprise Second Chance by Anna J Stewart”

  1. Leeza Stetson

    Really enjoyed going to Williamsburg, Virginia. That’s maybe the best, if hottest, summer vacation I’ve ever had.

  2. psu1493

    Only time I went on a summer vacation was when I was 10 and visited my aunt in Texas. It was hot as blazes that summer.

  3. Laurie Gommermann

    My family stayed 2 weeks at Sharpe’s Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI every summer.
    Loved it! I learned how to swim, went golfing, sailing, water skiing, horseback riding and even go karting at Road America. I made new friends. I went to my first dance. I treasure the memories and lasting friendships. Life was great!

  4. janinecatmom

    My family didn’t do vacations when I was growing up. The first vacation I had was with my ex. We loved South Padre Island until we went to Hawaii for the first time.

  5. Pam Conway

    We didn’t go on vacations but spent our summers at the beach & I still go every chance I get!!

  6. debby236

    We took one last vacation together before the kids were off to other things. We took a road trip and read Harry Potter out loud.

  7. Texas Book Lover

    The only vacation e we went on growing up was camping at the beach.

  8. Glenda M

    We used to take the kids to the beach during the off season before they were in school, so we mostly had the beach to ourselves. When they were older, we took a few trips to different national parks like Big Bend, Rocky Mountain, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone.

  9. Amy R

    What was a fun summer vacation you remember with your family, either growing up or now? A specific trip that was a few days at the lake.

  10. Lori

    We would stay in a cabin on a lake and my Nana, Aunt, and Uncle would stay in the cabin next door to us. We had so much fun!

  11. Nora-Adrienne

    Our go to place for the past 30 or so years has been Colonial Williamsburg. We usually go in the fall or early summer. One year it reached over 100 while we were there. They were handing out free bottle of water to anyone that asked.

  12. Colleen C.

    Our first cruise together… it was a memorable trip… first the hurricane, then seeing dolphins follow the ship, then Disney World and Cape Canaveral… so much fun with my sisters, parents and grandparents!

  13. Diana Hardt

    Spending a wonderful summer with my maternal grandparents shortly before my grandfather passed away.

  14. Patricia Barraclough

    We were living near Sacramento,CA the summer the World’s Fair was in Vancouver, BC, Canada, Expo 86. Our daughters were in 8th and 6th grade and our son was 3. We took two weeks and visited the National Parks along the way and spent 3 days in Vancouver. We only spent one day at Expo 86, but it was a wonderful experience. We went to the Vancouver Aquarium one day which we all enjoyed. On the way back we stopped in Seattle and went up the Space Needle. I think what the kids remember the most is at one of the National Parks, there were springs of carbonated water bubbling up out of the ground. We got some and mixed in some lemonade mix for sparkling lemonade. We went into lava tubes, saw Mount Ranier, Crater Lake, and the redwoods. All in all, it was a great trip

  15. rkcjmomma

    Summer vacation at my great aunt and grandmas with all the cousins and family and it was so much fun!