Earlier this year I read the awesome romantic mystery/thriller Anabel Unraveled by the lovely and talented Amanda Romine Lynch. Because the internet is awesome, I was able to connect with Amanda and she’s become one of my dearest friends. Her new book, Anabel Divided, was released today, and it continues the saga of Anabel and which man her heart will choose. Does she stay with strong and steady Matt, who seems to be closing her out emotionally? Or does she pursue the sexy and mischievous Jared? I invited Amanda to the blog today to discuss the love triangle that started in her first book, and develops in her latest. And while Amanda does an excellent job of not taking sides between her characters, I want the record to show that I am fully #TeamJared — and Amanda’s new book firmly cements that position for me.

Here’s Amanda!

Anabel Divided

First off, I wanted to thank Crystal for hosting me today, and to make sure that I stated from the get-go that she is not responsible for anything that I say in this post.

So if you’re reading this, I’m hoping that you’ve read my first book, Anabel Unraveled, and you know that in it there’s this love triangle. First off, we have my heroine, Anabel, who is pretty messed up because she spent most of her life growing up on this Top Secret island in the South Pacific where her father treated her terribly and then she witnessed his murder and wound up pregnant after she got raped.

Then there’s Jared, who wanted to save her from her situation but instead complicated it even further by getting drunk and forcing himself on her.  Filled with remorse, he does what he can to try to make it up to her—but Anabel repeatedly questions whether this is possible.

And then we have Matt. The bodyguard. The one that Anabel ultimately falls for.

When my first book came out, I was pregnant with my third little boy, and it was a cold February night when I went to book club to talk about my book. I was thirty-six weeks pregnant and wearing pajama pants because that was about all I could really sport at that point.  During the discussion the inevitable topic of Anabel picking Matt over Jared came up, and so I wanted to shed some light as to the why. More than one person has pointed out to me that they thought that—even though Jared drunkenly forced himself on Anabel—that somehow, the two of them would eventually be together, and that they were surprised that at the end of Anabel Unraveled she had chosen Matt.

For the record, I was kind of surprised as well, but it was also easy for me to see why she picked Matt. One of the reasons I chose to write the book in dual first person was because I didn’t want the reader to hate Jared, and I felt like if you couldn’t see inside his head, that would be the inevitable conclusion. Because Jared’s kind of a jerk. He’s that fantastic combination of being ridiculously good-looking and self-assured…but you still kind of want to make out with him, even when he’s being a jackass. One of the ladies at book club that night who happened to be a lawyer expressed that Jared reminded her of all the guys she went to law school with.

But there’s something about Anabel that makes Jared want to do the right thing, for the first time in his life. What he did causes him to take a good, hard look at himself and he does try really hard to fix things with her.

That being said, in the first book, Anabel concludes that Jared can’t give her what she wants and needs—safety and stability—which Matt can. Matt has the ability to make Anabel feel safe and protected, no matter what the situation, and even more—what really sticks with her—is how he always puts her needs above his own. Anabel grew up largely without her mother and her father never made her feel like she was loved, and she filled the void with Matt’s love for her, even remarking on how he was better at parenting her than her father was.

When I started work on my second novel (which is set four years down the road from the first one), I knew that Anabel and Matt were still together. She adored him and he her, and even though Jared was still in the picture, I didn’t think that he could be a real threat to their relationship.

The funny thing about fictional characters, however, is that even if you created them, they frequently do not listen to you. I was barely three chapters into this book before Anabel and Matt dealt with some unforeseen issues, and Anabel turned to Jared as a shoulder to cry on, only to realize that her feelings for him were not nearly as straightforward as she thought.

 Who will win Anabel’s heart? Does she make the right choice? Make sure you order your copy of Anabel Divided so you can get all the juicy details.