We’re thrilled to have here today for a character interview: Major Ash Hunter, a Navy SEAL currently on medical leave, born and bred in the Rocky Mountain town of Copperhill, Colorado. Ash is the hero in The Asset, Anna del Mar’s new romantic suspense novel. He’s here with service dog, a sable German shepherd called Neil, such a handsome boy.
Ash, is it my imagination or do you look kind of uncomfortable at the moment?
I’m not much for words. Neil and I, we don’t like people a lot these days. I’m only doing this for Lia.
You mean Lia Stuart, your co-protagonist in The Asset?
Yes. Lia is wary of strangers so she asked for an assist. I can’t say no to Lia. And please, don’t ask about my prior missions or what I did during my time in Afghanistan. That’s classified.
How did you and Lia meet?
When Lia and I met, she was hiding in Copperhill, pretending to be someone else, running away from the drug lord who’d terrorized her life. She didn’t want any attention and neither did I. I was just out of the hospital. Well, technically speaking, I hadn’t been discharged yet, but I had to get the hell out of there.
What was wrong with you?
I was wounded in Afghanistan. I’d been at that hospital for weeks on end. I was done with hospitals and doctors. So I went home, to the old lakeside cottage, where I could be alone and get my head on straight. And there she was. Lia. Aiming a loaded shotgun at me. Hiding. Pretending. Jumping three feet high when anybody approached the cottage. I knew she kept secrets right away.
You were lucky she didn’t shoot you on the spot.
I’ve got Neil to thank for that. Lia would never hurt an animal. Never. She loves animals and she adores those rescue animals of hers.
So what happened next?
I threw up in Lia’s kitchen, that’s what happened next. I was sick and not in my best state of mind. It was really touch and go for a while. Lia was frightened. God knows, looking back, she had some very good reasons to be frightened, of strangers, of me. That’s why she welcomed me with a shotgun.
But the girl’s got guts. When she figured out who I was and what was wrong with me, she took me in, even if she risked her cover—and her life—to do so. She vouched for me when the Marines came looking, then devoted herself to making sure I got better. It takes a special person to do all that for a stranger.
Sounds like you have a lot of admiration for Lia.
She’s the hero of this story and, for a guy who was in bad shape, she became my number one asset.
What do you believe are Lia’s strongest traits?
She’s brave. She’s all heart and guts. After everything she’s gone through, she’s resilient as hell. She’s gorgeous, resourceful, self-reliant, smart and loyal. Oh, and she’s funny too.
Sounds like she ticks all your boxes.
Affirmative. That she does.
She doesn’t trust people. She’s skittish, especially if she doesn’t know you, and she’s used to keeping secrets.
What about you? What are your strongest traits as a hero?
I really hate it when people call me a hero. Most SEALs do. I mean, we go out there every day and we do our job. That’s not being a hero. That’s performing up to standard.
When did you start to fall in love with Lia?
If you really have to know, I thought Lia was hot from day one, even if the first time I saw her she was wearing her pajamas and pointing a loaded gun at me. But it was the way she watched my six that got me, how she risked her own safety to care for me. In a firefight, you want someone like her watching your back.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
I was at DEFCOM 5 the entire time. Once I figured out Lia’s secret, I understood the full scope of the danger. I decided it was time to pay my rent and take care of business.
How did you go about taking care of “business?”
I engineered the mission, brought on the guys, watched and waited. There were many operational challenges. I worried about Lia’s self-reliance. She wasn’t used to being part of a team. Lia wanted to protect everyone in her life, including me. I worried that, no matter how hard I tried to protect her, she was going to get hurt.
How do you feel about the ending of the book?
I feel Goddamn lucky, that’s how. I swear, the last few scenes about killed me.
Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
I don’t know about that, but you’ll be reading about some of my friends in Anna del Mar’s Wounded Warrior series, guys who deserve the hoopla.
Really? Like who?
Like Seth Erickson, for example. He‘s protagonist of The Stranger, book two of the Wounded Warrior series due out August 2016. Seth’s the kind of hero you’re looking for, a legendary helicopter pilot and an Alaskan tycoon who met his match when he ran into Miami native, sun-loving Summer Silva. Talk about a hero. That’s a story you might want to hear.
Great. I can’t wait to meet Seth Erickson and Summer Silva in The Stranger. Give my regards to Lia and thank you for this interview, Ash.
Thank you. Come on, Neil. Let’s get the hell out of here.
Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass, military heroes who defy the limits of their broken bodies to protect the women they love. She is the author of The Asset (Carina Press), the first novel of her Wounded Warrior series and three other novels scheduled for release during 2016.
A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.
[box] Ash Hunter knows what it is to run. A SEAL gravely injured in Afghanistan, he’s gone AWOL from the military hospital. Physically and mentally scarred, he returns home to his grandmother’s isolated cottage—and finds a beautiful, haunted stranger inside.
Like recognizes like.
Lia Stewart’s in hiding from the cartel she barely escaped alive, holed up in this small Rocky Mountain town. Surviving, but only just. Helping the wounded warrior on her doorstep is the right thing to do…it’s loving him that might get them both killed.
Soon, Ash realizes he’s not the only one tormented by the past. Pushing the limits of his broken body, testing the boundaries of her shattered soul, he’ll protect Lia until his last breath.
Buy a copy of ‘The Asset’ here. [/box]