Anchor Island Secrets with Terri Osburn

My guest today is a Lair favorite, Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Terri Osburn.  Secrets figure prominently in her latest Anchor Island release, Home to Stay, so she’ll chat with us about secrets.  Welcome, Terri!

Keeping Secrets on Anchor Island

Terri_Osburn_headshot_ImageBack when I was writing the first book of my Anchor Island Series, called MEANT TO BE, a bartender walked onto the scene and practically stepped off the page. She was confident and real, with no frills except for the gold bangle bracelets that chimed around her wrists. And I had no idea she was harboring major secrets.

That bartender turned out to be Willow Parsons, known as Will around Anchor Island. (Though that might not be the name she was born with.) Throughout the second book in the series, UP TO THE CHALLENGE, Will makes her living working for various businesses around the island, and resides in a tiny surfer’s shack near the water. (Even though she could probably afford the biggest house in the village.)

Osburn_HometoStay_front_cvr_FINALYou see, Will isn’t at all the person she’s portrayed herself to be on the island. And in the third and most recent installment in the series, HOME TO STAY, there’s one person who senses that there’s more to her story than she’s let on. An adrenaline junky who owns the local water sports company as well as the only fitness center on Anchor, Randy Navarro is a big guy. Like, The Rock big. And for some reason, Will freezes up like a deer stuck between the high beams of an oncoming bus every time he’s around.

The reason for that is probably Will’s biggest secret of all. And Randy is determined to bring it out into the light so he can wipe that look of fear out of her eyes. Only life is never that simple, right? (Especially not in romance novels.)

One of the most fun aspects of writing this story was slowly revealing Will’s secrets to the reader. There were hints given here. Clues dropped there. And eventually all is revealed in a way that Will never saw coming. But once the thing she’s feared most comes to pass, Will learns that sometimes you have to face your demons head on. Especially when losing the love of your life is on the line.

We all have secrets we prefer to keep to ourselves, and so do our characters. Be it as simple as her hair color comes from a box, or as complicated as the ever-popular secret baby trope, secrets can keep us on the edge of our seat and take us completely by surprise.

Tell me some of your favorite romance novels or movies with big secrets. Did you see it coming? Or were you caught completely off guard? To prevent spoilers, maybe be as vague as possible about that actual secrets.

One lucky commenter will win a full set of the Anchor Island Series (to date – book 4 coming later this year) along with a tote bag and fun book swag. (US &Canada only.)

For more information about Terri and her books, check out her website,  You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Jane says:

    Congrats on the new release, Terri. I can’t think of any romance novels or romance movies with surprises at this moment. I’m sure I’ve come across a few.

  • Amy Conley says:

    The last book with a secret I can remember was IT TAKES A SCANDAL by Caroline Linden. And even though it is a simple, sweet secret, it is special.

    As a side note I want to apologize for missing the party. Lots of things going on here and I completely forgot it. I feel so bad, like I’ve let the Ba dits down.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Amy, we missed you! The party was all fabulous madness, all day long. I am still tired! I hope you can make the next one. Yes, we want to have another! 😀

    • Amy, don’t worry about missing the party. We would’ve been glad to see you, but there will be other chances to party. Meanwhile you’ve regularly turned up here in the Lair, which is our home base and our focus, and we appreciate that.

    • Well Heck, Amy – I missed you. But don’t worry about letting the banditas down. The place was rocking and rolling without much time to spare. But I still missed you 🙂

  • Hi Terri! Hi Nancy! Terri, welcome back to the lair and congratulations on the release of HOME TO STAY. Love books where characters have big secrets. Most of mine work on that premise – for example in A Rake’s Midnight Kiss, my hero is pretending to be someone else for most of the book. Little does he know the heroine has twigged to the deception (she’s a clever gal!).

    • Anna, even though he was keeping secrets, I liked him. Other readers obviously did, too. Making a deceptive character sympathetic takes some thought.

      • Hey, thanks, Nancy. I think he grows a lot in the book which is something I always like to see. And I loved writing the scene where she turned the tables on him!

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Anna, that is definitely a secret! But she knows? That is a smart gel. You know you’re killing me, right? I have no time to read right now. Stop writing such fabulous books! (This goes for all the Banditas.) Or at least slow down.

    • pjpuppymom says:

      Loved this story and I forgave him for keeping secrets, just as the heroine did.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Terri

    WOw this one sounds great I have the first ones in the series and am hoping to catch up with all of them one after the other 🙂

    I know I have read stories with big secrets in them but at the moment I really cant think of the names of them I have had a big day LOL

    Congrats on the release and I am very much looking forward to this series

    Have Fun

    PS Bandits great party 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed the party, Helen! I frequently draw a blank when asked about specific types of books. If you think of something later, pop by and tell us.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Thank you, Helen. I am honored that you’re giving my series a chance. And I’ve been selling pretty well down there in your lovely part of the world. Which makes me happy because if they sell really well, then I’ll have to make a trip down there, right? Right??

  • Maureen says:

    Congratulations to Terri on her new book! One romance that really surprised me was A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. It is not a very long story but it has a fun twist.

  • Shannon says:

    I remember a Lynn Kurland book where the hero is a very tortured hero. He had been abused by his father. He tears down the family home and rebuilds it because he can’t stand the memories. Our heroine keeps coming across physical clue that trigger awful memories that he doen’t want to relive much less be known. The abuse theme didn’t surprise me but the cruelty of the father was pretty awful.

    In the Passion of the Plumeria, the heroine finds out someone has several secrets which saddens the heroine. It’s a very moving, almost devastating, moment.

    • Shannon, that bit about tearing down the family home sounds familiar. I think I may have read that. Romance characters often come from rough backgrounds, but some have had truly awful breaks.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Shannon, Lynn Kurland books should come with a warning. Tough reads. Always worth it, but still. Tough!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Terri, welcome back! It’s always a pleasure to see you here. How did you like the Facebook party? I feel like I need several more hours of sleep to recover. 🙂

    I love books with a twist. Movies, too. The last really twisty book I read was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. If anyone tells me they KNEW what was going to happen in that book, I would have to call bullshit! It is a crazeeee read, but really good. Highly recommended!

    • Caren, I haven’t read Gone Girl yet, but I’ve heard great things about it. Twistiness and complexity fit better in mystery and suspense, I think. it’s not that they’re unwelcome in romance but that there’s more room to develop them in mysterry and suspense because the puzzle, not the relationship, is the heart of those stories.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Heya, Caren. Thanks for having me back. I didn’t get to spend much time at the party because my edits were due back by last night. So I was working. (Why can’t these books write and edit themselves?)

      I never read Gone Girl, but I admit to reading spoilers about it online. And then I didn’t want to read. Definitely sounds crazy. Oddly enough, I recently watched a movie that had a secret twist I never saw coming.

      Wreck-It Ralph. I know, right? But I totally didn’t guess that secret.

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    I read a lot of romantic suspense so there are a lot of books with unexpected twists and turns. That’s what makes them fun.

    • Debbie, I read a lot of RS, too. What have you read lately?

    • Terri Osburn says:

      I used to read a ton of RS, but I think they got too stressful. LOL! Life was stressful enough, I couldn’t stay on the edge of my seat even while reading for pleasure.

      But I love the ones where the bad guy turns out to be a cop who was working the case from the inside the whole time. Those always get me.

  • Laney4 says:

    I absolutely loved THE SIXTH SENSE (where Haley Joel Osment is famous for saying, “I see dead people”). Great surprise ending I didn’t anticipate.

  • Teresa Hughes says:

    Secrets in books make me think of JD Robb’s In Death series. There are so many secrets in Eve and Roark’s lives I don’t think we will ever know them all!

    This series sounds great! I will definitely be checking it out!

    • Teresa, I love the In Death series. As you point out, the characters are so layered thst there’s always more to discover.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Thanks, Teresa. I’m on another blog today (2-timing, I know) and we’re talking favorite series. The In Death books have been mentioned over and over.

      I’m still amazed at what Nora has been able to do with that series. Keeping something like that fresh and new has to be crazy hard.

  • Terri Osburn says:

    I forgot how rambunctious this place can be! LOL! Sorry I’m late. Crazy morning and about t get crazier. Thank you for all the good wishes on the book. And to those of who have given the series a chance.

    It’s funny that like the rest of you, I know I’ve read a ton of books with secrets but nothing is coming to mind. *thinks harder* I’m sure I’ll come up something! Now I have to run a quick errand but I’ll be here to play all afternoon.

  • Hellion says:

    Oh, good, Laney4 mentioned The Sixth Sense–that’s my favorite twisty one. *LOL* I was like WTH!

    KEEPING MUM had secrets–lots of secrets (but I’m not sure much in the way of actual surprises but perhaps)–and it was hilarious. The housekeeper a family hires is actually the wife’s mother (whom she never knew because she was sent to jail for killing her lover). The housekeeper makes a lot of great things happen in that family and fixes everything, but not without a few dead bodies. *LOL*

  • pjpuppymom says:

    Hi Bandits! Great party yesterday! Congrats again on eight wonderful years. 🙂

    Welcome, Terri! Congrats on the new book! (I never get tired of saying that.) As you know, I’ve fallen in love with Anchor Island. All three books are wonderful and I’m already looking forward to revisiting the island when book 4 comes out later this year.

    Carey Baldwin’s CONFESSION has a big secret that caught me totally by surprise.

  • My mind is blank about what books I’ve read with secrets, but I have learned over the years that it is no good to keep secrets from your husband!! These books sound awesome!!

  • Terri, many of Grace Burrowes’ characters are keeping secrets. Anna, the heroine in The Heir, and Gabriel, hero of Gabriel and supporting character in two books leading up to his, are keeping their backgrounds secret. Many of Grace’s characters have things to hide.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      I think secrets might be a little easier to make plausible in historicals. You couldn’t really google someone back in the 1800s. 🙂 I hear nothing but raves about Grace’s books, and I do have a couple on my Kindle. Along with all the others I will someday get to. (I will. Really.)

  • Cassondra says:

    Terri, I love love LOVE this series.

    I’d pre-ordered Meant To Be so it was sitting on my Kindle and I got to start it last night. It was my reward for a couple of projects I’d finished.

    Loving it so far!

    Oh I’ve read a LOT of romance novels with “big secrets” and no way could I list them. I always talk about SEP’s Ain’t She Sweet and of course Sugar Beth had a secret–I wont’ say what it was, and the reader knew it before the hero found out, but still, it was an enticing, slow reveal.

    In Dianna Love’s latest Slye Temp, Deceptive Treasures, the heroine, Jin, has a HUGE secret. One that might be a key to the big threat in the whole series.

    I love books written this way because it’s so fun to see the character that is not at all what she appeared to be on the surface.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Thank you, Cassondra. With so many books out there, I am absolutely grateful when my books gets moved to the top of the pile. 🙂

      AIN’T SHE SWEET is one of my favorites ever. Ever ever. In the middle of that book, I never thought SEP would be able to redeem Sugar Beth, but she did. And beautifully at that. So good.

    • Cassondra, I agree about the secret in Deceptive Treasures. When Jin had to spill, that made things even worse. Very cool!

  • How have I missed this series, Terri and Nancy? And I do love a hero or heroine with secrets! Looking forward to reading these!

    I met an author at a mystery writers event (Murder on the Menu) and his book Red Leaves blew me away. The author is Thomas Cook. Great book – insightful, poignant and an interesting study of small town life.

    The book that introduced me to the Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – Still Life With Crows – was another book harboring a huge secret that isn’t truly revealed until the very last chapter. The entire series is chock full of secrets, the hero has secrets, everyone in his life has secrets, the villains have secrets. Love ’em!

    And I saw The Sixth Sense in the theater and the moment the secret is revealed the entire audience gasped. It was a really cool moment.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Louisa, that’s a lot of secrets! And you make me wonder, is it better when the reader doesn’t learn the secret until the very end, or when the reader knows but the other character doesn’t?

      Hmmm…. I hope you’ll give the books a shot. 🙂

    • Louisa, I’ve been meaning to try Preston and Child. If they’re this good, I suspect I’ll want to blitz through everything that’s available.

      • Trust me, Nancy, that is exactly what I did. I read Still Life With Crows first – which is not the first book in the series, but I was hooked. I went out and found everything I could by them and I’ve been hopelessly hooked ever since. I think they’ll be right up your alley.

  • Krysten M says:

    There are a lot of books and movies with secrets, but the only one i can think of right now is The Dark Knight Rises, probably because i just watched it again. Totally called the ending with the girl though. I’m pretty good at predicting but not always

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Krysten, that is the only Batman movie I haven’t seen. I need to fix that. And I can usually guess things by the end, so it’s even better when I don’t see the big twist coming.

    • Krysten, The Dark Knight Rises was pretty intense. I was suspicious of that particular woman because I’ve read Batman for years, but I was still surprised by how things played out.

  • catslady says:

    I see dead people lol. I love being surprised. The books that stay with me are the ones I can’t figure out but they also aren’t allowed to cheat – it has to make sense lol. I’ve not read your books as yet but they do sound enjoyable.

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Hey, catslady. No cheating. I’m with you on that. I read a book once where the resolution turned out to be an option that was never mentioned. Ever. If it had been, much of conflict wouldn’t have existed. That felt like a cheat to me.

    • Catslady, LOL! I totally agree, the resolution has to make sense. I also think it has to be presented in a way that I can look back over the story and see where the clues to it were. Otherwise, I feel cheated.

  • Hi Terri –

    Loved Sixth Sense, though I’d guessed the secret by the time it was revealed. How about all the secrets in Game of Thrones? Incest in the royal family kept secret to all – except family members. Secrets surrounding Lord Balish’s conniving. Heck, you don’t know if what you see on that show is real or not 🙂 but it is fun.

    Had to laugh when you said you were working on edits last night. Just turned mine in that were due today…and got a note that the recipient is out of the office for the day. ARGH! LOL

    • Terri Osburn says:

      Donna, I tried watching Game Of Thrones one time. It was much too violent and evil for me. Those people are seriously not nice.

      And you saw the Sixth Sense secret coming? You’re the first person I’ve met who wasn’t taken by surprise. ARGH to that editor!

    • Donna, congrats on turning in your edits. I hear Game of Thrones is rife with secrets and intrigue. Gives them a lot to unveil as the plot develops!

  • guitarmomma says:

    Just read Marin Thomas book The Cowboy’s Destiny and she had a secret she was afraid to tell. It was a great book!!
    The Scarlet Letter is one of my favorite books with secrets!

  • bn100 says:

    Rosemary Beach series by Abbi Glines; not expected

  • I loved Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros. That was a big secret and I’ll be honest that I didn’t see it coming.

  • Di R says:

    Hi Terri,

    I just ordered Home to Stay, (how did I miss release day?) yay I can’t wait to dive in.

    I love secrets in books, it’s always fun to see how the author handles them.


  • Becke says:

    Great lead-in to your story and intriguing question. Secrets? Oh wow, don’t we all love secrets. Few of us can keep one, but we all love them.

    One of the first surprise endings I can remember was the first Psycho. Hitchcock was a master at surprises. I also enjoyed Bradbury’s short stories.

    I agree with many of the other responders. Sixth Sense was great.

    • Becke, I love that saying of Ben Franklin’s, “Two people can keep a secret as long as one of them is dead.” Or something like that.

      Yes, Bradbury loved his twists, didn’t he? So did O. Henry.

  • Shari says:

    THe one book that stands out in my mind is Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. I thought i had all figured out and then wham mo a different ending. I believe it is being made into a movie, I will want to see that one for sure.
    Congrats on your release. Looking forward to seeing you in NOLA next week.

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    Congrats on the new book, Terri!

    I can’t think of a book, but I know I’ve read some with surprises.

    I love the movie, TOOTSIE. Dustin Hoffman is an actor who can’t get a job, so he dresses like a woman to get a job on a hospital set soap opera. It’s not a secret to the viewer, but when he does his big reveal to the other characters it’s hysterical! I had a friend record this for me on VCR tape for me when it came on TV for the first time before I even owned a VCR player. 😀

  • Laurie G says:

    Mirror Image Sandra Brown surprise ending

    I also read a mail order bride book where the groom’s brother picks up the girl and marries the woman without telling her he’s not the one who had been writing to her and was supposed to marry her. I can’t think of the title now.

  • flchen1 says:

    I sometimes love books with secrets, and sometimes not! I think to be honest, I love most books with secrets–it’s fun to see how the characters handle the keeping of them, especially if they aren’t naturally good liars 😉 BUT the one kind of secret I have a hard time stomaching is secret babies–I’ve read a few handled pretty well, but it’s not a plot I tend to pick up.

    • Fedora, you and I are on the same page with secret babies. I’ve read some really good stories based on that trope, but I have ethical issues with the secret baby concept in general.