Earlier today we featured a deleted scene from Joy Preble's upcoming release Forever Anastasia. Now she shares a guest post about the whole trilogy.
What’s Love Got to Do with It?: The Anne/Ethan Romance
The guiding force of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series is the relationship between Anne and Ethan. Anne knows from the second she catches blue-eyed Ethan stalking her at the ballet that there is just something about him. And in fact, he proceeds to turn her life upside and sideways because it is Ethan who peels back Anne’s normal world and reveals a world of Russian fairy tales brought to life, of a hidden princess and an illegitimate royal son driven by vengeance. When they touch – and I always knew that their story would begin with a physical touch setting things in motion—everything changes.
Anne is no longer just the girl who dances ballet and goes to school and mourns the death of her brother to cancer. She is a girl with power to save a princess, power to right ancient wrongs and ultimately, the power to break a curse that is holding her birth grandmother captive. But power comes with a steep price. And when Anne accepts Baba Yaga’s bargain so she can save Ethan in book 2, she steps into the witch’s forest in a way she has up until then refused to do. Of course, I wanted her to do this for love, even if she has trouble admitting that’s what it is.
This is problem for Anne and Ethan: they do not come easily to loving each other. Or rather, Ethan comes easily to loving Anne, even if he feels that he does not deserve her or a second chance at life. Which is exactly what she gives him when she rides out of the witch’s forest with Anastasia, allowing Ethan to regain his mortality. While Viktor yearns to live forever, Ethan wants only to have what he lost for a cause that was never what he believed it to be: to live and die in the proper time. That he has found the love of his life makes him both deliriously happy as well as guilty as hell.
And Anne, well, she’s a smart girl. Even when she’s not, she has Tess watching her back, making sure she sees things as they are. Anne sees loving Ethan as an impossibility. He is too old even if he looks young. He has secrets and a long, long past. She is only sixteen. And yet I think she loves him from the moment he tells her his story. But she holds back; she is indecisive. In fact, these traits hurt her in all aspects of her life. She has trouble committing. Ethan, on the other hand, is an all-in kind of guy.
So what did I do to these two? I made them inhabit a reverse fairy tale. It is Anne who ends up saving Ethan over and over. It is Anne who is the hero. And ultimately, it is Ethan (no spoilers for book 3 quite yet) who needs redemption and forgiveness before he and Anne can be together. A happily ever after, but hard won. And not without suffering and sacrifice. This is after all, a Russian fairy tale. No one knows endurance like the Russians.
And so it goes: Ethan and Anne, circling and circling love, each running from the other, each doing the hero’s job. The question becomes, will they figure out that they belong together before it’s too late?
Of course they will!
But with these two, love isn’t simple. I think that makes them equal parts of smart and stupid. Not forbidden love. Not crazy love where the passion burns out everything else—and I think we all need some of that in our lives.
When Anne and Ethan finally figure out that they belong together, it will be a love that entwines them like two puzzle pieces, marveling at how perfectly and easily they fit. And how foolish they were not to know it.