While these books each stand alone, characters do overlap and so one book leads gently to the next.
If you have to read a series in order, you still have time to download More Than A Job and read it before Sunday.
At my publisher’s site: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-269/Starting-Over-Book-One/Detail.bok
Check out the reviews on Amazon — and leave one if you’ve read More Than A Job. http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Over-Book-One-ebook/dp/B007F4D0CO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350684977&sr=1-1&keywords=lynette+endicott
Here is a scene from The Return of Joy when the characters come together:
The day was perfect — sunny and cool, with gentle winds. Charity hadn’t ridden on a bicycle before. She laughed and chattered from her perch behind Mark. Her helmeted head bumped his back, and from her chatter he knew she was taking in the view from side to side, enjoying the sights and smells, especially since she could see nothing but Mark in front of her.
The paths were hilly, offering him a great workout. At the top of one of the hills, he stopped, got off, and locked the bike. Because he hadn’t brought the stroller, he held Charity’s hand and led her along a side path. When she grew tired, Mark carried her, holding her on his hip with one arm.
She patted his cheek and said, “I love you, Marky,” and his heart swelled.
He smiled at the little girl. “I love you, too, Charity.”
Then he found a bench in the shade and sat where they could enjoy the cool breeze, and she snuggled into his chest and fell asleep, snoring lightly as he patted her back. Mark bumped his nose against her forehead, and she rested her cheek against his neck.
Contentment. Holding the little girl caused contentment to settle into his heart and his very bones. He breathed deeply and stretched out his legs in front of him. Atlas, not satisfied to sit at his feet, jumped up onto the bench beside them. Mark draped his other arm over the faithful dog. Atlas sniffed at Charity’s feet, gave a little lick to her leg, and then dropped his head onto Mark’s thigh next to one of her feet.
Mark wasn’t sure how long they rested. A sudden tingle shot up his spine. His well-honed instincts told him someone was watching them. He kept his relaxed pose, even after Atlas shifted against his thigh and gave a quiet but definite woof. Acting as if he were dozing, he gazed through half opened eyes to see if he could spot anything.
He had his head down, so what he saw was feet. Little feet. About Charity’s size. He opened his eyes a little more and zeroed in on a sweet face, topped by dark brown eyes and tousled red hair. Stacey, Josh Robinson’s little girl and Charity’s playmate.
“He’s awake,” the little girl squealed, turning to run down the path to her daddy. Mark opened his eyes the rest of the way and sat up taller but didn’t stand, wanting to let Charity rest a little longer. He raised his free hand and gave Josh Robinson a little wave.
“Charity’s still napping, honey,” Josh said to Stacey as they approached Mark. “You can play with Atlas, though.”
At the sound of his name, Atlas dropped to the ground, stretched, and gave himself a little shake. Then he approached a giggling Stacey. The two were old friends, and he lay at her feet while she crouched beside him and patted his head.
“Thanks for coming, Josh. Glad you’re in town. I’m going to need some help with logistics.” He outlined their dilemma as he saw it. “Like I said in my email, I need a safe place for the women of the family until all this settles back down. Jonas is keeping an eye on the place while we’re gone, but I need to keep Joy and her family engaged and safe, away from the cabin, until I get this thing sorted out. Clearly, Joy’s husband left something before he died that will unravel this mystery, and I’m in a race with some unsavory folks to find it first. Having three extra women in my life is slowing me down.”
“Would that be so bad if you weren’t dealing with the other thing?” Josh cocked his head and gave his friend a long look. “Seems to me you might be interested in more than just keeping the Huffmans safe.”
“True.” He stared at his hands, sorted out his thoughts, and let out a puff of frustration. “But I don’t think Joy’s ready to think about my other motives.”
Josh gave a snort of laughter. “Then you’re blind, brother. I’ve seen the way she looks at you. She’s head over heels in love with you, whether either of you realize it or not.”
Mark ran a hand over his eyes. If only…
Charity stirred and blinked up at him, widening her eyes as she woke in the unfamiliar place. She didn’t think of him as unfamiliar, though. She snuggled into him, then gave him a hug and a big smile.
“Hey, Charity, you’re awake. Guess who came to visit while you were taking a nap?”
Charity looked around, swiveling her head as far as she could one direction, and then the other, not looking low enough to see her friend.
She saw Josh, though, and knew what that meant.
“Down!” She wiggled free of Mark’s grasp.
She and Stacey stared at each other, then started a conversation of sorts over the back of the dog, both petting Atlas with increasing enthusiasm. He lay patiently between them, rolling his brown eyes to check in with Mark as if to say, “Don’t leave me here all day. These girls are wearing me out.”