Paige and Joshua — the Sizzle of their First Kiss

“There you are.” Paige’s lilting voice gave Josh a rush of warmth and he grinned up at her from flat on his back on the ground, bumping his head on the corner of the tool shed as he sat up.dreamstimefree_3756336

“Ouch.” He rubbed the spot and with a rueful shrug, scooted out and brushed the back of his head to shake any leaves free. “You startled me. I was just finishing up.”

“What are you doing under there, anyway?” Paige leaned down to peer into the recess under the floor of the little building. “That doesn’t even look safe. I’d be afraid of bugs and snakes and other unnamed creepy crawlies.”

“Oh, they’re all gone now.” Josh reached under the building and felt around until he grasped his treasure. “Scared them away with the rake before I retrieved this.”

He pulled one of the rocks out and held it up for Paige to see.

Her gasp of joy pleased him. She reached for the crystal in his hand.

“I don’t believe it. However did you find this? It’s gorgeous.” She held it up, letting the sun reflect through it, flashing colors.

“Rose quartz, madam, if I don’t miss my guess. And there are more.” He reached back to the neat pile he’d gathered at the edge of the foundation and pulled out another stone. “This one is granite. It will be beautiful wet.”

She caught the idea immediately. “Maybe in the bird bath.” She dropped down in the grass to sit cross-legged beside him. Then she took the fist-sized rock, spit on it, and rubbed the spot. “Or if I ever build my waterfall.”

“If you build a little pond, you can fit all these in. Come take a look.” He continued scraping the rocks from the pile forward, bringing one after another into the light. This was his first good look at them, and he gave a low whistle. “This isn’t just a pile of rocks. It was someone’s collection once upon a time. I think this is jade.”

He gathered three non-descript ones with similar surfaces and dropped them into Paige’s lap. “Here are some geodes. If you crack them open, you’ll find jagged crystals inside. Here, this one is open.”

They moved their heads closer together as they handled the hollow crystal and sorted through others. Paige looked up, and Josh found her eyes, blue and sparkling with joy, only inches from his. He could get lost in those eyes. The light in them was clear and bright and eager. He didn’t want to look away, but she broke the gaze.

A blush crept up her neck, and she shifted a little farther from him. “You seem to know a lot about rocks.”

“I was an avid collector as a kid. My mom makes jewelry and always had lots of rocks around for her work.” He picked up a purple crystal and held it out to her.

She opened her palm.

He dropped it into her hand and let his fingers trail across her wrist before he moved them away.”That one was always my favorite. It’s an amethyst. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Amethyst is my birthstone.” Hcrystal3er voice was low, almost a whisper, and filled with a kind of awe that touched him to the core.

“You have a February birthday, then.” He frowned a minute, pulling words from a deep memory. “It is a crystal known for cleansing the aura, enhancing spiritual awareness, and…”

He struggled to remember the rest. Then he remembered and swallowed. “And attracting loving energy. It suits you.” Loving energy emanated from Paige.

“It is beautiful.”

He looked at her face, the perfection of her skin, slightly pink and so touchable, and he reached out one finger and ran it down her cheek. Electricity crackled up his arm.

“Yes, it is.” He stopped at her mouth, shifted so his thumb was there instead, and hooked his finger under her chin. Then he lifted her eyes to his. “Beautiful,” he repeated.cover for on line ad

Her breathing picked up, and his own grew rapid and shallow, matching his speeding heart. He struggled to remember that he’d only seen this woman once before. He barely knew her, but somehow that didn’t compute. The only thought he could process was how her lips would feel under his. He leaned forward for a little taste and found her lips parted ever so slightly and her breath tasting of cinnamon. She shifted a little closer.

She tasted of everything good and right in the world. Cinnamon and vanilla and honey. He moved his lips slowly, carefully, taking his time, giving her time to draw back or not, to do what she wanted and needed to do.

Her hand came up to his face and she angled in, deepening their kiss and stealing his reserve. Her fingers tested the feel of his hair, the stubble on his face, and then her tongue flicked the corner of his mouth.

Had he moaned out loud? He needed to press closer. He put his arm around her shoulder and shifted so their bodies touched as he pulled her against him.

They both broke off and pulled back, she with a giggle, and he with a muffled curse, as the pointed edges of the rock collection dug into his hip.”Dratted rocks.”

The pile he’d pulled out for her viewing pleasure made a decidedly unpleasant place to lounge for a first kiss. His gaze darted up to meet hers, and he burst into laughter as she covered her mouth and smothered her own chuckles. Her eyes danced, filled with joy in the craziness of the moment.

Get your copy of More Than A Job today from my publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing, or from Amazon.

Animals — what would life be without them?

This story of Paige’s kittens mirrors the time my daughter and I decided to adopt our first rescues.

Excerpt: More Than A Job

pepperShe heard them before she saw them. Tiny squeaks filling the air as she wheeled the wheelbarrow to the woodpile. She got down on her hands and knees and peered around and behind the stacked wood until she spotted the source of the noise. Four little kittens nuzzled a black cat, nesting in a pile of leaves between the woodpile and the fence.

The mama cat looked up at Paige then looked away, apparently uninterested and not particularly frightened. Paige took her firewood back to the house. She parked the load inside the screened back porch, thinking about the coming storm and the vulnerable little family. Well, she didn’t have to leave them to the elements. She rummaged through the garden shed and came up with a tarp. At least she could give them some shelter if rain did come. She fastened the covering to the fence, anchored it in the woodpile, and let it drop to the ground behind the felines to give them shelter on three sides.

Then she propped the screen door to her back porch open about six inches and put water and a few food scraps on her back step. She took an old blanket and molded it into a nest up close to the house, out of the wind she was sure was on its way.

She met her neighbor at the curb when she went out to bring her empty trash container back behind the fence.

“Hey, Linda. How’s your life today?”

Linda was about the age Paige’s mother would have been if she’d lived. Not quite fifty, she worked at an accounting firm downtown. Her husband was older, semi-retired, and ran a tax business out of their home when he wasn’t polishing his Corvette or riding his Harley. Linda knew the neighborhood. She’d know about the cat, if it belonged to someone.

Linda’s ready smile was accompanied by a shrug. “Can’t complain. It’s busy here and at work — end of the quarter, you know. But busy pays the bills.”

Paige cringed. She’d need to be busy and paying bills before too long. “Got a question for you. Have you heard the little family just on the other side of your fence, against my woodpile?”

“Family of what? Not rodents, I hope. I can’t stand mice, and rats scare me to death.”

Paige laughed. “No, no. Sorry — didn’t mean to worry you. Just the opposite, in fact. The arch enemy of all rodents.”

“Cats?” Linda faced her now, obviously interested.

“A black mama and four little ones,” Paige confirmed.

“Is she all black?”

“As far as I could see. She doesn’t seem wild. I wondered if you might know who she belongs to.” Paige glanced at the sky. No blue — just the heavy gray of clouds, probably holding a lot of moisture. “I’m a little worried about her. I think we’re going to get a storm.”

Linda’s gaze followed hers, and she nodded. “I think you’re right. I can feel the moisture in the air. With the cloud cover we may get lucky — it might stay warm enough to rain rather than snow. But it could go either way. Why don’t you show me your little family?”

Paige let Linda in through the gate and gestured behind the woodpile. One lone kitten mewed for its mother as it rooted around the otherwise empty little nest.cover for on line ad

“You must have scared the mother when you came for wood,” Linda, the all-knowing cat lover, said. “Either scared her, or she knows the storm’s coming and she’s looking for better shelter. Wait. She’s moving them.” She gestured for Paige to move back, took a few steps back herself, and dropped her voice to a whisper. “She’ll be back for this one in a minute if we don’t disturb her. Let’s see where she goes.”

They didn’t have to wait long. The black cat, a little thin but proud and beautiful, trotted back from around the corner in Paige’s yard. She took the last kitten into her mouth, holding it firmly by the scruff of its neck, and trotted out of sight. Paige and Linda peered around the corner to see where she went.

“Looks like you’ve inherited some cats,” Linda observed, waving toward the animal depositing the last of her little ones into the blanket beside Paige’s back step. Then the mama cat settled herself into the folds beside them.

“How about that? I put it out a few minutes ago, but I was worried about how to coax her to use it. I guess she found her way without any coaxing on my part.”

“I’m pretty sure mama cat belongs to Tom and Judy, across the street. We’ll have to let them know.”

Paige was thoughtful. “Do you think that maybe, when they’re weaned, they’d let me keep one? I like the little brownish colored one.”

“It’s a tortoise-shell, or a tortie. They can be a little temperamental. You want two, not just one. Two cats will entertain each other.”

“Makes sense.” How weird. Paige had put pets on her list and now here they were, on her doorstep. “Which house is Tom and Judy’s again? I’ll let them know their cat’s okay.”

Order your copy — electronic from the publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing, and either paperback or Kindle through Amazon.

How did Paige and Joshua meet?

cover for on line adThis excerpt from More Than A Job tells their first meeting. This week we will look at the first meeting for all the Starting Over stories. Next, the animals in their lives. Then, first kisses!

Excerpt: More Than a Job

Paige stumbled across the office complex parking lot toward her car, shaking as reality hit her. She blinked at the tears blurring her vision and attempted to straighten her spine, to keep her head up, but her body was stiff, wooden, clumsy. She clutched the box of remnants from her office, representing ten years of her professional life. Could she make it to her car before she fell apart completely? Why had she parked so far from the door?

For the exercise. She was such a fool.

A car horn blared in the silence, close by, startling her. Her heart raced as she turned toward the sound, and turned an ankle in the process. She went down on her knees and the box slid out of her arms and across the pavement, scattering her destroyed career over ten square feet of asphalt.

I am unemployed. She couldn’t catch her breath. The job she’d poured herself into for the last ten years was over. She fought back sobs by gulping air. I have to get up. Have to get out of here.

“Are you okay?” A deep baritone penetrated her foggy brain. Shiny dress cowboy boots appeared almost within reach of her left hand. Paige pushed up with both hands and leaned back on her heels. She glanced up briefly, then reached for her fallen sunglasses and shoved them back into place, hoping they would hide some of the tears running down her cheeks. Her knees and her palms stung from contact with the rough pavement.

A man towered above her, backlit so she couldn’t see his face, only his long, lean silhouette and the hand he had extended to her. “Can you stand? Let me help you.”

A witness to her embarrassing downfall. Shaking her head, unable to speak, she gathered the items she could reach. A few books. A desk clock. The picture of her parents, the last one taken before her mother died. She turned it as she pulled it closer. The glass was broken. That indignity was the final straw, and she let everything slip from her trembling hands as she sobbed in earnest.

The man dropped to one knee beside her, suit and all. He hesitated a brief moment, then brought his long, lean, tanned face close to hers, placed a hand gently against one of her cheeks and nudged her so she looked up.

This time, she could see his eyes. They were compassionate, dark with concern. He said gently, “Are you injured?”

She shook her head, but could not find her voice.

“Good.” He sounded relieved. “I was worried. Listen, just sit here a minute. Let me pick up your things. It’s the least I can do.”

She didn’t have the strength to argue and watched numbly as he righted the box and organized the items inside it. He moved around her, leaning, reaching, pulling together the scattered pieces, then set the box on the back of a red convertible angled across the drive. Its driver’s side door gaped open, left that way when he’d rushed to her aid. A gentle ding, ding, ding warned that the keys were still in the ignition. To stave off her distress, she fixated on his boots. Finely tooled leather cowboy boots. Then he was at her side again, crouching beside her.

“Ready to stand?” he asked.

Paige looked up into his warm brown eyes and lost herself in them for just an instant. She found it calming not to have to think, not to have to handle this moment alone.

“I think so.” She reached for his extended hand and let his warmth surround her as he grasped it firmly and pulled her to her feet. She wobbled just a little, found her balance again. Her ankle was only a little sore. She could bear her own weight

The stranger tucked her arm into his. “May I walk you to your car?”

She managed a smile. This would be a romantic meeting if she weren’t so sad. She stared down at her torn tights, runs feathering out in all directions from her skinned knees, and winced. She nodded her permission and gestured six spaces down. “It’s the silver two-door.”

He placed his other hand over hers where it rested on his arm. “You’re gonna be okay, you know.”

She didn’t know how. Despair washed over her again, and she stumbled against him.

He stopped, steadied her, and put his arm around her. “It’s okay.”

Somehow she found that leaning into his strength made things at least a little bit okay. She was aware, under her misery, of his height and the long, hard muscles under her hand. Had he gotten all those muscles from time spent in the gym or from working hard? Or both?

He cleared his throat. “I didn’t cause you to fall, did I?”

What did he mean? She looked up to see if his expression gave her a clue.

“If I’d hit the brakes instead of my horn, you might not have taken that spill.”

“You are not at fault, really.” She smiled a little smile. Maybe he was being so nice because he was afraid she’d sue him. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. I had too much on my mind. And my ankle twisted out from under me before I knew what happened.”

They had reached her car door. She unclipped her keys from her belt, and found the weight of them in her hand odd. Where she had carried a dozen keys — for her office, group homes, med cabinets, and fire alarm systems representing her job responsibilities — now she had only two. Her car key and her apartment key seemed very lonely on the large hook.

“You go ahead and sit, and I’ll bring your box.”

She kept her eyes on his back as he moved away and shivered in the autumn air, aware of the loss of his body heat. She popped open her trunk and waited for him, still standing, reluctant to drive away.

He placed the box into the trunk and turned, taking both her hands in his and examining her palms.

“You need a little first aid. I see you’re prepared.” His words were ironic, really. Would she have carried a first aid kit in her trunk if her job hadn’t required it? He nodded toward the mounted white box. “May I?”

“Thank you, yes.” Usually she would have said no. She didn’t like needing help and tended to push away such offers. She could take care of herself. But she didn’t want him to go just yet. His hands were warm and felt good holding hers.

He guided her to the driver’s seat where she sat sideways, feet on the pavement, while he got the first aid kit, then knelt to clean and dress the scrapes on her hands. He dabbed at her knees with the wipes, too, but appeared baffled by how to work around her torn hosiery.

“Here, let me. They’re ruined anyway.” She tore the fabric open at each knee, giving him full access to her wounds. He rested a palm on the side of one knee to steady his hand as he cleaned away the gravel. The gentleness of his fingers against her legs was very professional. So why did she sense a shiver of eroticism underneath his almost medical touch?

“You’re good at this.” she said, once the gauze pads were firmly in place, the bandages neat and tight.

He gave her a little smile. “I’ve bandaged a few scrapes in my time.” He looked up, catching her in the rich chocolate of his eyes. “Never for so beautiful a patient, though. Now, which ankle is bothering you? Let me give it a look.”

Paige extended her left foot. “This one, although it’s better. I twisted it when I went down, but it’s not too sore. I don’t think it’s sprained.”

The man felt her ankle, probing a little. “No pain? I can wrap it for you if you want.”

“No, I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s nothing a little rest won’t fix. I’m okay, really.”

He nodded, snapped the first aid kit closed, and returned it to its rack, pushing down on the trunk lid to latch it, then wiping his hands with another wipe. He collected the trash, and she held out her hands for it. “There you go.”

“Thank you.” Such inadequate words. Without his gentle insistence, she might still be sobbing on the asphalt. She stuffed the trash into the bag by the seat and turned to look at him. “You’ve been so kind to me, and I don’t even know your name.” She extended a bandaged hand in greeting. “I’m Paige.”

“Joshua.” He grasped her hand gently in a handshake, then covered their joined hands with his other hand. “You gonna be all right, Paige?”

Drat it all. Sympathy undid her every time. She sucked in a quick breath, bit her lip, fought back her tears, and nodded. She sniffed, horrified her nose was running, and worse, turning red as tears gathered in her eyes. Time to get out of here. “I’ll be fine. Thanks for helping.”

“My pleasure. I hope we’ll meet again another day.”

Before she could question herself, before she could berate herself as a fool under stress, Paige gave in to an impulse. She leaned toward him where he bent over her, fished the pen from the breast pocket of his Western suit, and turned his hand palm up. She scribbled her cell phone number on the smooth brown surface, right along his long life line.

“If you mean it, call me in a week or two.” She loved the way his eyes widened, then crinkled in a smile. “Maybe I’ll be having a better day.”

“Count on it.”

Order More Than A Job from my Amazon Author Page in either paperback or Kindle version. Other electronic formats are available form my publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing.

Pets part of starting over

When Paige loses her job, two new kittens offer love

Excerpt, Starting Over Book One, More Than a Job

The computer whirred through its boot-up and opened to her email. Today was Friday. Had it only been a week since she’d walked away from her work life? She scanned the notes that had come in from friends and former co-workers who had just learned about the layoff. Her hands trembled, and she fought back tears. She couldn’t read them all. Not yet. It was too hard.

KittenPaige closed the laptop and pushed away from the desk. She’d give herself a little more time. She grabbed a jacket and gloves and went out into the garden to tend her fall mums. Besides, she needed to bring in some wood. A storm was coming in, probably rain, but maybe snow. A fire would take the chill off the house.

She heard them before she saw them. Tiny squeaks filling the air as she wheeled the wheelbarrow to the woodpile. She got down on her hands and knees and peered around and behind the stacked wood until she spotted the source of the noise. Four little kittens nuzzled a black cat, nesting in a pile of leaves between the woodpile and the fence.

The mama cat looked up at Paige then looked away, apparently uninterested and not particularly frightened. Paige took her firewood back to the house. She parked the load inside the screened back porch, thinking about the coming storm and the vulnerable little family. Well, she didn’t have to leave them to the elements. She rummaged through the garden shed and came up with a tarp. At least she could give them some shelter if rain did come. She fastened the covering to the fence, anchored it in the woodpile, and let it drop to the ground behind the felines to give them shelter on three sides.

Then she propped the screen door to her back porch open about six inches and put water and a few food scraps on her back step. She took an old blanket cover for on line adand molded it into a nest up close to the house, out of the wind she was sure was on its way.

She met her neighbor at the curb when she went out to bring her empty trash container back behind the fence.

“Hey, Linda. How’s your life today?”

Linda was about the age Paige’s mother would have been if she’d lived. Not quite fifty, she worked at an accounting firm downtown. Her husband was older, semi-retired, and ran a tax business out of their home when he wasn’t polishing his Corvette or riding his Harley. Linda knew the neighborhood. She’d know about the cat, if it belonged to someone.

Linda’s ready smile was accompanied by a shrug. “Can’t complain. It’s busy here and at work — end of the quarter, you know. But busy pays the bills.”

Paige cringed. She’d need to be busy and paying bills before too long. “Got a question for you. Have you heard the little family just on the other side of your fence, against my woodpile?”

“Family of what? Not rodents, I hope. I can’t stand mice, and rats scare me to death.”

Paige laughed. “No, no. Sorry — didn’t mean to worry you. Just the opposite, in fact. The arch enemy of all rodents.”

“Cats?” Linda faced her now, obviously interested.

“A black mama and four little ones,” Paige confirmed.

“Is she all black?”

“As far as I could see. She doesn’t seem wild. I wondered if you might know who she belongs to.” Paige glanced at the sky. No blue — just the heavy gray of clouds, probably holding a lot of moisture. “I’m a little worried about her. I think we’re going to get a storm.”

Linda’s gaze followed hers, and she nodded. “I think you’re right. I can feel the moisture in the air. With the cloud cover we may get lucky — it might stay warm enough to rain rather than snow. But it could go either way. Why don’t you show me your little family?”

Paige let Linda in through the gate and gestured behind the woodpile. One lone kitten mewed for its mother as it rooted around the otherwise empty little nest.

“You must have scared the mother when you came for wood,” Linda, the all-knowing cat lover, said. “Either scared her, or she knows the storm’s coming and she’s looking for better shelter. Wait. She’s moving them.” She gestured for Paige to move back, took a few steps back herself, and dropped her voice to a whisper. “She’ll be back for this one in a minute if we don’t disturb her. Let’s see where she goes.”

They didn’t have to wait long. The black cat, a little thin but proud and beautiful, trotted back from around the corner in Paige’s yard. She took the last kitten into her mouth, holding it firmly by the scruff of its neck, and trotted out of sight. Paige and Linda peered around the corner to see where she went.

joy cover“Looks like you’ve inherited some cats,” Linda observed, waving toward the animal depositing the last of her little ones into the blanket beside Paige’s back step. Then the mama cat settled herself into the folds beside them.

“How about that? I put it out a few minutes ago, but I was worried about how to coax her to use it. I guess she found her way without any coaxing on my part.”

“I’m pretty sure mama cat belongs to Tom and Judy, across the street. We’ll have to let them know.”

Paige was thoughtful. “Do you think that maybe, when they’re weaned, they’d let me keep one? I like the little brownish colored one.”

“It’s a tortoise-shell, or a tortie. They can be a little temperamental. You want two, not just one. Two cats will entertain each other.”

“Makes sense.” How weird. Paige had put pets on her list and now here they were, on her doorstep. “Which house is Tom and Judy’s again? I’ll let them know their cat’s okay.”

Download More Than a Job today. You may also want to read Book Two in the Starting Over Series, The Return of Joy.

A blog about writing romance or about animals or what?

A marketing professional’s question…pepper - Copy

It is a fair question. In answer, let me tell you a story.

After a fairly significant event that interrupted my career, I was working from home, deciding what to do with myself, and I decided to get back to my writing. I joined an on-line critique group, set aside writing time, researched articles where I could write short stories, joined the Romance Writers of America…all the things a serious romance writer should do.

During this time I learned the delight of being home with my teenage daughter. I had worked outside the home herwhole life, but now we had that precious time immediately after school when her day tumbled out as we drove home.

She’s the one who heard the kittens in the woodpile. A feral cat had a litter and they were as cute as they could be, especially when they began chasing each other around our back yard, tumbling and hissing and occasionally falling into the pool, but we were always there to fish them out. My daughter picked one of them up and asked, predictably, if she could keep it. I answered, predictably, no, her father didn’t like cats. Then she asked the question that changed our lives.

mostly ollie“Why do we let him decide?”

Why, indeed. Long story short, we adopted two kittens, and later another came into our lives to be rescued. We rescued a dog a few years later, and then a cockatiel showed up on our back porch.

I’d never owned a pet before, not one of my own. A few animals found their way through our lives as I was growing up, but none were mine and most had pretty sad stories, didn’t turn out well.

After I turned 50 my daughter’s spunk turned that all around and I am absolutely in love with all my animals. Now I can’t imagine life without them. Art imitates life, so my characters include animals. That is why Paige adopts two kittens found in her backyard in More Than a Job, Mark’s yellow lab, Atlas, becomes a therapy dog and reading tutor in The Return of Joy and a calico cat and a German shepherd are animal helpers in Animal Instinct, because all the heroes and heroines in our Time After Time Saga have animal helpers.

71916925269910592_1wlk4eov_bIn a few weeks you will meet another calico cat and a cockatiel in Survival Instinct. In Finding Her Voice, Starting Over Book Three, Ollie (the terrier mix above) accompanies Jen as she takes a journey across the country to figure out how to rebuild her life. This fall you will meet two more animal helpers, a horse and a barn cat, in Pioneer Instinct. So as the marketing professional calls it, in developing the “brand” of Author Lynette Endicott, animals will always play a part.  I enjoy bringing animals in with guest authors, too.

Check out all the books that are available at my Amazon author page.

There is a page for each of the books mentioned in the menu at the top of this page. Hope you will browse through to see what is coming soon.

Love stories – what we love about Romance

Like most authors I live in more than one world.

There is the writer world – and every day I spend time in that world, writing, editing, meeting readers like you and learning how to continue to improve my craft. Even when I’m not at my computer I am living in the characters’ heads and planning out what will happen next in their lives.

There is the personal world — my life, marriage, kids, pets, beliefs.

And there is the professional world, where  I  write reports, policies, and training manuals, and talk to people by phone or email about their work and how to improve what they are doing. And I go by a different name than my writing name, just to make it a little more confusing.

Not everyone in my professional world admits to reading love stories. When they learn I am author, they are curious. When i reveal that I write romance novels, the response is mixed.

It seems a bit silly to me, but some women are a bit snobbish, and won’t admit to reading romance.

What a shame! Because, in addition to being a love story, books like my first novel, More Than A Job, tell a story about specific people. Paige and Joshua are the main characters,  have both personal and professional worlds. Because it is part of my own experience, I found these two in the world of providing services to people with developmental  disabilities. There is even a taste of the conflicts that professionals in the field have with each other.

Evelyn and Joy, in The Return of Joy, have a shared career in their interior decorating partnership. Mark works in building security. Jonas used to teach at the university. All of them have other hobbies and interests, so that their personal and professional lives blend to make a whole.

Romance novels are much more than bedroom scenes. (In fact, I don’t do bedroom scenes until the couple is married.) They tell us about the people who are falling in love. So come enjoy the sizzle and tension of falling in love, set in a small town in Missouri or the mountains outside Albuquerque — and meet the interesting, sometimes flawed but multi-dimensional people whose path to starting over also leads to love.

You can find trailers for both books to the right of this post, and can click on pages highlighting each book in the list of pages at the top of this post.

You can download in most eBook formats from my publisher at http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-template/LynetteEndicott/Page.bok You will also find some reviews, blurbs and excerpts there.

Read reviews and previews and download directly from my Amazon author page at: http://www.amazon.com/Lynette-Endicott/e/B008E8P1AO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Don’t you love a love story?

Let’s be honest. Sometimes, in my professional world, people look down their noses when I tell them I write ROMANCE.

I guess they expect professional papers or research articles or books about management. I want to spend my evenings writing — and reading about love.

Maybe it is a function of nearing retirement age, but frankly I don’t want to work day and night. I want a break from reality now and then. When I am reading, I look for a love story.

I have a broad taste in books, so some stories like the Star Wars books and movies or Gail Delaney’s Phoenix Rebellion or Phoenix Rising books are based in a future world and have an exciting science fiction backdrop. But woven throughout? You guessed it. A love story. Or if you are lucky, more than one.

In The Return of Joy, Starting Over Book Two,  I explored how a widow can heal a little and begin to reclaim her life but it is also — you guessed it — a love story. She is young, with a young child. There is a parallel story about two older people falling in love. It isn’t the main story, but I’ve seen enough of life to know people don’t stop wanting love because they are aging.

So even if you have grey hair like me … I know you enjoy a good love story. In fact, this is a little more sensual than my other titles. And while it is Book Two, it does stand alone.

More Than a Job, Starting Over Book One, tells the story of Paige Roberts, who loses her job. There are elements of characters who have a disability woven through the story.

Animal Instinct, the first of the Time After Time Saga with Tami Dee, is a romance about a veterinarian and is a great book for animal lovers and includes a time-traveling enemy who has been stalking Dr. Al’s ancestors and now is after her.

All three books take the approach that sex happens in marriage — but the sizzle is there long before, and certainly after.

Check out all three of my current romance titles at http://amzn.to/TIFFwI where you can read the first few chapters and then decide to buy!

Do you have to read a series in order?

Starting Over Book Two  – The Return of Joy – will be released Sunday, October 21.

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.”

http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-357/Starting-Over-Book-Two-cln-/Detail.bok

The Return of Joy releases Sunday October 21

Available October 21, 2012 When Joy Huffman’s recurring dreams of the husband she lost become urgent she is convinced to go to the cabin, their project of love, in New Mexico. With her daughter and mother-in-law, they set out to learn what Steve wants them to know – that his death was no accident, but murder. Their investigation stirs up the evil that ended his life, and puts them all at risk. The caretaker at the cabin, Mark Stone, is challenged to keep them safe while he unravels the mystery of why Steve died. Along the way he falls in love with Joy — but will she be open to loving again?

 EXCERPT “The last thing Steve said to me,” Evelyn had told Joy, “must have been a premonition.” Joy had looked up from her tears, from the bed where she had just given birth to Charity, with confusion in her eyes. “‘Take care of Joy’,” he said to me. “‘If anything happens, you’ll take care of my Joy, won’t you?’ And I will.”

I’m still taking care of her. Joy had needed Evelyn then, and she needed her now. A new mother couldn’t deal with planning a funeral. Evelyn had picked out the casket and planned the service. She got Joy through the condolences and the days and weeks after the funeral. She pushed down her own pain at losing her son so that she could support his little family. She’d handled everything — everything — and given Joy time to heal. Her new job was to protect and care for Joy and Charity. She had been there when Joy struggled to move from one day to the next. Evelyn had helped Joy get back into her business — now home-based, because of the baby. Who else could call clients and make appointments, prod Joy to move back into the world, and cover for her when she couldn’t work? Moving in with Joy had come naturally. After all, living with her was much more convenient, and during months of lower productivity, sharing costs would help them both. Joy needed so much from Evelyn. The older woman had given up her privacy and independence because she wanted to take care of her new granddaughter and the woman who’d given the child life. She’d promised Steve. Besides, they were family.

Evelyn was there this morning, ready to listen, as always. She finished cooking breakfast and set plates of steaming food on the table. She’d never been good at staying still. She refilled Charity’s cup with juice, encouraged the little girl to wipe her mouth, and then pulled her chair up beside Joy to eat her own meal.

When Joy set down her mug and sighed, Evelyn turned to her and asked, “Long night?”

Joy nodded and ran a hand through her dark curls as she stared at her plate. Smudges under her eyes and the tightness of strain around her mouth made her look older than her thirty-three years. “I had the dream again.” She shook her head and toyed with her food, pushing the eggs around on her plate. Evelyn wished Joy had more of an appetite. “Evelyn, I can’t take it anymore.”

“The dream at the cabin where Steve calls out to you?” She poured Joy a second cup of tea.

At her daughter-in-law’s nod, she asked, “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to face my demons.” Joy looked at her over her mug and attempted a smile. Then she winced. She’d told Evelyn more than once she didn’t have the heart to go to the cabin, so she’d never seen the dream house they’d designed, that Steve had given her and their unborn child. Evelyn had found someone to care for the place, so it hadn’t been abandoned, and yet Joy seemed content to forget about it. Perhaps she’d found her destroyed hopes too much to bear. Now, however…

Joy took a tentative bite of toast. “I’m already packed. I hope you’ll come with us.” She took another bite, and then another. Evelyn was pleased to see her eating so well. Maybe this decision was what she’d needed. Of course she would go. Joy and Charity were her responsibility. She wouldn’t think of staying behind. “How long will we be gone?”

Download today: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-357/Starting-Over-Book-Two-cln-/Detail.bok

While this is Book Two of Three in the Starting Over series, each book stands alone. To check out Book One, More Than A Job, go to http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-269/Starting-Over-Book-One/Detail.bok

Check out the Amazon author page for more by Lynette Endicott.  http://www.amazon.com/Lynette-Endicott/e/B008E8P1AO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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