A Basic Renovation

SERIES: The Los Alamos Books, Book 2
GENRE: Romantic Comedy, Second Chance/Divorced/Widows
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: Over 100,000 words (very large book)
HERO’S AGE: 40-49
HEAT LEVEL: Very Sexy (Let Me Show Exactly What I Want)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Some (The occasional “F” bomb, lots of smack talk, some explicit sex)


A Basic Renovation: Your classic enemies to lovers tale.

Rats in the oven send property flipper Lesley Samuels scrambling to the only hardware store in town. The problem is, store owner Dominic Brennan knows poison — rat and otherwise — and he sees it in Lesley. The woman ruined his brother’s life. Now that she’s back in Los Alamos, Dominic’s afraid she’ll drag up the past and secrets best kept hidden.

They clash immediately, but cold fury transforms into a nuclear attraction. Mix in a teenage son, a puppy, paint, and loud music and this basic renovation becomes a major life refurbishment for them both.


Lesley squeezed the tweezers, the metal biting into her palm. That put her right, that renewed her scorn, and an odd idea popped into her head. That sign out front says Last One Standing. “Hey, kid, wait a minute. You know how to use those tools over there?”

The boy stopped by the front door, turning. “Yeah.”

His father cocked his head. He twisted and glared at her, a dark threat in his blue eyes. He knew exactly where she was going. Lesley looked at Dominic, smiling acidly when she said it, “You know how to operate a compressor?”

“Sure do.”

“You want a job for the summer? I’m going to need some help here. I’ll pay you fifteen dollars an hour.”

“He’s already got a job,” Dominic growled softly.

“From what I just heard, he’s got a part-time job, and I’m offering him full-time work. You interested, Kyle?”

Unlike her, Dominic was fortunate never to have needed braces. He ran his hands through his sweat-dampened hair, slicking it back, accentuating a slight widow’s peak, and he bared his perfectly straight teeth at her. Lesley thought he looked like Dracula when he said, “No, he’s not.”

“Actually, Dad, I am interested. When do you want me to start, Miss, Mrs…”

“Lesley. How about today, when you’re done with the back?”

“What about the delivery job at the hardware store, Kyle?”

“Aw, come on, Dad. You’re the one who said I needed to understand the value of earning something on my own. I know you’re trying to help me out so I can get my car. You’re my dad. I like you and all, but everyone knows why I’m there. You’re management, the big boss, but nepotism sort of blows.”

For a second time that morning, Lesley was shocked. She looked at Dracula, her eyes round as a transfixed victim of a potential bloodsucking. “You work in Trujillo’s hardware store?”

With his lips still drawn back from his teeth, his cold, aquamarine glare pierced into her or at least tried to. “There is no way you’re working for this… woman.”

Lesley sniggered. His inflection was like Bela Lugosi’s vampire saying he never drank wine.

“I’m already doing her yard, remember, Dad?”

“Then why the hell are you still inside?”

Kyle’s gaze flicked in her direction. “How about today, uh, Miss… uh, Lesley?”

She nodded. “After you finish the yard, we can take out this wall,” she pointed to the divider between the kitchen and dining room, “and you can help me move the oven. It’ll be fun.”

Dominic roared. “Fun?”

“Oh, man. We’re going to argue about this later, aren’t we?” Kyle muttered as he opened the screen door.

Fun?” his father said again. “You bet your ass we’re gonna argue!”

Lesley snorted. “I’m sorry, Kyle. The last thing I wanted to do was come between a boy and his vampire.”

Kyle laughed, the screen door banged shut behind him.

Dominic’s anger radiated from his body, waves of heat rising from his bare skin. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Removing wasp stingers from your back.”

“Are ya done?”

“I don’t know. I think there’s one or two more.”

“No. You’re done.” Unceremoniously, Dominic stood, hauled the stained towel from his shoulder and dropped in on the cooler.

“Well, well, the rocket scientist works in a hardware store.” Lesley pocketed the tweezers.

“What of it?”

She shrugged. “From astrophysicist to store manager, my how far the mighty fall.”

Quantum physicist and I don’t give a rat’s what you think.”

“Sure you do. Do you still make everyone call you Doctor Brennan?”

The Bush Hog rotary cutter sputtered to life in the driveway. Dominic raised his voice over the noise. “Listen to me!”

“Do I have to?” She took off her glasses and began to polish them with the hem of her robe.

“I don’t know what you’re up to, but you leave my kid out of it.”

“What I’m up to? I offered your son a job.”

“Yeah, to spite me.”

“Afraid I’m going to corrupt him, huh?

“With you, who knows? You were waltzing around your house naked when you knew you had a sixteen-year-old coming to cut your grass.”

“Hey, you were early! You peeked through my window. For all I know you two could have engaged in some father and son masturbatory bonding.”

Dominic stood stock still. He didn’t bare his teeth, clench his jaw, or swallow. He simply tried to flatten her with a solid, malice-filled stare. If he’d been a different sort of man, the kind of man he detested, he would have knocked the self-righteous smile from her lips with a resounding slap, only he lacked the brutality it took to strike a child or woman out of anger. Instead, he pulled a pink-tainted envelope from his pocket. “My God,” he said, “you’re vile.”

That was true. What she said had been vile. Lesley held up her hand and bit her lips together, knowing she’d gone too far. Good God, what was wrong with her? Since when had she assumed GP’s caustic persona? She wiped her mouth and exhaled remorsefully, wishing she’d let Dominic have the gold medal for nastiness. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that. This has nothing to do with your son. It was uncalled for and—”

“Exactly within your character.” Dominic’s swollen shoulder throbbed hotly, but pulsating anger acted as an analgesic that surpassed a dose of ibuprofen. He flapped the envelope in his hand, “You left this at my store yesterday. Daphne said it’s a driver’s license.”

Your store, Doctor Brennan?”

“Yep. Trujillo’s is mine, I own it, and I hope you enjoy shopping for all your hardware needs down in Santa Fe, because after today, you’re not setting the tip of your toe in my store.” He spun the envelope to her. Like an off-balance Frisbee, it wobbled through the air and hit the floor, skidding across the cement, disappearing beneath a small crack at the bottom of the wall behind her. He turned on his heel, slamming the screen door he’d broken earlier.

Meet Sandra Antonelli

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I wrote stories about older people back then too because, as I saw it, older people had cooler experiences–they went places, they had jobs, they did stuff.

I read a lot and did my homework and washed my mother’s Waterford crystal and was a good little girl. I grew up in Europe. I was surrounded by history and amazing old buildings and amazing older people who told amazing stories about the old stuff around them.
Since I’ve always liked ‘older,’ I’ve always read older. I preferred reading about characters older than me, even back when I was 10. Heroines in romance were always older than me, but as I, ahem, matured, I noticed the heroines stayed young. No one really grew up or older. This confused me. In a genre that infuses real life issues into the fantasy of falling in love, where were the romantic leads who had emotional baggage, who’d been divorced or widowed, who’d put careers first and found they were alone at 40 or 50 or 60? Where were these stories? I wanted to read ’em, but couldn’t find more than a handful, and I wasn’t interested in Women’s Fiction. I wanted ROMANCE.

Time and again I’ve heard authors and editors say, “write the book you want to read.” That’s what I’ve done with my novels. I couldn’t find what I was looking for often enough, so I had to write them myself. Because I was so curious to find out why there were so few stories with older heroines, I also undertook a Masters Degree and PhD in romance fiction. My dissertation, titled “Cougars, Grannies, Evil Stepmothers, and Menopausal Hot Flashers: Roles, Representations of Age, and the Non-traditional Romance Heroine,” examined stereotypes of older women, the lack of women over 40 as heroines in romance fiction, and the reasons why this older, non-traditional romance heroine seldom appears in romance fiction. The companion pieces to the academic work were my novels A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only. My other books, Driving in Neutral and Next to You, both feature main characters well over 40.