Hearts Ignite in the Desert

Loving Hearts #3.5

August 29, 2019 - Kindle; February 14, 2020 - All other eBook platforms

Can an elderly, abandoned Golden Retriever unite two hearts through a common purpose that ignites into a passionate love?

After experiencing more than his fair share of war and violence, Gunnery Sergeant Robbie Garcia is ready for a normal civilian life. Recently discharged from the Marines, he returns to Phoenix, searching for something rewarding to do with his life, while also hoping to find a wife and start a family. During a visit with his lifelong best friend, Robbie spots a picture of his friend’s younger sister. The girl he remembers as an awkward teenager has blossomed into a beautiful, determined woman with impressive plans for the future, who piques his interest and kindles his desire. Could the woman of his dreams have been right in front of him all these years?

Ever since she was a teenager, Gabriela Sanchez has dreamed of two things: dedicating her life to working with animals and marrying Robbie Garcia. She achieved the first when she became a vet tech and was hired by Loving Hearts, and now she wants nothing more than to open her own senior dog sanctuary. However, since Robbie never saw her as anything other than his best friend’s annoying little sister, the second has always been out of her reach.

Hearts Ignite in the Desert Book Cover


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Meet the Characters

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The Story Behind the Story


Over the years, Gabby tried to forget Robbie by dating other guys, but her heart never stopped loving him from afar. When they reunite, will all of her fantasies finally be fulfilled?

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Your purchase of Hearts Ignite in the Desert benefits Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. Old Friends works to find forever fosters for senior dogs and for those who can't, they provide a place where these dogs can live out the remainder of their lives in a loving, safe environment. For more information, please visit my charities page.

Hearts Ignite in the Desert Book Cover

Original Cover

Meet the Characters

Hero: Robbie Garcia

Heroine: Gabriela Sanchez

Key Supporting Characters: Alejandro "Alex" Sanchez, Elena Sanchez, Zach West

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1

“Robbie, my man, it’s so good to see you again.”

Alejandro Sanchez, Robbie Garcia’s best friend since childhood, grasped Robbie’s hand and pulled him into a manly, back-slapping hug where they stood on the front porch. “I’ve missed you, amigo.”

“I’ve missed you, too,” Robbie returned the sentiment.

After parting with a final pat on the shoulder, Alex motioned Robbie inside. “Come on in. It’s great to finally have you back home.”

“It’s great to be back.” Crossing the threshold, Robbie looked around. He hadn’t been inside Alex’s house since before he’d married Elena, and the place looked different. The previously mundane bachelor pad now had colorful throw pillows dotting the sofa and equally vibrant art prints gracing the walls, including a portrait of Frida Kahlo. A corner table held prayer candles with a beautiful crucifix hanging on the wall above.

Alex waved a hand, indicating the room. “The wife’s been decorating.”

“I can see that,” Robbie replied. “It looks nice. Reminds me of your parents’ house when we were growing up.” Being white, his own mother’s decorating tastes were a bit more subdued, but he’d always enjoyed visiting his father’s and Alex’s families and seeing the Latino side of his heritage in their homes.

“Would you like a beer?” Alex asked.


Alex headed through the open floor plan into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of long-neck bottles from the fridge. After opening them, he handed one to Robbie. “Let’s go outside.”

The two friends exited through an Arcadia door in the dining area onto a brick patio with inlaid Talavera tiles. Brightly painted clay pots filled with succulents dotted the area.

Elena was playing in the yard with a toddler, but the minute she caught sight of the two men, she rushed over to them, arms outstretched. “Robbie! How are you?” She enfolded him in an awkward hug, her very pregnant belly making it difficult for her to reach around his shoulders.

Robbie returned the embrace. “I’m doing good. How are you?” Before she had a chance to answer, he felt a healthy kick against his own stomach. “Whoa, feels like you’ve got a football player in there.” He laughed as he stepped back.

Elena caressed her rounded abdomen, while giving him a smirk. “Maybe she will be a football player.”

Robbie grinned. “So, it’s a girl?”

Elena nodded. Just then, the little boy ran up to his mom, but when he spotted Robbie, the toddler quickly grabbed onto her leg.

Robbie squatted down. “You must be Mateo.” The little guy had been born while Robbie was in Afghanistan, so they’d never met before.

Upon hearing his name, the boy peeked out shyly before hiding behind Elena’s leg again.

“Mateo, say ‘hi’ to your Tio Robbie,” Elena encouraged. “He won’t bite.”

Mateo peeped out again, then raised a pudgy hand, opening and closing it in a silent greeting.

Smiling, Robbie waved back.

After exchanging a few more pleasantries, the adults took seats on the patio, while Mateo went back to playing in the yard.

“So, you’re really home for good this time, huh?” Alex asked.

“Yup, got my discharge papers last month,” Robbie replied.

“What made you give up life as a marine?”

Robbie’s mouth twisted into a rueful expression. “Got burned out on all the war and violence, man. I had too many buddies injured or killed and couldn’t take it anymore, so when it came time to reenlist, I decided to get out. I’m ready for a nice, quiet, normal life with a wife and kids.” He paused for a moment while surveying the scene around him. “Like what you guys have.”

“So are you and that girl …” Alex’s hand twirled in the air as he searched his memory, then when he found it, he snapped his fingers. “Laura. You two gonna make things more permanent?”

Robbie shook his head. “We broke up.”

Alex’s eyes widened. “I thought you really liked her.”

“Laura’s a great person, but our lives were going in completely different directions. It just wasn’t going to work.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have someone else in mind?”

“Not yet. But if you know anyone, I’d be open to suggestions.”

Elena gave him a shrewd look but didn’t say anything, making him wonder if she might be cooking up some romantic caper. Normally he didn’t care for other people getting involved in his business. However, he was opening himself to the possibility, because his love life could use a good jolt right now.


Editor: Melissa Ringsted @ There for You Editing

Cover Designer: Willow Sanders

Quotes Julieanna Likes

"A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say."— Italo Calvino

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