Man Candy

A Real Love Novel

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Is there room for two in that sleeping bag? When it comes to love, a chiseled loner takes the scenic route in this irresistible standalone from the author of Eye Candy (“Truly the perfect romantic comedy.”—Lauren Layne).

Dax: After spending months buried up to my eyeballs in my family’s affairs, I’m ready for a break. The kind of break where I can spend two solid weeks camping and fishing in the company of absolutely no one. Then I find myself directly in the path of a drop-dead gorgeous tornado by the name of Becca Stone. Who can resist a night with a damsel in distress? Especially when she happens to be a leggy blonde? The last thing I expect is for Becca to show up on my cabin doorstep the next night, shivering in the rain and ready for seconds.

Becca: One minute I’m admiring the rock-hard jaw of the Magic Mike lookalike who walks into my bar, and the next I’m getting fired by my own brother. Loudly. In front of everyone. Luckily Dax Vaughn is a gentleman who aims his white-hot smile at me. Oh, it’s on. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Then a torrential storm washes out the main road and causes a massive power outage, giving us two whole weeks to enjoy each other’s company. At which point Dax will go back home, leaving “us” in the rearview mirror. That’s the plan. Or it was . . . until I started falling for him.

Look for Jessica Lemmon’s standalone romances with heartfelt HEAs:
FIGHTING FOR DEVLIN | FORGOTTEN PROMISES | SHUT UP AND KISS ME | EYE CANDY | ARM CANDY | MAN CANDY

Praise for Man Candy

“Becca and Dax’s instant chemistry is enhanced by their growing emotional bond. Readers will want more of this charming couple.”Publishers Weekly

“A sexy one-night stand turns deep and you can’t help being drawn right in with these fabulous characters.”USA Today bestselling author Kate Meader

“Explosive chemistry, real characters, and a lot of heart—Man Candy gave me all the feels!”USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy

“Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be rained in a mountain cabin with a sexy, gorgeous, sex god? . . . This is my ideal vacation and I loved it.”—Smitten with Reading

“I adored this read and couldn’t put it down.”—Books According to Abby

This standalone novel includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Under the Cover

An excerpt from Man Candy

Chapter 1

Becca
Friday night

“You are fired!” My brother’s neck is beet red, his nostrils flared. He’s the picture of incensed at the moment. But. He loves me. I excel at finding Tad’s heart.

“The traffic on the way in—” I start.

“I’m not joking, Becca.” His eyebrows go higher, his mouth half open for a beat before he finishes his thought. “I can’t deal with this right now.”

I’m at the entrance of Grand Lark Retreat, where the unmanned front desk sits empty but the bar-slash-restaurant beyond holds a total of seven human beings—including the staff: my brother and Dominic, who’s busy holding up a wall.

Every pair of eyes is on me, but I walk in, head held high after being called out in the least subtle way ever.

“Can’t deal with what?” I ask Tad when I reach the far, unpopulated end of the bar. “This rush you and Dominic can’t handle without me?” I rest my bag on an empty barstool and swipe my hands over my soaking-wet arms. “I swam here. It took extra time. Sue me.”

“I’m not suing you, Bec.” He washes a glass in the angriest way possible. “I’m firing you.” He dries it in the same manner.

I flick my eyes around the room. A couple sits at the bar, ignoring my drama. An older guy occupies a booth in the corner, also ignoring me. The single woman at the bar watches me unabashedly and I pull my eyes from her judgy ones and reroute to the only patron left—an incredibly attractive guy who narrows his focus on me before returning it to the screen of his phone.

I have a whole-body oomph like someone knocked the wind out of me. My gaze snags on his broad shoulders and square jaw a little longer than appropriate before I force myself to deal with my brother.

“You don’t want to fire me. You need me!” I try grinning. Tad glares.

“You were supposed to be here twenty minutes ago.” He snaps his arm straight and points at the office where our shared desk sits. “Any phone calls that come in are supposed to be answered by you. Not by me. Not by Dominic. That’s why I pay you.”

“Which I totally appreciate and need,” I chime. My brother is a taller, angrier version of me. Darker blond hair that’s much, much shorter than my own. Flat line of a mouth where I mostly show off my smile. I’m chipper; he’s more of a wood chipper.

Grand Lark Retreat’s phones weren’t exactly ringing off the hook until recently. Forest fires damaged a portion of Gatlinburg’s rental properties, which made vacationers venture away from the familiar and give us smaller outfits a try. We’re grateful for the bump in popularity, but we all wish it hadn’t come as a result of someone else’s nightmare come true.

“I grabbed the phone a few times. It was no big deal,” Dominic mutters in the soft-spoken way he has. He pushes off the wall where he was leaning. He’s been my brother’s best friend for most of my life, so I know him well.
“Hey, Bec.” He shoves his hands in his pockets.

“Hi, Dom. I appreciate it.”

“Regardless.” Tad marches out from behind the bar and I follow. He clears off an empty table with angry, jerky motions and then points at me with a spoon and a fork. “It’s not like this is your first warning.”

I wince because it’s totally not my first warning. It’s not my second either. It’s not even my third. I know. I know. But believe me when I say I’m doing my best.

I came back to Tennessee to lay low for a while. My brother and his wife (and my two adorable, angelic nieces) were nice enough to let me move in while I figure a few things out and save some money. I’ve been doing the latter—not so much the former. It’s been more fun lately not figuring things out. Letting myself blow in the breeze. Go where the wind takes me . . .

Tad delivers a bottle of beer to the guy in the corner booth and I smile sweetly at him. He grimaces. Does everyone on the planet think I’m a screwup?

“Tad—”

“Not now, Becca.”

With a sigh, I head back in the direction of the office, only to become distracted by the Magic Mike look-alike hunkered over my brother’s bar. I should grab my bag, walk directly to the office, and start returning emails. Instead I grab a discarded towel and surreptitiously check him out while pretending to wipe down the barstools.
At second sight, I reconsider the Magic Mike comparison. He’s not quite pretty enough to be a stripper. He’s rugged. Has a presence. Everything around him suggests he’s not only strong but also warm. Kind.

I pull in a deep breath as I consider that tantalizing possibility. Kindness is a dwindling resource. Sure, Dominic is nice to me, but he has to be. He’s known me forever.

Tad, on the other hand, has been so short fused lately that “kind” isn’t in his vocabulary. I suppose that’s deserved. I’m not exactly a shining example of a woman who has her life figured out. I truly have been trying, but I don’t fit into his mold . . . or any.

It’s still not a good reason to fire me.

I’ll talk him out of it.

I wiggle my shoulders and straighten my spine. No one is better at faking it until making it than I am . . . even if I haven’t “made it” anywhere yet.

I wipe the seat of a barstool and peek through my lashes at the stranger at the bar. I wonder where he’s from. No wedding band on his left finger. His attention has been glued to his phone, so other than the brief glance at me a few minutes ago, his head’s been down.

A loud laugh burbles out of a drunk-and-getting-drunker woman at the bar, and the stranger’s eyebrows crash down over a strong nose as he drags his eyes up at the sound. Strong nose below a strong brow and a firm jaw to match.

Holy . . .

He’s freakin’ hot.

I move toward him a few steps and polish the shiny wood of the bar and take him in below the neck. He’s less Magic Mike there, more lumberjack. An absolute hulk of a guy. I’m hovering around five feet nine inches, so I’m not impressed by merely tall.

But this guy? His width is as impressive as his height. Round, strong shoulders testing the seams in his T-shirt. Back bent, his phone dwarfed in one large hand. He’s almost slouching but there’s nothing weak about his posture. His back is as wide and sturdy as a support beam.

I work in the office most of the time, but I take breaks and wander out here to people-watch. I’ve witnessed plenty of guys checking their phones at this bar. Some of them have been attractive guys—but no one has ever snagged my unwavering attention. Not until tonight.

What gives?

I’m not lonely. Not desperate. I don’t make a habit of approaching men I don’t know in bars. And yet that’s exactly where my mind goes. Approaching him. Finding out how his jeans became ragged at the bottoms and worn at his heavy thighs. Finding out if he owns a motorcycle. He’s wearing a pair of motorcycle boots with buckles on the sides, one foot on the floor, the other hooked by the heel on the lower rung of the stool.

I automatically cast my eyes to the parking area out front. Only two trucks and a Jeep sit in the lot. No bike. That’s his Jeep, I’d bet. It’s deep gray, hardtop attached to thwart the never-ending rain. I imagine him in it. It suits him, top on or off. My imagination supplies a visual of him with his top off and that’s even better. In the sun or the rain. Oh, the rain.

My teeth stab my bottom lip as the images come without my trying—a welcome reprieve from the here and now.
The stranger. The rain. His shirt’s off as he twists the bolts off a flat tire. I’m about to cast myself as a passerby who’s going to offer help when my brother’s voice crashes into my awareness like thunder.

“Becca!”

I jerk out of my fantasy to find the stranger looking right at me. He meets my gaze and holds it, and heat licks up my thighs and teases there so intensely, I almost forget why Tad is pissed at me.
 

- About the author -

A former job-hopper, Jessica Lemmon resides in Ohio with her husband and rescue dog. She holds a degree in graphic design currently gathering dust in an impressive frame. When she’s not writing about super-sexy heroes, she can be found cooking, drawing, drinking coffee (okay, wine), and eating potato chips. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want.

More from Jessica Lemmon

Man Candy

A Real Love Novel

Man Candy

— Published by Loveswept —