I Want Candy

I Want Candy

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by Susan Donovan
     
 

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I Want Candy

Susan Donovan

Candace Carmichael was just getting used to the lavish life when everything went sour. Now the down-on-her-luck real estate agent is back in Bigler, North Carolina, jobless and illegally rooming with her her mother in a swank retirement community. All this makes her wonder why she ever considered her BFF Cheri's

Overview

I Want Candy

Susan Donovan

Candace Carmichael was just getting used to the lavish life when everything went sour. Now the down-on-her-luck real estate agent is back in Bigler, North Carolina, jobless and illegally rooming with her her mother in a swank retirement community. All this makes her wonder why she ever considered her BFF Cheri's invitation to move back home. Life in this small mountain town may not be as glamorous as the one she had in Tampa, but she knows a girl can't be too choosy in this market. Besides, everyone's happy to welcome Candy back—especially one handsome widower named Turner…

Turner has grown up to be one fine-looking piece of man candy—and looks even tastier in his sheriff's uniform. Maybe that's why she couldn't resist kissing him when he pulled her over for a traffic violation. Even if a relationship was part of Candy's business plan, Turner would be off limits—he still wears his wedding ring, four years after his wife died. If falling in love too fast is a crime, Candy is soon guilty as charged and ready to be fingerprinted. But is she ready to lock away her dreams and hand Turner the keys to her heart?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Take a sexy cop, a blonde with a talent for making the best cakes in the country, a possible stalker and a small town with enough crackpots to populate a good-sized mental hospital mix them all together and you've got a funny, sizzling romantic adventure that [fans] are going to love." —Romantic Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312536220
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
901,842
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt

I Want Candy


By Susan Donovan

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2012 Susan Donovan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-0140-0


CHAPTER 1

It was time to hit the road — again.

Candace Carmichael wrestled with the gearshift until it slipped into reverse and the car began to lurch into the darkness. Sure, navigating this crooked driveway would have been a hell of a lot easier with headlights, but that wasn't an option, since she was trying to escape Gladys Harbaugh's house without being detected.

And, okay. Fine. So this wasn't the most mature way to deal with a roommate conflict. But there was just no way Candy could handle another scene with eighty-year-old Gladys. The old gal had been kind to let her stay rent-free for the first two weeks she'd been back in her North Carolina hometown, but when Gladys started to "borrow" Candy's lingerie, it was definitely time to move on.

Almost there.

She squinted into the dark, delicately adjusting the car's course as it scraped against a row of bushes. Not that a few extra scratches would be noticeable on this beast, a 1997 discarded police cruiser she'd bought at auction with her last three hundred bucks. Candy sighed. Sometimes, she couldn't even believe how fast — and how spectacularly — her perfect world had imploded.

Was it really just a year ago that she'd cruised down her private drive in her shiny new Infiniti, admiring the way the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico set off the pristine white stucco of her five-bedroom home? All that seemed like some other woman's life.

Just a few more feet.

The Chevy's rear end finally cleared the driveway. Candy forced the gearshift into drive and pressed down on the gas, praying she could make it to the state highway before the damn thing backfired ...

Bam!

"Oh, shee-it." Candy floored it. The car's worn tires screamed against the asphalt as the engine released a series of cannon-fire belches, each one more obnoxious than the last. A quick peek over her shoulder showed Gladys's bedroom light was on.

There was nothing to do now but put the pedal to the metal and head to Highway 25, which would get her out of Bigler. Her heart pounded in her chest. Her hands shook. And suddenly, it occurred to her that she was having difficulty seeing. Well, duh! She'd forgotten about the headlights! With a groan of frustration, she turned them on. That's when red and blue flashing lights appeared in her rearview mirror.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Candy's gaze darted from the alarming swirl of color in her mirror to the contours of the winding country road. Exactly where was she supposed to pull off? It was guardrail and woods as far as the eye could see. The quick blast of the siren made her jump in her seat.

"Okay! Okay!" she yelled out. "I'm fixin' to pull over, you idiot! Give me a minute!"

Suddenly, in her peripheral vision, she noticed an open patch by the side of the road. It happened to be on the other side of the road, but she decided it was still her best bet, and whipped the car around to a skidding stop. Unfortunately, all the whipping and skidding hadn't sat well with the engine, which began to spew smoke into the air along with another volley of backfires.

"Uh-oh," she whispered. It seemed the officer wasn't happy with all the commotion, either, and the large black SUV did a U-turn, the siren now whoop-whooping, and slammed to a stop in front of her, blocking any attempt she might make to get back on the road. Then a spotlight flashed on, so blindingly bright she had to shield her eyes.

Briefly, Candy thanked God for small favors. At least the person pulling her over wouldn't be her lifelong friend Turner Halliday. He was the actual sheriff in Cataloochee County, and the sheriff didn't work nights. He had deputies to take those less desirable shifts. So at least Candy would be spared the additional humiliation of being pulled over in the middle of nowhere, at four in the morning, by her childhood buddy.

The siren went silent. Candy heard the door of the SUV slam shut and she blinked against the intense light. She could barely make out the figure of a man advancing toward her, but she heard him cough and saw him wave his hand in front of his face, chasing away the smoke. She cut the engine, thinking ... wondering ...

Since this wasn't going to be Turner strolling up to her window, she might be able to buy herself some mercy. She decided to get out the big guns. Shameless? Oh, absolutely. But what choice did she have? Candy began undoing two additional buttons of her blouse and arranged her weapons to their best advantage. Then she fluffed her hair and licked her lips. She hated to do this, but she didn't have the money to pay for a simple parking ticket, let alone a moving violation. She took a deep breath and prepared herself for the dumb-blonde-recently-from-out-of-town defense.

That's when the officer reached the driver's side window, leaned in, and grinned at her.

"License and registration, ma'am," Turner said, his bright eyes and white smile gleaming in the spotlight. "And you can put your ta-tas away. They're not gonna do you much good in this particular situation, and besides — I'm more of an ass man, myself."

Candy groaned and fell back against the driver's seat. "Ah, come on, Turner. Have mercy on me."

He shook his head and chuckled. "Candy Carmichael, this car you're driving is a public safety hazard of the first degree — and that's with the lights on! Lord have mercy, girl! What are you doing driving around in the dark in this piece of shit with no headlights? You could've killed someone, or gotten yourself killed!"

She sighed as she reached up to button her shirt. "Yeah. I know. Sorry. I was trying to escape Gladys and forgot to turn on my lights once I hit the main road."

Turner laughed again and leaned an elbow on the open window. "She finally scared you off, huh?"

Candy rolled her eyes. "I had to get out of there. She's a nice old lady, but she has absolutely no respect for my personal space. Thirteen days was all I could take."

Turner made a soft humming sound in his throat and looked away. He began to nod. "Coming out to the lake house tonight?"

"Of course," Candy said, smiling, hoping that this detour into small talk meant Turner had decided to take pity on her. How could he not? The idea of the four of them hanging out at the lake house was downright sentimental. It was what they'd done from grade school to graduation, just Candy and her best friend, Cheri Newberry, along with J.J. Decourcy, and Turner. Clearly, if Turner had a tender bone in his body, he'd have to let Candy slide for this little infraction. She was practically family! "I hear Cheri's making some kind of new chicken thing," Candy added.

"You bringing a cake?"

"Uh ..." Candy bristled at the question. She hadn't picked up a measuring cup in a dozen years, but if it would get her out of a ticket, she was willing. "You want me to?"

"Hell, yeah."

Candy exhaled with relief. "So ... what kind of cake would you like?"

Wait.

What was Turner doing?

She peered over the open window and her mouth fell open with disbelief. The whole time they'd been chatting about baked goods, Turner had been scribbling on an official-looking pad of paper.

"You know I've always been partial to your chocolate cake," he said, signing his name on the bottom of the form. "That shit is so good it makes my head spin." He carefully pulled the top layer of paper from the pad, smiled, and handed it to her.

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Really. You ask me for a cake and then give me a ticket?"

His smile softened. "I was teasing about the chocolate cake and it's just a warning, Candy, but it's not for the headlights. You've got a serious exhaust problem, and I'm ordering you to have your North Carolina emissions inspection completed within seven days. Plus, you're not wearing a seat belt." He shook his head, slowly scanning her. "You're a hot mess, girl."

"Yeah," she said meekly, accepting the piece of paper. Truer words had never been spoken, she thought as she looked away.

Candy refused to cry. There was no way she'd let her old friend see her fall apart. That had never been her style. She was a survivor. A fighter. Hell, she was a woman who'd started eight profitable businesses in the last decade! She would simply laugh this whole thing off. That's right. That's what she'd do.

Candy looked up again — and stared in astonishment. While she'd been busy with the self-coaching routine, Turner's entire demeanor had changed. The corner of his full mouth had curled up mischievously. His hazel eyes smoldered under the brim of his dark blue sheriff's department baseball cap. His latte-brown masculine face had softened and he'd tilted his head slightly.

Okay. She'd known this guy since elementary school. Sure, she'd noticed that Turner Halliday had taken the route from cute boy to handsome teenager to helluva hunky man, but something about the sight of him right at that moment was a shock to her system. Exactly what was going on here? Was it the light? Was it the fact that Turner was an authority figure actually being decent to her, offering her the first break she'd had in what seemed like forever? Was it the way he was trying his best not to smile? Trying not to look down her shirt?

Maybe it was just the alluring shape of his mouth, that little dip in his top lip, the strong, full line of his bottom lip, those little dimples that bracketed both.

Who knew? But the fact remained that Turner Halliday was leaning into her car window all big and brown and sexy and powerful — and wearing that cute little badge — and Candy actually heard herself suck in air at the impact of it all.

Just then, he moved in a little closer. His gaze dropped to her mouth.

And before she could give any decent amount of thought to what she was about to do, she tossed the traffic warning to the car seat, pushed herself up, grabbed him by his fine-looking face, and planted a big, juicy kiss on her lifelong friend's lips.

Hello.

This was interesting.

The kiss kept going. That hadn't been her intention. This was supposed to be a simple, friendly, spontaneous expression of gratitude, a genuine burst of affection for a fellow human being who had been kind enough to cut her some slack.

Right?

Which was perfectly understandable given the context. Candy was practically penniless. She'd lost millions in the Florida real estate crash and was about to declare bankruptcy. She'd foreclosed on that luxury home in Tampa. The Infiniti had been repossessed. She'd stupidly borrowed money from a less-than-savory character who wanted it back, like, yesterday. She had no job. She'd mishandled her mother's retirement nest egg, a pesky detail Jacinta remained blissfully unaware of. And Candy had recently crawled back to her hometown in the western hills of North Carolina, where she'd been taken in by her best friend's receptionist, an octogenarian floozy who couldn't seem to stay out of her guest's underwear drawer.

Was it any wonder she felt compelled to kiss an old buddy who'd just shown her a modicum of kindness?

Fine.

Then why were her arms now around Turner's neck and her eyes closed in bliss? Why was she hanging out of the car window with her boobs arched out and pressed up against his hard, muscled chest? Why was one of Turner's hands buried up under her hair while the other was on its way down her spine, headed directly to her —

"Holy hell, girl."

"Hmm?"

Candy felt herself being pushed away from the heat, pressure, and exquisite juiciness of Turner's mouth. She opened her eyes and the spotlight nearly blinded her, making her wonder where, exactly, she was, and why, exactly, she was there.

Turner stared at her, his eyes wide with surprise. He removed one hand from her hair and the other from the small of her back and slowly backed away from the car.

Candy slid down into the driver's seat. "Oh, God. Sorry," she mumbled.

"No," he said sharply. "I'm sorry. My bad."

She glanced up in time to see Turner yank off his ball cap, sweep his hand across his close-cropped hair, then smash the cap back on his head. Next he rubbed his chin and mouth, shook his head, and tapped his feet in the dirt. This strange routine was topped off by an adjustment of his gun holster.

"Drive safely," he said as he turned away.

Candy peered out the driver's side window and watched him practically jog to his SUV, her eyes shamelessly riveted to the grade-A specimen of man-booty tucked in those uniform trousers. "Uh, thank you!" she called out, feeling ridiculous. What exactly was she thanking him for, anyway? Not arresting her?

Or was she thanking Turner Halliday for giving her the finest, hottest, most bad-ass openmouthed kiss she'd ever had in her freakin' life?

CHAPTER 2

"Well, hurry up, now! No sense in dawdling! I knew you'd end up here sooner or later!"

With a sigh, Candy headed up the sidewalk of Vivienne Newberry's home on Wilamette Avenue, her best friend, Cheri Newberry, at her side.

"Just eat whatever she puts in front of you," Cheri whispered, still giving her survival tips for living with her great-aunt. "And if she gets cranky, offer to make her a risky slush and go heavy on the vodka. Don't try to reason with her. Offer to clear the supper table but be aware that she'll never actually let you, but she'll bitch about you behind your back if you don't at least make an attempt. Go to bed as early as possible. And — like I really have to tell you this — privacy is going to be damn near impossible in this house, so don't say anything on the phone that you don't want to become common knowledge."

"Come on, now!" Viv called again, waving her fleshy arms from the porch step. "I just made ya'll a scalloped potato and ham casserole and I've already called down the street for Tater Wayne to unload Candy's things from the car!"

Cheri and Candy exchanged a quick glance. No words were necessary. It was only about six weeks ago that Cheri was subjected to a nearly identical welcome-home ritual, complete with calorie-dense casseroles and an immediate attempt to set Cheri up with Viv's handyman, Tommy "Tater" Wayne, a perfectly nice guy who happened to sport about seven teeth and an eyeball that went schizoid in the company of attractive women.

"It's gonna be all right," Cheri whispered, throwing an arm around her shoulder. "It's just temporary."

Candy swallowed hard and nodded. "It's not like I got many options."

"I told you you're welcome to stay with us out at the lake house!" Cheri bumped her hip against Candy's and laughed. "How many times have I offered?"

Candy laughed, too, but obviously her best friend was just being sweet. There was no way in hell she'd be bunking out at Cheri and J.J.'s lakeside love nest. They'd only been engaged a couple weeks!

"I adore you for offerin', but don't you dare bring that up again. You and I both know that wouldn't work." Candy waved back at Viv and smiled, slowing her step so she'd get just a few extra seconds with Cheri. "At least your granddaddy Garland will be here as a buffer, right? You know how well we get along."

Her friend nodded. "I think he's more excited about you moving in than Viv is, honestly. God knows he can use the distraction."

The two women paused briefly in front of Viv's ever-present lawn jockey, a formerly dark fellow who'd recently been painted the same mauve pink as the house. Apparently, it was Viv's nod to the changing times.

"Good Lord," Candy whispered. "Has Turner seen this?"

"Not sure," Cheri said, laughing softly. "But I bet he'd have a few choice words."

"No doubt." Candy shot a quick glance at Cheri and felt herself frown. She hadn't told her friend what had happened with Turner earlier that morning. She thought it was best to keep the details to herself. Besides, what exactly would she say? Oh, by the way, I tried to dry-hump Halliday from the open car window! Doesn't that just beat all?

"You okay?" Cheri squeezed her shoulder.

"Oh, sure. I'm great."

"You'll find a job soon. Or you'll come up with one of your fabulous start-up ideas and you'll make enough money to get set up in a cute apartment in town. It won't be long. You'll see."

"Of course," Candy said.

"Maybe you could even start that bakery you used to dream about. Bigler would be perfect for something like that — God knows we could use it!"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from I Want Candy by Susan Donovan. Copyright © 2012 Susan Donovan. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

SUSAN DONOVAN's novels have won accolades for being witty, sexy, and entertaining—"brain candy for smart women," as she puts it. Susan is a former newspaper journalist with degrees from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and has worked as a reporter in Chicago, Albuquerque, and Indianapolis. Her other jobs have included fine arts fundraiser, freelance journalist, painted furniture artist, horse stall mucker, proposal writer, and aide to a U.S. Senator. Susan lives in rural Maryland with her family and dogs.

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I Want Candy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Judy_F More than 1 year ago
I Want Candy by Susan Donovan delivers another laugh out loud and sexy read. Candace Carmichael’s live imploded and she is back in her hometown of Bigler, NC. Candy and her BFF Cheri Newberry headed back home, flat broke and at their wits end. Cheri has found love and a new career but Candy can’t seem to find that silver lining for herself. To make matters worse she is illegal living with her mother at the local senior center. The first bright spot is her searing kiss with former crush Sheriff Turner Halliday. Turner gets her heart racing and turns her bones to mush but can Candy risk her heart when she isn’t planning on staying in Bigler long. Sheriff Turner Halliday is happy with his work and his circle of friends. He swore he wouldn’t risk his heart again after the senseless death of his wife and unborn child. Turner build those walls high around his heart. Candy’s kiss has those walls crumbling faster then Turners heart can keep up with them. When Candy inadvertently gets caught in the middle with some dangerous characters Turner will risk it all to be able this time to save the woman that he loves. I Want Candy is an absolute gem. You will laugh, cry and sigh. The full gambit of emotions will tug at your heart and not let go. It was a joy to revisit former characters in small town Bigler, NC. Susan Donovan is a must buy for me.
The_Reading_Reviewer More than 1 year ago
The last place you want to be when your life is a complete train wreck is back home where nothing but misery surrounds you. For Candace Carmichael that is the only place she has left since everything she ever possessed, and there was allot of possessions involved are gone in the housing crisis. Candy and her friend Cheri did come home and things went well for Cheri and Candy wants that but does not expect it. All Candy has ever known in this town is misery and defeat and right now nothing is looking much different, well nothing but Tucker Halliday. Tucker is the one thing Candy never expected to walk back into her life and her not want them to walk away. He is all in her face and hotter than a fire cracker in his sherriff uniform making Candy reconsider allot of her prior opinions about him. That man turned out really fine and while Candy saw them as friends before, now she sees a whole other Tucker she wants to investigate. Being penniless has her bouncing from one ridiculous housing situation to the next but Tucker is always there ready to give her room and board. Tucker has always made room in his life for Candy and truly believes she is the one person that can free his heart to love again. With Tucker fighting to keep the meth out of town and control his raging obsession with Candy his hands are literally full. Candy always was a delightful surprise he wanted to keep unwrapping and now that she is back in town he hopes to create a recipe for keeping her there. What Candy does know is when the future is leaving a bad taste in your mouth you need to make your own icing for the cake. Susan Donovan is incapable of writing anything else that the perfect story of love with a dash of mystery. She has proven again with this book that if your write it, every reader will want to read it over and over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story. Mild profanity. Great characters. The story was captivating until the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads in yawning. Sorry i havnt been on ther was a big dance recital and my mom made me practice when i wasnt practicing piono or finishing my library books off. So i saw something about kits below me. Whos are they?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Posted on Romancing the Book blog Reviewed By~Marissa Reveiw Copy Provided By~the Publisher I Want Candy is one of those “going home” books. You know, girl goes through a rough patch (like losing her business, her house, her expensive jewelry and her expensive car) and tucks her tail to return to the hometown she swore she’d never see again. Then she runs into an old classmate/friend and things heat up. What I don’t understand about these books (and others) is how two people can be just good buddies and in one fell swoop decide they love each other. Perhaps because it’s never happened to me… *sigh* Yes, there are a few old classmates I wouldn’t mind running into and find that we should have gotten better acquainted in high school, but I have my doubts as to the reality of one kiss being a deciding factor as to any relationship. That aside, I Want Candy is an enjoyable read. It is what I call a light read. There is no heavy mystery to solve, no bad-guy to run from (or chase), no horrifying childhood trauma from which to recover. Well, there is one childhood trauma but it is dealt with smoothly and without over-dramafying. (Yes, that’s a word. I just made it up.) The scene is built up during the book so it does not come as a blow, and it does not weigh you down with sadness or grief. In fact, it’s over with fairly quickly and the author gets on with the real story – bringing Candy and Turner together for a happy ending. I appreciate Susan Donovan’s writing and can always depend on her for a nice, even, romantic read. Her writing flows and is untarnished by heavy, harrowing plots. Not that there is anything wrong with those (I read them all the time) but when I want to read a nice HEA, I know Donovan will deliver.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*He looks through Goldenclaw and walks away*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of susan donovan's books and this one did not let me down. It was sexy and funny and the characters were fun to get to know. I highly recommend this book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun, light read. Loved the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read most of Ms. Donovan novels. This one was pretty good. It was better than it's prequel Cheri On Top. One issue that I have is that she left fat man free(mr. miller) so the drug ring could still flourish but there could be a third book with Dante and Tanyalee. Secondly, I thought it was cliche the that Candy was a blonde and guy of mixed race would of course like booby blonde. I just imagine her as a red head or brunnette. If you are looking for weekend read this is perfect
CJ84CJ More than 1 year ago
I would like to preface this by stating that I am in no way accusing the author or the publishers of anything, but... as a black women I was very uncomfortable with the fact that the cover of this book featured a Caucasian man when the main character was in fact a Black man. I did love the story and I have all of Ms. Donovan's books, but this choice of covers will make me reconsider purchasing her books in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can I join Im a white she kit with little cany corns on my fur