For today’s blog, I’m going to talk about Candy Crush, a self-published contemporary suspense I released in January 2014. This is one of my favorites, of all the books I’ve written, and I think that is largely due to the hero, Brandon Sarantos.
He’s gorgeous (well, duh), but it’s more than that. I just adore his personality, and even though he has been a bit of a man-whore for most of his life, he really is a good guy. He loves his family unconditionally, despite their meddling into his less-than-acceptable lifestyle. He is loyal to a fault, and he faithfully supports and believes in the small town in which he grew up and continues to live. And somewhere, deep down – way, way deep down – he really does want his own happily ever after, as opposed to the happy-in-the-moment he experiences with each of his conquests.
When Gabriella Hadley walks into his life and initially rebuffs his come on, he finds himself attracted to her for the obvious reasons – she’s hot, she’s beautiful, she’s female – but also for another reason that is entirely foreign to him.
She isn’t attracted to him – or, at least, she does a damn good job of hiding her attraction. Too good. Almost good enough to chip away at Brandon’s overblown ego and confidence.
The best part of this book, I think, is following along as Brandon gradually comes to the realization that what he feels for Gabriella is not just typical lust, but something more, something much deeper, something that just might spell happily ever after.
Below is an excerpt from Candy Crush. It is the scene in which Brandon and Gabriella meet for the first time, from Brandon’s perspective. I think it sums his personality rather succinctly. If you enjoy it, feel free to download from:
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Her hand was dainty and smooth, and he noticed she had perfectly manicured pale pink nails. She wore three silver stackable rings on the ring finger of her right hand and her left hand was devoid of jewelry. No wedding ring.
“Are you the new owner of the candy store?” he asked.
“How did you know that?” she asked suspiciously.
“By definition of my title, it’s my job to know these sorts of things. You aren’t planning to sell drugs are you?”
Gabriella gasped and looked genuinely shocked and he decided the answer was no. Considering her reaction to the acronym DDA, he felt inclined to ask.
“Just checking,” he said amiably. “So what’s your name?”
Brandon stuck his hands in his pockets and took his time appraising the new candy store owner, now that he was up close. From across the street, by the pale blue glow from the new state of the art yet antique in stature lamppost hanging above her head, he determined she had long blond hair that was braided down her back, an average sized chest, small waist and long legs.
Up close, he could see that the hair was professionally colored in a salon. All those shades of blond couldn’t possibly be natural. The chest was still average, the waist was tiny and the legs were indeed long. She wore a fitted white scoop neck shirt under a thin jacket, slim brown pants and tennis shoes. He bet she looked hot in four-inch heels. He wondered how long she’d last in this town, and he decided he wanted to sleep with her before she left.
“I’m Gabriella Hadley,” she said. Her soft voice was as delicate as her hands and had a distinctly southern drawl.
“Nice to meet you, Gabby,” Brandon said, and she corrected him, “Gabriella.”
“How long do you plan to stay in town?” Brandon asked, rocking on his heels and still watching her. He could tell his scrutiny made her uncomfortable. He hoped it was because she was attracted to him.
“Well, since I just bought the candy store, I’d say it’s a bit of a permanent arrangement,” Gabriella pointed out. “Is there something I can help you with, Mr. Sarantos?” she said impatiently. He watched as a guilty look flittered across her features. Did she feel guilty for acting impatient? He was pretty sure he had never in his life met a woman who felt guilty about something so trivial.
“It’s Brandon. I was still in the office and I saw you pull up, so I figured I’d welcome you to town.” And I never miss an opportunity to meet a hot blond. “Where are you from?”
“Thank you for the welcome. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to take a peek inside and then go find something to eat. I haven’t eaten since noon.”
He noticed she ignored his question, but he let it slide as he tried to come up with ways to keep her talking. He didn’t usually like it when women talked too much, but he decided that Gabriella could talk to him all day long, with that thick southern drawl. It was sexy as hell.
“That place hasn’t been opened up in years. Why don’t I hang around to make sure no raccoons come flying out at you, and then I’ll show you the nearest pizza parlor?”
She looked appalled, although Brandon wasn’t entirely sure if that was due to the prospect of a raccoon flying out at her or having to endure his company for that much longer. She demurely said thank you, and turned and bent at the waist to retrieve her purse from the floor of the car. Brandon watched and thoroughly enjoyed the way her cotton pants strained against the roundness of her backside.
She stood up and turned around, realized what he was doing and huffed out a sigh. She stalked past him, her nose in the air. The cocker spaniel trotted along beside her and Brandon followed behind, not feeling the least bit guilty for ogling.
Gabriella turned the key in the lock, opened the door and then quickly stepped to the side, presumably just in case a raccoon really did come flying out at her. The dog trotted inside and Brandon stepped in front of the door and stuck his head inside, his eyes sweeping from side to side, taking it all in. He glanced back at Gabriella, who had made no move to follow suit.
“Did you know what kind of condition it was in when you bought it?” he asked.
“No,” she admitted. “I bought it over the internet. The pictures were definitely old. All the letters were still on the sign and there were displays in the windows.”
“Brace yourself,” he said as she finally stepped in front of the door and peeked over his shoulder.
Now that you know my favorite type of hero… What’s yours? What personality traits cause you to fall in love with your latest book boyfriend?