ARC review: Man Candy by Jessica Lemmon

Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐ Eye Candy ⭐ Arm Candy ⭐

Becca is a free spirit currently working at her brother’s secluded resort.  Dax is a restaurateur from Ohio who’s currently getting some much-needed time away.  Dax and Becca meet one night at the resort’s bar and immediately hit it off. They head back to his cabin for what’s supposed to be a one-night stand, but things don’t always turn out as expected.

A surprise rainstorm takes down trees and power lines and strands the two in Dax’s cabin.  Forced to spend a few days together, Dax and Becca form a connection and decide to extend their one-night stand into a two-week flirtation.  But once their two weeks are up, are they going to be ready to let go?

I’m a big fan of Jessica Lemmon’s Real Love series.  Eye Candy made use of one of my absolute favorite tropes – friends-to-lovers – and had that wonderful will-they-or-won’t-they pull with a lot of backstory between Vince and Jackie.  Arm Candy featured Vince’s best friend, Davis, also known as my literary crush of the year. The cynical stock analyst was able to get fiery bartender Grace to let down her guard just long enough to fall in love, and that, too, was a great story.  Here, we’re dumped at some sort of mountain resort with all these characters I’d never heard of before and I’m expected to feel something for them throughout their one-night stand?  It’s a different sort of romance, for sure, and it’s one that took a long time for me to get invested in.

At first glance, there’s no apparent connection between this book and the first two books in the series.  Rest assured, there is a connection.  If you read all three books back-to-back, you’d probably pick it up pretty quickly.  But if you read the books as they’re released, with several months in between, the connection doesn’t become really obvious until about 90% in.  By that point, did I really care that much about the tenuous connection Dax had to our other main characters?  Not really.

In general, I don’t love books about one-night stands.  They don’t really do it for me and I wasn’t sure how Lemmon would turn this one-night stand between a flighty heroine and a hero from out of town into something lasting.  That’s not to say that she didn’t succeed in her story, but of the three Real Love books that have been released thus far, Man Candy is by far my least favorite.

Now, as always, Lemmon’s writing is good and she’s succeeded in writing an engaging story with likable characters.  But, as I said, this just really isn’t my kind of trope.  One-night stand romances are somewhere near the bottom of my list, especially in a situation like this, where a girl picks up a total stranger in a bar and follows him to his secluded cabin in the woods.  Let’s be honest here – in real life, Becca would probably be dead by now.  Dax might be a total gentleman in the book, but I couldn’t get reality out of my head.

All of that said, though, I did really enjoy the cooking aspect of the book.  Personally, I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes and using weird ingredients.  Becca’s recipes sounded amazing!  I mean, those fried cheese cube nachos?  Sign me up.  That mouth-watering quesadilla?  Yes, please.  Where can I get those recipes?

In the end, I think everything wrapped up a bit too neatly given the personalities of the characters.  Man Candy is, in my opinion, the weakest of the series.  It’s still good.  It’s just not great.  If there’s to be a fourth book in the Real Love series, I sure hope it features Dax’s friend Barrett!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆
Actual rating: 2.5

I received a free ARC of Man Candy from Loveswept (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.