A Candlewood Falls Novel
Plant geneticist Sam Wilde has spent his life savings engineering a unique apple variety that increases happiness. But when fortune-teller Faith Shields mixes Sam’s new apples into an Old World recipe, the result does more than make people happy—it makes them hot for love!
As Candlewood Falls hungers for the forbidden fruit, Sam and Faith experiment with their arousal hypothesis and soon discover their test subjects aren’t the only ones tempted by desire. Is the impassioned pair’s attraction a byproduct of the aphrodisiac or do they have true chemistry?
Add into the equation the only investor who could save Sam’s orchard from foreclosure—Faith’s jealous ex-boyfriend—and Wilde Orchards is about to live up to its name.
After a customer is unsatisfied with her taro reading Faith’s grandmother encourages her to relax and instead of trying to push for a vision. What she sees is blurry and confuses her, but at least something came through. She is however skeptical that her gift will ever fully return.
Her daughter Lily is the first of this little family Sam Wilde meets. She’s at his family’s orchard with her science class and disappears while the others are picking apples. His grandfather apparently sent her to an area he has marked off-limits. The apples there are genetically altered with amino acids to increase happiness. A side effect of this is red pulp and a bitter taste, but he’s hoping for a contract with a hard cider company.
He returns Lily to her group just as her mother arrives. The teacher’s assistant, Laurel jumps on her about being late, and accuses her of making up the story of an alpaca in the road making her late. This woman clearly has some bitter feelings toward Faith and her daughter.
After he introduces himself to Faith, he explains about his grandfather sending Lily to the off-limits section and tells her he’s going to fix Lily’s necklace and return it at the end of the tour at the gift shop.
When Sam returns the necklace, he also invites Faith to rent a booth at the Haunted Orchard. Then the topic turns to Lily needing a tutor for science and math, her old school didn’t have the challenging curriculum the one here in Candlewood Falls does. Sam offers to tutor her, but Faith won’t commit until she speaks with Lily.
Lily agreed to Sam tutoring her and while he’s there Faith talks to him about his apples and her participating in the Haunted Orchard. She manages to talk him into selling her some of his happy apples to do readings. She also decides to make her family’s apple and chili chutney to sell. However, she doesn’t have enough granny smith apples, so she adds a few of Sam’s new variety. Neither Sam nor Faith could anticipate the outcome of that combination. While Faith had tasted the chutney, Sam didn’t get a chance to taste and when he does, he’s skeptical. The two of them plan a blind study at the Haunted Orchard to test with different amounts of the ‘Happy’ apples.
This is a favorite scene.
Over the course of the night, they administered three more tests for a total sample size of seventy-four people. Five more people had approached him. A woman complimented his clothes and asked where she could buy his sweater for her boyfriend. An older man wanted advice on what kind of flowers from the cutting garden he should snip and bring home to his wife. Another guy who graduated high school two years before him asked if he’d like to join a poker game this weekend because they were a man short.
He didn’t even realize the guy knew who he was.
Plus, two more interested women gave him their phone numbers.
What was going on? Why were these people suddenly interested in him? He’d never been popular before. He’d never been popular ever. Why did they all want his advice or attention?
After the last of the subjects filed out of the barn, Sam collected the questionnaires and quickly skimmed through them.
Faith cleaned up the paper cups and wiped down the tables. “Did you notice anything unusual tonight?”
“Everything about tonight was unusual. Did you see how many people wanted to talk to me?”
“Actually, I was referring to Mr. and Mrs. Cummings.”
“What about them?”
“Did you notice how cold they were to each other when they arrived? They stood on the opposite sides of the room. By the time their experiment ended, they were together laughing. Mr. Cummings apologized for being distant lately. Mrs. Cummings apologized for saying she wanted a divorce. She doesn’t. She wants to work out their problems. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“You were eavesdropping?”
“I couldn’t help it. I was standing right next to them. Besides it isn’t eavesdropping; it’s research. Did you read their survey?”
Sam shuffled through the papers until he found Mr. Cummings’ name.
“Is this correct?” He read it over more carefully the second time.
As the experiment had progressed, Mr. Cummings reported his mood had changed from annoyed to relaxed and happy by the end. The paper beneath was Mrs. Cummings’ who also reported a dramatic change in mood over the course of the experiment. She started out angry and progressed to neutral, happy, and then giddy like a schoolgirl in love—her words.
Goosebumps prickled his arms like they always did when something exciting happened. “It worked on them. Mr. Cummings was in the twenty-five percent group and reported being happy, but not aroused. Mrs. Cummings was in the fifty percent group and reported arousal.”
“I bet it worked on many others, too.” Her voice, lively and bubbly, matched the lightness in his chest. “Didn’t you notice how the vibe in the room changed from the start of each experiment to the end?”
“I did.” Spirits soaring, Sam handed her half of the papers. “Give these a quick scan and see if there are any outliers. We’ll learn more after inputting the data and taking a closer look.”
As he skimmed through the findings, one interesting thing tickled his thoughts. Every person who had engaged him in friendly or flirty conversation had been in the seventy-five or hundred percent group.
“You have a strange look on your face. You okay?”
“This is my pondering face.”
“What are you pondering?”
“Everyone who tried to engage me in more than conversation came from the seventy-five to hundred percent groups.”
“So according to their papers, they were feeling aroused.”
“Isn’t that the point?”
“Yes, but if the chutney made them horny, why did they talk to me instead of someone else? They had plenty of people sitting closer to engage with.”
“I’m not following you. Why are you surprised they talked to you?”
“I’m not exactly”—popular, sexy, charming—“sociable.”
“You’re not unsociable, either.”
No. But he could be. Large groups tended to exhaust him, which was why he always needed to escape from his extended family for fifteen to twenty minutes during gatherings. But this was different, this was about aroused women wanting to give him their phone numbers.
He shrugged. “Maybe I was the only single guy in the room. I don’t know.”
“Sam.” Her serious tone of voice caught his attention. He met her gaze, concern filling her eyes. “Have we made a drug? Can our chutney be used in a negative way?”
“It’s understandable why you’d think that. But no. There is nothing unnatural in our product. The increase in neurochemicals make people feel good. The capsaicin from the chili makes them warm and flushed and the other things we read about. All that together simulates feelings of arousal. But it doesn’t alter who you are. It won’t make someone tear off their clothes if they don’t want to. It won’t turn someone into a rapist. Just because someone is aroused doesn’t mean they can’t control their urges.”
“It can’t be used as a date rape drug?”
“Absolutely not. Consumers will have all their faculties and can choose how to behave. If not, tonight would have been much more interesting and X-rated.”
“Don’t people tend to be bolder when aroused?”
“You may have a point there. Maybe that’s what gave those people the courage to approach me. But I think the point is moot. As long as we don’t add more than twenty-five percent of my apples to your chutney, then we don’t have to worry about unnecessary consequences.”
Fawcett, K.M.; Falls, Candlewood. Wilde Temptation: A Candlewood Falls Novel (Small Town Wilde Romance Book 1) (Kindle Locations 1505-1550 ). Kindle Edition.
The sudden popularity leads to a newpaper article that is going to change things for Sam and not in a good way. His first date with Faith includes the news he lost the hard cider bid, and in turn he’s going to lose his portion of the Orchard, his home and his sister’s dream of a bed and breakfast.
Lots of intrigue here as Faith’s ex, Penn shows up and with that follows offer that could save Sam’s property.
There are plenty of twists and turns as Faith becomes more secure in herself with regard to relationships and business. I love Lily and her bluntness so typical of a child, and Lacey, Sam’s sister is quite outspoken as well.
Definitely a fun and interesting read with more than a couple surprises.
I’m already reading the next book, with a Christmas theme.
5 Contented Purrs for K.M.!
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K.M. Fawcett is the author of the thrilling science fiction romance series, The Survival Race and is one of 3 authors in the small-town contemporary romance shared world series of Candlewood Falls. She writes stories featuring underdogs and fish-out-of-water characters who find their place in the universe. She believes in happy endings and true love conquering all.
She and her husband—the inspiration for all her heroes (and some of her villains)—own Tenchi Dojo in NJ, where they teach traditional Okinawan karate and kobudo (weapons). K.M. incorporates two decades of martial arts experience into her stories to create strong, kick-ass characters who aren’t afraid to fight for the life and love they deserve.
Wielding the world as her office, K.M. exhausted many hours writing in parked cars (waiting for kids at drum lessons and ballet classes), on airplanes, at a local coffee shop, outdoors, and in her home library with two mischievous cats vying for attention.