Book cover artist Ryan Barlow of Martha’s Vineyard is having a cigarette break in a church parking lot when a bride falls out of a tree and lands in his arms. Candace Sabella, a 27 year-old drop dead gorgeous pole dancer has just runaway from a marriage to her finance Antonio Madera, a porn king and ruthless killer. She begs Ryan to take her into his home and hide her. He relents, with dangerous misgivings. He discovers that this little gal is full of piss and vinegar and carries more baggage than a Carnival Cruise.
Ryan can’t wait to get rid of Candace fast enough because he’s currently separated from his wife, Gloria, and attending marriage counseling. Gloria left Ryan to move in with her parents after suspecting he committed adultery. She also believes he enjoyed a tawdry sex act with a floozy at his high school reunion. Besides that, she can’t stand the smell of his oil paints, alcohol and linseed oil. Yet Ryan and Gloria are a hair’s breath away from reconciliation.
Candace, rightfully fearing for her life, will do anything to draw Ryan’s favor to her; including stripping for a portrait, spiking his food with aphrodisiacs, performing risqué dance routines, openly flashing him and trying to sleep in his bed. Ryan, with his Christian upbringing, is forced to use desperate measures to fight off her provocative advances. His arsenal includes a savage masturbation episode, shows of temper tantrums and prayers. Strippers and pole dancers are worthless trash, he keeps telling himself. His mother had taught him that even though he’d visited some clubs in his younger days. Yet this petite little gal begins to soften his heart and show him another side of life that he never knew existed.
Gloria discovers Candace in her home with Ryan and storms off, threatening to sue him for everything he has.
Antonio has put his entire Mob Squad on the hunt for his runaway bride because she saw him commit a murder and he needs to silence her. Antonio closes in on her location, forcing Ryan and Candace to pack their survival bags and run to a hideout in the bluffs for six days. During this time Ryan finds out that he is smitten and hopelessly in love with Candace and vows to protect her at all costs. Bouts of intense passionate lovemaking seals their pact and they fall more deeply in love with each other.
With the help of friends, Ryan and Candace escape on a shrimp trawler and are accosted by Antonio Madera on the high seas. A donnybrook fight ensues. Ryan and his friends are victorious, but the love of his life is shot through the chest during the end moments of the fight. He has no idea whether she will live or die, and he’ll do anything to be with her until the critical outcome.
Antonio and his Madera Mob Squad are captured and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by testimony and evidence provided by Candace during her hospital stay in ICU. Lengthy jail sentences are administered to the persons responsible for the murder.
Candace Sabella, teetering between life and death, survives and joins Ryan in his three-story Victorian home. Gloria, feeling sorry for Candace’s near fatal injury, serves Ryan with a no-fault divorce instead of a full-blown divorce suit.
The couple sails to the Bahamas for a grand wedding, attended by friends, families and bridesmaids consisting of rowdy strippers. Nine months later, Mr. and Mrs. Barlow welcome a new addition to their family, a daughter who is christened Cynthia Joan Barlow.