Devil’s Food Ripple With a Cherry on Top by @LauraSt05038951 is a Beach Reads Event pick #beachread
Title: Devil’s Food Ripple With a Cherry on Top
Author: Laura Strickland
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Fenady Clark's dream of owning an ice cream parlor has inspired her through some of life's hardest challenges. Just when the grand opening's within reach, that wicked rogue, Sebastian Bane, opens shop and starts serving Fenady's designer flavors, all renamed. She suspects he's using black magic to poach her recipes, and if she weren't a good witch instead of a bad witch, she'd whip up a spell and retaliate.
Sebastian's come all the way from England to establish his family's business near Salem. He can't explain how he and the lovely Fenady keep creating the same ice cream confections, unless it's enchantment, or fate. Is there room in town for both their dreams? And what will it take to convince an angry white witch she needs him in her life?
“Poaching.” She repeated the word with some emphasis. “Also known as theft. I’m asking you to stop now, before things get any uglier than they already are.”
A measure of Seb’s good humor fled. “You’re accusing me of theft?”
She visibly sought to exert control over her emotions. “Certainly I am.”
“Then, I think you’d better explain.”
“I’ll be happy to. Let me begin by saying I’m the owner and proprietor of Fen’s Fancy Ice Cream Parlor.”
“Ah.” Comprehension took light in Seb’s mind. “The other ice cream shop.”
She nodded. “The competition, so to speak. Now, I’m not afraid of a little competition.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“But as I was here first—”
Seb interrupted her. “You’re sure about that, are you?”
“Yes. I leased my property back in February.”
“I’ve had mine since last autumn, actually.” Seb waved a hand airily. “No matter. I’m more than certain, at the height of the season, there will be business enough for both of us.”
“It isn’t that.” Rage sparkled in Fenady’s eyes, and it took Seb aback. The woman had power, and magical power at that. Well, well—two witches in the same small town, pursuing the same vocation. Who would have thought?
“As I say, I’m here,” she said through gritted teeth, “to demand you stop poaching my ice cream creations.”
Demand? Suddenly, Seb’s back went up. He didn’t get riled often, knowing all too well the importance of keeping his spirit on an even keel. But who did she think she was, marching into his shop, throwing around demands and accusations?
“That’s the second time you’ve done that—accused me of stealing,” he said icily. “I’m no thief. Perhaps you’d better explain further.”
She waved the flier at him. “Marsh Mallow Magic,” she fairly snarled. “With a cinnamon stick, no less. That’s virtually the same recipe I just developed and called Marshy Magic—”
“Of just exactly what are you accusing me, Miss Fenady?”
She tossed her head. “Haven’t you been listening? You’re stealing my ice cream flavors. And I want it to stop.”
Indignation joined the anger brewing in Seb’s chest. “I may be a lot of things, Miss Fenady.” A creative genius, if he did say so himself. A walker of the old magical path, a died-in-the-wool Wiccan. That meant he believed in putting good out into the world. “I’ve told you, I’m no thief.”
“Then how is it you list, here, flavors I’ve formulated?” She slapped the flier.
“I don’t know.” He treated her to a snarl of his own. “Maybe you’re stealing my ideas, rather than the other way ‘round.”
“How dare you? I started dreaming up those formulas when I was twelve years old.” She began a recitation. “Pistachio Dream. Whipped Almond Cloud. Both of those—or versions of them—you’ve put out, even while they were still just proto types in my kitchen. Vanilla Victory, with—”
“With a touch of licorice?” Seb asked, in dawning horror.
“Yes.” Pure rage glared at him from her eyes. “Do you mean to stand there and tell me that’s coincidence?”
“No, I wouldn’t call it that.” On the contrary, Seb was starting to think some other force must be at work here, one that fairly lit him with curiosity. However, the customers waiting in line had begun turning their heads, their attention drawn by their raised voices.
“Look, Miss Fenady, can we go somewhere and discuss this like reasonable—er—persons?”
She gave him a scathing look that started at his feet and worked all the way up to his black head. “You think you can charm me?”
Actually, that was exactly what Seb hoped to do, if only to calm her down.
“You haven’t a hope,” she barreled on. “Anyway, we’re done here. I want you to withdraw those flavors I’ve named and go back to—oh, I don’t know, maybe your own creations.”
Like hell he would—those were his creations, as well as some of his best sellers. Anyway, he’d already dipped into his advertising budget for the lush fliers and wasn’t about to bin them. The rage simmering in his blood threatened to spring to light. However, the customers could overhear them all too easily, here.
Not the impression Seb wanted to make.
His anger spoke when he said, “I’m afraid I must insist, I myself created those flavors. All my flavors.”
“Can you prove it?”
“I don’t quite see how. They just came to me.” Again he waved his fingers. “Via inspiration.”
She snorted. “Well, I can prove they’re my creations. So you’d better cease and desist selling them, unless you want trouble.”
“Trouble?” he repeated.
“Yes.” She widened her gorgeous eyes at him, and repeated the word with relish. “Trouble—of the most cosmic kind.”
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This little story, which takes place in a summer sea-side town, is full of sparkling banter and fun. The perfect light read for a sunny afternoon!
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Runs July 18 – July 26, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on July 27, 2022.
Author Laura Strickland’s books have won the prestigious RONE award, the N. N. Light book award, and placed second in the National Excellence in Storytelling contest. She delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music are all reflected in her writing. Laura's mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
Social Media Links:
Author Website: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317
Author Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Author Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/760146.Laura_Strickland
Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951