Title: Love on the Sweet Side
Author: Mariah Ankenman
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Maggie Evans is back in Peak Town, Colorado to take over her grandmother’s cupcake shop, but problems keep arising. Is it rotten luck…or something more nefarious? To top it off, her former best friend/childhood crush, Colton Denning, won’t leave her alone. He’s sexier than ever. But Maggie has no time for love.
When his best friend comes back into town all grown up, Colton finds his feelings for her go far beyond friendship. Unfortunately, the pretty baker only sees him as the town playboy. He plans to convince her otherwise, but may not get the chance when someone starts threatening Maggie’s life.
Whether she likes it or not, Colton plans to take her safety into his own hands. How will Maggie keep her shop afloat with a madman after her? More importantly, how will she keep her heart intact when Colton admits her safety isn’t the only thing he wants in his hands?
“Colton Denning, get out from behind my counter this minute,” Maggie admonished and smacked him on the shoulder.
Ouch. The tiny woman packed quite a wallop.
He put Jamie down and turned. “Oh come on now, Magpie. I was just caught up in the excitement of the news.”
“Yeah well, catch up on that side of the counter. You’re going to violate my health codes.”
He looked down at himself—dusty, faded jeans that may have been worn one season too long, a relatively clean, long sleeve flannel over a black T- shirt, and cowboy boots caked in dried mud. Okay, she might have a point. Not that he would ever tell her that. One thing Maggie did not need to hear was that she was right, again.
Besides, it was much more fun to tease her.
“I’m not that dirty.”
She rolled those pretty green eyes of hers. “You’ve got hay stuck in your jeans.” A quick glance revealed a short stalk stuck in the waistband of his wranglers. Not surprising. Working on a horse ranch, you were bound to get a stray piece of hay here and there.
“Why, Magpie, were you eying my unmentionables?”
She snorted, a very unladylike snort, but adorable as hell.
“Oh please. You probably put it there on purpose to draw attention to your unmentionables. You’re a shameless flirt, Colton Denning, and you know it.”
No denying the truth.
“What’s wrong with a little harmless flirting? Especially when it’s with such a pretty lady.”
“Go peddle that charm somewhere else, cowboy, and get back on the other side of my counter.”
“You are just no fun, Magpie.”
He appeased her by hopping back over the counter.
Jamie followed, opting to go around to the small opening separating the kitchen from the dining area rather than jump over the three-foot ledge.
“Thanks for the day off, boss.”
Maggie smiled. “You deserve it. And don’t go home to study. Go out, have fun, get a little wild.”
The young girl rolled her eyes the way teenagers do when adults try to sound cool. He remembered giving his parents a few of those himself back in the day. Some things never changed.
“I promise to be totally reckless tonight.”
“Good. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” Maggie called after her as her college bound employee left the shop.
“I thought you wanted her to have fun?”
She glanced at him, her brows pinched together in confusion. Time for his favorite past time: tease the cupcake maker.
“You told her to have fun, but then said not to do anything you wouldn’t do.”
He reached out with his finger and tapped the end of her small, button nose. “You don’t do anything except work.”
She huffed out a breath of annoyance. “That’s not true.”
“I do lots of stuff.”
“Oh yeah, like what?”
Her mouth opened, but the sexy baker said nothing.
He chuckled, pleased with himself at her exasperated look. He had no idea why it was so fun to get her all riled up, but he thoroughly enjoyed it.
“See, you’re no fun.”
Maggie’s teeth clenched together. Her arms crossed over her chest defensively as she scowled at him. “I am so fun.”
He laughed. “And way too easy to tease, Magpie.”
She uncrossed her arms then placed her hands on her hips instead. “I’m twenty-eight now, Colton. I think I’m a little too old for nicknames.”
Maybe, but he’d given her that nickname years ago when she used to come out for the summers to spend time with her grandmother. She’d been so tiny and skittish. The littlest thing would startle her, like a bird. He started calling her Magpie one summer, and it just kind of stuck. He liked that he had a special name for her. One that no one used, but him.
“Did you come in here for a reason or just to annoy me?”
Deciding not to tempt his fate, he stopped his teasing. He wouldn’t put it past her to dump a bowl of cupcake batter on his head.
She’d done it before.
“Dade sent me to pick up his order.”
“Oh right. He called it in this morning.”
Turning, Maggie walked to the large refrigerated cooler along the sidewall of her shop, opened the door, and reached in to pull out a large cardboard box.
“Two dozen vanilla cupcakes with mint-chocolate frosting. A treat for the hands or do you guys have a group today?”
He and his brother ran the family horse ranch where they boarded horses for several people in town who didn’t have enough room on their own property for the animals. They also offered riding lessons and group trail rides. The Denning Ranch had been in the family for three generations. He and Dade had helped their mother and father run it growing up. Since their parents retired to Florida five years ago, the brothers had hired on a few hands to help out. He loved the work. Couldn’t imagine doing anything else with his life.
“A small bonus for the guys. It’s a little too cold out for people to want to ride yet.”
It was mid-May, but springtime in the Rocky Mountains could be in the sixties one day and a snowstorm the next. At the moment, the temperature was holding in the mid-fifties. Warm, but still too cold for most folks to want a long trail ride. They did most of their riding business in the summer. The boarding helped pay the bills the rest of the year.
“I’m sure they’d rather a real bonus than cupcakes.”
He gave her his best lady-killer smile. “Ask any man around and they’ll tell you they’d rather have one of your delicious cupcakes than anything else.”
She blushed, the color rising up her cheeks, making her even more beautiful.
“Flattery will not get you free cupcakes, Colt.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
If you love small town romance, sexy cowboys, and a hint of danger in your story then Love on The Sweet Side is for you.
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Bestselling author Mariah Ankenman lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her two rambunctious daughters and loving spouse who provides ample inspiration for her heart-stopping heroes.
Mariah loves to lose herself in a world of words. Her favorite thing about writing is when she can make someone’s day a little brighter with one of her books. To learn more about Mariah and her books, visit her website http://mariahankenman.com/, follow her on social media or sign up for her newsletter.
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