Title: Love on the Sweet Side
Author: Mariah Ankenman
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Western/Cowboy)
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 stepped into Cupcakes Above the Clouds and inhaled the sugary sweet smell wafting from the rows and rows of cupcakes displayed behind the glass counter. The shop had been a Peak Town cornerstone for over thirty years. He remembered coming here after school with his brother, Dade. The owner, Mrs. Browning, would always give him and his brother a Devil Chocolate cupcake with rainbow sprinkles for helping her take out the garbage. Nothing was sweeter than Mrs. B’s cupcakes.
“Be right there, Colt.”
Except for the new owner, Mrs. B’s granddaughter, Maggie Evans.
He leaned against the counter, waiting for her to come up front. The shop wasn’t all that big, so it only took a moment.
Long, dark brown hair held back in a tight French braid, mossy green eyes, and a bright smile on her beautiful face, Maggie Evans stepped out from the back and headed toward him. He watched the slight sway of her hips, remembering a time, years ago, when she had been all skin and bones. The years had certainly been kind to her. And though they were friends—best of at one time—he wasn’t above noticing what a sexy woman she had become. What man with a pulse wouldn’t notice?
Her worker followed close behind, a bounce in her step and wide grin on her young face.
“Hey, Jamie. You working today?”
“Nope.” The teenager smiled. “Maggie gave me the afternoon off because I got some great news.”
He had a suspicion of what it could be, but she was so excited he wanted to let her share. “Well, don’t keep me in suspense, sugar.”
“I got in!” Joyful glee radiated off her youthful face as she waved a white envelope in the air.
He whooped out a yell, jumped over the counter, and grabbed her up in a bear hug. Everyone in town knew the ambitious girl had been hoping to get into Harvard. She was smart as a whip, so he wasn’t surprised she’d made it. Still, it was a great accomplishment—the first person from Peak Town to go to an Ivy League school.
“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.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Sexy cowboys, delicious cupcakes, a dash of danger, and friends to lovers! What more could a romance lover want.