top of page
  • N. N. Light

Love On The Sweet Side by Mariah Ankenman is a Western Romance Event pick #westernromance #giveaway

Title: Love On The Sweet Side

Author: Mariah Ankenman

Genre: Romance (contemporary western)

Book Blurb:

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?


Lunch had been delicious. Even the salad had been good. After they cleaned the dishes, Colton found that deck of playing cards, and Maggie searched through the pantry until she came up with a half-full bag of chocolate chips. They kept it simple. Five-card stud.

The sneaky baker was up five games to two.

“I swear you’re cheating.”

“You’re just mad ’cause I’m kicking your butt.”

Maggie gave him a deceptively innocent smile. “Two cards please.”

She said the words a little too sweetly. He’d been trying like hell to figure out her tell. Everyone had a tell. His brother would always rub his fingers together when he was bluffing. Maggie twisted her hands when she was nervous, but he had no idea what she did when she was lying.

He drew two cards from the deck and handed them face down to her. She plucked them from his fingers and added them to her hand. He watched her very closely. Nothing.

Wait, there!

A slight move, but the thumb on her right hand ever so slightly touched the ring on her pointer finger. Her grandmother’s ring. Colton knew that because he remembered seeing Mrs. B wear it every day when he was growing up, and then had given it to her granddaughter the first summer she came to visit. He’d never known Maggie to take it off since.

So, she touched her ring. Was that a good sign or bad? Great hand or lousy? Guess he’d find out soon enough. He looked at his own cards. A pair of jacks.

Not great. Time to play a little chicken.

“I bet ten.” He tossed a handful of chocolate chips in the center.

Dark brown eyebrows rose. “Good hand, huh?” “Maybe. Why don’t you find out?”

She narrowed her gaze, staring at him, trying to call his bluff.

Good luck sweetheart. Everyone had a tell...everyone except him.

“I see your ten, and raise you fifteen.” She slowly dropped each chip on to

the pile.

Chocolate scent filled the air, reminding him of all the sweet things in the

room he’d like to get his mouth on.

“So confident, Magpie. I call.” He dropped another handful onto the table. “What cha’ got?”

“You first, darling,” she said with a curl of her lips.

“Oooo I like it, but maybe next time try not to make it sound like an insult.”

“Stop calling me silly nicknames and maybe I will. Now, stop stalling and show me what you have.”

There was no way he could let a set up like that get away. “I’d love to show you what I have, but maybe the kitchen isn’t the best place for our first time.”

Those pretty green eyes rolled upwards. “Your cards, Colton. Get your mind out of the gutter and on the game.”

He laughed, flipping his cards face up on the table. “Pair of jacks.”

Beaming, Maggie turned hers over. Three tens and two fives. “Full house! I win. Again.” Scooping the chocolate chip pile into her hands, she dragged her winnings over to her already huge pile.

“Unbelievable.” Guess the ring thing was a “good” tell.

“Not really. You are a lousy poker player, Colt.”

Affronted, he sat back in his chair. “Am not.”

“You have a very overt tell.” She grabbed the fallen cards.

He crossed his arms over his chest. “No way.”

Her shoulders lifted in a shrug as she shuffled.

No way. No way did he have a tell. He’d been clearing the table with his

brother for years. He was a great poker player. Unless...Dade was lousy at poker.

“Okay fine. Then I won’t tell you what it is, and I’ll get all the chocolate chips to myself.”

They sat in silence as she finished shuffling, then dealt five cards out to each of them. Colton picked up his cards, glancing at them. A two, pair of eights, a ten and a king. Awful. He glanced across the table. No expression, no ring touching.

“Three cards please.” He passed the king, two and ten to her.

She put them in the discard pile and gave him three new cards from the top of the deck. Then she put down two of her own cards, replacing them with new ones. He waited, watched. She touched her ring.

“Okay, I give. What’s my tell?”

Maggie glanced up from her cards and smiled. “You tilt your head slightly to the right when you bluff.”

Really? A head tilt? How had she noticed that? No one had ever mentioned that before, and he played poker every week with his brother and their ranch hands. He won a lot, too. Never had anyone noticed his tell. Hell, he hadn’t even noticed it.

Maggie had.

She noticed something about him that no one else had. He smiled. Another good sign.

Picking up his new cards, he glanced at them. A three, a seven and another two. Crap.

“Two,” she said, tossing chips into the center of the table.

She was playing low ball, trying to get him to up the ante. Not with this hand.

“I fold.”

“On two?” Her mouth dropped in astonishment.

He tossed his cards down on the table. “I may have a tell, Magpie, but so do

you. Another full house?”

Open mouth closing, she grimaced. “No, I had a straight.”

Colton laughed, drawing a smile out of her.

“Shoot. It took Lizzy years to figure out my tell.”

She rubbed her ring again. “Gran was the one who taught me how to play poker. Her ring always brings me luck. Well, in the game at least.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

If you love small town romance with sexy cowboys, strong heroines, steamy scenes, and just a dash of danger then Love On The Sweet Side is for you!

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.

Runs April 25 – May 2, 2023.

Winner will be drawn on May 3, 2023.

Author Biography:

Bestselling author Mariah Ankenman lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her two rambunctious children and loving spouse who is her own personal spell checker when her dyslexia gets the best of her. 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 follow her on social media or sign up for her newsletter.

Social Media Links:




1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Apr 28, 2023

Thank you, Mariah, for sharing your book in our Western Fiction/Romance Bookish Event!

bottom of page