Title: The Gingerbread Cookie Code
Author: Ann M. Trader
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Clay Blackstone, avowed bachelor, is an ambitious computer design engineer at a prestigious firm. When an accident puts his dad on crutches, he returns home to help with his family's Christmas tree farm, never expecting to find romantic entanglement with an alluring woman he remembers as a tomboy in braids.
As a single mother launching a bakery business, Shelby Turner has experience with measuring cups and watercolor paints, but not handsome, intriguing men—especially one who is her secret schoolgirl crush.
Between her sweet treats, his tech savvy, and their combined chemistry, will they risk their hearts and discover the code to their happily ever after?
Clay watched the emotions warring across her delicate features, but there was no censure in her eyes, no bitterness in her firm chin. The guy’s a jerk. You’re too good for him, Shelby. A tightness twisted, then uncoiled in his chest, stoking a protective instinct he did not know he possessed.
“A child needs love, and it’s plain to see Vivie’s got plenty of that. She’s a terrific little girl, and that’s all because of you.” The fine lines at the corners of his eyes fanned out. “I think you’re brave, and you’ve got more guts than anyone I’ve ever met.” They gazed at each other. Damn, but I could get lost in those blue lagoon eyes. Unable to resist their unintentional invitation, he touched her arm, forming words around an idea that popped into his head. “Shelby…I want to do something for you—before I go back to Atlanta—if you’ll let me.”
While he explained, she drained what remained of her coffee, then wiped her mouth with a fresh napkin and shook her head.
“Come on, Shelby. Think about it. It’ll be fun. Anymore, all I do is design for corporate clients. I’ll have your website and business platforms optimized and running in no time. And don’t worry—I’ll teach you everything you need to know to maintain them. I could help you write a business plan, too. Your dad will take your idea more seriously if you work it out on a spreadsheet.” He winked at her from over his mug. “I’m all yours, any day after four.”
She arched a delicate eyebrow and gave him a conspiratorial look. “Did you also forget to tell me you were once a salesman?”
Clay chuckled behind his fist. I’m beginning to like her. A lot. “So, what do you say, Shelby?”
He watched her twist her napkin into a knot, then she met his eyes. “Oh, all right. Yes, I’d like your help—but on one condition. You let me return the favor by fixing you supper.”
He smiled on the inside. “Including sweets?”
“Definitely sweets.” Her cheeks turned a peachy pink. “So any allergies or foods you hate?”
“Not a one. Please. Surprise me.” The levity in his voice was unmistakable, and it surprised him. “So, how about we start tonight? I’ll bring the wine. Red or white?”
Shelby dropped the crumpled napkin on her plate. “Tonight’s good. And white please.”
When the server approached their table with the check, Clay pulled several bills from his wallet and placed them in her palm. Plenty of coffee refills, a stack of napkins—and privacy with Shelby—all without even asking. “Thanks for the service—keep the change.”
When they got back to the hardware store, Clay picked up his box and loaded it in his king-cab truck. Propped against the tailgate, he pulled out his smartphone.
“What’s your number?” He typed what she said, and moments later her phone pinged.
—Your place. 7 pm. White.—
Her fingers danced over her screen, and his phone vibrated.
—Perfect. And I’m glad you like surprises.—
He gazed at her, a ray of sunlight dusting her lashes with gold, before she turned, the whip of her hair revealing the creamy skin of her neck. He rubbed the back of his knuckles against his jaw as she strolled toward the store, then he caught her peeking over her shoulder to see if he was looking. Damn. Damn. Damn.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
What makes your featured book a must-read?
The bonds of family run deep in The Gingerbread Cookie Code, a small town romance where the characters have flaws and the courage to face them. If you like your romance heartfelt and honest—full of passion and promise—you’ll enjoy this story. In fact, you just might find a bit of yourself in Clay and Shelby as they seek their happily ever after.
Enter to win a $17 Amazon gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.
Runs February 15 – February 23, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on February 24, 2022.
I enjoy spending time with my family, trying out new recipes, and relaxing on my back porch to read and write. These days I take walks around my neighborhood, but when I was sixteen, I hiked the Grand Canyon with a group of friends. I love watching television dramas (in no special order: Stranger Things, The Gilded Age, The Last Kingdom, 1883, Outlander, Poldark, Yellowstone, Outer Banks, and Peaky Blinders) and reading a great romance book.
Social Media Links:
Website: www.annmtrader.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annmtraderbooks Twitter: https://twitter.com/anntrader5 BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ann-m-trader Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21925238.Ann_M_Trader