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“Hilarious, fast-paced and riveting.” - Harlequin Junkie, Recommended Read
When Chicago’s Hottest Snack Cake Heir…
Josh Kincaid went from rags to riches when he was adopted by the family who owns the Sweet Dreams Snack Cakes empire. But now the company is floundering, and Josh will do anything to save his parents the way they saved him. Including using his charm on a small-town wedding cake baker.
Takes on the Misfit Princess of the Bridal Capital of the Midwest…
Kimmie is flighty, she spouts off weird dreams when she’s nervous, and her frizzy hair and fashion sense make her the girl least likely to snare a debonair snack cake heir. But Kimmie can bake a cake that’ll make a grown man cry, and that’s exactly what Josh needs to turn his parents’ business around.
They Just Might Find The Recipe for Love
Josh’s plan should be easy, except Kimmie isn’t all cupcake underneath. Her help comes with a price. If Josh wants to save his family’s company, he’ll have to do something he’s never done: be himself.
Cupcakes have never been so terrifying.
Chicago’s Hottest Bachelor Spotted with a Bliss Baker! —Greta’s Gossip, Chicago Daily Sun
Kimmie Elias didn’t need a superpower to ward off men. She had her mother.
Her mother, known in certain circles in Bliss as the Queen General, was currently dragging a large, tattooed bouncer across the rich patterned carpet of the Rose and Dove country club, cutting a straight path to Kimmie while the well-dressed, semi-famous wedding guests between them scattered out of the way. Or, more likely, were repelled by the sheer force of her mother’s personality as much as the bouncer was being dragged along by it.
If ever there was a wedding with the potential to have a guest brave enough to stand up to her mother, this one was it. But so far, every man General Mom had forcibly introduced to Kimmie had been less white knight and more yellow-bellied.
Not that Kimmie had room to talk.
Kimmie’s shoulders hunched in. The live country music did nothing to mask her mother’s tone. It was the I have a man who is being forced to meet you because it is your duty to get married so that one day you will have children who become the umpteenth generation to own Heaven’s Bakery tone. Kimmie knew the tone well, as she’d been hearing it since her mother first introduced her to boys in preschool. Slowly—but not slowly enough to incur her mother’s wrath—Kimmie stood from her chair at a linen-draped table near the wall. “Hi, Mom.”
“Kimberly, this is Bruno.”
Bruno was tall, pierced, bearded, and broad-shouldered, with a studded leather jacket and pocket chain over his tuxedo pants. Obviously, General Mom was getting desperate. The wariness in Bruno’s squint reflected the likelihood that he’d rather sacrifice a goat in the middle of a fireball hailstorm than displease the woman who had rightfully earned the nickname Queen General, and he wasn’t certain how he’d ended up in her sights, but he knew he might not make it out alive.
Kimmie could relate.
“Bruno is a bodyguard, and he dabbles in guitar in his spare time,” General Mom said. “He’s also an excellent dancer.”
Yep, there it was.
The subtle my daughter would love to bear the fruit of your loins suggestion.
No matter how many men her mother introduced her to, Kimmie’s heart rate always spiked, nerves melted her brain, and her verbal filter switched into off mode. “I had a dream that whales invaded Bliss and tried to take over Heaven’s Bakery, but their fins were too slippery to handle the frosting bags, so they decided to teach belly-dancing lessons instead,” she blurted.
General Mom’s left eyelid twitched. Bruno’s uncertainty morphed to the usual they’re both one stick short of a pound of butter unease.
He wasn’t wrong.
“Kimberly made the wedding cake,” General Mom told Bruno. “Isn’t it lovely?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Bruno tugged at his collar.
“Kimmie!” Natalie Blue stepped into their group. “Excuse me, Marilyn, we need Kimmie for a minute. There’s a question about the cake and a nut allergy. Oh, and my dad was looking for you.”
Nat was dark-haired, strong-willed, and almost a head shorter than Kimmie. When she yanked on Kimmie’s arm, Kimmie went. “All these rock stars,” Nat said over her shoulder to General Mom. “So high maintenance.”
“Thanks,” Kimmie whispered.
Nat flashed a mischievous grin. “My absolute pleasure. And I have a schedule worked out with the guys so you have dance partners and buffers from your mother for the rest of the night. CJ’s up first.”
“Nat, you didn’t have to—”
“You deserve a chance to enjoy a wedding once in a while. Without hiding behind trees.”
Kimmie put her hands to her cheeks. Hiding behind Christmas trees was exactly how she had spent half of Natalie and CJ’s wedding in late December. “You weren’t supposed to know that.”
“C’mon. Have fun. Relax and be you for a while.”
The ballroom was packed with rich, fancy musicians who were here in Bliss to toast Mikey Diamond, a bad-boy country music drummer who had fallen hard for a local Bliss girl. Dahlia, the bride, was a good friend, but overall, these people weren’t Kimmie’s crowd.
Not that she had a crowd.
She had people who liked that she said funny things and who kept watch over her as if she were a three-year-old who couldn’t stand up to the hot stove. Or her mother.
“They’ll be cutting the cake soon,” Kimmie said. “I need to make sure everything’s ready.”
Right. The caterers could handle the cake-slicing.
But cake didn’t set her up with men who smelled desperate enough to take her. Cake didn’t laugh at her dreams. Cake also didn’t think she needed a babysitter at a wedding. “It’ll just take a minute. I owe Dahlia that much.”
A loud squeal echoed through the room. “Nice, Billy!” somebody shouted.
Lots of laughter followed, and Nat turned toward the source of the sound.
Up on the small stage in the corner of the ballroom, Nat’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Will—known to the rest of the world as country music sensation Billy Brenton—had snagged the microphone. “Evenin’, y’all.” He was the best man tonight, and he was doing a black tux the favor of making it look amazing. Though he’d gone without his signature brown ball cap during the wedding, now that he was on stage, the hat covered his curly hair, the bill pointed backwards. But it was his heart-stopping grin that made Kimmie sigh.
Kimmie, and half the women in North America.
“Dahlia, darlin’,” Will said into the microphone to the dark-haired bride, “welcome to the family. This one’s for you. And that big ol’ lughead you married too.” He grabbed a guitar, and the locals in attendance whooped with glee when he strummed the first chords.
Kimmie, though, took advantage of Nat’s distraction to slip quietly to the cake table.
It was the first naked wedding cake she had decorated. General Mom had been appalled at anything naked coming from Heaven’s Bakery, but nobody expected less of Mikey than to have a naked wedding cake. But when he asked for a groom’s cake that looked like a boob, Dahlia had put her foot down.
Kimmie had embraced the challenge of making the cake look beautiful without frosting or fondant on the outside. It was a simple three-tiered round cake, with two layers of frosting between three layers of Heaven’s Bakery’s signature white cake in each tier. Chocolate fudge buttercream on the bottom, cherry almond in the middle, and caramel hazelnut on top. She’d sprinkled the sides with powdered sugar to give them the right amount of texture, and then added fresh cherries and chocolate chunks for decoration.
For everything else in her life that was awkward, Kimmie loved baking cakes.
She straightened the silver cake knife and server, then the cake napkins. When she checked to make sure her mother was adequately distracted, though, she found herself facing a nightmare.
“Nice party,” said Josh Kincaid, aka the nightmare, aka Problem Playboy Number One, aka Half the Stick Up General Mom’s Butt.
She couldn’t help herself. She’d been ducking Josh for over a year. Except usually she ducked him before he’d seen her, or when she was surrounded by friends, or when she actually had a place to retreat to.
But he’d seen her, none of her friends were nearby to help, and hiding under the cake table wasn’t an option.
She never shook cake tables.
Under any circumstances.
“Drop something?” Josh said.
“I had a dream that wallabies were swinging from the sky, except the sky was this big underground tavern lined with wedding invitations made out of butterfly wings.”
Kimmie winced at herself. Not the time to get nervous.
His shoes—fancy leather wingtips—didn’t move. Nor did the undoubtedly expensive fabric in his suit pants.
Hallelujah for the music masking her words.
“I mean, yes,” Kimmie said, louder. “Yes. I dropped something. A—a button.” She duckwalked around him until she was closer to the dance floor, and closer to escape, peering intently at the floor. The air moved behind her.
Josh was squatting between her and the cake table.
His sandy hair was short but stylishly disheveled, his suit jacket hung open, and his deep-set blue eyes were trained on her with a spark of mischief quirking his otherwise straight brow and ridiculously perfect lips. “Those wallabies always were trouble.”
Kimmie’s feet tingled. Her inner elbows felt sweaty, and her belly fluttered.
He was the most handsome nightmare she had ever met.
Not that she was the only woman to ever think so. Nor would she be the last. And the Josh Juan—a step above Don Juan—had his pick of sophisticated, elegant, presentable, normal ladies.
Kimmie bolted upright. Her mother would crush Kimmie’s coriander if she knew how much time Kimmie had spent thinking about the Josh Juan. “Never mind. It’s not important.”
Josh ambled to his feet. “Depends on which button you lost.”