…And it’s scary as hell. Especially if it’s being self published and you don’t have the built in reader base of a publisher or the network of authors/bloggers/readers who will pass the word along. But, it’s much more than that, the fear. It’s the ‘what if no one likes it’, ‘what if no one cares but the subject matter’, ‘what if it’s just not the right thing at the right time’? These are just a few of the questions that go through my head with each new book and with a new series in particular.
Lone Star Sweets is my new series. I’ve put a lot of work and time into the first book, into the second book, and the same amount of work and time will go into the third and fourth books. The series is sweet and erotic and fun and full of sass. The women are strong, the men are hardheaded. It combines two things I love, romance and food.
I’ve heard authors recently talking about how they aren’t continuing some series because the series isn’t selling well or selling as they thought it should. I can understand that. This first book, The Cupcake Cowboy, isn’t doing as well as I had hoped it would. And there are any number of reasons why that might be. It’s a straight, contemporary, erotic romance ad it doesn’t hit any of the current hot buttons in publishing. I’d be lying if I said it makes me a little apprehensive, but no less determined to see it through to the end. Maybe the second book, The Sticky Cowgirl, will do better.
One thing I’ve learned in this business though, is no matter the book sales, you have to have fun writing, you have to love the story, and want desperately to tell it. Only 5 people may read it, but you’ve done what you needed to and that was tell the story. It’s a leap of faith. It’s a scary as hell leap of faith. And worth it… Maybe not in dollar signs, but inside, knowing that I was able to accomplish it, and do what I set out to do which was write and publish… That’s what dreams are made of.
Jackson Dawson had known only one way of life: ranching. That is, until he went to college in the city. There, he was introduced to a whole new world of people, food, and way of life. He never dared to imagine that he could do or be anything other than a rancher’s son, but with his mother’s words ringing in his ears and his sister’s encouragement, he took a chance. And in the process, found himself and met the woman of his dreams.
Pastry Chef Cass Jamieson’s only desire had been to own a bakery. After a stint in pastry school, she quickly learned that trying to make your dreams come true wasn’t easy. She was dejected when her bakery closed and soon returned to the classroom as a teacher to eager young bakers with the same stars in their eyes that had once been in hers.
So, when the stubborn, determined, and hot as summer in Texas cowboy walked into Cass’s pastry kitchen, it turned her life and libido upside down. When he seeks her out for heated kisses and her thoughts on his cake bakery idea, she gives in to the lust, but gives cautious business advice born of experience, only Jackson didn’t see it that way.
Who will bend first in this battle of wills involving sugar and spice and everything naughty and nice? Come take a ride with The Cupcake Cowboy and find out…
Warning: Uses of frosting that frosting was never intended for. A dirt road showdown. A lesson in milking cows. A whole truck full of mouthwatering cupcakes (some with liquor). A little family drama. And dreams on their way to coming true…
“Why baking Jackson? I mean… That’s not what I came to talk to you about, but I am curious.”
His brow scrunched low over his eyes. “You said I had a gift.”
“That’s not what I meant. Why did you come to cooking school and not even stay to graduate?”
Jackson groaned inwardly. She was asking about his shortcomings. “I’m a cowboy. I grew up roping, mucking, fixing fences, and riding. I… Are you sure you want to hear this?”
“Okay uh… My mom got sick my junior year in high school and passed away my sophomore year in college. She wanted me to finish and get my degree. She also wanted me to be happy.”
“Did you finish?”
“I did. I have the degree. Agricultural studies. Learned a lot about how to make the ranch better in the coming years, learned how to streamline our cattle operations, but my heart wasn’t in it.”
She seemed genuinely curious about him and he while he loved it, he found it made him uncomfortable. No one had ever poked and prodded at him the way she did now or the way she had in class.
“I got into the city and was overwhelmed. I had a different upbringing than some of the kids I hung out with. The kids in my classes grew up on ranches and farms and couldn’t wait to get back home. Me, I didn’t want to go back, not to live or work. I wanted something different. Strange, I know, but I wanted food. I ate everything I could get my hands on. American. Fusion. Asian. French. Italian. I ate all the damn time and when I’d come home for break, Sam would be baking with our grandmother. I devoured it all. Sam grew up baking. First, our mom, then our grandmother taught Sam all they knew. I didn’t know I wanted to do anything like it, didn’t know there was another option, or could be another option until I heard Sam talking one day about having her own bakery. Dad was so supportive about it. And there was something so interesting about maybe making people feel the way I always did when I came in from being out all day. It smelled so good and it all tasted even better.” He wondered if he sounded like an idiot. “I’m a big, bumbling cowboy, but somehow food made sense.”
“You’re a big softie.” She said it with a smile, with a little light in her eyes. He could live a long happy life with her looking at him just like that every day.
He rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I can throw a punch with the best of ‘em. I can get rowdy too, so don’t go thinkin’ you know me just because I bake better cupcakes than anyone else in town.”
“You’re also cockier than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Jackson winked. “I take that as a compliment.”
“You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know. Were you close growing up? You and Sam?”
“We were. There’s a two year age difference. When our grandmother died, I asked her to teach me how to make the sticky buns.” At Cass’ surprised look, Jackson laughed. “I know. Believe me, I was worse than what you saw in your classroom. Sam was the one who suggested it. Cooking school, I mean. That maybe I would be a better chef than baker. Dad didn’t agree. He said my place was to apply the education I already had to run the ranch. I didn’t want it. I wanted something different. I mean, I’m proud of my family. Our ranch is known all over the world for our beef and Longhorn cattle and I still help out when I’m needed. Sam and I buy all our dairy products from a parcel of land my dad gave my mom for a dairy farm. After she died and I went back to college, Sam worked to get it up as a co-op. She thought it was important for the ranchers and the small rural communities around us to have the access. Mama was one of the most humane and kind women I’ve ever known and I’m glad she passed the dairy down to Sam. But living on the ranch and working it, isn’t what I wanted for my life.”
“Local dairy is incredible. I imagine she’d be proud of you both.”
“Yeah. Sam believed in using the dairy from the cows raised on our land in her baking, and when I went into business, I followed suit.”
“I’d have never pictured you for a follower.”
“Eh. Me either, but Sam was a good example. My mom told me, and Sam, to do whatever we wanted. To just be happy. The city did that, first. Then, food. Sam was my inspiration to go for it.”
“And you chose baking?”
“It’s odd, yeah? Rough and tough cowboy baking light and fluffy cupcakes.” He winked. “I loved sweets best of all. I agreed with Sam about cooking school. I never really thought I could own a restaurant or bakery. I never really imagined I’d do more with what I learned than help my sister make a go of her business idea and maybe learn to cook so neither of us starved. She can make sticky buns but burns toast. Dad helped Sam buy this place and I bought him out with the money our grandmother left me. The rest of it, I used for school. When I decided I wanted to bake for real and quit cooking school, Sam blessed me out up one wall and down another. Once she calmed down, she put her share of what Mama left us in with mine. We outfitted the truck and got me started. It hasn’t been easy, but we were luckier than most who start businesses. I’ve struggled quite a bit since and have poured most everything I’ve made back into it. My boots have holes even…” To make his point, he lifted his foot from the floor. In the sole, right under his big toe, there was a small hole being worn in. Cass laughed and swatted his foot away.
“I believe you. You haven’t talked about your dad much, but I get the feeling something happened there that drove you to be so rash. But that’s not what I came to talk to you about. It was just…easier.”
He might have been hearing things, but her soft tone encouraged him to edge closer. “Easier than what?”
“I’ve always lived by rules, Jackson. I’m in a very creative profession but I have rules, boundaries. I guess I’ve always liked the structure, but in the classroom, they were there to protect me as well as my students.”
“So I wasn’t different? I was just another student?” Jackson slanted her a disbelieving look. “Cause we both know that’s not true.”
“You’re right. It wasn’t true, but that’s why the rules applied so heavily to you. I couldn’t let what I was feeling show. You were several years older than half of my other students and even though you’re younger than me, you’re closer to my age than any of them. That made it even more imperative that I try to remain objective and professional. You were also more charismatic, openly opinionated. I was drawn to that part of you. I wasn’t prepared for the attraction to go beyond the first day of class. I wasn’t prepared to feel what I felt each day after.”
Jackson moved and crowded her into the arm of the couch. He leaned against her, his nose just inches away from hers, his breath mixing with hers, her scent invading his senses. God, she was special, so fucking real, and she was there, on his couch. “And what were you feeling, Cass?”
“I…” She licked her lips and when Jackson captured the tip of her tongue in his teeth and tugged, she whimpered and gripped his shirt. He let go just as suddenly and he watched, interested, as she tried to pull herself together. Emotions flit through her eyes, giving her away.
“What did you feel for me?” He pressed for an answer. “Lust? Love? Hunger?” As he spoke, his voice dropped until it was little more than a rumbling sound in his throat. Her eyes were wide and he stared into the crystal blue orbs. Something about the color of them captivated him and had since the moment he met her. His blue velvet cupcakes were as close as he could come to the color of her eyes and he’d created it in honor of her even though she didn’t know it. “Well, Teach?”
She seemed to melt right in front of him and then her hands were on his shoulders and she pushed. He fell back into the couch cushions and she followed him down. “All of it,” she whispered into his mouth. “All of it.” She nipped at his lips. “And…more. So much more.”
Have a great Tuesday and thank you for letting me share about my book and fears and new Lone Star Sweets series.