Notting Hill meets The Prince&Me in Icing on the Cake, the second standalone laugh-out-loud romance in Ann Marie Walker's Wild Wedding series
“Witty banter and off-the-charts chemistry make Ann Marie Walker a must read. Gimme more!” —New York Times bestselling author Julie Ann Walker
Cassandra Miller doesn’t have time for men. She’s far too busy trying to open a cupcake shop with her silent partner and best friend, not to mention catering her brother’s wedding. And let’s face it, it’s not like Prince Charming is going to stroll into the bakery and sweep her off her feet.
Henry has been a prince his entire life but for one wild wedding he wants to be nothing more than an “Average Joe”, or in this instance, “Average Hank”. However, when a case of mistaken identity and a batch of burned cupcakes ends in a night of passion, Cassie and Hank must decide if theirs is a recipe for disaster or the makings of true romance.
About the Author
Ann Marie Walker writes steamy books about sexy boys. She’s a fan of fancy cocktails, anything chocolate, and 80s rom-coms. Her super power is connecting any situation to an episode of Friends, and she thinks all coffee cups should be the size of a bowl. If it’s December she can be found watching Love Actually, but the rest of the year you can find her on Twitter, where she would be happy to talk to you about alpha males, lemon drop martinis or supermodel David Gandy. Ann Marie attended the University of Notre Dame and currently lives in Chicago. She is the author of the Wild Wedding series (Icing on the Cake, Black Tie Optional).
Read an Excerpt
"I'm going to die a virgin."
Olivia pulled a stool up to the stainless steel workspace that filled the center of the small industrial kitchen. Without missing a beat, she dismissed her best friend's prediction. "You can't die a virgin. You've already had sex."
"Well it's been so long, I'm sure I'm re-virginized."
Olivia snorted. "That's not a word. Or a condition."
"It should be. I can be the first documented case."
"Cassandra Miller, patient zero." Olivia cocked her head to the side. "You need a man."
Cassie glanced up from the clipboard where she'd been ticking off the items in the afternoon delivery and blew a stray auburn curl out of her eyes. "No time."
"Call me crazy but I'm fairly sure your sex life won't improve until you actually start spending a little more time around humans and less around convection ovens and stand mixers." She picked up a dough prickler and spun the wheel. "Although this looks promising."
Cassie reached across the counter and snatched the gadget out of Olivia's hands. "You know I've been pouring every spare minute into this bakery." She tucked the small pastry wheel into the front pocket of a neon pink apron with SUGAR RUSH printed across the front. "The grand opening is less than two months away and there's still so much to do."
"Your business partner must be a real slacker," Olivia said with a laugh.
"Yeah, total nightmare. Runs off and elopes with a gazillionaire, and next thing you know she decides that she needs to invest in a cupcake shop."
"You know, when I offered to be your silent partner, I didn't envision you working eighteen-hour days."
"First, when have you been silent about anything? And second, you've made my dream come true, Livvy. I just want to do you proud. I wouldn't even be taking this weekend off if it wasn't my brother's wedding."
"And even in Podunksville you'll be spending more than half your time in an apron."
"The town is called Madison and it's not podunk. It's charming and quaint."
"Uh, hel-lo, farm girl here," Olivia said, aiming her thumb at her chest. "I know podunk when I see it. But a weekend away is still a weekend away and while it might not be Vegas, I for one, plan to make the most of it."
Cassie lifted a brow. "Need I remind you that you got completely sloshed in Vegas and ended up sleeping with the enemy?"
The smile that lit Olivia's face was the perfect combination of sentiment and smut. Cassie would tease her best friend — covering her ears and shouting "TMI!" when Olivia would wax nostalgic about the wild night she'd spent with her now-husband, at least the parts she could remember — but the truth of the matter was, Cassie couldn't have been happier for her. There'd been a time when Olivia had given up on romance. Seeing her so happy renewed Cassie's hope that maybe someday she'd find a love like that as well. Of course, that day was a long way off. Right now, she had a shop to open. There were invoices to check and shelves to stock and vendors to meet with and ads to place. The list went on and on, which meant Cassie had absolutely no time whatsoever for men.
"Letting my hair down in Vegas ended up being the best decision of my life."
"Don't you mean letting your top down?" Cassie asked, referring to Olivia's bold decision to go topless at the hotel's adult-only pool.
Olivia laughed. "Well if I can untie my bikini top, least you can do is untie those apron strings."
She had a point, but it was moot. "I promised Matthew and Emily that I would make their wedding cake. It's my gift to them."
"And that's sweet and all but it's not like Prince Charming is going to stroll into the bakery to sample your sweets and sweep you off your feet."
It had been so long since anyone had sampled Cassie's sweets, as her friend so eloquently put it, there might as well have been a permanent CLOSED sign in the window. And with the way things were going, that was going to be the case for the foreseeable future. Not that she was complaining. Three years ago — when she'd quit her job as a CPA at one of Chicago's top accounting firms to pursue her true passion — Cassie would have never envisioned opening a pastry shop anywhere, much less in the heart of Millennium Park. The entire venture was the opportunity of a lifetime, and she was darn sure going to make the most of it.
"I don't have time to be swept off my feet." Cassie opened the recipe book that was sitting on the counter next to her and began flipping through the pages. "Maybe just pressed up against the fridge," she added with a giggle.
"Well you won't find a cure for re-virginization in one of those cookbooks," Olivia said. "What you need is a little adventure. Put some spice in your life."
Cassie rolled her eyes. "So says the woman who spent last weekend crawling over rocks looking for snotty-nosed vermin."
"Hey, those little vermin brought Cole into my life."
Indeed they had. Although there were times when Cassie still found their entire relationship hard to believe. For three months Olivia had made it her life's work to lobby — or harass, depending on which one of them you asked — Cole into moving his latest venture to an area that wouldn't threaten a long-eared bat that looked to have a serious sinus issue. Then a night in Vegas led to a marriage of convenience and the rest, as they say, was history.
"We can't all protest our way into the perfect marriage. Besides, I don't have time for a love life." She waved a hand at the boxes stacked in the corner. "I literally have piles of work to do."
"I'm not talking about having a relationship, just a little fling." Olivia wiggled her eyebrows. "And this weekend is the perfect opportunity. Weddings are always a good place for a hook-up."
Cassie's green eyes grew wide. "You want me to have a weekend fling at my brother's wedding?"
"Sure, why not? He and Emily will be the center of attention anyways. All you have to do is wear some hideous bridesmaid's dress and smile."
"And decorate the wedding cake."
"You could do that in your sleep. There will be plenty of time to get busy with non-frosting-related ventures. Then again ..." Olivia reached for a small test batch of frosting and dragged her finger through the fluffy cream. "I can think of a few places I might like to spread this on Cole."
Cassie snatched the bowl out of her hands. "TMI," she said. Oversharing aside, Olivia did have a point. While Sugar Rush was definitely Cassie's top priority, there wasn't much she could do from Georgia. Maybe she should try to cut loose a bit this weekend? After all, once she was back in Chicago it was going to be crunch time. Cassie could easily see herself working eighteen-hour days indefinitely, something she was more than prepared to do. But that certainly wasn't going to do much for her current dry spell. Hell, who was she kidding? It was an all-out drought.
"Give it some thought," Olivia said. "You, a hot groomsman, a secluded hayloft ... his fingers winding through your windblown hair as you tug his bow tie free and rip open his shirt. His hard ..."
Cassie held up her hands. "Stop! I get the idea." She laughed. "You know it's times like these I suspect you have dozens of dog-eared romance novels hidden under your bed."
"I do not." Olivia feigned shock but then added, "They're all on my Kindle." She smiled. "That way I can word search the smutty parts."
"Well right now I don't even have time to read about somebody else's sex life, let alone have one of my own."
"Maybe not, but this weekend you will. For the next three days you don't have to be Cassandra Miller, overstressed entrepreneur. You can be Cassie Miller, hot single girl without a care in the world." Olivia shot her friend a knowing grin. "Just be sure Mr. Weekend Fling doesn't nail you against the refrigerator too hard." She winked. "You still need to walk down the aisle."
* * *
Henry ran the clippers over his chin until nothing remained but a fine stubble. His father was a fan of shaving foam and a straight razor, but after years of sporting a beard, he wasn't about to go all in.
His hair was next. Henry turned on the small faucet and scooped some of the water into his hands. Once he was satisfied he'd washed away most of the gel, he reached for a towel and rubbed his head into a perfectly disheveled mess. He studied himself in the mirror. Not too bad, if he did say so himself. All that was left was a wardrobe adjustment and he'd be ready to roll.
He'd just finished with the last button on his shirt when a female voice called to him over the plane's intercom.
"Pardon me, sir, but the captain has informed me that we are preparing for our descent. If you would please return to your seat and fasten your seat belt."
He hit a small button on the wall. "Thank you, Natasha. Will you ask Clayton to join me in the main cabin?"
"Here goes nothing," he mumbled to himself. After one last look in the mirror Henry returned to the leather captain's chair he'd occupied for most of the transatlantic flight. As requested, the head of his security detail was now seated next to him. His eyes flared ever so slightly at the sight of Henry's bathroom makeover, but he said nothing.
Henry buckled his seat belt then reached for his cocktail, swirling the scotch that still filled his glass. The amber liquid was doing nothing to quell the sense of dread that had been building over the course of the flight. Then again, it would have helped if he'd actually drunk some of it. He'd poured himself three fingers' worth, not from a fear of flying — he'd been doing that on the regular since birth — but from the unease that coiled in the pit of his gut. Fuck, he was acting like a teenager getting ready to ask his father for the keys to his new car, not a grown man with a direct order for his security team.
Still, he knew his decision was going to go over like the proverbial lead balloon. Change of any kind was historically met with a litany of objections. A change of this magnitude might very well cause an international incident. Because what Henry was about to propose was not only unprecedented, it went against all acceptable procedure. Which was why he waited until the plane had safely landed before divulging his plan to the head of his detail. The last thing he wanted was to give the poor man a heart attack at thirty-five thousand feet.
"I want you to call me Hank," he said just after the wheels touched the ground.
"Excuse me, sir?"
Henry had lost count of how many times he'd asked him to drop the "sir," especially when they were alone. But Clayton Hill was old school. He'd been protecting members of the royal family since before Henry was born, and according to him there was an order to such matters that should never alter.
All the more reason to fear the worst.
"For the duration of this trip, I'd like you to call me Hank." Henry watched for any sign of an impending medical emergency. So far so good.
Clayton cleared his throat. "That's hardly protocol, Your Highness."
"Your Highness" was even worse than "sir," and definitely not the direction Henry was headed.
"I understand. But this weekend I am not Prince Henry. I'm simply Hank ..." He looked around for inspiration until his gaze fell on a toss pillow at the far end of the leather sofa that stretched along one side of the plane. "Hank Green."
"Sir, I could never —"
Henry took a deep breath. No sense wading in slowly. The only way to do this was to jump right into the deep end. "And I think it best if the rest of the detail remains here in Atlanta." Their flight plan had been based on the assumption that a private jet of that size would attract less attention at an international airport than at a smaller airstrip. The decision had meshed perfectly with Henry's plan. "You and I can continue on to Madison alone."
"Still, I'd feel more comfortable if the advance team —"
"You mean the team that was already here last month?"
Clayton stiffened in his seat. "You know about that, sir?"
Henry laughed. "All appearances to the contrary, there's not much that gets past me."
Henry and his grandmother had gone round and round on the topic of his travel. Official visits were one thing. On those occasions the hype and subsequent coverage from the press was to be expected, but when Henry traveled on leisure, he tried to keep the details of his whereabouts on a strictly need-to-know basis. But his grandmother, while being Her Majesty Queen Eleanor, was, after all, still just a grandmother — and an overprotective one at that. In her opinion, there was no such thing as too much security, regardless of the cramp it put in Henry's lifestyle.
His father, Crown Prince Edgar, on the other hand, was a bit more understanding. When his grandmother was out of earshot, his father would wax nostalgic about his wilder days spent traveling with the Formal One team he'd sponsored in his younger years. Henry suspected his father would have become a driver if it hadn't been for family obligations. But since racing around a track at over two hundred miles per hour was frowned upon when you were next in line for the throne, he'd had to settle for team ownership, although even that had to be relinquished as his royal duties increased. Now he indulged his love of motor sports by hosting one of Formula One's most prestigious races. Winding through the city and along the waterfront, the track his father had helped design was considered one of the toughest on the circuit. Hosting the annual event was the highlight of Edgar's year, although judging by the look in his eyes when he visited the pits, waving the green flag was a poor substitute for gripping the wheel.
Bottom line, a royal bloodline came with many perks but it also came with a price, one Henry would pay when the time came for him to take his place on the throne. Which frankly, was all the more reason to make the most of the time he had when his responsibilities were less. For the most part, his father backed him on that. Edgar understood the need to blow off steam while you could. So as long as Henry showed up when expected and played the part he was born to play, then his father was happy to run interference. But like any other man wanting to avoid the wrath of a worried woman, he tended to side with the queen when it came to matters of security, especially when traveling abroad. Problem was, not only was an advance team a dead giveaway, more often than not it only made things worse. And although he would never admit it to the queen, Clayton agreed with Henry on this one. Which was why he went to great lengths to conduct his recon under the radar, even going so far as to keep it from Henry if he thought it meant peace in the palace.
"Advance reconnaissance is standard protocol when a member of the royal family is traveling abroad. But I can assure you, we managed to do so without alerting the press."
There was little doubt about that. Not only because Clayton was arguably one of the best in the world when it came to protection detail, but because Henry hadn't seen a single mention of his trip to the United States in any of the rags that devoted half their pages to the minute details of his life.
"Good," he said. "Let's keep it that way." Leaning back in his seat, Henry crossed one leg over the other, ankle to knee. That wasn't so bad, he thought. In fact, Clayton had actually taken the news much better than he'd expected.
"Keeping your movements out of the press is always a priority, sir, as is maintaining a safe perimeter." A muscle in Clayton's jaw ticked, and all at once Henry knew the relief he'd felt was premature. "Both of which require the resources of my full team."
Henry stared out the window of the plane, watching the lush Georgia landscape pass by as they made their way to the private hangar. While it was true that other trips had resulted in run-ins with aggressive paparazzi or a few overeager fans operating under the mistaken impression that they were contestants on some royal version of The Bachelor, that wouldn't be the case this weekend. Not if they followed the plan he had in mind.
"Clayton, one of my best mates from uni is getting married this weekend. I don't want to draw attention away from the happy couple. As it is, I'm sure the bride's family feels as though their lovely town is being invaded."
The plane rolled to a stop, and both men unbuckled their seat belts.
"Thanks to your efforts the press is unaware of this trip," Henry said as they stood. "And aside from the bride and groom, none of the other guests will even know who I am."
"You're not exactly an unknown, sir. Your face is on the cover of half the magazines in Europe."
"Maybe so, but as Prince Henry. Dressed like this" — he glanced down at his faded jeans and button down shirt — "I'm just your average Hank." He cracked a lopsided grin as he pulled a rolled-up University of Georgia cap out of the back pocket of his jeans and tugged it low over his head.
Excerpted from "Icing on the Cake"
Copyright © 2018 Ann Marie Walke.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was so deliciously delightful
Ann Marie Walker had me at the cover. Cake. Ahhh. I loved this fun contemporary sweet romance. There is alot of sweet here what with all the baking going on. It isn't a 'sweet romance' in the sense of sweet and clean. There is some language. And well grandma would blush a bright red! But Icing on the Cake is a great read that will keep you turning the pages to the end. I loved the characters. Hank aka Prince Henry is charming. Cassie is just fun. The two meet and are immediately attracted to each other. The bedroom scenes are tasteful but as I said granny would blush. The story takes place in a weekend since Henry is only in town for the wedding of Cassie's brother. So it was a quick romance with only one actual date. The most romantic date! Which began with horse back riding and then a very romantic barn bedroom scene. This is what romance is about! I loved getting another glimpse at Cole and Olivia (Cassies bestie) their fast and sweet and hot romance is book 1 in the series. I had the pleasure of reviewing Black Tie Optional. My review is here. Although I really did love this book I was very disappointed that the author didn't include an epilogue. I felt that the book ended abruptly and I wanted much more. The story was pulled together. All the drama worked out. But it ended flat for me. So did Cassie end up becoming Henry's princess? And what about her thriving business. Does she leave it behind. I guess with this one the reader is left to decide. I received a complimentary copy from Indie Sage Promo.
The analogy of 'Notting Hill' & 'the Prince and Me' were spot on for me. I had a lot of fun. It was cute, sexy, a bit sassy, a bit misleading, a bit fairy tale. This was a good weekend read to forget about the week that past. I enjoyed the characters. I had fun with the revisit from 'Black Tie Optional'. I had even more fun getting to know Cassie and Hank (Prince Henry). The two seem to hit it off just great. Then one thing leads to another thing then the chemistry between them takes over. Then its time for the truth. Then the time for the truth pass. The hurt and pain. Cassie and Hank both lead very busy lives. On the go from dawn to night, each for a different reason. Cassie wants to take hold of her life and make her own dreams come true. She finds that chance with Sugar Rush. She also finds that she has very little time for anything not business related. Hank on the other hand lives the life of luxury, no privacy, and decadence, and responsibilities. He finds that he has a weekend given to him to be someone else and shed the mantle of living for the public. He takes it and runs. That was the plan. Then he meets Cassie and sparks fly. I wanted that something extra to take this read all the way to amazing. I wanted that something that would make this one story stand out and make me say yes. I will read that one again. I wanted to see the possibilities of more. I got most of that alone with good characters, a fun plotline, and laughs. I will most certainly put this on my read again list. With each new release to the series I will start again and read them all.
3.5 Stars! Icing on the Cake by Ann Marie Walker, is the second book from her Wild Wedding series. I enjoyed the first book, so I was really happy to get approved to read this title. Who would have thought that a prince and a pastry chef could find true love? Cassandra Miller's wedding gift to her brother and his future bride is their wedding cake, in addition to tons of cupcakes and cookies. She loves baking and creating, so spending almost an entire weekend in a borrowed bakery kitchen is not a hardship in any way. Then Hank, or Prince Henry to his loyal subjects, walks in seeking directions. It turns out that Hank is a good friend of her brother's from uni, and he is town for the nuptials. Since Hank is sporting a slight disguise in order to be a regular guy for the weekend, Cassandra does not recognize the notorious prince. They share an instant spark that evolves into a weekend replete with adventure, fun, and hot, steamy sex. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, especially when you are a prince and the paparazzi gets tipped off. I enjoyed this book, however, the love connection between Cassandra and Hank fell flat for me. The secondary characters were full of originality and genuineness, so I really liked getting to know them and their history. This standalone read is a must for fans of the mistaken identity romance trope. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.