On any given day, Maggie Roby has cake batter on her sleeve, flour where the blush supposedly goes, and sore feet from standing since dawn. For her sister’s wedding day, she’s added a side of heartache. Maggie’s failed marriage taught her that love is a lie and commitment a mistake, and it was an expensive lesson. But with her bakery thriving and her life simplified to work, family, and knitting for her pug, Maggie thinks she's bought some peace. Until Jake Sutton walks in and she realizes she isn't safe from desire at all . . .
Jake has model-perfect looks and about a billion dollars to throw around, but Maggie also sees the same never-say-die grit she prizes in herself. The attraction between them is hotter than her oven in July. But when Jake decides to restore the old Art Deco movie theater right around the corner from her bakery, she worries that temptation is a little too close for comfort. And the added ingredient of a man from her past only complicates the mix. This time nothing less than true love will do. If she can learn to listen to her heart, she just may be able to have her cake and eat it too. . .
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"Celebrity weddings should come with a warning label," Coralee said as she peered outside. "I've never seen such a madhouse."
Maggie Roby glanced up from the wedding cake she was frosting. Her new employee, Coralee, hadn't moved from that window all morning. She had a stainless-steel mixing bowl full of buttercream frosting tucked under one arm. The more agitated she got, the faster Coralee whisked.
"I don't think my sister knew it was going to be this bad," Maggie said. She used the back of her hand to push aside a curl that had tumbled into her face. "Cuervo's never had this many people in it before. So of course everyone's going crazy."
"Sara Merriweather told me that folks here are renting out rooms in their own houses. Renting! To strangers! What's next — putting up tents in the municipal park?"
Out of loyalty to her sister, Maggie wouldn't admit it in a thousand years, but Coralee was probably right: their two-stoplight Texas town was absolutely in over its head. Now all Maggie could hope for was that her sister Cassidy wasn't in over her head, too. What would happen when Cassidy figured out that love was not only a lie, but that all weddings should come with a warning label?
"Oh, great, here come another pack of reporters," Coralee groused, trudging behind the counter. "And they look just as hungry as the last bunch."
Maggie knew better than to wish away customers, but her sister's wedding cake needed everything she could give it right now. You never could tell what kind of disaster might be awaiting you with these things. Even an experienced baker like her could spend hours piping icing onto a multi-tiered, sandwich-layer cake such as this one only to end up with a hideous, bulging monstrosity.
Sometimes cakes sank. Sometimes they were undercooked no matter how many toothpicks you poked into them. And sometimes, after toiling away on some elaborate creation, you got wildly nervous toward the end because you knew if you messed it up now, it was ruined forever. Her sister's cake was the most important one she'd ever made. Even if she hated weddings herself, everything had to be perfect for Cassidy's — and the fact that her sister was marrying Mason Hannigan, the most famous quarterback in the country, only added to the pressure.
Maggie reminded herself it wasn't weddings she hated. What she hated was watching people make the biggest mistake of their lives. One cheating asshole of a husband followed by a heart-wrenching, finance-busting divorce and she felt like a cake that had cratered. There was a charred ache where her heart used to be.
If Mason hurt her sister, Maggie told herself with grim determination, she was fully prepared to choke him.
The bell above the door jingled. Just as men toting cameras and video equipment crowded into the bakery, her oven timer went off.
Maggie set aside the pastry bag and pulled on the handmade pink oven mitts her darling niece, Lexie, had made her last Christmas. The mitts had pugs on them done in cross-stitch. She slid the cupcakes out of the oven and set them on a cooling rack. Then the phone rang. It always rang when something was about to burn or there were customers out front.
People were pouring in — more people than she'd seen since Mr. Flannigan's barn caught fire. After the fire was put out, the firemen and the half of Cuervo who had been avidly watching packed her bakery for coffee and doughnuts. But this was even crazier. She undid the top button of her polo and fluttered it, trying to pump air across her chest. These were out-of-towners. You never knew what to expect.
She answered the phone, flipping open her order pad while keeping an eye on the front. Poor Coralee was dashing between the coffee machine, the cash register and the pastry trays.
Maggie found a pen and test-scribbled it to see if it worked. "You know I can't accept cake orders two days before an event, Mrs. Connors," she said on the phone. "We need a week, minimum."
Alice Connors kept arguing. That woman would argue with a sack of wet hair.
"I have a carrot cake in the refrigerator," Maggie said, knowing if she didn't find a solution, she would never get Alice off the phone. "Why don't we write Happy Birthday, Schnoodles on that one? By the way, you do know sugar isn't good for dogs, right?"
Alice blasted her so hard, Maggie had to hold the phone away from her ear. It made her think she would almost rather be at the wedding. Out front, one of the reporters emptied a pocketful of change on the counter and sorted through it, one coin at a time. Behind him, the line of reporters loudly groaned.
"I'll make sure it's beautiful, Mrs. Connors. Yes, of course. See you then."
Coralee sent her a look of frazzled relief when Maggie appeared beside her. She gave Coralee a wink. This was nothing they couldn't handle. Sure, the bakery was jam-packed, but there were few things in life Maggie loved more than a challenge.
"Would you like a sandwich to go with your coffee?" she asked the disheveled reporter across from her. His press pass, dangling from a lanyard around his neck, read Harold Lipsky. "The egg salad is fresh. Family recipe."
Harold blinked. "Wait. You're the sister of the bride, aren't you? Care to comment — for the record, of course — on what it's like seeing your sister marry America's favorite quarterback?" Maggie maintained her brisk, professional smile. "Not even a little. But if you'd like a sandwich or a pastry to go with your coffee, I'd be happy to get that for you."
"Not one single comment?" Harold pushed a few crumpled dollars across the counter. "Maybe something about how you're hoping to marry a famous athlete, too?"
Right. Another stupidly good-looking cheater like her bronc-busting, rodeo-circuit ex-husband. That was exactly what she needed.
Maggie gave Mr. Lipsky his coffee. Sweetly, she said, "Not if you paid me."
An hour later the customers were gone, and she and Coralee looked at each other with a united sense of having accomplished something. The lipstick red café tables were askew. One chair lay upended. The gilt letters spelling out the name of the bakery, Sweet Dreams, twinkled serenely on the front window, mocking her.
Maggie heaved herself up and trailed back to the kitchen. "Next time a member of my family gets married," she told Coralee, "please remind me to just take the day off, will you?"
While Coralee sprayed down the display case and swept up discarded napkins, Maggie scooped fresh buttercream frosting into her pastry bag. She went to work finishing the row of pale pink florets. Once the cake was finished, Donny and his brother were coming over to carry it to the venue. The cake weighed about a ton. Afterward, she'd run upstairs, grab a shower and her Maid-of-Honor gown, and then meet Cassidy and the rest of the bridesmaids for makeup. Dutifully, she told herself it might actually be fun.
Coralee came into the kitchen and set the dustpan and the broom in a corner. "I just saw a news truck with one of those big satellite thingies on top. Do you think maybe they're sending news stories about Cuervo to aliens in space?"
"If they are, that pretty much explains why aliens almost never come here." Maggie tilted her head to one side to assess her handiwork. "Does that row of florets look bigger to you? I can't decide."
The bell above the door rang. Coralee rolled her eyes. "What do you want to bet it's the same group as last time, come back for seconds?" "I'll take care of it. Why don't you get started on the dishes." Maggie wiped her gloved hands on her apron and glanced at herself in the mirror next to the walk-in freezer. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a baker's snood. Flour streaked her left cheek. She wiped it with the back of her wrist and then went out front, where two men and a woman waited, looking wildly out of place in her cozy country bakery.
The taller of the two men wore a tux and the woman wore a full-length apricot silk Cubana dress. Maggie saw the clothes before she saw the faces. When she glanced up at the man, her heart nearly stopped.
Maggie realized suddenly that her apron had cake batter on it and she wasn't wearing a speck of makeup. She couldn't breathe properly because all the air had left the room. There was a fluttering in her chest she hadn't felt in a long time, coupled with an insane desire to turn around and run back into the kitchen. But that was stupid. What was she — fifteen?
"I'm guessing you folks are here for the wedding," she said with her best professional sparkle. "May I help you?"
The man frowned at her, which brought his piercing blue gaze off the menu on the wall above her head and directly to her flushed, perspiring face. God, how she hated her reaction to him, hated that while he assessed her coolly, everything inside her heated up like a thermometer plunged into boiling water.
"You have coffee here, right?" the second man asked. He wore an expensive-looking suit with a red power tie and a matching pocket square. His nails were spotless, which wasn't something you saw all too often in farm country.
"We have coffee, espresso, cappuccino and iced coffees," she said, wishing suddenly that she had on a nice outfit. And didn't smell like a doughnut. And knew more people who dressed like this.
"Two coffees," Power Tie replied. "Both black." He turned to the blond woman, who shrugged slightly. "Make that three coffees."
Just being near the man in the tux made her nerve endings stir and tingle. Nobody that sexy had passed through Cuervo in a long time. She practically had to force herself to remember that good-looking men were bad news. If a man was handsome, you could count on him for two things: to screw you over and to break your heart.
She gave her tingly feelings a violent shove to the side.
It was hard not to feel sorry for the woman he was with. Poor thing. She'd never see it coming.
Maggie inserted a portafilter into her Italian espresso machine. She turned the portafilter to the right and locked it into place. The machine was a thing of beauty, all chrome and knobs and levers. Even with her back turned, she could study the guy in the tux in the machine's reflective surfaces. Yet the longer she looked, the more annoyed she became with herself. Men were trouble. A lot of trouble. She knew that. So why keep torturing herself?
But there was something stern and mysteriously self-assured about him that drew her in. He struck her as a man used to giving orders and to getting his own way. His hair, sandy blond, was cut short on the sides and slightly longer on top. His face was broad across the jaw and cheekbones, which saved him from being merely pretty.
Maggie didn't like pretty. She liked men who looked like men — who could wear work boots as well as tuxes.
Mostly, she liked men you could depend on not to cheat on you the minute some woman flashed them a smile.
She pressed the tamper down on top of the coffee grounds and squeezed hard, wishing she could do the same thing to her brain. It had taken her years to get her life back together again, and now it was exactly what a life was supposed to be: boring. The formula was simple, really. You worked. You spent time with your family. You knitted ridiculous sweaters for your pug. Rinse, lather and repeat. What you didn't do was let yourself eyeball other women's boyfriends.
Rule Number One: Never look twice at a good-looking man who has a woman of unspecified importance standing next to him.
Rule Number Two: Never look twice at a good-looking man, period.
Maggie finished making the coffee and then turned around with the three coffees wedged inside a cardboard carrying tray. She was aware that his eyes were on her and felt an electric sizzle zinging beneath her skin. But he practically oozed the kind of alpha maleness that set her teeth on edge. And he clearly had money.
Men with good looks and money? You'd have to be certifiable to date someone like that.
"That's quite a cake," he said, surprising her.
He had a deep voice, like Sambuca mixed with cream and then set on fire.
Maggie made the mistake of gazing directly into his eyes and felt the hair rise on her arms. His eyes were glacier blue and surrounded by dark bristly lashes. A woman could lose her religion drowning in those things. "I beg your pardon?"
He nodded toward the kitchen, where the cake sat like a parade float. Coralee stood next to it, staring at him.
Maggie didn't like what was happening to her. It seemed as though his intense gaze could see through her somehow, past the bossy efficiency, the big mouth, and her tendency to keep all men at a distance. For a second, the world fell away and it was just the two of them. She felt his lazy, dangerous maleness like she felt her own heartbeat. Then she blinked and the moment was gone.
"It's for the wedding," Maggie said stiffly. "My sister's wedding."
"You're Cassidy's sister? I wouldn't have guessed that."
What, did he think a woman like her, a woman who worked in a bakery, couldn't possibly be related to a beautiful girl like Cassidy?
He must have seen that the remark made her prickly, but instead of apologizing, he smiled. "You look nothing alike."
Coolly, she rang up three coffees on the vintage cash register. The total popped up on both sides of the display window. As a tall curvy brunette, she knew she looked nothing like her petite blond sisters. So what? No need to make it sound as though she were adopted. And what did she care what his opinion was in the first place?
"Five sixty-seven," Maggie said, forcing herself to be pleasant. "Will that be cash?"
Power Tie handed her a twenty. She made change and then passed the tray of coffees over the counter, meaning to give it to him. Instead, the man in the tux took them from her. Briefly, their hands touched and she suppressed a shiver.
She stole a guilty glance at the woman standing near the door, but the woman's beautiful face seemed as though it were a gate through which nothing passed.
"You ready, Jake?" Power Tie said. "There are some people I'd like you to meet. Commercial property investors out of San Antonio. They might be able to answer some questions for us."
Jake, was it? Maggie watched him collect his date and open the door. He looked even more impossibly sexy in the pale April sunshine, which brought out the blond streaks in his hair and cast shadows beneath those Calvin Klein-model cheekbones.
The guy had cheater written all over him.
"Wow," Coralee said. "I didn't know men who looked like that actually existed in the world."
Maggie turned away from the window and then marched back to the kitchen. "You can take it from me. The world would be a whole lot better if they didn't."
Maggie cleaned at warp speed after Donny and his brother hauled the seventy-five pound wedding cake out to their van. All that pointless mooning had shaved precious minutes off her schedule. While Coralee finished loading the big industrial dishwasher, Maggie rushed upstairs. The great thing about living in an apartment above your own bakery was the commute — which in her case was no more than twenty seconds.
Gus sprang up from a nap on her bed, which was strictly off limits, but Gus liked to pretend he didn't know that. She heard his nails scrabbling on the hardwood floor in her bedroom. Then he came charging around the corner, tongue lolling, eyes bulging ecstatically. By prancing adorably around her legs, Gus tried to charm her into not scolding him, and it always worked. Maggie knelt down to pet his soft ears.
"Your breath is terrible," she said as he gusted it all over her. "We're switching you back to mint Milk Bones."
Back end still wriggling, Gus preceded her into the bedroom. There would be a telltale warm spot on the bed, of course, but no time to fuss at him now. She shed her clothes and then cranked on the shower. As steam filled the bathroom, she watched her reflection fog over in the full-length mirror. When was the last time she actually looked at herself or paid the slightest attention to her body? Unbidden came the thought of what Jake would see if he were standing here. She imagined him gazing at her full breasts and small waist, her low-slung hips and strong thighs. A shiver rolled over her.
Oh, yes. More mooning. With a sound of disgust, Maggie got into the shower. She loofahed away all thoughts of Jake by scrubbing till her skin turned pink. Then she washed her hair using peppermint shampoo that promised extra shine.
Excerpted from "Sweet Dreams"
Copyright © 2018 Stacey Keith.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
Sweet Dreams is a SEXY read. The characters were really well written & the story was strong & very entertaining. This was the second book in the Dreams Come True series & Ican be read as a stand alone. Characters from the previous book are in the story but their background isn't needed to understand or enjoy the steamy story of Maggie & Jake I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Just what I needed to read today! Jake Sutton and Maggie Roby so deserved their happily ever after and it was a joy to be able to watch their romance unfold. Maggie owns a bakery in Cuervo, Texas and sometimes thinks of herself as the Grinch of Weddings – especially as she prepares to be maid of honor at her sister Cassidy’s wedding. At the wedding one man stands out in a big way – the best man – Jake – and the kiss they share shakes their worlds. Jake, a very wealthy self-made man is in the process of investing in two ventures I Cuervo. Wanting to keep his eye on his projects (and Maggie) he moves to town for a month and lays siege to Maggie…and what a wooing he does! Both have trust issues to overcome in order for them to find their HEA but they do so in such a way that I just could not put this book down. What I liked: * Jake – a book boyfriend that warmed my heart * Maggie – a loving caring family woman * The dialogue * The interactions between Jake & Maggie * The quirky bits * Maggie’s family and community * The smile on my face at the end of the book What I didn’t like: * Jake’s childhood * Maggie’s icky ex-husband, Todd * Avery – Maggie’s one-time bff * The idea that Todd and Avery’s children probably won’t have a wonderful life Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books – Lyrical Shine for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars
Heartwarming romance Stacey Keith did a nice job creating the town and folks of Cuervo, Texas. Maggie and Jake have an instant attraction but a bumpy way to their HEA. They each grow through the course of the story, healing the hurts that the past had produced. This is the first book I've read by Stacey Keith but it won't be the last. I've just one-clicked Dream On the first book in the series. Sweet Dreams reads well as a stand alone but I liked the authors writing style and enjoyed the secondary characters so much I wanted to read Cassidy and Mason's story. I received an advance reader copy from Netgalley.
I love this story. Maggie’s bakery business is doing great but her personal life not so much. Her ex-husband is a lying cheater so she has definite trust issues as you would expect. Living in a small town has its own set of problems. She meets the sexy Jake at her sister’s wedding and the chemistry is palpable. Unfortunately Jake is a player and totally not her type so she stays clear, well as much as she can anyway. Jake has his own issues but no one really knows what they are as he has always put his best playboy billionaire face forward. I really like both Maggie and Jake so much and found myself routing for them to just get out of their own way and open themselves to what they could have together. I do love it when the mighty fall though. Jake didn’t see Maggie coming and she made him want things he didn’t think he ever would or could have. Very sweet story about learning love and trust again.