The Gingerbread Cookie Code by Ann M. Trader-Review/Interview
I'm here today with author Ann M. Trader to discuss her adorable little Christmas novella, The Gingerbread Cookie Code. I adored this short little holiday romance, and the steam...well...I'll just let my review speak for itself.
The Gingerbread Cookie Code by Ann M. Trader is a cute little Christmas novella that centers around Clay, who moved away from his small town to work for a tech company, focusing on computers. When his dad gets hurt, he has to head back home and help out while he heals. He didn’t figure on running into Shelby and her adorable daughter Vivie. He’s gone out of his way to avoid serious relationships and marriage, so he’s got off guard when he starts falling for the local baker.
Shelby has been hurt before. She’s a single mom, living with her parents just trying to make ends meet, and make a go of opening her own bakery. When Clay walks into her life, she falls hard and fast for the guy every girl in their high school had a crush on. But he’s going back to Atlanta soon. Will Shelby and her daughter be enough to make him return? Will Clay be willing to abandon his bachelor lifestyle to give true love a chance?
This story moves quickly, but it leaves nothing to the imagination and sends you on a steamy ride that is sure to capture your heart. I adored Vivie and could certainly empathize with Shelby’s plights. Clay seemed a bit stiff at times, but the flaw seemed to work for his character. All in all, The Gingerbread Cookie Code is a great read to get you through a nice warm bath on a cold winter’s day. 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
If that wasn't enough to have you running for your favorite online book retailer, then maybe the blurb and excerpt Ann was kind enough to share will give you a little nudge.
Blurb: 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?
Excerpt: 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.
Let's hear from Ann on how her book came to be...
1. How did you come up with the idea for The Gingerbread Cookie Code?
The idea for this romance came together quickly, but I needed some inspiration for the right Christmas cookie tie-in. Then while flipping through an old family cookbook, it hit me. Clay writes computer code for a living, so what better way for him to declare his love for Shelby than baking that “code” through a few very special gingerbread cookies? After that, the rest of the story fell right into place.
2. Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life?
No, not exact people. I feel like there is a little bit of Clay, Shelby, and Vivie in all of us—kindness, resiliency, and the courage to go for love. The bond of family is strong for both of them, too.
3. Some of Shelby’s treats made my mouth water…do you enjoy baking?
I do like trying out new recipes and love traditional southern comfort foods—a little on the lighter side these days. My mom and grandmother were wonderful bakers and made the best cookies and cakes. Many great memories around the family kitchen with them and my children.
4. Will we get to see more of Clay, Shelby, and Vivie at some point?
That’s a great question, and the answer is…yes! I’ve written another book for the Christmas Cookies series at The Wild Rose Press. It’s entitled Crinkles All the Way, and readers will get a bit of Clay, Shelby, and Vivie, but the romance in this story is about Clay’s best friend, Benny O’Brien. I’m so excited to bring this next book to readers for Christmas 2022, and I hope they will have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!
5. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a plotter in the broad sense, but I like to let the pantser side of me have some fun. The freedom to let the characters develop in an organic way is one of the things I love most about writing.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Ann! Make sure to follow Ann on all of her social media platforms, and if The Gingerbread Cookie Code sounds like a book you are dying to read then click on any of the links posted below to purchase! Have a great day everyone!
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.
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