Sin City, Cowboys and Cupcakes by Charlene Sands

I set REDEEMING the CEO COWBOY primarily in Reno, Nevada because it’s an extension of The Slades of Sunset Ranch Series and my hero Casey Thomas, is the CEO of Sentinel Construction from the Lake Tahoe area.  Casey was born and raised in Reno and he’s come back to expand the business in his hometown.   Well, that’s only one of the reasons…Susanna Hart has a little to do with the other reasons.

Reno was known in earlier days as “Sin City”, gaining its name and reputation for underground gambling and prostitution.  After gold was discovered Virginia City, Charles Fuller decided to construct a bridge over the Truckee River charging a toll to cross, but the bridge wasn’t sturdy enough and his venture failed. Right before the Central Pacific Railroad came through the area, Myron Lake bought the bridge and land surrounding the area.  The sturdier bridge he had constructed soon became known as Lake’s Crossing.  In 1868 Lake’s Crossing was renamed Reno after Civil War hero, General Jesse Reno.reno arch

Reno became an important freight and passenger center. In 1928, the Reno City Council decided “Sin City” wouldn’t do, they needed a new slogan for their town and started a “motto” competition.  The winner received $100.00 and the new slogan and now famous arch that hovers over the main street in town reads: The Biggest Little City in the World!


Susanna Hart owns a home-based business, Sweet Susie’s Pastries and More in Reno, Nevada.   Here’s one of her  recipes!

Rocky Road Chocolate Muffins (credit to Cupcakes Made Simple)

rocky road chocolate muffin

6 TBSP sunflower oil OR 6 TSP butter, melted and cooled

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

2 ounces unsweetened cocoa

Pinch of salt

1 TBSP baking powder

½ Cup super fine sugar

½ Cup white chocolate chips

1 ¼ ounces white mini-marshmallows cut in half

2 eggs

I Cup of milk

Grease a 12 hole muffin pan.  Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Stir in sugar, white chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Beat eggs in large bowl, add milk and oil and beat gently.  Make a well with dry ingredients and add in beaten liquid ingredients.  Stir gently until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin pans.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Enjoy!


Romantic Times Book Reviews: Sands continues the Slades of Sunset Ranch series with a heartfelt story, three-dimensional characters and a storyline that flows with relative ease. This is a SURE BET! Reviewed by: Susannah Balch



REDEEMING THE CEO COWBOY is available for pre-order and in bookstores August 1st.

Ten years ago = ancient history…right?

So what if former rodeo champion turned construction mogul Casey Thomas is back…living right next door? Susanna Hart is busy running her Sweet Susie’s pastry business and raising her two-year-old cousin. Why pay any attention to the man who took her virginity ten years ago, then left town?

Casey still feels guilty for taking advantage of his little sister’s best friend. A helping hand is just what her business—and his conscience—need. But guilt isn’t his only motivation. Casey’s got a sweet tooth for Susie. And the more she resists, the sweeter it gets!

Do you have a favorite muffin or cupcake recipe?  How would you feel about your EX- moving in next door?  Have you ever been to Reno or Lake Tahoe? Impressions?  I’d love to hear from you!  

Post a comment to any or all of these questions and a random blogger will be drawn over the weekend to win a $10.00 Amazon or BN Gift Card! 


+ posts

41 thoughts on “Sin City, Cowboys and Cupcakes by Charlene Sands”

  1. Hi Charlene. I have never been to Reno or Lake Tahoe, but I’ve heard Reno still known as Sin City. I wouldn’t want my ex living next door for sure.
    Would love to be a winner. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  2. Hi Charlene, I don’t really have a favorite cupcake recipe. I’m more of a cookie person.

    I would hate it if my ex moved next door. I would feel like I was being watched and my husband is everybody’s best friend so it would make it difficult.

    I would love to win your contest.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  3. We have a gluten-free, grain-free muffin recipe that is absolutely amazing! It also happens to be my favorite.

    And I’ve never had an a first, let alone and ex, so I can’t answer the other question. 🙂

  4. I’m going to try your recipe today. Sounds good. An ex……I’d have to find someone 1st. lol

  5. I have many favorite muffin recipes: blueberry muffin, lemon muffin, chocolate muffin, chocolate-coconut-vanilla muffin…

  6. Muffins I love, but cupcakes have never enticed me much, UNTIL last week! At work, we were treated to cupcakes from a local bakery that blew my socks off. Now I can barely think of anything but having another one which is NOT good for my figure, LOL. This recipe looks like it would be very good and rich. Will have to give it a try.

    And I would hate to have my ex living next door. I would move…immediately.

  7. I really don’t have a favorite cupcake or muffin. I pretty much love them all. I have never been to Reno or Lake Tahoe. I would love to visit Las Vegas one day too. My ex is one of my best friends, so I wouldn’t have a problem if he moved next door. The problem is his girlfriend doesn’t like me.

  8. Your Rocky Road muffin sounds delicious! Thanks! I don’t think I could handle an ex next door. A little too close for comfort! Thank you for a chance at the giveaway.

  9. I love corn muffins w/ a lot of butter! And no… just no… if my ex moved in next door, I’d move. We… didn’t end on a good note. Thanks for sharing!

  10. My house loves my German chocolate cupcakes. I don’t know if it would bother me as much as it would bother my husband if my ex moved in next door hahahh. I have been to Lake Tahoe several times. We love it! The Lake is so beautiful and even in the winter the snow all around makes everything look magical!

  11. I have never visited Lake Tahoe and Reno. An ex next door would be too close for comfort. I enjoy marble cupcakes.

  12. A cappuccino muffin would be delightful and special. I have never seen Lake Tahoe nor Reno. No ex next door ever.

  13. Hi Charlene, I can’t wait to dig into this book. The cover itself is beautiful. I love Reno and Lake Tahoe and go there at least once a year. I’m so glad Casey was born there. Congrats on the new book and great review. Xox

  14. Hi Maxie, Faith and Cindy…thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by! I’m a cookie lover too, homemade chocolate chip is my favorite! Too bad for my hips, I enjoy just about EVERY kind of dessert.

  15. Hi Janine- Well, how nice that you have a good relationship with your ex! Not too many people can say that. You and me both, I love all types of muffins/cupcakes unfortunately!

  16. Hi Kathryn – Ha! That’s funny about you moving! I hadn’t thought of that, most would just have to grin and bear it.
    We have so many specialty cupcake shops close by, it’s hard to stay away! Crumbles, Sprinkles etc. Glad that you stopped by today!

  17. Hi Melanie–you’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Erin – Well, I make corn muffins at least once a week for my family. They love them too!

    Hi Pearl – Lemon is my hubby’s favorite!

  18. HI Elaina – Marble is one of my favorite types of cake, don’t know if I’ve ever had it in a cupcake or muffin before. I’m sure it’s yummy!

    Hi Annie- A cappuccino muffin? Now you have my attention! I don’t drink coffee anymore, but I love anything that is coffee flavored!

  19. HI Tanya – Thanks for the kind words. I know you love the Tahoe area. Your pics of the area are beautiful. It’s time for us to make a another trip. We love it there!

  20. Oh, that is so not a recipe to find when you’re in Nicaragua eating gallo pinto (rice & beans)90 days in a row! I’m making it as soon as I get home and taking them to our church in the Reynosa, Mexico dump. They love chocolate.

    I make my juicy, sweet Red Velvet cake into cupcakes – using a insulin needle to insert the ‘goody’ into each cake.

    Would love to read this book!

  21. I have to show my sister that Rocky Road one… for me my fav is Cinnamon muffins….
    Never been to Reno or Lake Tahoe…

  22. A Key Lime muffin would hit the spot this summer. Lake Tahoe and Reno are places that I don’t know at all. An ex would be avoided at all costs.

  23. I think I am going to have to try the muffin recipe. I love muffins and my favorite is a lemon, almond poppyseed muffin. Have to be careful eating it too soon after using my inhaler or the combination makes my heart race. Good thing is it keeps me from eating too many!

  24. I have been to both Reno and Lake Tahoe. My husband and I are planning to go back in August. While we are there we are also going to Virginia City.

    Please no ex next door.

    Love blueberry muffins.

  25. Hi Ellie – Gotcha! Key Lime and no ex!

    Hi Connie J – I love poppyseed muffins especially almond! Yes, better to stay healthy…but they are tempting, aren’t they?

    Hi Rita – Oh, have fun. Virginia City is one of the best places to go if you love history. I’ve set several books there. Love that place!

  26. Chocolate Chip muffins are my favorite. But my recipe involves the package you get from Betty Crocker.

  27. I love cherry or blueberry muffins with buttery streusels on top. I first had the blueberry muffins at Boders On the River restaurant in Mequon, WI. The cherry muffins are found in several restaurants in Door Country. I especially like the one’s at White Gull Inn.

    Unfortunately I have never been to the Lake Tahoe or Reno area except via pictures from Jill Shalvis’s website as she lives near Truckee.

    Fortunately I don’t have an ex but if I did I would feel very uncomfortable having to see him on a daily basis. He would be a constant reminder of a hurtful time or a failure.

  28. We love Cranberry-Oarange Muffins and Blueberry Muffins from scratch if I have the ingredients and the time. If not, a mix will do. Haven’t had any in a while. Saw a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins the other day and I will definitely have to try it. Then again, a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie sounds better, so if I have enough ingredients, I will make the pie.

    We went to both Reno and Taho when we lived in Colorado and California. We enjoyed visiting them both. However, that was back in the mid-1980’s and I am sure the area has changed. We really liked the lake area. The water was so clear. There were nice parks near it. We will stop in when we get back out that way.
    Since I have never really had a serious ex, I don’t know how I would feel about him moving in nextdoor. Husbands do tend to be a bit territorial, so it would be a bit of an uncomfortable situation.

  29. I have never been to Reno or Lake Tahoe. I would have to say that blueberry muffins are my favorite. Love white cake with buttercream frosting. I don’t have an ex but if I did I sure wouldn’t want them living next door to me.

  30. My favorite muffins are apple spice, especially with a butter/sugar crumble on top 🙂 I’ve been to Lake Tahoe during the snow season and loved snowboarding there! Such gorgeous country! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  31. I have never visited Lake Tahoe and Reno. I have a favorite muffin recipes and cupcake recipe.I enjoy reading your books.Have a wonderful weekend.

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