Jun 28, 2015

{Blog Tour: Review} Wicked White by Michelle A. Valentine


wickedwhiteWicked White by Michelle A. Valentine
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

GENRE: New Adult Contemporary
THEME: Music, Romance
RECEIVED: Tour

BLURB:

After his mother dies, rock star Ace White—lead singer of the red-hot band Wicked White—is done with the celebrity game. The phony people, the meaningless one-night stands: he doesn’t want any of it anymore. Quitting in the middle of a sold-out tour, Ace sets out to find some place—any place—where he can be alone.

Aspiring singer Iris Easton’s life has never been easy. First, her mother walked out on her when she was a kid. Now she’s buried in debt, weeks after losing her beloved grandmother. When a mysterious and sexy new guy moves in next door, Iris can’t help but be drawn to his soulful gaze. She can tell there’s something from his past haunting him—something he’s not telling her.

Just as Ace starts falling for Iris, the media go on a worldwide hunt to find the missing rocker. Will true love conquer all, or will the truth be the very thing that tears the couple apart?

REVIEW:

I’ve read and seen so many bios on the hardship of being a celebrity, it may look fun but it sounds like a whirlwind of do this and do that, and never having a real life. I liked how Valentine explored a rockers life that saw the negatives and didn’t live the crazy rock star life. This was definitely a mellower toned story for a rocker, but it was a refreshing change from all the bad boys I’ve been reading about.

Ace is stuck in a life of fake people and no creative freedom, he wanted to be a rock star but didn’t see that his life was going to be following orders and being pulled along. After hearing the woman who he thought of as a mother was in the hospital, he doesn’t even think twice, he just leaves in the middle of a tour, going AWOL. I can only imagine in real life how freaked out the managers and record label would be if this happened to a star. But kudos to him not wanting to take it anymore. He moves in to a trailer park with his new identity, where he meets Iris who is struggling too. They have an instant attraction but Ace doesn’t want to bring Iris into his chaos.

Iris has come back home, leaving her New York life behind to take care of her grandmother’s estate. She hopes to go back a live her dream as a singer but for now she needs tenants. Iris handles her first new tenant who is Ace, but his attitude isn’t much to go on. She’s a little taken back by how mean he is to her for no reason. But of course guys like him think that being mean will keep people away, it only just makes people more determined to find out what’s going on. I found it interesting that someone whose dream to be a singer doesn’t recognize, even though he changed his appearance, someone who is so famous. But she seems to not be a judgmental person who gets star struck. I adored her positive attitude and she was so different from the girls I normally read about, she has a protective side that added to her strength.

In the end they both had to come to terms with their futures. The story consists of two parts, the first is more of an introduction and you can see how the leads really connect to each other. The second was a whole lot of angst and some annoying decisions made because of Ace’s true identity. I knew once Iris found out about him and or if the media tracked him down something big was going to happen. There were some ups and downs, but I really enjoyed the writing and character development. Even though it had an insta love romance I liked how they both connected and had such different struggles to help each other through. The ending however I wasn’t a big fan of so I’m hoping in the next book will see more of this couple and how they figure things out.


View all my reviews



ABOUT MICHELLE A. VALENTINE

Michelle A. Valentine is a Central Ohio nurse turned New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic and New Adult romance. Her love of hard-rock music, tattoos, and sexy musicians inspired her erotic BLACK FALCON series.

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Be a little naughty - join Valentine's Vixens on Facebook for sneak peeks at Michelle's upcoming works, as well as fun and chatting with her and other readers!


Jun 26, 2015

{Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway} Do Not Disturb by Stephanie Julian


Do Not Disturb by Stephanie Julian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GENRE: Contemporary
THEME: Mature, Romance
RECEIVED: Tour

BLURB:

A seductive affair is twisted by secrets in the latest Salon Games novel from the author of Over Exposed.

To the outside world, Dane Connelly is the playboy heir of a media mogul, his life a series of one-night stands with no commitments. Only in the Salon does he satisfy his darker urges with willing partners. Life was perfect…until his best friend fell in love. Now Dane knows exactly what he’s been missing—and exactly who he wants.

Talia Driscoll enjoys creating perfection. She loves bright, glittery parties and fairy tale weddings. But she knows the illusion is short-lived. Nothing lasts forever and everyone lies to get what they want. After all, she lies about her true identity every day.

After an explosive night at the Salon, Dane is determined to sway the reluctant Talia to be his completely. But the secrets that keep them apart are at odds with the erotic passion that draws them together…

Praise for the Salon Games novels:

“Ms. Julian gives the readers what they want and so much more.”—Fallen Angel Reviews

“An emotionally charged journey filled with lust, betrayal and secrets.”—RT Book Reviews

“Stephanie Julian know[s] how to write seriously hot, melt your e-reader sex scenes.”—Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews

REVIEW:

I have so been missing out! This is my first try reading the Salon Games as well as a title by Stephanie Julian. I’m happy to say I enjoyed every steamy and emotional driven moment. Since this is the fourth in the series, I would say try starting at book one, I really wanted to know more of the past of Dane, Annabelle and Jed, and I feel I would of gotten more connected to them all if I had read about their coupling. Again, this is just my opinion you can still easily dive into this book without reading the rest.

Dane Connelly has a unique connection with his best friends a fiancé Annabelle. He cares for them both as good friends but with their wedding coming up he knows its time to move on. Thus comes in Talia, Annabelle’s best friend and an event planner. The attraction sparks between Talia and Dane, they cant seem to get enough of each other but Talia doesn’t know the ménage relationship Dane shares with her friends.

I found Talia and Danes relationship refreshing, yes they sleep together quickly, but they develop this undeniable bond. Talia has a big secret and Dane is dealing his relationship with his friends. But I couldn’t get enough of their passion and the scenes in the Salon were smoking hot. But be warned there is some tension from both sides once the secrets start unraveling.

Overall there is something about Dane that just stole my heart, his dominant and sweet side just makes a girl go weak at the knees. Talia is someone he really needed, they both worked career wise and romantic wise. My only issue was with Annabelle, I wasn’t a big fan of hers, and something just hit me the wrong way with her. I want to read the first book so I can get more of her perspective. In the end its all about the power couple, I loved the writing and the romance, I look forward to reading more of the couples introduced and the Salon. If your looking for a well written plot with some twist and tension, and of course memorable smoking hot romance, this is the book for you.


View all my reviews


Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks
Stephanie Julian Bio:
Stephanie Julian writes sophisticated, sultry romance for the adventurous reader. She’s a reformed reporter with a BA in English and a perpetually messy house (and no real desire to do anything about that).
She’s happily married to a Springsteen fanatic and is the mother of two sons who introduced her to the joys of Slipknot, Warped Tour and never-ending headaches.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


GIVEAWAY

Jun 24, 2015

{Excerpt Reveal} MANWHORE + 1 by Katy Evans

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MANWHORE + 1  by Katy Evans
EXCERPT
FOUR WEEKS
I’ve never been so hopeful as when I board the pristine glass elevator at the M4 corporate building. A handful of employees ride along with me, murmuring perfunctory greetings to each other and to me. I think my mouth must be on vacation because I can’t seem to force it to speak. But I smile in reply—my smile nervous, nervous but hopeful, definitely hopeful. My riding companions step out on their floors one by one until I’m alone, riding up to the executive floor on my own.
Toward him.
          Toward the man I love.
          My body is raging. My blood is pumping—my blood is storming—my thighs are shaking. My stomach feels filled with little earthquakes that just won’t quit, then they turn into a full-fledged roil when I hear the elevator ting at his floor.
         Stepping out, I’m in corporate nirvana, surrounded by sleek chrome and pristine glass, marble and limestone floors. But I hardly have eyes for anything except the tall and imposing frosted glass doors at the far end of the room.
          Framing those doors to each side is a pair of sleek designer desks, for a total of four.
          Behind these desks are four women in identical black-and-white suits, sitting behind their gleaming dark-oak desks, working quietly behind their flat-screen computers.
          One of them, the forty-year-old Catherine H. Ulysses—right hand of the man who owns every inch of this building—stops what she’s doing when she sees me. She arches her brow, then seems both tense and relieved as she lifts the receiver on her desk and murmurs my name into it.
          I. Am. Not. Breathing.
          But Catherine doesn’t miss a beat as she motions me toward the huge frosted doors—those intimidating doors—that lead into the lair of the most powerful man in Chicago.
          The human being with the most powerful effect on me.
          This is what I’ve been waiting for, for four weeks. This is what I wanted when I left a thousand messages on his phones and what I wanted when I wrote a thousand others that I left unsent. To see him.
          For him to want to see me.
          But as I force myself to step forward, I don’t even know if I’ll have the strength to stand before him and look him in the eye after what I did.
          I’m wracked so hard with nervousness and anticipation and hope—yes hope, small but bright, even as I shake like a leaf.
          Catherine holds the door open, and I struggle to hold my head high and walk into his office.
           Two steps inside I hear the swoosh of the glass door shutting behind me and my systems halt at the familiar sight of the most beautiful office I’ve ever been in.
          His office is all vast marble and chrome, twelve-foot ceilings, and endless floor-to-ceiling windows.
          And there he is. The center of its axis. The center of my world.
          He’s pacing by the window, speaking into a headset in a low, low voice—the kind he uses when he’s pissed. All I can make out are the words have to be dead to let her fall into his clutches …
          He hangs up, and as if he feels me in the room, he turns his head. His eyes flare when he sees me. His green eyes.
          His achingly familiar, beautiful green eyes.
          He inhales, very slowly, his chest expanding, his hands curling a little at his sides as he looks at me.
          I look back at him.
          Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint.
          I just walked into the eye of the most powerful storm of my life. No. Not a storm. A hurricane.
          Four weeks, I haven’t seen him. And he still looks exactly as I remember. Larger than life, and more irresistible than ever.
          His striking face is perfectly shaven today, and his sensual lips look so achingly full I can almost feel them against mine. Six-feet-plus of perfectly controlled male power stand before me, in a perfect black suit and a killer tie. He’s the very devil in Armani; strong-boned, square-jawed, gleaming dark hair and those penetrating eyes.
          He’s got the best eyes.
          They twinkle mercilessly when he teases me, and when he doesn’t tease me, they’re mysterious and unreadable, assessing and intelligent, keeping me guessing about his thoughts.
          But I had forgotten how cold those eyes used to be. Green arctic ice looks back at me now. Every fleck of ice in those eyes gleaming like diamond shards.
          He clenches his jaw and tosses the headset aside.
          He looks as approachable as a wall, his shoulders stretching his white shirt, which clings to his skin like a groupie. But I know he’s not a wall; I’ve never wanted to throw myself at a wall like this.
          He’s walking towards me. Every step he takes makes my heart pound as he moves with that quiet and confident own-the-world stride of his.
          He stops a few feet away and shoves his hands into his pants pockets; and he seems so big all of a sudden, and he smells so utterly good. I drop my eyes to his tie as the little candle of hope I walked in with starts to flicker with doubt.

manwhore +1. preorder.png
For every sin there is a sinner!
Manwhore + 1 is now available for pre-order
at the following retailers:

Pre-order Now:

PRE-ORDER SURPRISE!
Submit your proof of pre-order and get an early peek at Ms. Manwhore, the last of Saint and Rachel's passionate love story. Click here to enter: http://www.katyevans.net/pre-order-bonus/
manwhore +1.jpg
Blurb
The unexpected love story that began in MANWHORE continues heating up the pages in MANWHORE +1 by New York Times bestselling author Katy Evans...
Billionaire playboy? Check.
Ruthless businessman? Check.
Absolutely sinful? Check.
Malcolm Saint was an assignment. A story. A beautiful, difficult man I was supposed to uncover for a racy exposé.
I intended to reveal him, his secrets, his lifestyle--not let him reveal me. But my head was overtaken by my heart and suddenly nothing could stop me from falling. I fell for him, and I fell hard.
Malcolm Saint is absolute Sin, and I've become a hopeless Sinner.
Now that the assignment is over, Saint wants something from me--something unexpected--and I want this wicked playboy's heart. But how can I prove to the man who trusts no one that I'm worthy of becoming his plus one?
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Manwhore (Book One)
Now Available

man whore + teaser.jpg
About the Author:
katy evans.jpg
Hey! I’m Katy Evans and I love family, books, life, and love. I’m married with two children and three dogs and spend my time baking, walking, writing, reading, and taking care of my family. Thank you for spending your time with me and picking up my story. I hope you had an amazing time with it, like I did. If you’d like to know more about books in progress, look me up on the Internet, I’d love to hear from you!


Website | Facebook | Twitter Email: authorkatyevans@gmail.com

THANK YOU!
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Jun 22, 2015

{Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway} Leading Her Witness by Cheryl Ann Smith


About Leading Her Witness:
Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

BLURB:

Goons, deadbeats, and murder: A tenacious process server's unconventional techniques get her into loads of trouble. So much so that her boss jokes that he keeps the coroner on speed dial just in case. Still, most of Andie Dixon's job is pretty tame if she doesn't count snapping dogs and homeowners squirting her with garden hoses.

That changes when she serves papers on a notorious crime boss and puts her life in real jeopardy. But despite this close call, Andie will not let threats keep her from doing her job. She puts the matter behind her until a hunky U.S. Marshal tracks her down and solicits her help to find the fugitive. Again. At first Andie adamantly refuses, but eventually agrees when she's swayed by the Marshal's persistence and rather dreamy brown eyes. However, when crime boss Sammy Gilroy finds out she's back and close on his heels, he threatens to make her disappear for good this time.

Marshall Colin Navarro needs to find Sammy Gilroy before the man vanishes forever. Colin is certain that the notorious crime leader was involved in a shoot-out with the FBI that injured his sister. But he never expected that he'd have to sway a newbie process-server to help, or that she'd turn out to be stubborn, aggravating, and an all-around pain in the ass. Yet despite her shortcomings, he cannot figure out why she's taken over his thoughts and is front and center in some very hot fantasies. But can he keep her from getting herself killed as they edge closer to catching the fugitive? Then again, the crime boss and his goons don't know who they're messing with.
With Andie on the case, Colin is beginning to believe that justice may be served after all.

Looking for more Dead to Rights fun? Then be sure and check out Murder, Mayhem and Perfect Hair, coming October 27th from Tulip Romance!
About Murder, Mayhem and Perfect Hair:
Goodreads

About Cheryl Ann Smith:

Cheryl Ann Smith loves mystery and adventure and always includes both in her books. And when she's not putting her heroines in danger, she's watching true crime shows or spending way too much time on email with friends. Cheryl lives in Michigan with her family and several pets.

LEADING HER WITNESS - GUEST POST


The chemistry between Andie and Colin, what was the best part of writing their scenes together?

Andie and Colin have great chemistry, although you don’t see it at first. Yes, Andie did think he was attractive physically, but his overbearing personality put her off. He first thought she was a flake, albeit a cute flake. It was his desperation to catch the bad guy that forced him to squelch his reservations and work with her.

I think the best part of writing them was building the arc from I hate you to I might actually love you. Adding danger keeps the external tension high, and humor means the book won’t get too serious. Threading in sexual tension is always fun when writing a romance. Without it the love story would be flat and the readers disappointed. I wanted their first kiss to be yummy and their love scenes satisfying to the readers. I hope that comes out in the story. Andie and Colin worked hard to get their happily ever after!

GIVEAWAY

Jun 18, 2015

{Book Blitz: Chapter 1 + Giveaway} When an Alpha Purrs by Eve Langlais



Purchase:


Description:

A lion’s pride isn’t defined only by those he commands but also resides with his hair, so when a human dares to butcher Arik’s mane, he gets his revenge—and claims her as his mate.

A billionaire CEO and leader of the largest East Coast pride, Arik is a ladies man and a lion. Used to commanding others, and obedience, he can’t believe it when a hairdresser with tempting curves chops off a hunk of his precious mane.
But her biggest mistake is in running from him.
Run as fast as you can, little mouse, because this cat loves to chase—and pounce.
Oh, and he also likes to nibble on tender bits. What he doesn’t expect is to fall for a human woman, a woman who can make the impossible happen because everyone knows lions can’t purr…until now.
 
Author Bio:

~ New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

Hello, my name is Eve and I am a Canadian author who loves to write hot romance, usually with shifters, cyborgs or aliens lol.

Be warned, I do have a twisted imagination and a sarcastic sense of humor something I like to let loose in my writing. I like strong alpha males, naked chests and shifters. Lots of shifters. In fact, you'll notice most of my multi partner stories revolve around great, big, overprotective shifters who just want to please their woman. I am also extremely partial to aliens, you know the kind who like to abduct humans and then drive them insane...with pleasure of course.

I love to write, and while I don't always know what my mind is going to come up with next, I can promise it will be fun, probably humorous and most of all romantic, because I love a happily ever after.

Thanks so much for coming by and checking me out. If you'd like to know more, read some excerpts or find out what's coming next, then please visit me at http://www.EveLanglais.com

Or sign up for my new release email list at  http://www.evelanglais.com/newrelease

Happy reading!
Eve Langlais

Chapter One

“What do you mean Dominic isn’t here?” Arik didn’t quite raise his voice, and yet everyone in the barbershop heard him and noted his displeasure. Heads ducked, hands busied themselves snipping and styling, and no one dared meet his gaze.
If they were lion shifters, he would have said it was because they recognized his alpha status—say hello to the king of the concrete jungle. But these were only regular humans, people easily cowed by a man in an expensive suit with a commanding attitude.
Except for one.
“Granddad is out west.”
The woman’s reply had him spinning, and he inhaled sharply, which drew in more than just the scent of the barbershop. It drew in her tempting aroma—and stirred a hunger that had nothing to do with food.
Smells delicious. For a human.
Standing at just over five and a half feet, the woman barely reached his chin. She didn’t let her shortness deter her. Her head tilted. The chin raised, almost defiantly, as she met his stare. Brown eyes framed in dark lashes didn’t turn from his amber-hued ones.
Someone’s got spirit. But he didn’t have time to explore how far her attitude and bravery went. There were more important matters clamoring for his attention.Such as his poor, shaggy mane.
“What do you mean he’s out west? I have an appointment.” People didn’t cancel his appointments. Nor did they make him wait. The perks of being top of the heap.
“My Aunt Cecily had her baby early. He took some time off to go meet his new grandson.”
A decent excuse, but still… “But what about my hair?” That might have emerged more plaintively than he’d like. However, who could blame him? They were talking about his precious luxurious mane that required a regular trim lest the ends grow ragged, or, worse, a split end dared to make an appearance.
Vanity, one of his faults, along with arrogance and an unwillingness to budge.
“No need to worry, big guy. I’m taking over Granddad’s appointments while he’s gone.”
“You?” A girl, cut his hair? He couldn’t help but laugh, the idea too ridiculous to contemplate.
“I’m sorry. I fail to see the entertainment.”
“You can’t seriously expect me to trust my mane to a woman?” Sexism, alive and well in Arik’s world, the fault of the females in his pride who’d raised him. No coddling for Arik. They didn’t believe in letting him play with dolls or caving to others. His mother and aunts, not to mention his numerous female cousins, had taught him to be tough. They didn’t allow softness in his world, not when they groomed him as the future leader of their pride.
He was all male, all the time, and dammit, a man used a barber, not a hairdresser. Even if she was cute.
“Suit yourself. I’ve got more than enough men to take care of—”
Was that his cat growling?
“—without adding a pompous one to the list.”
“Pompous?” Even if she’d pegged him right, it didn’t stop his indignant glare.
A glare she chose to ignore. She crossed her arms over her chest, plumping her cleavage—ooh, pretty, shadowy cleft. His curious nature drew his eyes to the mysterious and beckoningvee until she cleared her throat.
“My eyes are up here, big guy.”
Caught. Good thing he was a cat. His kind had no shame, nor did they apologize. He shot her his most engaging, boyish grin. “My name is Arik. Arik Castiglione.”
She didn’t react to his smile or titles, so he elaborated, “The CEO for Castiglione Enterprises.” He stretched his lips wide enough to engage his deadly dimple.
And still failed to impress.
She raised a brow. “Is that supposed to mean something?”
Surely she jested. Within his mind, his poor lion lay down in a traumatized heap and crossed its paws over its eyes.
“We are the largest importer of meat in the world.”
Her shoulders lifted in a shrug. “I don’t check the label to see who brings me my steak. I just eat it.”
“What about our chain of restaurants? A Lion’s Pride Steakhouses.”
“Those I’ve heard of. Decent, I hear, but overpriced. I can get a bigger plate of food at LongHorn. And according to my girlfriends, the male waiters are cuter too.”
For once, Arik found himself at a loss for words. His lion on the other hand? His mane was definitely ruffled—and itching.
Arik had already gone two weeks longer than usual for this haircut because of an overseas business trip. Time to get back to his highest priority. “How long until Dominic is back?”
“A week, maybe two. I told him to take his time. Granddad doesn’t often take time off, and he’s getting up there in years.”
A few weeks? He’d look like a wildebeest if he waited that long. “That’s no good. I need a cut. Are there any male barbers available?”
 “Afraid to let a girl touch your precious hair?” She smirked. “I can peek at the schedule and see if we can squeeze you in this afternoon.”
“I don’t have time to come back. I need it done now.”
Usually when he used the word now, people jumped to do his bidding. She, on the other hand, shook her head.
“Not happening, unless you’ve changed your mind and are willing to let me cut it.”
“You’re a hairdresser.”
“Exactly.”
“I want a barber.”
“Same thing.”
Said the girl without a Y chromosome. “I think I’ll wait.”
Arik turned away from her, only to freeze as she muttered, “Pussy.”
If she only knew how right she was. But, of course, she didn’t mean the feline version.
Pride made him pivot back.“You know what. On second thought, you may cut my hair.”
“How gracious of you, Your Majesty.” She sketched him a mock bow.
Not funny, even if accurate. He glared in reply.
“I see someone’s too uptight for a sense of humor.”
“I greatly enjoy comedy, when I hear it.”
“Sorry if my brand of sarcasm is too simple for you to understand, big guy. Now, if you’re done, sit down so we can get this over with and send you and your precious hair back to your office.”
A woman giving him orders? Not uncommon when a male lived surrounded by them. But actually obeying, that was new – and in this case, unavoidable.
Head held regally high, Arik took the proffered seat, putting his back to the female, but he could still watch her in the mirror and track her by scent. Coconut lotion, fabric softener, and musky woman. All woman.
My woman. Want to taste.
His lion grumbled in hunger. Odd because Arik had eaten a hearty breakfast, even wrestling his beta, Hayder, for the last two pieces of bacon.
The hairdresser swirled a fabric cape around his upper body, swathing him in protection against snipped tickly bits. So far the same as usual, except Dominic’s mere presence never had Arik’s body so aware. The light touch of her fingers at his nape as she fastened the Velcro closure caused all the hairs on his body to stiffen. And they weren’t the only thing standing at attention.
Before he could wonder at his reaction, she withdrew her hand and busied herself with her tray of instruments. Razor, scissors, brush, comb. But forget the manly black colors a barber would use. Her tools were pink and black, zebra striped.
The indignity of it. He almost said something but held his tongue, only because he could see her watching and waiting for it in the mirror. As if he’d give her the satisfaction. This cat held his own tongue—for now.
The hairdresser sifted her fingers through his long strands, lifting and studying the various layers Dominic usually cut into it. Unlike many businessmen, Arik preferred to keep his golden mane somewhat long. Funny how many of his lovers had told him it gave him a leonine appearance—if only they knew the truth.
“How much are we taking off?”
As little as possible, given he still didn’t trust her. “About a half inch or so. Just even up the ends.” That should tide him over until Dominic returned.
“Are you sure?” She frowned at his crown, as she held long strands up. “You look like you could use at least two inches off, if not more.”
How did she know? Arik usually kept his mane to a civilized length that just touched the top of his collar.
“I’m sure.”
“You know, a man your age really should have a more mature cut. The shaggy surfer style is more suited to young guys.”
He dug his fingers into the armrest and fought not to growl.  “I like my hair like this.”
“Suit yourself. I was just saying you’d look better with a shorter cut.”
Shave his precious mane? Never! “Do you always argue with your clients?”
Her eyes met his in the mirror, and he wasn’t surprised to see a smile lurking at the corners of her lips. “Only when they’re wrong.”
That surprised a bark of laughter from him. Despite his irritation with the situation, and her outspoken nature, he grudgingly liked Dominic’s granddaughter. “Very well. You may cut it a little shorter than a half inch. But not much shorter. I do not want to end up scalped.”
“For a man your age and in your position, you are way too obsessed with your hair,” she muttered as she bound sections of his mane with hairclips. Not exactly his most manly look.
Arik kept a close watch for anyone with a camera or cell phone. Dare to take a pic and he’d probably go furry.
Okay, he wouldn’t go furry in public, but he sure as hell would extract retribution. CEOs of billion-dollar corporations had an image to maintain, and pink hair clips holding his hair at crazy angles didn’t exactly fit it.
“How come I’ve never met you before?” Dominic had paraded a great number of his children and grandchildren through his barber shop over the years.
Attention focused on her hands, which wielded a set of scissors, she answered. “I don’t visit often. I live out in the Midwest with my mom and dad. I was actually working at a hair salon out there until it shut down, and Granddad offered me a job here.”
“You just packed up and moved?”
“Why not?” She released a layer of hair, and the scissors kept snipping. Golden bits flittered to the floor, and Arik tried to not tense. There was just as much hair strewn as when Dominic cut it. She seemed to know her business when it came to using scissors, but for some reason, he couldn’t shake his unease.
“Women should stay close to family.” His female family members certainly did, despite his best efforts to pawn them off onto other tribes and cities. Hell, he’d even tried to bribe some of his more rascally cousins with the promise of condos on other continents. However, the lionesses in his pride were content. A sign he was a good leader, but annoying as it meant they were constantly putting their whiskered noses in his business.
And they also loved to play matchmaker.
“When are you going to give us some cubs?” Not a day went by that he didn’t hear this.
“I’ve got a friend I want you to meet.” Fun for a night, until the next day when his cousin hammered him to make some kind of commitment.
The hairdresser reacted to his statement about a woman’s place with a snort. “Get with the times, big guy. We’re no longer strapped to a kitchen or forced into arranged marriages. We even get to vote. Girls nowadays often move away from home and have jobs. Or at least this one does.”
He couldn’t help but wince as she gave a decisive snip to his mane. So far, everything looked good. Yet he could have sworn ominous music hummed at the edges of his mind, feeding a certain dread he’d never admit aloud.
Scared of this woman and her scissors? Never. And his lion reinforced this with a very masculine rawr.
Still though, she’d essentially accused him of being a chauvinist. He explained himself. “I did not mean to sound misogynistic. I merely stated that women often find comfort in having family around them.”
“I do have family here.”
“Touché.” Then he couldn’t have said what prompted him to ask, “What of your boyfriend? I’m sure he’s not pleased at your abrupt departure.”
She paused and stared at him in the mirror. “Is this your not-so-subtle way of asking if I’m single?”
“Was I being subtle? Let me rephrase then. Do you have a lover?” He’d challenge him to a duel if she did and—
Hold on a second. He wasn’t challenging anyone, especially not the human boyfriend of a hairdresser he’d just met.
Just met, and yet wanted.
The realization made him frown. Time to hit the dating circuit again if a plump and mouthy human girl was capable of making him irrational. It didn’t help that his lion urged him to rub against her and mark her with their scent—to keep other males away.
Not happening. Marking any kind of female was bound to create complications. Arik wasn’t about to settle down or commit himself. He was in his prime. Playing the field.
Flirting with a hairdresser who set his hairs on end—and brought his erotic senses alive.
The things I could do to her. Nibbles on her creamy skin… Nips at that luscious lower lip, which pulled taut as she frowned at him and said, “First off, I don’t think my love life is any of your business.” Snip. “Second. Even if I were single, I wouldn’t date you.” Snip. Snip.
“Why not?” He could have blinked in astonishment when the query emerged from his mouth. However, a curious kitty needed to know. Women just didn’t say no. It wasn’t arrogant of him to claim it, not when it was fact.
Rejection was not something he encountered. Until now.
“Are you seriously having to ask why I won’t date you?” She sounded so incredulous. “Would you like me to recite the list alphabetically?”
Actually, he did. “Let’s hear it.”
Not even a pause. “Asshat. Braggart. Cocky tied with chauvinist. Dumbass. Egotistical. Do I really need to go on?” 
A chuckle rumbled forth from him—again. What was it about this woman that delighted him? She kept arguing and defying him at every turn, and yet he couldn’t help but find her amusing. She utterly intrigued him, especially as he tried to guess what she’d say next. How refreshing to come across a female that wasn’t related to him, or impressed by him, who dared to treat him as a man.
One she considered beneath her standards.
“I think your list needs tweaking.” He launched a defense of his character.
“Oh really? And just how do you see yourself? I’m sure this will be good.”
“Let me see. Attractive, bold, courageous, daring, elegant, ferocious, especially as a lover,” he admitted with a wink. “Gallant.”
With a derisive snort, she interrupted. “Ha. I highly doubt that.”
“And yet you don’t really know me. My lady friends would tell you that I am a gentleman.” When it came to opening doors and picking up the check. Other than that, there was nothing gentle about him. Just ask those who crossed him.
Kings didn’t let anyone question their authority.
“I wouldn’t know, though, about this supposed gallantry, because I’m not your lady friend.”
“You could be.” He gave her another chance. She truly did draw him in with the roundness of her figure, hugged by faded denim and topped with a baggy sweatshirt that drooped enticingly off a shoulder, baring a black strap.
Lace or cotton? A feline mind wanted to know.
But apparently he wouldn’t know today, as she, yet again, managed to resist him.
“Date you? Not likely.”
Again words emerged from him without volition. “Why not?”
“Oh please. I’ve seen enough to know you’re not my type.”
Such a liar. Apparently he wasn’t the only one aroused by their repartee. The musky scent of her arousal tickled his senses. It made him bolder. “I guarantee when I’m between your thighs and you’re clawing my back, you’ll be screaming a different tune.”
So he might have come on a tad strong with that last statement. That was still no excuse for what happened next.
“Pig.” However it wasn’t the animal insult that was her most grievous crime. It was the gigantic hunk of hair she snipped off!
An irreplaceable, thick chunk of his hair permanently removed. Accidental or intentional, it didn’t matter.
Ack! My mane.My beautiful, precious mane.
He couldn’t help a low rumbling growl. His eyes glinted in the mirror, the gold catching the light and reflecting it, along with his fury.
“You. Did. Not. Just. Do. That.” And yes, he might have growled the last bit.
“Oops? Did I do that? Sorry.” Said with no repentance at all. With a smirk and a blown kiss, she let her crime rain down over him in a golden, threaded shower.
And then, she ran.