"Grant entices, captivates, and mesmerizes." RT Book Reviews
As the baby girl of the protective Montgomery clan, Katrina has led a charmed life. A modeling career sky-rocketed her to fame and fortune. Facing thirty, she's ready for a challenge and goes into the fashion design business with her sister-in-law. But in her personal life, the only man Katrina's really drawn to is the one she can't control: former pro footballer, notorious player, and family friend, Carter Evan Parks.
Carter has retired from sportsand womanizingto build a successful real estate career. Now he wants to get serious in his love lifewith Katrina. Trouble is, dating his best friend's pampered sister could go wrong in so many ways, especially under the watchful eyes of the Montgomerys. But what happens when a girl who can have any man chooses one who won't be toyed with?
"Readers will love the fast-paced action as well as the unorthodox romance." RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars, Top Pick
"For fans who enjoy a juicy somethin' mixed into a romantic tale." Library Journal
About the Author
Michele Grant is a writer, lover of all things purple, and speaker of mind. Her popular blog, Black 'n Bougie (blacknbougie.com), is an irreverent look at pop culture, people, politics & personal stuff. . .with a bougie twist, and attracts over 40,000 visits a week. The blog won the 2010 Black Weblog Award for Best Series and was named a finalist in 2011 for the categories Best Writing in a Blog, Best Series, and Blog of the Year. She was a finalist two years in a row for RT Book Review's Best Multicultural Romance. Her articles have been posted on Essence.com, UptownMagazine.com, Blackenterprise.com, and ForHarriet.com. You can find her tweeting as @OneChele, on Facebook, at MicheleGrant.net, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read an Excerpt
Any Man I Want
By MICHELE GRANT
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Michele Grant
All rights reserved.
Not the dumbest thing, but so damn close
Katrina—Monday, May 23—10:46 a.m.
Glancing at my watch, I had about four hours until my flight left for Miami en route home to Dallas. Since I had a little time, I calmly clicked through the photos of myself from this past week's photo shoot with detached interest. Even though I was two months from turning the big three-zero, I still looked pretty much the same as I had when I started modeling ten years ago. I cannot lie. I was genetically gifted. Thanks to Avery and Alanna Montgomery's DNA, I stood 5-10½ in flats. I had wavy, tawny brown hair that fell to my waist. My eyes were often compared to those of a lion, golden in color, slightly tilted and generously lashed. Being named Katrina and originally born in a small town in Louisiana—people heard the name and thought of the disastrous hurricane. It wasn't that far of a jump for my nickname to be Cajun Kat. Not very original, but it worked.
As the last child and only daughter of this generation of Montgomerys, I could have been anything I wanted in life. I had the brains, the beauty, the unconditional love, and the ambition to be whatever made me happy. I had started modeling at age sixteen after graduating early at the top of my high school class. I really never wanted anything else. I loved the world of clothes and fashion. I loved creating and wearing beautiful things. I knew I wasn't going to model forever and had been slowly phasing out the modeling and spending more and more time involved in the design and business end of the fashion house. In my mid-twenties I took time to get a degree in art and fashion media from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. I thoroughly enjoyed not only the clothes but the best way to display and market the clothes across different media platforms. This shoot was the last of the artwork we needed for our next catalog.
I was deciding whether the gold bikini or the pale peach one piece would look better on the spring resort-wear catalog cover when a few things happened simultaneously. My cell phone rang, the doorbell of the villa rang, and the sound indicating that I had incoming e-mail beeped repetitively from my laptop. That couldn't be good.
I rose to move toward the door and caught sight of a photographer leaning over my balcony and pointing a huge lens at me. I snapped the curtains shut and looked down at the display on my phone. It was my agent, Fredrika Young.
"What's going on?" I answered.
"You haven't been online today?" she asked cautiously.
"No ... but I have photographers at my windows and door and my e-mail is blowing up. What happened?"
"Kevin happened," she deadpanned.
I sunk onto the chaise lounge with a feeling of dread. "What do you mean, Kevin happened? What did he do?"
"Before or after he released the sex tape?"
"Sex tape?" I screeched into the phone. "I did not participate in a sex tape."
"He has the two of you on film, naked and in bed. Granted, it's grainy and there's not a whole lot of action, but it's definitely you, Kat. He says you offered him sex in exchange for the Serengeti business and once he'd signed the contracts, you discarded him. Discarded. He actually used the word discarded."
"Yeah, he's all dramatical like that. Earlier, he used rue in a sentence."
"Wow. Anyway, it's total bullshit, of course. Everyone knows you aren't a sex-tape kind of girl and you've never considered pay-for-play a business tactic. If nothing else, we go after him for filming you and distributing without your consent."
"I cannot believe this. He did say I would regret breaking up with him," I muttered.
"Hell, no. I regret ever dating him in the first place." I huffed a brief and insincere laugh.
"As you should. From the looks of this tape he was a lousy bed partner."
I snorted. "To say the least."
"In addition to sucking in bed, he's a scoundrel and a liar."
"Scoundrel is a sexy word for someone devilish and charming. Kevin is neither of those two things."
Fredrika chuckled. "Duly noted. Liar. Not charming."
"Well, he did say one true thing," I admitted.
"What might that be?"
"I did discard him. I most certainly the hell did. Apparently, not a moment too soon."
"He is alleging that this is how you've closed deals for BellaRich Designs and stayed on top in the modeling field."
"Oh no, he didn't!"
"Yeah, he did. Said he has lists of other fashion execs and photographers that you've slept with. It's a slow news day, Kat. This is everywhere. They are calling you the Cajun Coquette."
I closed my eyes. Over ten years in the industry maintaining a flawless reputation in the media, playing nice with people who didn't understand the meaning of the word, smiling while half naked in rain, beach, snow, and shine and now this.... I was considered flirty but fun, sexy but not skanky, pretty but professional. People took me seriously. I worked hard to be more than a pretty face. I scrapped, clawed, and kicked my way into design. My designs were smart, sultry, and sought after. I carried my weight at BellaRich Designs and I'd be damned if a pompous ass with hurt feelings and no bed game was going to ruin all of that. "Thanks, Fredrika. I need to call Beau." My older brother Beau was a man who was often underestimated because he was so easy on the eyes. But of the three Montgomery offspring (me, middle brother Roman, and Beau), Beau was the one who not only knew how to play dirty, but relished the opportunity. He was sharp as a tack and knew how to think like both an angel and a devil.
Fredrika exhaled. "You're calling Beau? Good—he'll fight fire with fire. Call me when you know your next move."
"Thanks for believing in me."
"Katrina. You're no angel, but you don't play around when it comes to business. No worries. If you need me, I'm here."
"Thanks again." I hung up, ignored the knocking on the villa door, and dialed another number. It was answered on the first ring.
"Baby girl, how many times have I told you that your extraordinarily bad taste in men would bite you in the ass?" Beau's slightly accented voice poured out. Though we all had some Creole influence, Beau tended to lean more heavily on his than Roman and I did. "I swear, Kat, all the lovely male influences in your life and you have to hook up with the slimiest cochon out there. Not smart, sis"
I rolled my eyes at my older brother's rant. "Dating Kevin is not the dumbest thing I've ever done ... but close. How bad is it?"
"Well, chère, I won't be playing that video at the next family reunion."
Scowling into the phone, I answered, "How is that possible? We did it twice. Both times badly. In the dark for less than fifteen minutes."
"I really didn't need details."
"I'm just saying. It was over in an instant. How in the world did that make a juicy sex tape?"
"Are you sure?" Beau queried.
"This tape might be doctored. The one I glanced at—and believe me, 'tite chou, I never want to see anything like that again—has you in sunlight outside, near a beach in a hammock."
That sounded familiar and wrong all at the same time. "The only time I've been in a hammock here was for the shoot. I was topless, modeling the swim shorts. There was a male model; we did some flirting for the cameras but nothing that could be a hot sex tape. Not even close."
"This jerk must have meshed different footage together or something. Okay, I know what we're dealing with now. You need to lay low while I figure out how to go nuclear on Mr. Delancey."
All of a sudden, I remembered my team. "What about the crew?"
"We got everyone out on the first flight this morning. I'm sending someone to get you."
"What? No. That's unnecessary. I can fly home on my own, Beau. My flight is in a few hours."
"We already cancelled it," he declared.
"Oh, come on. This will blow over in a day or so."
"I doubt it. He's out for blood. Says he has proof that you've slept with half of your photographers, most of our clients. Says a lot of the BellaRich contracts were sex for signature transactions. He's claiming your entire professional career has been based on you passing out the good-good on the regular."
"What? I never—"
"I know that. I'm the last one you have to convince. When you think about it, it's actually kind of funny."
"In what possible way is this humorous?" I screeched incredulously.
"Out of the three of us—you, me, or Roman—which of us was more likely to be accused of using sex to get ahead?" Beau said ruefully.
My brother Roman was a straight arrow. He was happily married for the second time to a great woman named Jewellen. Beau, however, had been a notorious hound dog in his day. Not even just in his day—in everybody else's day as well. The trail of broken hearts and discarded panties he left behind was legend. He was bow-wowing right up until he met my friend Belle. We had modeled together. When she and I decided to go into design, I loaned her my condo. Beau had been kicked out of Roman's house and was trying to figure out what to do with his life and decided to stay at my place. That's how they met. After a few stumbles, they appeared to be on the path to happily-ever-after. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.
"I would say this is more ironic than funny—but hey, it's just my life imploding, laugh it up," I snapped testily. I rubbed my temple. I could feel a headache coming on. I twisted the top off of a large bottle of water and drank deeply.
"Chill, sis. Look, we all know this is ego-driven crap, but Delancey is throwing enough dirt around that we need a solid game plan before the media gets hold of you. We're releasing a statement today denying everything. In the meantime, you need to spend a few more days away from prying eyes and then come back to Dallas and stay somewhere the media can't find you for a while."
I exhaled. "How bad can it really be? I can't just step outside and laugh this off and it will go away?"
"Katrina, you're beautiful, you're rich, you're single, and you're famous. As much as people love you, they love a messy scandal more. They smell blood in the water and they're going for broke. This is going to take a little time and cleanup. But no worries, I'm on it. And I'm sending help."
I frowned down at the phone. "What kind of help?"
"Big Sexy is on his way."
I exhaled shakily. Carter "Big Sexy" Parks, super-hot former football player, one of Beau's oldest and dearest friends, currently a real estate mogul, was heading my direction. Did I mention that he's super-hot? A man doesn't get and keep the nickname of "Big Sexy" without earning it. And he really did. Even more telling, no one questioned the nickname. It fit. Everything about him oozed big and sexy. I'd thrown all sorts of "do me" hints over the years and though he never said no, he never said yes either. Never even looked all that tempted, much to my chagrin. I was a girl who was used to men wanting me and chasing me. The fact that he didn't seem to care one way or the other? Quite frustrating in a "but I can respect it" super-hot way. "Carter thinks I'm a pain in the ass."
"We all think you're a pain the ass, but we love you anyway."
I sucked my teeth in exasperation. "Carter Parks does not love me."
"Probably not, but he loves this family and he knows how to play tough. He'll keep you safe."
"I don't need a babysitter, Avery Beauregard."
"No, you don't, Audelia Katrina. You're a big girl. I know you're grown or whatever. But you do need an exit strategy and a hiding place where no one can get to you. Carter can and will provide both of those"
"Fine," I snapped out, already over it.
"I'm sorry, Kit-Kat. I didn't hear you. Was that a 'thank you' that you muttered so graciously, sis?"
"Merci, mon frère," I thanked him through gritted teeth. "That's what I thought I heard. De rien. Keep your head up, sis. We'll talk later."
"Don't look at it. It will just piss you off."
"Okay," I agreed, knowing full well I planned to look as soon as I hung up.
Beau used his sternest big-brother voice. "Katrina, I mean it."
"Got it. Not looking." I used my most innocent, agreeable voice.
He sighed. "I'll talk to you after Carter gets there."
"When will that be?" I glanced at the clock.
"Knowing him? Less than two hours. He was on the jet the minute after I called him."
Carter Parks was on his way, a sex tape with me on it was floating around the Internet, and it wasn't even noon on a Monday yet. "Fine."
"You know us Montgomerys—we're always okay." I hung up and reached for the laptop.CHAPTER 2
Kevin Delancey is not that dude
Katrina—Monday, May 23—12:02 p.m.
I'd watched it over and over again. The first two times I was embarrassed, shocked, and ashamed. I thought about crying, but in the words of my mother, "What did tears ever solve?" I wasn't that much of a crier. All the puffy eyes and stopped-up noses just wore me out and took time away from fixing what was wrong. I moved past sadness and watched it again.
The next two times I was angry and incredulous. By the time I watched it for the sixteenth time I'd zoomed past angry to furious and had vengeance on my mind. Basically, the video had been spliced and Photoshopped to look like I lured Kevin outside to a hammock, laid back on it, took off my top, and enticed him to join me, at which point we had about five minutes of what looked like simulated sex and then the video faded to black. I realized that only the top half of the woman in the video was me; the rest of it was not. Someone with serious video editing skills put this together. And since Kevin had departed less than forty-eight hours ago, he'd either been planning this for a while or had somebody on standby waiting to make this happen.
Now, it was one thing to sleep with someone and have the world watch it, if that was your kind of thing. It was entirely different for someone to manipulate the facts to suit their revenge fantasies. Yes, I'd slept with him. Twice, in the dark, for fifteen minutes in the privacy of a hotel room. I wanted to scream that from a megaphone. Yes, I'd been topless on the beach, lying in the hammock. But those two things were mutually exclusive events. Kevin Delancey did not inspire me to get freaky or full-frontal on a public beach in midday. At all. And that pompous ass knew better.
Against my better judgment, I Googled first my name and then Kevin's: one hundred eighteen thousand new search results with my name attached. I scanned a few of them. I reached for the bottled water and drank some more, wondering if I should pull out the Advil as well. I watched Kevin give a press conference that was uploaded to YouTube, where he had the nerve to stand there with a straight face and say he felt used and betrayed. Really, though?
I skipped to another video and watched as Belle and Beau gave a brief statement on behalf of myself and BellaRich Designs. Ever so politely, but succinctly, Beau called Kevin a coward, a liar, and a crook. Brother Beau stared right into the camera with that pretty face of his and said that the truth would soon be revealed and at that time full exoneration of my good name and reputation would be restored and remedies would be sought. I had to smile—Beau had such a flair for the dramatic.
Next, I pulled up my social media sites. Scrolling through my mentions on Twitter I noticed people were taking sides with the hashtags #TeamDelancey or #TeamKat.
She is way too classy for this to be true. Delancey just mad he can't hold onto her. #TeamKat! Tweeted someone with the screen name @ModelsRock.
All models are hoes, why are you all surprised? #TeamDelancey came from @BrosB4Hoes.
Whatever really happened she didn't look like she was having fun. I would have dumped him too. #TeamKat
He is dat dude. #TeamDelancey
Excerpted from Any Man I Want by MICHELE GRANT. Copyright © 2014 Michele Grant. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Michele Grant is a great author. Great read, the couple were too cute. she tied the three books together.
The trouble with this book is that it's over too soon. I love Grant's writing style and in depth characters. If you haven't read her other books, stock up. I'm waiting on Grant's next project. How about Big Sexy's brother story. Hmmmm?
This was a great way to end the series. Kat's and Carter's relationship is one a I can relate to especially when Carter is dealing with her insecurities. I love the constant bickering between the two. Maybe we can have a story about Chris, Carter's little brother, and Tara!
I LOVED how things came together in this book. Just when you thought you had the next move figured out she took it a different route. That kept me guessing. I loved how relatable both the characters and situations were. I could easily see myself being Katrina, constantly sabotaging myself. Seeming so secure yet being insecure. Their family bond was one to be envied. I appreciated how they all stuck together and blended. This is a great ending to the Montgomery family series but I would LOVE to hear more about how they all live after... I'd also love to see Chris' story. He could even get with Tara :-)