Death, Taxes, and Hot-Pink Leg Warmers from A Tara Holloway Novel series
It's bad enough that Tara has to go on trial against the mortgage-frauding "Tennis Racketeers" who cheated banks and homeowners out of millions in between doubles matches. Now she has to go undercover—in a strip club—to strip the sleazeball owner of his indeed illegal livelihood. At least she's working as a bookkeeper, not a pole dancer. And who needs tips when her undercover crush, Special Agent Nick, is the club's bodyguard?
With so many hot bodies on display, Tara agrees to join her boss, Lu "the Lobo" Lobozinski, in her daily workouts at the Y. Lu's on a health kick after recovering from cancer, and she's pulled her leotards, tights, and hot-pink leg warmers out of mothballs. Which is okay with Tara. If she hopes to put Mr. Geils behind bars, grab the tennis boys by the balls, and lock lips with the unsuspecting Nick, she needs to be in the best shape of her life…
About the Author
Diane Kelly is a former state assistant attorney general who spent much of her career fighting, or inadvertently working for, white-collar criminals. A recipient of the 2009 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, she has received more than two dozen RWA chapter awards. Diane's fiction, tax and humor pieces have appeared in True Love Magazine, Writer's Digest Yearbook, Romance Writers Report, Byline Magazine, and other publications.
Diane Kelly is a former state assistant attorney general and tax advisor who spent much of her career fighting, or inadvertently working for, white-collar criminals. She is also a proud graduate of the Mansfield, Texas Citizens Police Academy. The first book in Diane’s IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway series, Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, received a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Book #2, Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte, won a Reviewers Choice award. Diane has combined her fascination with law enforcement and her love of animals in her K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series.
Read an Excerpt
Death, Taxes, and Hot Pink Leg Warmers
By Diane Kelly
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 Diane Kelly
All rights reserved.
Nothing like taking a baseball bat to the head to ruin a girl's faith in herself.
Yep, I'd recently let my guard down, assumed a mild-mannered granny posed no threat to me. Unfortunately, when I informed the woman she'd violated federal law by unwittingly helping terrorists funnel money overseas, she'd panicked. Even more unfortunately, an official major league baseball bat signed by none other than Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton had been in close reach behind the counter of her pawnshop. She'd grabbed the bat, swung for the seats, and — Crack! Lights out for me.
My confidence had been shattered along with my skull, but I was trying hard to be positive. At least my injuries hadn't been bad enough to require a steel plate in my head. Then again, with metal covering my brain, aliens from outer space wouldn't be able to read my thoughts or exercise mind control. A steel plate could also come in handy if I ever needed to head-butt someone.
I was lucky she'd only struck me once and that I'd survived the ordeal. Looked like all those times people had called me hardheaded hadn't been solely a comment on my stubborn personality.
How's that for looking on the bright side?
On another very positive note, after weeks of yearning on my part, Nick Pratt and I were finally free to explore our mutual attraction and take our relationship for a test-drive.
Nick was my coworker at the IRS, a senior special agent, and my partner in the big investigation on which we were preparing to embark. As far as I was concerned, he was also the reason why the sun rose in the morning and the stars twinkled at night, not to mention the reason why I continued to shave my legs even though it was now early November and my pasty calves wouldn't see the light of day until spring hit Dallas four months from now.
With any luck, my freshly shaved legs would soon find themselves wrapped around Nick's firm backside. His kisses were hotter than a Texas summer, so I could only imagine how steamy sex with Nick would be. I couldn't wait to find out!
While I'd been in the hospital recovering from my head injuries, Nick had approached my then-boyfriend Brett and asked him to step aside, at least temporarily, so Nick and I could determine whether we'd be a better match. Brett had agreed, admitting to me that he'd been attracted to a female chef at a country club in Atlanta where he'd been working on a landscaping project. Looked like the saucy chef had not only stirred up some delicious dishes, but she'd stirred up some feelings in Brett, as well.
Though Brett and I hadn't yet been certain whether the other was the one, we had a pretty good thing going and didn't want to recklessly throw what we had away. We'd left the door open for a reconciliation if our new relationships didn't work out. If either of us wanted to get back together, that person would go at noon on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to the Arboretum in Dallas, the place where we'd first met. If we both showed up, we'd reconcile, no questions asked. If neither of us showed, we'd move on. If only one of us turned up, well, I suppose that person would feel like an idiot, huh?
We'd agreed to a couple other stipulations, too. First, there would be no communication between the two of us during the trial breakup period. If we were going to take a chance with other people, it needed to be a real chance without the complications that would inevitably result from maintaining contact. Second, neither of us could engage in full-fledged nooky with the new love interest. Reconciliation would be impossible if either of us crossed that critical line.
Nick hadn't liked the restrictions imposed on us, especially the no-nooky clause, but he'd acquiesced, certain once I'd had a taste of his charms he'd ruin me for all other men. He'd maintained his membership with the Big D Dating Service, though, as a subtle reminder to me that if our trial run didn't work out he, too, was poised to jump right back into the dating pool with both feet.
It was less than the ideal way to start a relationship, but we'd all been around the block a few times and knew pairing off at our ages was no longer a matter of simply looking for a good time. It was about finding the most suitable partner. At twenty-seven, my biological clock had begun to tick, though the tick was still slow and faint. I was in no immediate rush, but I didn't have years to dawdle, either.
"Here we are." Nick pulled the white government sedan, what we agents referred to as a G-ride, into the parking lot of the Dallas Police Department headquarters on south Lamar Street.
Nick was built like a slightly scaled-down version of Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and had eyes the same amber color as Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch. Like the scotch, Nick had been aged to perfection, with smooth, rich flavors and complex character. He could also be just as habit-forming. I wasn't sure yet whether indulging in too much Nick would leave me with a headache and dry heaves the next day, but I was willing to find out.
I cocked my head, eyeing the dark, thick mustache Nick had grown in order to change his appearance for our upcoming undercover case. The ridiculous thing tickled when Nick kissed me. Not that I minded, really. It was hard for me to notice much of anything when Nick's mouth was on mine. The instant our lips touched my mind melted into a blissful oblivion. "That mustache makes you look like a seventies porn star."
Nick cupped his hands behind his head and undulated in his seat. "Bow chicka bowwow."
I rolled my eyes. Truth be told, though, even when Nick was acting goofy he was sexy as hell. And I had to admit that while I preferred Nick clean shaven and less pornified, the facial hair went a long way in disguising him. I'd had my stylist dye my usual chestnut hair a raven color and give me a spiral perm. Having a new look was fun, though learning how to care for the curls had been a challenge. I'd finally realized the best thing to do was leave them alone and let them do their thing.
Disguises could be difficult, but they were necessary. Between Nick and me, we'd put away quite a few bad guys. If there were only six degrees of separation between everyone and Kevin Bacon, it was even more likely someone we'd run into before could resurface at the strip club we planned to investigate. The last thing Nick or I needed was for some target we'd arrested in an earlier case to recognize us.
As I gathered up my purse and briefcase, Nick reached over and tugged on the end of a curl near my ear, stretching the hair out straight, releasing it, and grinning as it sprang back into place. "Boing."
"Hey!" I patted my locks. "No messing with my hair."
What a liar. I loved it when Nick touched me and he knew it. I only wished my belief in myself could spring back as easily as my curl had. If our new case went well, though, maybe I'd regain the confidence that had been knocked out of me by that damn baseball bat.
"The curls are cute." He slid me a sly look. "I can think of some ways to really make them bounce."
My nether regions clenched at his suggestion. "Don't tempt me."
He leaned toward me, putting a finger under my chin and lifting my face until it was mere inches from his. "If I can't tempt you," he said softly, his breath like a feather across my lips, "can I at least kiss you?" Without waiting for a response, he leaned in and put his lips to mine.
Mmm. Even Nick's chaste, closed-mouth kisses sent my mind and heart reeling and set my body aflame with a hot, desperate yearning. Ugh! Why had I agreed to that stupid no-nooky clause? Brett was a wonderful guy, sure, but the first time Nick had kissed me I knew there'd be no going back.
This was going to be a damn long month.
We climbed out of the car, a crisp fall breeze greeting us. Jack Frost wasn't yet nipping at our noses, but his advance team was in the vicinity, caressing our cheeks with cool air, warning of the weather to come as the winter holidays approached.
Nick and I made our way through the parking lot and entered the modern police headquarters building. Our boss, Lu "the Lobo" Lobozinski, had assigned me and Nick to work with an agent from the DEA and a cop from Dallas PD's sex crimes unit. Together, the four of us would attempt to take down those involved in a drug distribution and prostitution ring being run out of a local topless bar. We had a meeting scheduled this morning with an informant who'd quietly blown the whistle about the shady goings-on at Guys & Dolls. The file we'd been given earlier contained the nitty, but this morning we'd get the gritty.
Why was the IRS involved in a drug and sex-for-money sting? Because the sleazeballs who committed these types of crimes rarely reported their earnings. Tax evasion gave the government attorneys another crime to charge the bad guys with, a chance to add a few years to their sentences, and a backup plan for nailing the scumbags if the other charges fell through.
Working on cases with Nick was fun, though admittedly I found it hard to keep my mind totally on work. At least ten percent of my brain was mentally undressing him at any given time. Good thing I was a smart cookie and could still function reasonably well at ninety percent of my mental capacity.
We checked in with the uniformed officer manning the information desk.
The cop consulted a log and pointed upward. "Second-floor conference room. Lieutenant Menger should be there now."
We took the stairs up one flight and arrived at the room to find Aaron Menger, the officer from the sex crimes unit, standing at the plate-glass window, looking out at the city that was his beat. Menger had golden-blond hair worn in a short burr cut, making his head look like the soft fluff of a baby chick. The hard look in his ice-blue eyes contrasted sharply with his downy head. He appeared to be in his late thirties, making him the oldest member of our four-person team. Though he had only an average build, I knew from the information we'd been provided that the guy was a triathlete and fourth-degree black belt. Not a man to be trifled with, despite the soft, fuzzy chick head.
"Hi, Tara. Nick." DEA Agent Christina Marquez was seated in one of the faux-leather chairs. With her tall and curvy build, generous makeup, and shiny black tresses, Christina looked more like America's Next Top Model than a top-notch DEA agent. But looks could be deceiving. Christina was smart and resourceful, a woman who could not only think on her feet but also bring hardened criminals to their knees. She gestured to my new curls. "Cute do."
"Thanks." I enjoyed the carefree curls, though not the verbal jabs from my office mates. Given my mad weapons skills, they'd often referred to me as the Annie Oakley of the IRS. Since the perm, however, they'd expanded the moniker to Little Orphan Annie Oakley. I'd countered by singing, "The guns will come out tomorrow." Once they'd endured my vocal assault, the teasing had ceased immediately.
Christina and I had worked together on two previous cases and had become friends off the clock, too.
The four of us exchanged handshakes, Aaron's firm grip nearly crushing my metacarpals. I wasn't sure if he was showing off or testing my mojo, but when I squeezed back as hard as I could a bemused smile flickered across his lips.
"I told your boss to send me her toughest agents," Menger said. "I can see she listened."
It was nice to know the Lobo still had some faith in me. I, on the other hand, didn't trust myself anymore. I'd been stupid and it had nearly cost me my life.
Who's to say I wouldn't screw up again?
And whose life might be at risk next time?CHAPTER 2
"Officer Menger?" came a female voice from the doorway.
We turned to find a thin woman waiting in the hall. She stood around five feet seven, with a smooth, wrinkleless face that had been Botoxed into immobility, giving her a porcelain-doll look. Her body was likewise firm and pert. Anything that could be enlarged, liposuctioned, or lifted had been, probably several times over. Even her teeth looked perfect, all white and even.
Despite these obvious cosmetic enhancements, the woman was nonetheless attractive, elegant even. Her champagne-colored hair was swept high into a classy, classic updo and her makeup, though heavy, was of subtle shades. She slipped out of her coat to reveal a sleeveless black dress accented with a gold brooch in the shape of an autumn leaf. Very tasteful.
Given the surgical enhancements, her age was impossible to guess. I'd put her somewhere between forty and four hundred. She might even pass for younger if not for the slightly loose skin on her neck and under her arms. On most women the underarm flaps looked like chicken wings. On this elegant woman they seemed more like skin ruffles.
Menger waved the woman into the conference room. "Hi, Bernice. Thanks for agreeing to meet with the team."
He introduced the woman to us as Bernice LaBerge. According to the information in the file, Bernice performed at the strip club. Although she wasn't onstage at the moment, she carried herself with a grace, sensuality, and self-assurance that said she'd have a fantastic stage presence. No wonder she'd been able to continue her exotic dance career into her ... what?
As Bernice shook Nick's hand, her gaze roamed over his face and a smile played about her enhanced lips. "My, my. Don't you look like Burt Reynolds from back in the day?"
Nick returned the grin. "I'm a big fan of Smokey and the Bandit."
Bernice took a seat at the table. After Menger gave us some brief background information, she filled the rest of us in.
"I was a showgirl at Caesars Palace years ago," she said. "Long before those conglomerates moved into Las Vegas and built those tacky theme hotels."
If she told me she'd done vaudeville or worked personally with Shakespeare I wouldn't have been surprised.
Her voice took on a wistful tone as she continued. "I loved performing in Vegas. But when I tore my Achilles tendon my dance career was over, at least as far as those types of shows went. I'd grown up in Dallas so I moved back here and auditioned at Guys and Dolls. Back then the place was a dinner theater. I was a triple threat so I landed a role in nearly all of their shows."
My brows scrunched. "A 'triple threat'? What's that?"
"Showbiz term," she explained. "It means I can act, sing, and dance."
I supposed I was a triple threat, too, though in an entirely different way. I couldn't act, sing, or dance my way out of a paper bag, but I could handle a pistol, rifle, or shotgun with equal skill.
"I starred in several plays," Bernice said. "Death of a Salesman. Mary Poppins. I was even featured as Maria in a production of The Sound of Music."
I'd seen the movie at least a dozen times as a girl. At the reference, my mind instantly brought up the scene in which the Von Trapp children performed their puppet show. Great. Now I'd hear yodeling in my head the rest of the day, while still mentally undressing Nick, of course. It made for a really odd imaginary striptease. If I ever actually saw Nick naked, though, I had a feeling I'd emit some high-pitched yodel-like sounds. Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!
With the yodeling now going on in my head, my mental faculties were reduced to eighty-five percent, luckily still enough brain power to keep up with the conversation taking place in the conference room.
Bernice went on to tell us that when dinner theater went out of style, the owners of the establishment tried running burlesque shows. That worked well for a while, but then it became clear the way to eke the most money out of the place would be to perform some simple mathematics — add some poles to the stage and subtract some clothing from the girls.
"I'd danced topless in Vegas," Bernice said, "so stripping wasn't much of a stretch for me. I was their featured dancer for years. Brought in quite the crowds."
She was clearly proud of her career accomplishments. I had been proud of mine, too. Until the damned baseball bat, that is. Getting knocked out by a grandmother had been humiliating. Would I ever get over it?
Bernice steepled her long, pink-tipped fingers. "The three men who owned the place back then took good care of us girls. They paid us a generous base wage, provided health insurance, tossed out any customers who got too handsy. We had quite a few good years."
How many? I wondered. Really, exactly how old was this woman? Forty-seven? Seventy-four?
Excerpted from Death, Taxes, and Hot Pink Leg Warmers by Diane Kelly. Copyright © 2013 Diane Kelly. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
I liked the general plot of this book- going undercover to catch the bad guys, while dealing with the day to day of the usual casework, throw in a hot partner and there ya go. I didn’t know this was a 3rd or 4th book of a series, or I would have been aware of the fact the main character is in the IRS, and talks way too much about taxes and people getting over on the government. I, myself, am not a fan of taxes, so that was a bit distracting to me and decreased my level of enjoyment a bit. Most readers would know about that ahead of time though, and wouldn’t have issues with it. Nick, Tara, and the others are engaging, believable, have a great chemistry, and work well together throughout the book. I did find it a little hard to believe that although Tara is working undercover on one case, she was allowed to testify for a second one and be recorded for news bits in the same town. I get Dallas is big, but strippers and drug runners watch TV too right? Wouldn’t you try to avoid the risk of getting caught and avoid the trial altogether, let your partner handle the face to face? On a side note, I enjoyed the visual of Nick with his 80s mustache, and Tara in her 80s leg warmers. As for heat rating, the buildup of heat and tension between the two leading up to their “special night” was a nice change from the usual romance and made me think how fun it would be to plan a “no nooky” month in my house for a little while, just to see what kind of alternatives we could come up with… Rating: 4 HEAT Rating: Hot Reviewed By: Daysie W. Courtesy of: My Book Addictions and More
I have read all of these books following the Tara Halloway saga. Funny and entertaining.
OH MY GOSH!!! This is the best one yet. Lobo did not fail to impress AT ALL. Nick and the 'stach, oh my. I think I may have had a few hot flashes. Loved Tara's names for everyone at the club, to include Swiss Cheese, BAWAHAHA!!! Don't forget the flying turkey, so not expected. Really loved how the reunion went, so fitting for them. But the heat...I am not saying any more, but holy smokes, it was SMOKING!!! I am so happy!! And it wasn't even me, but a girl can dream right? But the two words were SHOCKING, so I hope I can hold out until October and Green Tea Ice Cream. Thanks Diane for all the humor, danger and loving.
I've read all of the Tara Hollaway series books, and this one was outstanding just like the rest! It's fun to read them in order, so you get the progression of relationships, but if you don't, it's also okay because she does a great job of telling the backstories. Excellent and fun reading!!!
Spreads legs, naked, moaning
I enjoyed the book. I did not give it the fifth star because I felt the trial part seemed to drag out and the testimony was too detailed for me.
Being the best is never an easy road to walk Tara Halloway is loving life and taking the bad guy's names to lock them up and throw away the key. As an IRS Agent, Tara's duty is to figure out the evasion and shut down the offenders, then throwing away the key. Tara's personal life is also looking fabulous with fellow agent Nick now entrenched in every part of her life except the one place she wants him bed. Just a few more weeks and that will pan out as well when their self-imposed moratorium to consummate their relationship is over. Woo hoo baby! The main case Tara is working on now is an odd lot of swindlers and a just creepy drug dealing strip club owner. Tara plans to shut down the strip club with the best course of action having her go undercover in the club acting as their bookkeeper, using her assets to the best of her ability. The only upside to this case is she is working right by Nick, which is great except for the fact it is fueling her desires for him, dang it. The strip club owner is slick, more perceptive than expected, and eluding Tara and the team's continual attempts to figure out what he is up to. The closer they get to connecting the dots the farther away the dots get to being connected. The cases, which were separate in every way, may be coming to a fiery and out of control collision that only Tara could be involved with. No exploding trashcans are involved, but the fireworks will still be going off and probably a few gunshots as well no doubt. Diane Kelly has created a great cast of characters that mesh so expertly to tell each story and entertain the reader, which cannot be easy since it involves the IRS.
I liked this book just like the others I have read of hers. It is set in Texas,and that I am from Texas and have lived here all my life helps. She has great humor.