Azalea has to convince Alex, the sexy detective from her past, to help her prove Vivian's innocence and comb through clues more twisted than a spiral perm. But the truth is stranger than anything found on the Las Vegas Strip and proving Vivian's innocence turns out to be more difficult than transforming a brunette into a blond.
|Publisher:||Story Siren Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.71(d)|
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Dyed and Gone
An Azalea March Mystery
By Beth Yarnall, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Beth Yarnall
All rights reserved.
It was like being drop-kicked into a Lady Gaga video.
Although I'd never actually seen a Lady Gaga video, I was pretty sure the k-k-k-ker-ay-zee I was currently witnessing would measure up.
Techno music pulsed from oversize speakers, competing with the fevered, carnival-barker voice hawking the latest, state-of-the-art revolution in hairstyling. A string of models, looking like refugees from the forest scene in the Wizard of Oz, shuffled onto the stage, wearing formfitting bark dresses, their hair wired and twisted to resemble bare tree branches. Lights flashed on the main stage, slicing across the gender-neutral forms posed modern-dance style, their hair geometric origami, symbolizing the effect of time and space on society.
Or some such ridiculousness.
I was in Las Vegas with my best friends, Vivian Moreno and Juan Carlos, to attend the North American Salon Trade Expo, or NAST-E, as Juan Carlos called it. As hairstylists, this event was our Cannes Film Festival. If the festival were held at the overblown Las Vegas convention center and the movies were hairstyling presentations so ludicrous it was like New York Fashion Week had thrown up, then rolled around in the notions department of a craft store.
Juan Carlos and Viv had talked me into coming all the way from Southern California to Vegas, practically twisting my arm the whole way here. They'd insisted that the free casino booze, stroke-inducing lights, and ching-ching-ching of the slots were the perfect antidote for what ailed me.
I'd been dangling at the end of a string of very poor romantic choices and losing my grip fast when Vivian had burst into my apartment the day before yesterday. She'd yanked the TV cable right out of the wall, ending my three-day, tear-inducing Hallmark channel marathon.
"Please tell me you haven't bid on any more of those horrible flower dresses," she'd said, hands on hips. This wasn't the first time she'd rescued me from floral disaster.
My guilty gaze flew to the laptop on the coffee table in front of me propped up by a stack of bridal magazines, my finger hovering over the return key. "Ah, no?" Not yet, anyway.
"Azalea!" She rushed over to where I sat on the couch and looked at the screen. "Oh, for God's sake. That's the ugliest one yet." She closed the computer, sat down next to me, and pulled my Buy Now hand into hers. "You can't bury your feelings in sappy movies and vintage Laura Ashley dresses. You're getting out of here. Now. Pack a bag."
How did she always seem to know when I was at my lowest? This particular low had been courtesy of a toohot-to-be-legal cop who'd done the old I'll-call-you thing and then didn't. The jerk.
Juan Carlos had skidded to a stop in the entryway. He'd leaned on the doorjamb, one hand over his heart, huffing and puffing as though he'd run a marathon instead of up my three front steps. "Please tell me we got here in time to stop Laura Ingles Wilder from adding to her Little House on the Depressed Prairie collection."
"Just," Vivian replied. "You're coming with us," she told me. "You've already booked out the time at the salon for the trip, so no rescheduling appointments. Think of this trip as a cleansing."
True. I had marked the time off my busy schedule. All three of us had, which was a feat in itself, as our salon was the busiest in the summer. Still, I wasn't sure I could bring my mood up enough to actually enjoy myself.
"Exactly," Juan Carlos chimed in. "Out with the no good, rotten, no-calling-back bastard and in with free drinks, questionable bets, and mile-high buffet plates."
I thought of the dress I'd been seconds away from buying, with its lace collar, flounced skirt, and two-inch-thick shoulder pads, and I knew they were right. I was at the lowest of lows. Plus, I was pretty sure I already owned that dress in blue.
"Fine," I said, confident with the knowledge that the dress was on my watch list, so if this trip didn't work out, it could still be mine.
So there we were, standing at the back of an audience filled with hairstylists from all over North America and parts of Europe, all watching as Dhane, the sexy signature artist for the hip new Scandinavian hair-product company, Hjálmar, prowled the hair show's main stage. He'd become famous enough in our world to garner a single moniker like Prince or Madonna, and seeing him in person, I could understand why.
Gripping Viv's and Juan Carlos's hands, I tried to suppress the excitement rising up the back of my throat. They'd been right. This was exactly what I needed. We had four whole days ahead of us with nothing to do except immerse ourselves in the latest hair-styling trends and products. For the first time in weeks, I was actually looking forward to something.
"So, when I weave my client's hair, the foils represent the spiritual labyrinth of man's quest to fit into the social mores created by society's inability to intellectualize a person's individual creativity, thereby transferring their reality onto me, the artist. Correct?" Juan Carlos asked with a face straighter than a preelection politician promising lower taxes.
"Uh-huh," Vivian answered absently, standing on tiptoes, trying to see over the crowd, her focus fixed on the black-clad man strutting back and forth across the stage.
Decked out in her usual black and white with a red flower pinned in her hair, Vivian looked like a Mexican Betty Boop, all petite curves and what-of-it? attitude. I could never match her attitude, but I had almost as many curves as her. Even though she was a few inches shorter than me and a few shades tanner, we were often mistaken for sisters, which I thought was more due to our closeness than our resemblance. Other than both of us having dark hair, we looked nothing alike. Even though I could only hope for cheekbones like hers, I consoled myself with the fact that my lips were fuller.
"And if I buy their DVD with the bonus, one of a kind, life-altering weaving combs, I'll be taking back my power as an artist. Is that right?" Juan Carlos inquired further.
I clapped a hand over my mouth, trapping the laughter. This was going to be the best weekend ever.
"Yes. Yes." Viv waved him quiet. Putting a finger to her deep red lips, she emphasized her point. "Ssh!"
"I see." Juan Carlos stroked his clean-shaven chin as if giving this philosophy great thought. He was trying a new look, very Mad Men, with his dark, shiny hair parted and combed to the side and a vintage, man-about-home cardigan sweater with a collared shirt and slim-fit slacks.
The crowd of hairstylists around us watched, enthralled, as more tree people sprang up from the stage like, well, trees, and Dhane, now on bended knee, wound up his pitch to convert every stylist in the room to the Hjálmar, eco-friendly way of doing hair.
"Oh, Mother Earth, forgive us." Lightning cracked on the screen behind him. The expected thunder shook the floor, making my feet tingle, my exhilaration rising to a new level. "We've killed your trees, your plants, your animals." Images of dead animal carcasses as big as Volkswagens appeared on the screen behind Dhane. "We've desecrated your oceans and streams." Now they showed sea creatures, birds, fish, and other aquatic wildlife, dead or covered in oil. "Please, forgive us." His laser-blue eyes bore down on the crowd from the three Jumbotrons high above the stage, clearly gearing up for the big finale. "We've studied. We've learned. We give you ... Hjálmar!"
The stage plunged into darkness, the only light coming from the giant H of the Hjálmar logo intertwined with healthy, living plants and wildlife on all four screens. The crowd surged to its feet, the applause, whistles, and shouts loud enough to drop fowl from the air. The house lights came up. I guessed there wouldn't be an encore. Not that he needed one.
An announcement came over the loud speakers, a sexy female voice with a Swedish accent. "Thank you for sharing the Hjálmar vision. Dhane will be presenting the Stylist of the Year Award at the North American Styling Awards sponsored by Hjálmar."
The North American Styling Awards, or NASA, was the most prestigious beauty competition in North America and was considered the hair-styling equivalent of winning an Oscar. As last year's winner, Dhane would naturally present the award to this year's top stylist.
We made our way, herdlike, out onto the main floor of the convention center. Row upon row of manufacturer booths gridded the room, each one promoting the most high-tech, necessary styling tools, products, and equipment a salon or hairstylist would ever want.
Juan Carlos was the first to break our stunned silence. "Holy TV evangelist! I've got the strongest urge to repent. I feel like I've been to church. I'll bet I'm healed. Oh my God! I can't feel my bunions anymore, and my shoes fit better." He examined his hands as we walked. "Ah, darn, I still have that nick on my middle finger from when I was cutting my client Courtney's hair, and she jumped up to chase after her sleazo boyfriend who walked past the salon with another girl." He showed me his cut finger.
"Bummer. Did she catch him?"
"She did." He rubbed the cut. "It was worth it. I got a new client out of it."
"The other girl had the nastiest hair, so I took pity on her and booked her the following week."
I gave him a look and shook my head.
"I want to check out the Hjálmar booth. Come on." Vivian grabbed my sleeve. I grabbed Juan Carlos's sleeve, creating a chain. Vivian towed us toward the center of the grid, where the big names in hair-care products like Paul Mitchell, Wella, and Sebastian had booths.
The Hjálmar booth was at the center, a choice spot, and was set up like a cosmetics counter in a department store. It was oval in shape and about as long as a double-car garage. The guys and gals behind the counter pranced and posed with the put-out pouts of Abercrombie and Fitch models.
Huge posters hung above the racks of product in the center, featuring more emaciated, disenfranchised youths leaping through meadows, holding various Hjálmar products, their clothing fluttering in the breeze. But these posters were nothing compared to the much larger ones of Hjálmar's star stylist, Dhane. His vivid blue eyes stared down at us from on high as if surveying his kingdom. His gaze was mesmerizing. Looking too long at him made me kind of dizzy.
"Is it me, or do the center of his eyes spin like a pinwheel?" I asked.
"Azalea," Juan Carlos whispered, hitting me in the arm to get my attention, repeatedly, annoyingly.
"What?" I barked, turning to see what he was so wound up about.
Juan Carlos's attention was fixed on the figure headed our way, parting the crowd like Moses.
Dhane strode purposefully as a captain would to the helm of his ship. He was flanked by suits who I assumed were Hjálmar executives, his pale shoulder-length hair rippling behind him. Seeing him up close was nothing like seeing him onstage or in a picture. I'd thought he was attractive. I was wrong.
He was stunning. Beautiful. But it was the careful, fragile beauty of a delicate orchid, easily marred or crushed.
Juan Carlos made a sound like a balloon losing air. I knew the feeling. If I'd been capable of more than staring gawk-eyed and gape-mouthed, I might've thrown myself at Dhane's feet.
Dhane spotted us and made a slight change of direction, heading our way. Juan Carlos hit my arm again, like I hadn't been watching every move Dhane made. Vivian shifted her stance, putting out a hip, and patted her hair. What in the what? I glanced back and forth between Vivian and Dhane, my brows bunching tighter together with every step he took. Did they know each other?
Dhane reached us and my first thought was that he was taller than I'd imagined he'd be. My next thought was thoroughly naughty and completely unrepeatable.
He grasped Vivian's hands, kissing both in turn. "My Vivian." His accent was much more pronounced in person, sounding vaguely European and kind of forced, as though he'd practiced to get it just right. "I'd know you anywhere."
"It's been a long time." Vivian smiled, batting her eyelashes at him.
My brows bounced up and I stared in openmouthed astonishment. Vivian did know Dhane. From where? When? How? And why in the hell didn't I know about this?
"And yet you look the same. How is this possible?"
Vivian giggled. Giggled! Viv didn't do smitten teenager. Not even when she had been a teenager. Um, hello! Somebody was forgetting all about her boyfriend of three years back home.
Juan Carlos nudged me out of the way, hinting at an introduction. But it was as if Dhane and Vivian were alone in the room, their gazes so entwined not even Juan Carlos's throat clearing and posturing could break their bond. It took a sharp nudge in the shoulder from Juan Carlos for Viv to return to us.
"Oh, sorry. Dhane, I'd like you to meet my friends. This is Juan Carlos. He's a stylist at my salon and a dear friend."
Dhane kept ahold of Vivian's hand while extending his other to shake Juan Carlos's. "Pleasure to meet you."
"Mine, too," Juan Carlos purred.
"And this is Azalea, my best friend and business partner."
Dhane turned his brilliant blues on me. Were it not for the hand he'd clasped, I'd have swooned like a lovesick boy-band fan. "Azalea, so nice to meet you at last."
At last? I looked a question at Vivian. Boy did my best friend have a lot of explaining to do.
"How long are you in town?" Vivian recaptured Dhane's attention, leaving Juan Carlos and me to exchange looks of confusion and conjecture.
"I am to stay for the awards and then return to Europe for another event." They were in the vortex again, just the two of them. "Will you meet me later?"
Dhane smiled, and I could have sworn a choir of angels sang. "We have much to discuss, no?"
One of the executives tugged Dhane's sleeve. "She's waiting. We have to go."
Dhane cast him an annoyed look mixed with something else — fear, maybe?
"A moment," he told them, then turned back to Vivian. "I am looking forward to spending time with you." They exchanged cell phone numbers and a lingering good-bye.
Vivian, Juan Carlos, and I stood shoulder to shoulder, watching Dhane leave. The crowd that had gathered made room for his departure, surreptitiously casting furtive glances at him in that way you do with celebrities when you recognize them but don't want to pester them. A few gave Vivian curious looks, no doubt wondering if she was someone they should recognize. A few others didn't bother to hide their jealousy before they turned their backs and followed Dhane.
I shoved Vivian's shoulder. "Why did I not know that you knew Dhane?"
Juan Carlos joined in. "I cannot believe it! I should shun you. This is unforgivable ... but I might consider forgiveness if you tell all. And I do mean all."
Vivian spun away, leaving us to scramble after her.
"Come on, Viv. How'd you meet him? How long have you known him?" I would have continued peppering her with questions, but she stopped me with a, "Ssh" and a, "Not here."
Juan Carlos and I followed her out into a hallway and down a corridor to a small, out of the way windowed alcove with a view of the famous Las Vegas strip.
"Okay, you can't repeat what I'm about to tell you, got it?" She seemed nervous, casting furtive glances around as though she were about to give up state secrets or something.
Juan Carlos and I bobbed our heads. In that moment, we would have traded our finely honed, ridiculously expensive hair-cutting shears to hear what she had to say.
"All right." She cast a wary eye around us, making sure she wouldn't be overheard. "I met Dhane when I was sixteen during the summer I went to stay with my aunt Tita in Wichita."
So just before Vivian and I had met in beauty school. I felt a little pang of jealousy at the thought that Dhane had known her longer than I did.
"She'd just had twins and my mom sent me to help her, since all of our family is in California." Vivian paused. "I really shouldn't be telling you this. I promised."
"We won't tell. We swear." I glanced at Juan Carlos to get his agreement.
"Absolutely," Juan Carlos agreed. "Even if you dipped me in hot oil and pulled my fingernails out one by one. Or did that water-torture thing with the drips on the forehead, my lips would stay sealed. Cross my heart, hope to die —"
Excerpted from Dyed and Gone by Beth Yarnall, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2014 Beth Yarnall. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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 give this book 4 stars. It started off a little slow, and I was originally a little lost in the hairstylist lingo, but I'm glad I hung in there, because it was a cute book. Azalea runs around sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong, trying to find out who murdered the infamous Dhane. Though she's trying hard to forget about Alex, his charms and mere presence make that difficult to do. Juan Carlos was hilarious and was absolutely my favorite character in the book. I would love to have a friend like him. I hope he will return in future books in this series. Dhane's sister was also quite quirky and the way she talked just made me laugh out loud. I didn't guess who was the murderer and was surprised by the reveal. This book is a cozy mystery and true to the genre--no graphic violence, no explicit sex scenes and no/little strong language. That's not to say that it's boring. Quite the opposite. There are murders, some romance, fun characters, humor, and definitely mystery. If you are a cozy fan, you will surely enjoy the book as I did. If you are looking for a fun, fast read this summer, check this one out.
I'm a huge Beth Yarnall fan. Her books are consistently good, witty, and the absurdity is downright hysterical. Dyed and Gone was another delight. I can't praise it enough. But I'll try. Azalea March is an interesting character; flawed and endearing, with a personality that wins over and frustrates those around her. Lucky for us, she's a girl who can't leave well enough alone. There's charm, mystery, laughs, romance, and of course, death and dying here. Oh boy. This is one story you're going to want to get your hands on as soon as you can.
4 STARS Azalea and friends make for a fun cast of characters. Even the suspects are a range of characters that keep you guessing about who might be guilty or not. Lots of drama, action and romance among the hairstylist convention in Las Vegas. It is also a clean cozy mystery. Azalea March is a salon owner that is depressed over romance that is over before it really started. Her two friends get her to go with them to the convention. Azalea is a very curious person. She gets a invitation and room key to come up to Dhane's hotel room after only meeting him that morning. Vivian is her partner and friend. She turns out that she knows the famous Dhane and lies to her friend how she met him. She is found in Dhane hotel room. She turns up confessing to the murder. Her boyfriend is James back home. Juan Carlos is the other friend and hairstylist that goes to Las Vegas with Azalea, & Vivian. He is single too. Juan gets into a fight with Richard who used to work with them. They are fighting a lot. Alex is a detective and the boyfriend that Azalea was being depressed over. He comes with James to help prove Vivian's innocent. I like Alex and Azalea they keep each other guessing about their relationship. Azalea does not believe her friend is a murder and she is determined to find out who is the killer. Azalea turns up everywhere and gets on Detective Kennedy's radar as a suspect. There is a lot of humor, lots of suspects. Azalea gets into a lot of trouble. I really like the makeover she did on one of policeman. I would like to see more of Azalea and her friends in future books. I was given this ebook to read and asked to give honest review of it.
Reviewed by Kim for Read Your Writes Book Reviews Dyed and Gone by Beth Yarnall is a hilarious read. Told in first person, it chronicles a Vegas weekend of hairstylist Azalea March and her two best friends, Vivian and Juan Carlos. What was supposed to be a weekend of fun, networking, and attending a hair conference turns into a weekend of investigating the murder of one of the biggest names in hair care, when Vivian is accused of the crime. Yarnall writes a story that the reader is actually able to visualize. Her descriptions are over the top, but I can actually see them happening; such as people dressed up as anime characters and models dressed up as trees with sky high hair. I enjoyed reading the book but I felt that the character development of Azalea wasn’t really complete. She’s a little quirky and has her hang-ups, but I wasn’t really sure why. Also her relationship with Alex wasn’t really what I thought it was. I was surprised that they didn’t really know anything about each other although they had went out in the past. I had a hard time getting into the book in the beginning. In a timeframe when some people would have given up, I kept reading because of curiosity and the fact that Juan Carlos is the King of one liners. It was worth it. The book became entertaining and a real page turner, with me trying to figure out what was going on, whodunit, and why. Azalea has a heart of gold and her desire to investigate comes from a good place. Unfortunately, she asks too many questions and becomes a target for the police and the murderer. I’m looking forward to seeing what Yarnall has planned next for Azalea and her "ragtag band of hairstylists turned detectives". Source: Publisher
Holy drama Batman!!! I love books with a bit of a mystery to them. This was like an intense version of Clue or a Murder Mystery Dinner!!! I literally had no idea who was the bad guy until the bitter end and that almost NEVER happens. So for that alone, I have to commend Beth because, girl, you had me fooled!! So here is what I loved about this book, besides the obvious mystery element. I liked Azalea. She was a total hothead but a fierce friend and she was totally kick ass. She just kind of did whatever she wanted, didn't really listen to reason and did everything she could to solve the mystery and avenge the people who had been done wrong by these unfortunate events. I really liked that about her. There were two men constantly telling her to keep her nose of out of things and she was just like- no. I LOVED the gay besties. You know I always do. But they were hilarious and totally over the top and ridiculous and I loved everything about them. I also really loved the little details. Beth was obviously either a hairdresser in a former life or spend some serious time researching hairshows because she knew a lot about how they worked and I thought that was a great touch. The book did have some issues for me but they weren't things that would make me say I didn't like the book. My major issues was that there might have been too much going on. There were times where I thought the plot was almost too complicated and started to get overwhelmed by the characters. But, I did end up totally getting what was going on and enjoying it so it might not be as confusing for others. I also was sometimes confused about her relationship with Alex. I wish we had gotten a bit more of their back story because their present day relationship seemed a little out of nowhere for how fast it moved. I also worried that the police detective working the case was going to be a love interest so I spent a lot of time being really nervous about that. But there is no cheating and he turns out to be just a really overly concerned but sort of a jerk detective. Overall, I liked this book a lot. If you like mysteries, I would definitely check this one out. It's a good one and it will keep you guessing until the very end!!
Fun, flirty mystery...not to be missed! I loved this book! Any book that makes me laugh out loud with a fun ensemble of characters is a keeper on my shelf. A great mystery, hilarious characters and Alex the cop...yum! Can't wait to read more of zany Azalea's and Juan Carlos' hijinks and mysteries...and yeah, more taking it to the next level with Alex! Well-written, laugh-out loud funny, with a superbly drawn cast of characters made this cozy mystery one of my favorite reads of the year!
This was a much better mystery than I expected from the cover! I was never sure what would happen next or what the conclusion to the mystery would be. I liked it and look forward to reading more of Ms. Yarnall's books.