He’s not actually submissive. She’s not really a dominatrix. What roles will they play in a game of love?
Max Oberon’s got his big break. The millionaire model-turned-actor has just one problem. His next character’s submissive relationship is a big part of the movie, and Max can’t make it convincing. Only five days with a dominatrix can help him overcome his need for total control.
Ally is a broke blogger, and a story that frightens her to the core could be her chance to get back on her feet. By passing herself off as a dominatrix, she can publish a tell-all article and earn what she needs to stay afloat. But Ally’s abusive ex left her with a self-confidence problem, and she’s completely clueless about anything kinky.
Ally can’t give orders. Max hates taking them. Together, they’ll discover new ways of commanding pleasure, as long as Ally’s lie doesn’t sabotage their chance at love.
How to Master a Millionaire is the first book in a contemporary romance series that features an HEA with no cliffhangers and steamy sex without BDSM. If you like red hot sex scenes, electric chemistry, airtight writing, and laugh-out-loud humor, then you’ll love this fresh new air in the romance genre.
“A Very Sexy, Clever and Fun Twist on Alpha Males!” – Fresh Fiction Review
“Excellent read! Sizzling hot with chemistry between the characters that seeps off the page. Very well written with such an interesting storyline!” – Bette Hansen, Goodreads Reviewer
“Fantastic read!! I adored Max and Ally, their chemistry was off the charts hot! I loved seeing the transformation of both characters throughout the course of the book. You will laugh, cry, and have to fan yourself repeatedly while reading.” – Lala, Amazon Reviewer
“Max Oberon is the ultimate hero for me, a little vulnerable and with a heart of gold. All it takes is for Ally to unlock him to get the hawt times going.” – Love In Small packages, Amazon Reviewer
“Talia Hunter has done it again! I loved How to Master a Millionaire! Definitely a great read that drew me in from the very beginning. The main characters, Max and Ally, were HOT HOT HOT together. It was fun to watch their story unfold. I love that Talia isn’t afraid to go slightly off the beaten path when telling a story.” – Sue Paulsen, Amazon Reviewer
At first Ally thought there was nobody on the other end of the phone. “Hello?” she repeated.
“Ally, it’s Geena.” Her sister’s whisper was almost too soft to hear. “Get down here now, okay?”
“Geena, what is it? Why are you whispering?” Ally saved her half written blog article with a sigh, and leaned back in her chair, waiting for her sister to relate her latest emergency.
Geena had done Ally a huge favor when she let her move in to the tiny room above her store, but since then Ally had helped her deal with a multitude of different disasters. These included locking herself out, getting her cash register drawer stuck with her sleeve jammed inside it, and Ally’s personal favorite, the time she discovered a mouse in her store’s kitchenette. Catching it had taken Ally most of the day, and then Geena had tried to insist she kill it. Instead she bussed to Hyde Park with it scrabbling inside a cardboard box before she let it go.
“You’re looking for stories for your blog?” whispered Geena. “Well hustle your butt. Max Oberon just walked into my store.”
“Max Oberon? The model?” She’d seen his name recently, but Ally couldn’t remember what the story had been about. She opened up Google.
Geena’s voice was so low she had to strain to make it out. “You gotta get an eyeful of what I’m seeing. Trust me, sis. Story or not, you don’t want to miss out.”
Max Ob… That was all she had to type before Google brought up links, including pictures. A full body shot wearing only a pair of black boxers, from his most famous ad campaign popped up. Though she’d seen the picture many times, his rippling abs were so mesmerizing it took a moment to drag her focus down… mmmm. No, a little further down to the snippet of current news underneath.
Australian model Max Oberon has been cast in an upcoming feature film…
“Keep him there.” She hung up and threw the phone on her bed.
Even though the room was tiny, it took her several minutes to find her camera under a heap of discarded clothes. She stuffed it into her shoulder bag, and then had to rummage through the mess again to find a pair of shoes. No time to try to find something clean to wear, and anyway who cared if her T-shirt was decorated with some of last night’s spaghetti sauce? She wasn’t the one who was going to be caught on camera looking at sex toys, but the guy whose nearly naked body was plastered over the side of entire buildings. No doubt he was so into himself he wouldn’t notice if Ally was wearing a clown suit.
She took the rickety stairs two at a time. Why was someone like Max Oberon in The Gee Spot, her sister’s sex store in King’s Cross? Whatever the reason, it was perfect timing. The blog she and her best friend had started was still taking off and she hadn’t been able to draw a salary, let alone pay Geena back the money she owed her.
Geena was struggling under the pressure of supporting them both, and if Ally couldn’t start paying her back soon, her sister might lose her store. Ally was desperate to boost the blog’s readership so they could get the ad dollars coming in. If she could snag exclusive pics of an underwear-model-turned-movie-star buying a butt plug or blow-up doll, it might get enough views to attract a big advertising partnership.
At the bottom of the stairs Ally took a second to straighten her bag and make sure her camera was stashed out of sight but ready, then she eased open the door to the back of the store and sidled in.
Cheesy music played out of the speaker in the corner. The store always smelled nice, like candy. Ally took a deep breath before remembering that Geena said it was the flavored lubes that made it smell so good.
Where was Max Oberon? The shelves were purposely designed to block the view across the store and give customers a sense of privacy while they browsed the vibrators, or selected a strap-on. But when she rounded the corner, she spotted someone at the counter talking to Geena.
Was it him? With his face turned away she couldn’t tell, but his hair seemed the right color. He stood taller than she would have guessed, with wide shoulders. Wow, nice butt, perfectly cradled in dark denim. His jeans fit so well, she’d bet they cost more than her computer. Yeah, that had to be him.
Slipping her hand in her bag, she fumbled for her camera. She’d get a few shots of his back, and then when he turned, she’d capture his look of surprise.
Her camera snagged on something. She tugged it, still scanning for the right spot to shoot from. Maybe she could angle herself to get some blow-up dolls in the shot. Or if she went that way, she could get in the row of huge dildos sticking up like flowers in an X-rated garden.
Geena saw her and raised her voice, blowing Ally’s cover. “Here’s just who you’re looking for. Ally would be perfect!”
The man turned. His light eyes, a contrast against his tanned skin, made his gaze piercing, like they could see right inside her. Whoever had made him hadn’t been shy with the chisel — his cheeks were all sharp edges and perfect angles. He was even more arresting in person than in his photos, and that was really saying something. She’d seen several near accidents caused by the distraction of a new Max Oberon billboard going up next to a busy intersection.
Ally rearranged her expression into a mask that hid any sign of nervousness, but her mouth went dry when he stepped forward and put his hand out.
“Hi Ally. I’m Max.” It didn’t seem fair that he could be that gorgeous and have a voice to match. Deep and low enough to sound intimate.
Ally let her camera go and pulled her hand out of her bag, trying to surreptitiously wipe off the perspiration that was suddenly soaking her palm.
“I want to book an appointment.” He took her small hand into his big, firm one and squeezed it before letting go.
“An appointment?” she managed.
“You’re not available?” He said it in a growl, before glancing at Geena, almost catching Ally’s sister with the back of her hand pressed against her forehead, pretending to swoon behind his back.
Geena snatched her hand away and cleared her throat. “Mr. Oberon here is looking for someone he can work with to help him prepare for a movie role. I thought you’d be perfect.” She winked at Ally, and then nodded with raised eyebrows, silently telling her to play along.
“What kind of role?” This was getting better. If there was a story in this it’d be better than just snapping some photos.
Max opened his mouth, but Geena jumped in before he could say anything. “He needs a dominatrix.”
Living with her ex had taught her to keep her feelings well hidden, but Ally struggled not to let her mask slip. Geena was trying to pass her off to be a dominatrix? Ally only had a vague idea what they did, but she was pretty sure they wouldn’t be seen dead wearing scruffy shorts and a dirty T-shirt. Not to mention that Geena was always snickering about how clueless she was when it came to all that stuff. Even though The Gee Spot was supposed to be a new kind of tasteful, trendy adult store that appealed to both women and men, Ally hadn’t even browsed the shelves.
Max leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. The action made his muscles flex and Ally couldn’t help but take a moment to appreciate them.
“I’ve got a role in a movie called Mastery. It’s the true story of an L.A. police detective called Thomas Barnes. You ever hear of him?”
Ally shook her head.
“He was an undercover policeman in the 50’s, until he fell in love with a woman named Cora Jensen, and from then on she controlled him. I need someone to rehearse with who can play the role of Cora.”
A strong woman who bossed men around? In other words, the opposite of Ally. She nodded, trying not to get distracted by Max’s dizzying good looks. She had to remember everything so she could blog about it. She couldn’t let her attention get absorbed by the way his T-shirt strained across his chest, although she could probably write a few thousand words on that subject alone. Focus, Ally!
“Cora ran a massive heroin distribution business,” Max continued. “Thomas was supposed to infiltrate her operation, but instead of doing his job, he taught her how to cover her tracks so she wouldn’t be arrested. In between pandering to her every whim.”
“The perfect man,” murmured Geena.
“In your opinion,” said Max in a dry tone. “Anyway, are you interested?”
Ally narrowed her eyes. A rich and gorgeous underwear model had to troll through a sex store to find a woman to rehearse with? No way. She folded her arms. “So, what’s the catch?”
He quirked one eyebrow. “The catch?”
“You must know hundreds of women who’d give their right eye to help you. Why go out looking?”
“Because I want a professional.” His tone made it clear he wasn’t used to being questioned. One thing that didn’t come through in his photographs was his confidence. Or was it arrogance? He lounged against the counter like it was his store, like he could snap his fingers and expect them to jump to obey him.
“Why not an actress?” she asked.
“I’ve tried it.” He shook his head. “It didn’t feel real enough. At least, it didn’t help the underlying problem.”
“Which is?” She made the question into a challenge that bordered on rude, but it didn’t seem to put him off. In fact, his lips softened slightly. Maybe he appreciated her directness.
“Thomas liked taking orders. I don’t, and I’m having trouble faking it. I need someone who takes pleasure from being obeyed, like Cora did. I’m hoping if I spend time with a dominatrix, I’ll come to understand why Thomas needed to please her.” He shifted his gorgeous butt against the counter. “Also, I’ll be acting like I’m completely devoted to the woman I hire, willing to perform her every command. I want a professional, so she’ll keep it on a strictly impersonal level. I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings.”
He meant that he didn’t want a woman falling for his act and kidding herself it was real. If any other man had implied something like that he’d sound conceited, but for Max Oberon it seemed a sensible precaution. Sensible, but in her case totally unnecessary. Barry had turned her off relationships for life, so even though Max was hot enough to melt off every pair of panties within a ten-mile radius, Ally’s included, her heart was guarded with barbed wire. And she’d never be deluded enough to imagine the perfectly-groomed Max Oberon could be interested in someone like her.
“Ally’s totally professional,” said Geena. “She’d be perfect for you.”
Yeah, right. Ally was a good journalist, but a professional dominatrix? She hadn’t had a decent haircut in over a year and her fingernails were ragged. There was no way Max would want Ally for the job, but she could write an article around this conversation at least. How I got rejected as Max Oberon’s dominatrix. She had to remember every detail so she could be generous with the descriptions.
While he propositioned me, Max Oberon leaned his gorgeous butt against the counter, his Levis bulging in all the right places. His jaw was sculpted from stone and so undeniably perfect it would make Michelangelo cry.
The article would get an awful lot more clicks than her last post. She could still nab some photos to go with it if she was quick enough to snap them before he covered his face and bolted.
She snaked her hand into her bag and gave her camera another tug. If only she hadn’t just stuffed it in with all her other junk. What about using her phone — or had she left that upstairs by mistake? Oh god, why was she such a hot mess? She could scream at herself.
Max didn’t miss where her hand had gone. His jaw tightened and his voice held a dangerous challenge. “Looking for something?”
Stupid camera wasn’t going to come out anyway. She pulled her hand free and flashed her empty palm. “I wanted a breath mint, but I must have run out. You were saying?” She raised her eyebrows. Her expression dared him to doubt her, even while she was mentally cursing herself. Geena had handed her an incredible story opportunity and she was blowing it. “About the job?”
His sharp blue eyes scanned her again, obviously making a decision about whether to believe her or to walk out. She lifted her chin to meet his silent challenge. The one thing she could thank Barry for was her ability to put on a confident face. She might feel like a seething mass of insecurity on the inside, but she wouldn’t let him see it.
Max seemed to like that she didn’t shrink away from his gaze. He didn’t walk out. Instead he said, “I want the woman I hire to commit to five days and nights with me, living together at a secret location. I’m offering ten thousand dollars.”
“Ten grand?” Her mouth dropped before she could stop it. Ten grand would be enough to pay back Geena and save the business her sister had worked so hard for. Ten grand might even provide a little extra so Geena could…
Wait a minute, what was she thinking? Nobody would pay that much money unless they were expecting specialist services. Sexual services. Ally wasn’t a hooker and she wasn’t about to sell herself, not for any amount. Not even to the gorgeous Max Oberon. And she wasn’t sure she’d be up to this job anyway. Five months after escaping from Barry, she was still rebuilding her self-esteem and trying to recover her lost confidence. She wasn’t ready to give anybody orders, let alone a man who gave off a potent mix of testosterone and power.
But think of the story she could write if she got the job. The Diary of Max Oberon’s Secret Dominatrix. No, it wouldn’t be one story, but a whole series. One article for each day she spent with him, with all the juicy details. She’d wait to start publishing them until after the five days were up so she wouldn’t blow her cover. Holy crap. The series could propel Liaison into the stratosphere.
Ally glanced at Geena. Her sister was wide-eyed, her face showing the same shock that Ally felt. Geena glanced at the shelf under the cash register where she kept her unpaid bills. She couldn’t hide her feelings like Ally, and her expression of desperate hope sent a stabbing pain through Ally’s heart.
When Ally had asked, Geena had sent her the money to come home and cleared out the store’s upstairs stock room, filling her own tiny apartment with boxes, so Ally had somewhere to live. Ally was supposed to get a job to pay her back, but after eleven disheartening and unsuccessful job interviews, she’d decided to follow her dream and start her own blog instead. She’d had no idea it would take so long and cost so much to set up, and she’d dug herself into a serious financial hole. Geena had saved her by lending her the money she’d put aside to pay her suppliers. Now those suppliers were getting serious about recovering their debts, and Geena needed that money back fast. She’d already received some threatening letters on lawyer’s stationery, and Ally was terrified she could be the cause of her sister losing her shop.
Ally was no dominatrix, that was for sure. But could she do it for her sister?
# # #
Max watched Ally consider the money he was offering, and hoped she’d be interested in trying out for the job. The Gee Spot wasn’t like any other adult store he’d seen, and the quirky logo and tasteful window display — red velvet draped behind mannequins dressed in beautiful lingerie — had drawn him inside.
Before this, he’d visited a dungeon where the dominatrix had greeted him in a voice deeper than Max’s. She’d worn a thick collar that could have hidden an Adam’s apple and held a wince-inducing torture device in one very large hand. When Max had refused a demonstration of how it worked, she’d tottered after him on her mile-high shiny stilettos trying for the length of half a block to change his mind.
In comparison, The Gee Spot looked downright friendly, and so did the two women in front of him. In spite of her untidy clothes, Abby was by far the most appealing dominatrix he’d found so far. Her hair cascaded over her shoulders in a messy blonde tumble and her nose had an upturned tip that made her look too cute to be a dominatrix. But even the casual way she dressed couldn’t disguise her Marilyn Monroe figure, curvy enough to turn cute into sexy.
Casual dress? He looked more closely and saw the reddish splatter wasn’t actually part of the T-shirt design. Max suppressed a smile, imagining how horrified Walter would be. Walter was a legend in the movie business and Max was lucky to have him for his manager, but Walter had been around a long time. In his day starlets were always dressed up in long frocks and had elaborate hairdos.
The actresses Max worked with usually wore thick makeup, with microskirts and plunging necklines that left nothing to the imagination. They hadn’t figured out that hinting at something was far sexier than putting it out on show. Take Ally’s T-shirt for example. The way the faded cotton clung to her breasts then draped over her waist made up for any amount of stains.
Geena was unusual too, with pink spiky hair and a fitted red dress that clashed. She had a nice smile, and was pretty enough, but she didn’t draw his gaze like Ally did.
“How long have you been a dominatrix?” he asked Ally.
Although she only came up to his shoulder, something about the way she stood made her seem tall — or maybe it was the tilt of her head while she eyed him? Max had gotten used to women acting starstruck around him, wanting his autograph and a selfie. Sometimes they went a little crazy, pressing against him or offering him their breasts to sign. Ally was the opposite. She had her arms crossed and a wary look in her cool gray eyes. There was an adorable hint of freckles across her upturned nose, but he hadn’t seen her smile yet. He got the feeling that a smile from her was something he’d have to earn. He didn’t mind that. He’d found the things that didn’t come easy were worth a lot more.
“Do you specialize in anything?” he asked.
She glanced at Geena. “No, I pretty much do everything, you know, equally.”
Max frowned. Did she offer something really kinky she didn’t want to admit to — was that why she’d evaded the question?
“She’s being too modest.” Geena tapped her long, painted nails on the store counter. “She has some regular, very dedicated slaves. Totally devoted, they are. It’s Mistress Ally this, and Mistress Ally that. They can’t do enough for her.”
Ally shrugged one shoulder in a gesture that could be a confirmation. Although she was nothing like the other sex workers he’d interviewed, she had a calm authority to her, like she had nothing to prove to anyone. If she could project that kind of confidence in denim shorts and a dirty T-shirt, he could only imagine what she’d be like in one of the shiny skintight outfits the other dominatrices had worn. He wasn’t usually a fan of vinyl or latex, but he took a moment to imagine her dressed up, with her full lips stained dark red. Yeah, maybe she could change his mind about not finding shiny black outfits sexy.
“Thomas Barnes wasn’t a slave and Cora didn’t whip him or anything.” Max wanted to make that clear right off the bat. Bad enough having to let someone boss him around, he wasn’t about to give anyone permission to spank him.
“But Thomas was submissive?” asked Geena.
“You could call him that.” Max gritted his teeth. It meant that until shooting finished, he’d have to be submissive too, and the knowledge made him itch all over. He hadn’t gotten to where he was in his career by taking orders, and he didn’t understand why Thomas had let Cora walk all over him. Which was the problem. To play Thomas convincingly, he needed to get inside his head.
Max had always dreamed of being an actor, but even after graduating at the top of his acting class he’d known it would be tough — if not impossible — to stand out in a crowd of thousands of wannabes. He’d gone into modeling to build his brand, clawing his way to what he really wanted, one photo shoot at a time. He’d worked damn hard to make himself the absolute best at what he did, and it had all finally paid off with this big break. So what if it was a minor studio with a small budget? His leading role in Mastery was his chance to prove what he could do. All he had to do now was to nail the part.
“So, what exactly would it mean if I took the job? What would you expect from me, on a day to day basis?” For the first time he caught an undercurrent of uncertainty in Ally’s voice. Bad sign. Cora Jensen had been a hurricane who’d enjoyed bending men to her will, and he needed someone with the same strength.
He’d been leaning against the store counter, but now he stood, ready to leave. Ally might be beautiful, but he didn’t have time to waste. Shooting started in a week, so if she wasn’t up to the job he needed to keep looking. “Forget it. If you’re not sure, I’ll find someone else.”
“Who said I wasn’t sure?” Ally tossed her tangled hair back from her face and her chin jutted forward. “I just asked for details. You have a problem with that?”
He blinked, impressed. Was that a steel backbone he’d glimpsed? Her gray eyes had darkened when she challenged him. Would they lighten if she smiled? They were the kind of eyes any actress would kill for, eyes so expressive there seemed to be a thousand stories swirling inside their depths.
Perhaps he’d been too quick to dismiss her. He felt in his pocket for one of his business cards. “Why don’t you come to my room at The Royale tonight? We can talk about it some more, and it’ll give us both a chance to see if we want to take it any further.”
She took the card and gave him a curt nod. “Seven o’clock.” He didn’t miss the fact that it wasn’t a question.
“Seven o’clock,” he agreed, turning to leave. He was already running through his options of where to go next. If only he hadn’t had to do that photo shoot in Italy, he would have had longer to find the right woman for the job. With only a week before filming started, he was running dangerously low on time.
Max shot one last glance back at Ally on his way out of the store. She was almost hidden behind the rows of sex toys, but he glimpsed her talking to Geena. He liked the way her golden hair tumbled over her shoulders, and the assertive tilt of her head, but her good looks were only a bonus, not essential for what he needed.
Through his childhood Max had been far more independent than most, until he’d been dumped in a foster home filled with bullies—both the other kids and the staff—and for the next three years every waking moment had been dictated by someone else. The experience had given Max a deep aversion to being told what to do, and he’d sworn he’d never let anyone control him again.
Now he had to find a woman who could do just that. Could Ally possibly be the one?