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Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

The Reluctant Nude - Meg  Maguire This book is a romance novel with a very different feel. If it were a film, it would be an Indie or art house flick. It really 'reads' like one of those small, indie flicks that allow the characters to take time to think and react and have long silences. It allows a slow, seductive build of a relationship and of the characters themselves.

Continuing with my film analogy, it is a two-character study in several acts with only a few additional walk-on characters. This story belongs solely and exclusively to Fallon and Max.

I have to talk about Max, though. For me he is the heart of this story and an incredibly provocative character. He is a French ex-pat living in Canada. An ex-enfant terrible art prodigy, famous in art circles, and he even was a New York Times crossword clue.

What makes him so interesting (and for this I give the author major kudos) is that he felt very much alive and living in the body of the character the author created for him. From his effortless style, to his tattoos, to his cooking and wine and lapses into French, to his artistic tantrums...he just felt so darned real. At one point, Fallon muses that she wants to hold a mirror under the nose of one of Max's sculptures, so alive did it look. I felt the same way about Max. It got so bad that while I was reading Max's part in my head, I was doing it with a french accent. LOL.

He was also sweet and sweetly funny at the same time. At one point he takes Fallon to the movies because he finds out she likes musicals:

"How accurately would you say An American in Paris reflects the typical artists' lifestyle?" Fallon asked studiously as she squeezed water from her sweatshirt.

"Quite accurate. When you're not here I am forever dancing about with Parisian school children."

Fallon, otoh, gets a tiny bit lost amidst Max's brilliance. But to be fair, the book is told mostly from her POV so we are seeing Max through her eyes and getting her reactions to him. She is a really repressed, shut down character. She is the second romance novel heroine this week that I read about who grew up in foster homes (Kat in [b:Bone Deep|10426498|Bone Deep (Harlequin Superromance)|Janice Kay Johnson|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hudRUpUpL._SL75_.jpg|15330878] being the other) where the author used that to create a somewhat closed person.

But Fallon gets to blossom under Max. She is wary and somewhat antagonistic at first but max has an holistic artistic process that absorbs her. She just doesn't model for him, they talk and share history and eat together and ...well...they get nude. She because that is the reason she is there to have a nude statue made of herself, he because he is just very comfortable in his skin.

They slowly, inexorably draw closer. Their attraction and lust for each other becomes a palpable thing. Here I think the author excelled in drawing out the tension and letting it build and build. There was nothing overtly erotic about the story, but it is nonetheless very sexy and very romantic. But still in a quiet, indie-art house kinda way.

The conflict between the two comes because of the sculpture. Fallon is an unwilling model and is having the sculpture done to preserve a piece of her past but it is at a big cost to her personally. Max is falling in love and the reader is very clear about that. He can't finish the piece because that means their interlude will be over. This part of the book worked really well because by now the reader should really get Max and so his reactions here make total and utter sense. Fallon's does as well, but again ...sorry to say...Max's characterization just overwhelms hers a bit, imo.

But in the end this is a romance and it ends the way romances do. The epilogue was lovely and I felt really good that Max got what he wanted.

Really good book. Highly recommend.