Thursday, March 31, 2011

ARC Review of The Reluctant Nude by Meg Maguire

The Reluctant Nude by Meg Maguire

I have been seduced by a most alluring book.

It didn't seduce with flash or bling.

It had no pissing werewolves. No shapeshifting Orca whales. No explosions in outer space.

It had bread and cheese and coffee and wine. Alluring characters who were prickly and real and layered and lovely, seductive in a most charming and subtle way. It had a hero who was French, and sexy, but also quirky and odd and delicious. It had a heroine who was impatient and short-tempered and insecure and vulnerable. Their love developed slowly, as the artist chips away at his model's stony exterior, as she finally opens herself up to be loved. Slowly, seductively, wonderfully real.

I actually felt as though I were falling in love as I read this book. That has never happened to me before. I wasn't merely reading about these characters. I was falling in love just as they were--anxious, uncertain, joyful and happy.

There are not many authors who can capture the simple moments. Mary Balogh can. She can take a simple gesture, a moment, a scene, and transform it into something incredibly powerful, emotional and lovely. Which is why her books are so very romantic and satisfying.

Meg Maguire has this magic, too. She has the uncanny ability to transport the reader into her literary world, seduce us with her story, and make us feel the power of a loving connection. She takes simple moments and imbues them with incredible romantic intensity.

Her hero, Max, is extraordinary. One of the best heroes I've seen in romance. He is not your typical character. He is slightly odd but so charming and endearing, I fell hopelessly in love with him. Her heroine, Fallon, is less appealing. She is a prickly hedgehog. But the way Max coaxes her into opening up for him--in every way--is so wonderful, you are cheering for their happy ending. And worried about what will, or will not transpire, at the end of this book.

The plot is not really important here. It's the characters and their blossoming love that make this story sing. The storyline gets somewhat ridiculous at the end of the book, and unneccessary in my opinion. Max's heroic nature doesn't need to be revealed by any grand gesture. It's revealed in the smallest detail, in the way he loves Fallon.

I am just amazed by Maguire's talent, and by the lusciousness of this story. The ending is superb. I cried with the beauty and balance and perfection of it.

Although I have professed my dislike of contemporary romance repeatedly, I think this author might be swaying me over to the dark side. Her books are addictive, seductive, and powerful. I just can't get enough!

I fell in love with this book. It's going on my Top 10 Favorites List. And Max is definitely going on my Favorite Hero List.

Grade: A+

P.S. This book will be released on April 5!

Blissfully happy and jonesing for a French coffee,