The Reluctant Nude by Meg Maguire
April 5, 2011
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “I’m going to chip away and uncover your secrets,” he whispered.
Blurb: Fallon Frost’s late foster mother had done so much to heal the wounds of her damaged childhood. So when a lecherous developer plans to bulldoze her old home to make room for a strip mall, the practical, ordered life Fallon has built for herself is threatened.
Then he makes a twisted proposal. He’ll leave the land alone if she poses nude for a sculpture that’ll end up in his collection. Seeing no other choice, she heads for Nova Scotia—only to find something totally unexpected. A sexy, hot-blooded, infuriating sculptor.
Guarded, sexually detached Fallon is a challenge Max Emery can’t wait to tackle. Yet with each tap of his chisel, he uncovers a woman who rekindles a dream he thought lost. Home, family…love. And the closer he gets to her core, the harder it becomes to accept that he’s carving her naked body for another man’s eyes.
As progress on the sculpture almost grinds to a halt, their fragile fantasy world collapses under the weight of reality. Threatening Fallon’s one chance to save her foster mother’s land…and any chance she and Max have to find love.
I wish I could pull the emotions I went through while reading this book out of my brain and implant them into all of yours so I don’t need to think of words to describe this reading experience. I happened to see Penny tweet awhile ago that she read The Reluctant Nude and thought it was fabulous. When I started to investigate the book, I realized Meg Maguire also writes under the name, Cara McKenna. I’ve read Willing Victim by Cara McKenna and was super impressed (although these two books are quite different.)
I found myself on such an intimate level with this book. I literally was pulled into these characters. I was there in the studio as Max worked. I was there in the ocean front town as the two of them fell in love. I can’t say exactly why this happened – the writing style of Meg Maguire, and the depth of her characters perfectly fit in this story. I just know that on the last page, I was not only physically a mess (pass me a tissue!) but this book will stick with me for a very long time.
Fallon is out of her element and she is very uncomfortable. In essence, she is being extorted by a very sleazy man. If she gets a nude marble sculpture of herself done by the world renown M.L. Emery, or Max, he will let her keep the land (that he currently owns) that once belonged to her foster mother. Having no other family, this land is very important to Fallon. So she uproots herself from the east coast of the US to Nova Scotia to go through with posing for this sculpture.
Max is not what she expects. He was a prodigy at 12 years old, and now at 33, he is done with the spotlight. He is now obsessed with sculpting those with severe physical disabilities, always searching for what is within the person. He decides to take this job because the money he will receive for it will allow him freedom to pursue his passion for quite awhile. So they each come into this arrangement not one hundred percent happy about it.
“She is more than just shy,” he said to the cat. “She wants this just a fraction more than she hates the idea of it.”
Fallon is very uncomfortable at first to bear herself to him. Not just taking off her clothes, but even a casual touch sends her into a shaky panic. Max has lived a very full life, and has tried to put the crazy drugs and wild lifestyle behind him these past few years. But his attraction to Fallon wakes him up and makes him want to take a chance again. Max is French and very blunt and this makes Fallon extremely uncomfortable and confused. Her lack of trust frustrates him, but it also intrigues him.
“You have extraordinary eyes,” Max announced suddenly, and Fallon couldn’t help but raise them to meet his.
“What would you call that color?”
“Cerulean,” he corrected. “Not the blue. One coat of green cerulean over white stoneware.”
“You’ve lost me. Is this pottery?”
“Your eyes “ Max continued, “are the color of a two-inch-thick pane of tempered glass.”
Fallon couldn’t decide if this was poetry or evidence of some vague mental affliction.
From here, these two start to learn each other and trust each other. And eventually, after a beautiful build-up, they start to love each other. It’s Fallon coming to terms with her sexuality, and Max coming to terms with fame and his life. Their romance takes goes on such a sensual journey. Both of them waking up to where their physical needs now meet with the person they love perfectly.
“But you said you ‘waited so long’ for me. What, like a few weeks? I don’t understand. That’s nothing compared to all that time.”
“I have waited years for you. It took eight years for someone to come along and make me need to be this way again. It took thirty-three to find someone who made it mean something.”
And even though I knew this would have a happily ever after, towards the end I was a mess. I was so invested in Fallon and Max. The epilogue is beautifully done and a perfect ending to this book.
The Reluctant Nude is a gorgeous book that is pure romance. I really can’t recommend this one enough.