From the 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.
The last place Fallon Frost wants to be is Nova Scotia. And the absolute last thing she wants to be doing is giving in to her perverted business opponent’s disturbing blackmail plan . . . but that’s just where Fallon finds herself. Sitting in the dusty studio of sculptor genius Max Emery, posing naked for three months while he renders a marble nude of her for a whopping $700, 000 blackmail fee. Joy.
‘The Reluctant Nude’ is a stand-alone contemporary erotica novel from new writer on the block, Meg Maguire . . . and with this book I think I have found a new must-read author!
This is a beautifully sensual, character-driven erotic novel. There are extenuating circumstances as to how Fallon and Max find themselves sharing an art studio for three months . . . These outside forces are somewhat outlandish and bizarre, but they’re not the driving force of this novel. What the book is really about is Max and Fallon – two polar opposites who have to share a very intimate experience together. The unique brilliance of this erotica novel lies in the exchanges between these two, between the lines and in the matters of the heart.
Max has been a child prodigy since the age of twelve. He is, to some extent, the typical artist –blunt, brazen and laissez-faire. He is French-born and dripping in easy sensuality and masculinity. But because he has been infamous since childhood Max is somewhat burned out by fame. He lives in Nova Scotia and shies away from the spotlight – considered an infamous hermit; he is no longer interested in parties or one-night-stands. Max just wants to dedicate himself to his art, and if a hefty (if suspicious) benefactor wants to fund his work for the sake of one commission, then so be it.
Fallon Frost lives up to her name; she is emotionally closed-off and stubbornly shielded. Her job as a marine-life conservationist demands that she be combative and mulish. Coupled with a less-than-idyllic childhood, Fallon has met her polar opposite in the carefree and ethereal Max Emery. Fallon is on the back-foot from the get-go with Max, when a perverted business rival insists on commissioning a nude of her to settle an ongoing land dispute.
I loved the premise of ‘The Reluctant Nude’. Maguire has come up with such an ingenious set-up; pairing two of the most unlikely individuals up in the most awkward of circumstances. Max; the light-hearted and passionate artist, and Fallon; his cold-hearted and unwilling model.
It’s quite unusual in the erotica genre to down-play the plot and concentrate on dialogue and character exchanges. In the case of ‘The Reluctant Nude’, there’s really no explosive trigger that catapults the storyline. Most of the book takes place in Max’s studio, where it’s just him and Fallon as she models and he sculpts. The brilliance lies in the interplay between these two, the ups and downs, pitfalls and triumphs of their burgeoning friendship and eventual romantic relationship.
She addressed his back. “Don’t act like you pity me.”“You read so much into the spaces between words.”“My sex life is none of your business, anyway.”He turned to face her again, catching her eyes in that inescapable pull. “Right now, and for the next ten weeks, your body and its history are the centre of my universe. Everything.” He gestured, fingertips to his chest then waving out to encompass the studio. “It is all in your orbit. And you – your body – you’re as cold as the stone I'm using to render it.”Fallon bit back a hundred retorts as a flash of heat and anger coursed through her pulse points. She took a deep breath, and slapped him.Only a slight flare of his nostrils and a colouring where her palm struck evidenced Max’s surprise. He didn’t speak for several breaths.He licked his lips and cracked a tiny smile. “Better.”
Meg Maguire has nuanced and finessed these characters so that their dialogues and exchanges are works of art unto themselves – tiny fragments of truths and explorations, as each conversation peels back the layers and lets them know one another more intimately. And pulsing beneath the surface of their talks is magnetism and heat, as Max and Fallon fall more and more towards an unlikely romance . . .
‘The Reluctant Nude’ is a wonderfully thoughtful and sensuous erotica novel. Maguire has such a gorgeous cadence to her writing, and her character-driven focus is wonderfully refreshing. All the talking and dialogue run-arounds between Max and Fallon keep things tense and heated, and the focus on their clashing personalities is unusual for a genre that normally concentrates wholly on the physical;
She seemed to consider her defeatist body position. “I'm not sad.”“This pose begs to differ,” he said, feeling energized. “You wear malaise like a silk gown.”
‘The Reluctant Nude’ is a character-driven erotica novel. It’s inventive, exploratory and slow-burningly sensual. Meg Maguire is a star on the rise in the erotic genre, and I will definitely be reading more of her work.