Finding herself completely naked on the patio of her very hunky neighbor - the very same neighbor she has long fantasized about and the very same patio he is currently standing on - is probably the worst thing Bryce could imagine happening!
Finding his beautiful yet skittish neighbor unexpectedly nude on his patio is a fantasy come true for artist Diaz. He's been trying to get her attention ever since he moved in next door to her and has yet to make any progress. He's not quite sure why she is on his patio sans clothes, but he's not one to miss an opportunity and soon persuades her to let him paint her portrait...
Bryce can't understand why Diaz insists on painting her - she knows her ample figure doesn't exactly fit in with the image of the LA dream girl - but the deal she made with an annoyingly persistent Muse prohibits her from refusing Diaz anything!
I have read several books by Ann Vremont now, and enjoyed them, but this is by far my favorite! In Reluctant Muse, the author brings us a wonderful contemporary romance with which most women can identify, and then mingles a little ancient mythology with it to give it a little more `oomph'.
I can list numerous elements of the story that appealed to me: the heroine's body type is that of the everyday woman, the inclusion of some mythological characters (I happen to love ancient mythology), the leading lady's struggle to overcome her negative self-image, and the hero's insistence that she see herself through his eyes. Of course, without great writing, none of that matters, and this story definitely has great writing!
Bryce doesn't see herself as beautiful or desirable. Living in LA doesn't exactly foster a positive self-image when you constantly compare yourself to the stick-thin models that abound in and around Hollywood. How many of us eye our own figures with just such a critical eye after flipping through the latest fashion magazine? No way can Bryce believe that a man as intimidating handsome as Diaz could ever be interested in her - no matter that he has spoken to her at every opportunity, tried to draw her into conversation. She simply believes him to be a kind man who is being nice to her. Of course, that doesn't prevent him from starring in every one of her fantasies!
Vremont's hero, Diaz, is wonderfully patient, even as he is frustrated that Bryce refuses to see herself as he sees her. There couldn't be a more perfect match for the wary heroine than him. He knows when she needs space and patience, and he also sees just when she needs him to push her limits.
The mythological elements in the form of two Muses who propel the romance to its natural conclusion add humor and whimsy to the story and provide some very entertaining scenes with Bryce!