Aristide Pompasse is a renowned artist. He paints stunning portraits and collects young mistresses as his muse. It is harder to tell which is greater, his talent or his ego. Pompasse has done many despicable things in his life, few things that he regrets. The only thing he truly regrets, however, is letting his young wife, escape. He regrets it not because of his deep love for her, but because he has never found anyone who can inspire him to create the way she did. Pompasse dies and now Charlie Thomas, his widow, must come home to close his estates and face her own ghosts.
Charlie married Pompasse when she was seventeen to his sixty something. He'd been everything to her. He was her father, protector, someone who needed her. He provided the one thing she craved the most. A home and stability she had never had. Five years later after being immortalized in a series of paintings, Charlie realized Pompasse owned her body and her soul. It was time to leave and try to find the person she was.
Returning is as hard as Charlie thought it would be. Even though Pompasse is dead, he stills controls and manipulates the lives of people around him. Charlie has to contend with the malicious behavior of Gia, the mistress that took her place. Also in the picture is Connor Maguire, a journalist who was once respectable, but now burnt out and working for a tabloid. Maguire is posing as an insurance investigator trying to find the goods to write an expose on Pompasse.
There were several things I liked about this book. Most notably was the relationship between Charlie and Maguire. But, there were several things I did not like. I personally found the character of Pompasse repulsive which is probably the way the author intended. I had trouble dealing with the fact Pompasse; a man in his seventies usually had mistresses around the age of seventeen. The second thing I had trouble with was the fact that Charlie was engaged to man twice her age. I mean you get rid of a controlling manipulative husband three times your age then get engaged to someone twice your age? Yes, I understand the author was trying to show a pattern, but it was still repulsive to me.
I guess my final thoughts are if you want something different, this book definitely fits the bill. Yes, it is intriguing in way. Maguire starts out as slime and become likeable as a leading man, Charlie works through emotional problems and becomes a likeable leading lady. For me, however, I found the thought of Pompasse and his young mistresses repulsive enough that it took away from the book. Read at your own risk.