The Muse is the third book in the Irresistible series, it's the second book that I've read in the series. The book is a standalone, you don't need to read any of the others to read this one and reading this one will not spoil anything in the prior books. Anna Calhoun is an extremely talented writer. Her gift for providing vivid imagery and complex characters is outstanding. My issue with this book was that I felt overwhelmed by the author's literary prowess but distinctly underwhelmed by the romance.
The Muse is about Arden and Seth. Arden's back story is really interesting. When we meet Arden, her family is caught up in a Madoffish ponzi scandal where her father and brother played the Madoff role. Arden's father and brother are in prison, Arden has lost all of the privileges of being a part of the very very upper crust segment of Manhattan society and she is struggling to figure out how to salvage her life and her family's name. Seth, our hero, is a Afghanistan war vet who lost good friends in the war and returned home to become a bike messenger and nude model (long story). Seth has kind of put his life on pause and basically spends his days dodging traffic. He's seen horrific things and has not been able to fully recover from his trauma.
Seth and Arden meet when Seth becomes the model for Arden's drawing class. From there, Arden hires him to be her private model and from there, much more.(not for pay though, not the 'much more' part). Arden and Seth start a really erotic affair where they both lose themselves and separate from the trauma that has become their daily lives. That part of the book was good. I totally believed the emergence of the relationship as Arden and Seth got to know one another. They were from different sides of the track but their connection made sense when the layers were peeled back and you could see that both of them suffered from an inability to connect to the world around them.
The reason this book wasn't higher on my ratings scale is because there was just so much description of everything. There were tons of pages dedicated to sketching that included every detail from light to shading to even what the texture of the sketch book looked like. Sometimes when I was reading this book, I honestly felt like I was in a art class. And then there is all the description of Seth and his relationship with the brother of one of his fellow soldiers who died in the war. There are lots of scenes that are just about how Seth is helping him and the other people connected to the soldiers who died to cope with life now. That is good and touching but it was too much and it began to take away from the romance aspect of the story. There is also a lot of information about Arden's family and legal issues. Again, kind of fascinating stuff but it overwhelmed the connection between Arden and Seth.
I cannot stress enough how well written this book is. It's just that too much of the writing breaks off into sub-plots that I didn't care enough about to be interested.
**ARC provided by Publisher**