The Artist’s Muse
By Alyssa Linn Palmer
Oct 13, 2013
Pub: Bold Stroke Books
Broke and desperate after her girlfriend leaves her for a man, Colette finds a job as an artist’s model. When she arrives for an interview, she’s surprised to meet a striking young woman, Lise Beauclerc. Her relief at not having to pose for a man turns to infatuation as she observes Lise during their sessions, creating fantasies in her mind during the hours she poses.
Colette has no idea if Lise would return her affections, and when she finally gets up the courage to ask her out, their connection is more than she’d ever hoped for. However, a few days later, Lise introduces her to Marcel, her former fiancé. They seem intimately involved, and Colette is devastated. Will her dreams of Lise be unrequited?
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to decide to buy this book. The blurb attracted me but the only other book I read from this author also had a triangle that was hard for me to understand and frankly didn’t work out that great. Then there’s the price, it’s almost $5 for 57 pages. That in itself was a huge deterrent. I think that price point for that amount of words is insanely ridiculous. But I justified it in my mind with it being published by Bold Strokes Books, which has a good reputation and who charge more because they’re a niche publisher. I accept that. That’s still a lot of money for such a short book, but… I bought it.
I say all that because in the end I’m glad I didn’t go with my hesitations. This turned out to be a really good story even with some issues. I was left feeling good and that I had read yummy, erotic beginning to a love story.
The blurb pretty much expresses what the story is actually about so I’ll go from there.
Who made this story for me was Lise. Since we don’t get her POV, we have to see her through Colette’s lens and any response through action and dialogue from her. Lise seems to be in her own little world while drawing as Colette poses. She doesn’t act like Colette is any more interesting to her than as a prop and inspiration for her art work. I liked that because it was a nice contrast to Colette’s constant inner sexual fantasy musings about Lise, which seemed to go on and on and got a little boring. The mystery of Lise and her indifferent demeanor was what grabbed my attention.
At first I thought the first person present POV from Collette was not going to be interesting because I didn’t find her to be a character that appealing. As the story progresses though, we do get to see more about what Lise is like from her interactions. Unlike Colette, she has a quiet outer reservedness that belies her passionate and maybe slightly kinky personality. She seems much more mature than Collette in how she acts, but is maybe younger?
This is one thing I kept trying to figure out. Both have graduated college already but Lise mentions that she chose Colette to model because she’s older. However, the vibe around Lise is that she’s the older one. She’s very grounded and self-assured about her work. She also has the money to pay for a model, something I wouldn’t expect of a young, struggling artist. I pictured her at first to be in her 40’s, which as I read on, was not the case.
She also quietly takes the lead in an interesting and fairly erotic way after she accepts an invitation from Colette. It’s something that says a lot about who Lise is, maybe the most telling thing about her and it was nothing she said.
Then there’s Colette. Compared to Lise, she seems to be somewhat immature even though maybe older. She’s instantly smitten by Lise and falls in love with her in like a day. This is something that bothered me about this story. Colette has only posed for Lise maybe 3 times. They spend one night together and Colette talks and acts like they’ve known each other for months and has an expectation of Lise and of a romantic relationship that seemed out of step with the actual amount of time they’ve known each other. It fits her personality as this is how she’s described, that she falls quickly and easily, but for me her attraction was mostly from her own inner fantasies vs any real connection at that point in time.
However, what I did like about her is that she does act on her attraction and gets the guts up to ask Lise out even though Lise has not shown any particular interest and Colette has no idea if she’s into girls. I also liked that she was willing to risk stepping out again after a major heartbreak.
It’s a short novella so there’s not too much depth to this story, however, it was left on a positive note for me. And it was a fairly sensuous story.
The other thing that I enjoyed and which also added to my final positive feeling for the book was the setting. I felt the author really captured the feel of the women living in Paris. At times I wasn’t even sure what time period this is set in. It could be any time since there was no mention of modern technology like cell phones or such. But the women wearing chignons and going to old movies did give it somewhat retro, European feel. Also the world in which they live of artists and theater people also added to the non- contemporary ambiance of this book.
I do kind of wish the That Artist’s Muse was more drawn out and or we could have gotten Lise’s POV as I think it would have added a lot more depth to this story. However, in and of itself it is a good read. I’d recommend it.
Heat level: 2-3- not too racy but not too bland either
Grade: Really liked