I read Meg Maguire’s Caught on Camera and liked it enough to want to read more of hers; but it definitely did not prepare me for The Reluctant Nude which turned out to be another one of those books that show what the Romance genre is capable of, and has become one of my favourite contemporary Romance novels.
The novel does kind of sneak up on its reader – while you are still wondering what it is that could have moved the obviously unwilling Fallon to pose in the nude for sculptor Max, their relationship to each other changes from dislike to affection, and then catches you totally by surprise when it blossoms into love. You blink, rub your eyes, consider what you’ve read and accord that yes, it does all make sense, and now in retrospect there was a gradual deepening of their feelings that segued naturally into romance. And while you happily follow the development of Fallon’s and Max’ relationship, so engrossed that you completely forget about the mystery surrounding her reasons for modelling, it suddenly rises up again and steps you in the back, throwing everything into disarray until it finally comes all together again in a glorious Happily Ever After ending.
The Reluctant Nude is not only beautifully written but also very well crafted; it an extremely clever novel without that ever getting in the way of its emotional impact. As Fallon and Max open up towards each other and layer after protective layer is peeled away, we gradually experience how wounded and vulnerable they both are and it is very touching to watch them to slowly come to trust and love each other – in that sense, not only Fallon but Max, too, is a reluctant nude as they both shed all of their coverings and disguises to finally bare their souls to their beloved. This is both a deeply moving and very intelligent novel, something which is rare in any genre.