The Muse Kindle Edition
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The advance copy I read of this book is one of my favorite kinds of reads – angsty but uplifting, and humorous and steamy. Smack dab in the middle of building sexual tension, Halloran inserts wry, laugh-out-loud quips to completely engage all of the reader’s faculties. Then she really ups her game, making the scene smokin’ hot and snort-your-drink hysterical! In her masterful style, Halloran juxtaposes the humorous and heartfelt perfectly, by turns eliciting light-hearted laughter and heart-tugging angst in the reader. From Iris and her friend giggling “like delinquents in a church pew” who find it impossible to stop their inappropriate laughter to Iris telling how James handles her physical scars: “Every imperfect part of me was made perfect.” “He worshipped them all.” LM Halloran’s writing is a delightful treat for the heart, mind and soul, and one that should be savored and luxuriated in over and over.
As I was getting to know James Beckett, I realized that the author would have her work cut out for her in order to redeem the sun of a gun. (No, I didn’t think “gun,” but it’s an Amazon review.) But darned if she wasn’t able to, in a brilliantly beautiful way, at that! Who wouldn’t love a guy who gives his girl her first kiss in the rain? Is there anything more romantic? Or says about his love, “I’m hers with every fiber of my being, every molecule of my earthly flesh, and every fleck of stardust in my immortal soul.” See? Spectacularly redeemed! Sigh.
But then James wasn’t the only one who needed redeeming. Iris is more broken than even she realizes, and as bright and intelligent as she is, there’s a deep wound scabbed over that needs to be excised and healed before these two can ultimately share their fated love. Issues from her relationship with her famous poet father and earlier devastating personal traumas she suffered all influence her relationship with James until she purposefully sorts through them. And her redemption is equally breathtaking, as she takes her hurts and pain from her past and crafts them into a more wise, understanding woman and a voice of awareness and healing for other victims.
The Muse will take you on a ride like no other, one of devastating, heartbreaking lows and giddy, euphoric highs. If you want sweet, easy, fun and entertaining, this isn’t it. This is no hearts and flowers romance, but raw, painful, complex and heart rending, which only makes the poignant, touching and poetic romance that trickles through the story until the brilliant final resolution that much more satisfying and beautiful. And it’s a beauty so exquisite that it makes me wonder if it has somehow managed to transcend any other beauty in my natural life. The author describes poems by Iris’ father about her mother as “darkly arresting, gut-wrenching, achingly sweet” and “unquestionably masterful.” This, dear reader, is The Muse. It will creep into your psyche, imprison your heart and brand your soul. It is unequivocally a book you don’t want to miss, should move to the top of your TBR list, and will want to return to again and again! ❤
When the synopsis mentioned the words “physical scars and victim” I knew this was going to be an emotionally challenging story but these simple words couldn’t go far enough to express the pain and suffering experienced by Iris during her short life to date. Despite her past, Iris is pushing on towards a positive future as her dreams of becoming as successful a writer as her father start to be realised.
Iris is estranged from her father for reasons which become clear in the story but she still lives in the shadow of his success, especially when she starts working for Professor James Beckett. Assigned to him as a graduate TA, Iris knows from their first introduction to each other that her life is going to become complicated but little does she know how much.
Beck or Beckett, as he wants to be known, has a brilliant mind, swoon worthy good looks and is frustratingly egotistical. A womaniser of the highest calibre, Beck is known to leave a trail of broken hearts but satisfied souls behind him. Now fixated on Iris, he is determined to make her life a misery both in and out of the classroom.
As Iris and James’ story progresses their lives become unexpectedly intertwined as Iris’ past finally unlocks its many secrets. They find happiness together only to lose themselves again, and again. Iris’ path to happiness is dogged by shocking revelations and her future is once again uncertain as her past tries its hardest to break her once again.
This story is more than a second chance romance, it’s the romance equivalent of scaling Everest. Whilst it is clear that Iris and James are destined to be together, their love is not without its own pain, trials and tribulations. This story is definitely one that will rock your world. Whilst not part of the Breaking Giants story, reference to the band and Rose’s cafe does play a small cameo part, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
This story progresses at both an unhurried but hectic pace as Iris’ life takes two steps forward and one step back as she tries to find both herself and a future that she can cherish without the demons and ghosts which have been her constant companions to date. Iris’ character is emotionally battered but yet she still portrays an inner strength which you can’t help but admire. Despite being one of the most frustrating men that you will ever read about, James is also perfect, both for readers and Iris alike.
If you like books that work hard for their HEAs then you will love LM Halloran’s writing style but be prepared to have your heart ripped out before being tenderly put back together again.
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