Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Clean Romance
Reviewed by Whitney
Book Description: Lia Carswell is good at what she does—even if it isn’t as glamorous as her old life in Manhattan. The popular waitress works hard in a small Salt Lake City diner, with the goal of easing her sister’s financial strain. And with her witty personality and good looks, she’s something of an enigma to the male customers who vie for her attention. Ever the professional, Lia keeps her distance—with one exception. Aidan is a breakfast regular, and Lia’s easy rapport with him draws her attention, though she would never let their relationship get serious—especially since he’s not the only one trying to catch her eye. Her handsome neighbor Griff has been hinting that he wants more than a neighborly relationship.Then her old New York artist life comes knocking, and an offer is made for a series of commissioned paintings. Lia knows it would ensure financial security for her family, but she doesn’t know if she wants that life anymore. When she undertakes one final project, she reawakens her heart and soul. And as she finds herself falling in love and needing an outlet more and more, she realizes her paintings might be her saving grace.
Whitney's thoughts: Lia is an artist whose life fell apart when she and her art hit the big-time in New York City. When the book opens, she’s been living with her sister under a different name in Salt Lake City, tending her niece, working as a waitress at a diner, fending off flirtatious advances from a good-looking construction worker at the diner, and resisting any and all urges to paint. But one spring day, she gives in to the impulse to paint a single daffodil, and all her carefully-built walls start to crack. Cracks develop in her assumptions about herself and the men in her life, as well.
I’ve liked every book by Melanie Jacobson I’ve read so far. In Painting Kisses, she shows her usual deft touch for humor, and for getting characters into hilariously awkward situations. I’m no art expert, but she paints (har!) a realistic-sounding New York art scene, and convincingly conveys an artist’s yearning to express emotion and perception. She sold me on both Lia’s love of painting and the pain of sharing her work with a thoughtless, jaded art community; the love story read as a seamless, natural extension of that conflict. There was a not very compelling second guy, but his storyline reads like a not very convincing stab at making this a love triangle. Overall, though, I loved this book!