Monday, February 9, 2015

Wicked Reads Reviews – Art-Crossed Love by Libby Rice

Should they let love be more than a four-letter word?

Lissa Blanc is a painter on a mission. She filters the world through a lens of color, line, and form and hides her ambition behind a delicate smirk that lets her critics believe life comes easy. To her, art isn’t what she sees. It’s what she feels. Few know that behind the glitz of a prodigious upbringing, she’s driven to emerge from a shadow cast by painful memories that insist she’ll never be a renowned talent in her own right.

Cole Rathlen is a photographer on the mend. A crippling grief has stifled his once-rising career and compromised his creative instincts. Knowing he can’t stagnate forever, he seeks a twisted absolution in the form of a woman whose paintings give life to the emotions he won’t let himself imagine, let alone feel.

When the two partner for a prestigious project that will pull them from the mountains of Colorado to the palaces of India, Lissa quickly realizes that more than diverging ideals hinder their search for success and salvation. Was Cole’s life upended by a tragic but unavoidable choice or something more sinister? While Lissa can’t delve into the mystery but not the man, Cole can’t resist a tenacious soul that refuses to leave him chained. As the truth closes in on a project finally sprouting wings, will Lissa sacrifice her chance at success to set Cole free? Or will Cole shrug the chains of lingering regrets to prove that those who love the most, love again.

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Book 2
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Someone made a mistake in teaching you life is easy. Cole’s words had hit like well-aimed arrows, and not of the Cupid variety. At least Lissa knew which camp he fell into. The naysayers tended toward one of two options—push Lissa away or pull Lissa close. The pushers openly mocked her “illegitimate” success. The pullers beguiled her in an effort to see how much of that “luck”—or connections or money or opportunity—could rub off on them.

Cole was a clear pusher, and frankly, she liked those better. At least they were honest.

A hank of hair chose that moment to abandon the clip that couldn’t quite contain her pony tail. Ruler straight despite a healthy dedication to volumizing shampoo, her hair liked to slip from its confines and lay flat against her head in an antagonizing refusal to hold body. She imagined her looks mattered about as much to Cole as couponing did to Donald Trump, but hell, she had nothing to lose and everything to gain. After the disaster in the driveway, she could at least try to make herself presentable.

Her trek to the spare bathroom two rooms down took her past Cole’s bedroom door across the hall. His rumpled bed sat in silence. Nothing personal hinted at the room’s inhabitant. A dresser and two night stands held a clock and a box of tissues between them. No pictures or knickknacks, not even a stray piece of clothing or a random shoe littered Cole’s studied order, dimmed by heavy shades that blocked the rising sun from cheering the space.

Earthy scents of pine and sandalwood filled her nostrils. Despite his obvious efforts to disappear within the emptiness, the room bore his mark. The hard edges and sanded planks had absorbed his essence without permission.

Even her limited view of the room told her much, and temptation threatened. If she saw a little more… Not a chance. Forcing herself to put one foot behind the other, she backed away from his open door as quietly as she’d arrived.

The copper tub in her bathroom resembled a huge gravy boat. The New Yorker in Lissa marveled at the concept. So often her life demanded three-minute showers, never a leisurely soak in a tub that might have been filled by Mammy herself.

A wicker basket held sumptuous washcloths and a bottle of gardenia bubble bath. She tended toward tasty scents—from oranges to candy canes. They spurred her appetite, a good thing for a skinny girl, and always seemed approachable. Today she availed herself of the luxuries on tap. She sank deep into the tub, telling herself one didn’t indulge in low-grade anxiety in these circumstances. Old world tubs and Egyptian-cotton towels required a certain amount of stress amnesia.

She sighed heavily. She and Cole would adapt.

Heat leached into her muscles, and she slumbered against a neck pillow. Eventually the creeping chill of the water brought her around. Stretching languidly, she climbed from the tub, wet and glistening, her hair streaming rivulets of flower-scented water over her shoulders.

After toweling dry and tossing the cloth down a chute she assumed terminated in a basement laundry room, she rummaged through the basket in search of body lotion. Already, the dry Colorado air had her skin feeling like the surface of Mars. When the search came up empty, she looked under the sink and in the mirrored vanity.

Nothing, which was surprising given the well-stocked state of Cole’s home.

He’d either gotten in touch with his feminine side after his wife’s death or someone came by regularly to make sure the place stayed clean and comfortable. From what she’d seen, an aunt probably showed up the day after Uncle Kent delivered the meals to wash the linens and line the waste-paper baskets with scented trash bags.

Opening the laundry chute, she peered into blackness. The last towel was long gone. With a quiet twist, she opened the bathroom door and peered into the hallway. All was clear and quiet, so she snuck a toe out onto the carpeted runner, then another. When that proved successful, she flew out the door and lurched into her quietest ball-of-the-foot giraffe run toward the body creams she’d unpacked in her room.

“This can only be penance for your last painting or bribery for your next one.”

Cole’s rumbling voice took her so off guard she lurched to a stop. There he stood, behind a panting St. Bernard in his doorway. Heat flared in her cheeks. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He cleared his throat. “Nice ass?”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a book which makes you work to reach the ending you want! It all seems so clear, and then there is another stumble. I loved it! The passion of two artists, the drama of their back stories and the inevitable chemistry made this an unstoppable read. I wished it had gone on longer, so hope that there may be another book, even if another character is lead.

I am in awe of Ms. Rice’s ability to sweep me up into the lives of her characters. While I appreciate artistic photography, I have never been a fan of abstract art – I don’t understand it and have never pretended to understand it. However, after reading Art-Crossed Love and Lissa’s explanations regarding her art I now want to take another look to see if I have a better understanding and appreciation of the style. But all that aside, this book was an amazing read.

Lissa is an abstract painter who is trying to make a name for herself. Unfortunately because of who her parents are, no one takes her seriously, especially Cole who has approached her about collaborating on a grant-funded art project. It was apparent from their first meeting that Lissa and Cole working together was going to be fraught with disagreements and Ms. Rice does not disappoint. Cole’s disdain for Lissa’s work is so strong that it boggles the mind that he would seek her out, yet even as Lissa learns the why of it we are still treated to the constant battle of wills between the two. We come to realize that while the cause of Cole’s wounds is obvious to the world, Lissa’s are not but she refuses to let those around her see them and as such refuses to allow them to rule her life. Because of this, she refuses to give into Cole’s demands that would hamper her ability to contribute to the project artistically. I loved that Lissa was willing to fight with Cole and refused to capitulate to his unrealistic demands. I also loved that she was willing to call out those around her regarding Cole – particularly his family. Because Cole guarded his privacy and guilt so strongly, he lashed out as Lissa whenever she would get too close. When their passions boiled over … OH MY GOD was it HOT!!! Freaking heck these two were intense.

As if Cole and Lissa’s personal struggles with inner demons and their professional struggles to work together were not enough, Ms. Rice weaves an additional romantic suspense element into the storyline that made the peripheral characters far more important to the tale than one would anticipate. Cole’s brother Trevor and their Uncle Kent were not only pivotal to his life, they were major keys to the drama that unfolded regarding Cole’s wife’s suicide. I absolutely adored Cole’s brother and uncle and hated that they went through what they did in this story. Despite my suspicions about the incident, when all was finally revealed I still found myself surprised at the way in which events unfolded. While Art-Crossed Love is an excellent addition to the Second Chances series, I should note that there is no crossover with the first book and it can be read without having read Love Me Later. That said, Ms. Rice’s talent is such that I recommend both books. And now the wait begins for the next book in the series.

Also Available in the Second Chances Series
Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca  ~  B&N

For reviews and more info, check out our stop on the Love Me Later Blog Tour.

Before becoming a writer, Libby was first a mechanical engineer in the data acquisition industry (voltmeter anyone?). Preferring writing to technical design, Libby headed to law school and eventually practiced patent law for several enterprising years (patent application covering a voltmeter anyone?). Finally realizing that technology just wasn’t her bag, she traded the voltmeters for alpha heroes and the women who love them.

Today, Libby writes contemporary romances from the foot of the Rocky Mountains, where she lives with her husband, a bona fide rocket scientist (he stuck with the voltmeters!). When not writing, Libby loves good food, even better wine, and traveling the world in search of the next great story.

Libby loves hearing from readers! Join the fun at, where you can sign up for Libby’s new-release e-newsletter, or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Art-Crossed Love (Second Chances #2) by Libby Rice to read and review.

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