PAINTED PASSION by Tamara Hunter
Genre: Erotic Romantic Suspense
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Trella Arnold’s upcoming art show is her primary focus until she uncovers information which causes her to question circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. She contacts his former partner in spite of the danger he poses to her peace of mind.
Carlos Diaz owns a successful investigation firm, having left the Phoenix Police Department after the murder of his best friend. Carlos’ life is uncomplicated—at least until he receives Trella’s phone call. Despite his misgivings at seeing the only woman who ever made him dream of settling down, he agrees to help.
Trella’s probing for answers lands them both in a sticky situation. Carlos moves in to protect her, but he can’t fight his attraction. Soon he’s in her bed and she’s in his heart.
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TWO EXCERPTS (PLEASE DELETE ONE)
“Grief does strange things to people, Francois.”
“True. The reason the landscapes don’t work isn’t because they aren’t good. Your emotions seeped through, but I can sense you feel you have to show what people have come to associate with you.” He tugged her to him then folded her in his arms. He tilted her chin, forcing her to look up at him. “The young woman who first waltzed into my gallery was eager to take on the world. Bring her back. Paint with abandonment. One doesn’t control a fire. It either flares into bright flames or is extinguished.”
Didn’t he understand she wanted to have her old mojo return? Trella eased from his embrace, wrapping her arms around her middle. “Nothing I’ve tried works,” she whispered.
He sighed. “You’re trying too hard. Art needs space to create.”
“The loss of Louis—”
“He died. Yes, it is sad. But you didn’t die. No one blames you for living.”
Francois shooed her from the room, back into his office, before locking the door behind him and returning the key to his pocket. He picked up her sketchbook from his desk, flipping the pages one at a time before closing it with an audible snap. He didn’t say anything, and she glanced at him.
He held a hand over his heart. “Your key pieces,” he whispered. “Why are you hiding these?”
She froze in sudden shock. She’d forgotten to remove the drawings of Carlos.
“Look.” He flipped to a page. He held it up for her perusal. “The longing, the wanting. I feel it from the sketch. This is it!”
She bit her bottom lip as she studied the rendering of Carlos, naked and proud. If Francois recognized the latent desire she possessed for her husband’s former partner, would anyone else?
“Why the gloomy face?”
She sighed. “I’d rather not use any of the drawings.”
He tapped the page. “These must make the show.”
He couldn’t be serious. If, by some miracle, Carlos did agree to be used as a model, could she withstand the pressure of people dissecting what they’d believe to be the intimate nature of their relationship? “I can’t. I never used a painting of Louis.”
“It’s no one’s business why you never used your husband as a subject. I figured you didn’t want to display your marriage to the world’s perusal.”
She nodded. Everyone assumed that, including Louis. In her soul, she knew her paintings of her husband wouldn’t be on par with her other work.
“Francois, this man…I can’t.”
He perched on his desk. “I’ve been where you are, Trella. Art does not lie. There is no subterfuge. You cannot pretend what doesn’t exist.”
But could she pretend what existed, didn’t?
Tamara Hunter fell in love with romances at an early age and always had a book in hand. Her love of reading continues today and she enjoys romantic fiction from historicals to contemporaries to paranormals.
Everyone needs love and there’s nothing more satisfying for Tamara than exploring relationships between characters—particularly when said relationships include hard-to-resist, sexy men who will do anything for the woman they desire.
When she’s not creating tales of her own, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking and traveling.
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