Maggie Finds Her Muse
When her partner of four years tells author Maggie Bliss her work – which pays the bills- is insignificant and demands she drops what she’s doing and whip up a meal for his guests, she decides it’s time to make some changes in her life. She kicks him out of her house and calls her agent Lee to advise him that she’s been lying and doesn’t have a single word written on the final book in her popular trilogy. Not one scene has been blocked out in the novel which – if she manages to get it in on time -will be optioned for television and move Maggie’s career to the big leagues. She’s desperate for inspiration and fortunately, Lee has just the solution. Join him and his partner Martin on their annual trip to Paris. They will eat, they will shop, and Maggie will find her muse and save both their careers.
And he’s not wrong. The luxurious apartment, supportive friends and mouthwatering food reinvigorate her soul. Better yet, the chance to reconnect with her daughter Nic, who has been living in France for the past year, soothes whatever angst Maggie had been feeling from the recent breakup. When, a few days after arriving, Lee and Martin go to visit their vineyard and leave Maggie on her own in Paris, she awakens with renewed vigor, a vague plotline in her mind and – a strange man in the bathtub. It turns out Max, another friend of the couple, is in Paris for a conference and was offered the opportunity to stay there as well.
The handsome, charming, debonair Max becomes Maggie’s new guide through Paris, taking her to various salons and shops for a complete makeover and showing her all the best places to eat in a city blessed with the best food in the world. Max proves to be the catalyst she needs to move beyond her writer’s block, and Maggie finds herself writing morning and night, completely motivated by the beauty and wonder of the City of Lights and all the delicious possibilities it offers.
Then her ex-husband Alan arrives to visit their daughter, is completely impressed with Maggie’s makeover and Maggie realizes she has a decision to make. Does she want to make a move on Max and let him know she’s ready to grow their friendship into something more? Or does she want to make her daughter happy by going back to the comfortable if bland relationship she had with her ex-decades ago?
This lighthearted novel has some really great things going for it. First, the portrayal of Maggie’s trip to Paris is fantastic. The author does a terrific job of balancing touristy descriptions of the area with capturing the heart of its grace, beauty and charm through its people and culture – this is easily one of the best romance novel armchair adventures I have ever been on. Also, I loved that Maggie, Max and Alan are all past forty; it was so refreshing to read a novel about older protagonists who act their ages. Their behavior reflected the greater patience, quieter demeanors and more leisurely pacing of life after the kids have moved out. It’s nice that Maggie really thinks through what her next move should be romance wise – she carefully considers how she feels about each man and what life with them would mean. And I liked that there are no villains here – both men are awesome in their unique ways and when turned down, the loser is as gracious in his loss as one could hope for. Most of the time in a love triangle I will root for one potential pairing over the other, but this time I found myself accepting of whichever match up occurred, I liked both men that much. Alan, a former professor, is kind and steady and smart and sweet. Max, a hot shot banker, is also kind and steady and smart. He’s a bit more sophisticated and elegant than Alan but at their core, both are thoughtful, reflective people who know how to react maturely in every situation.
Maggie is mostly like that as well. She’s a bit more impetuous than either hero and tends to base a lot of her responses on feelings rather than logic, but she’s still kind, retrospective and clever. At least for the first three quarters of the book.
This is where we come to the couple of quibbles that kept Maggie Finds Her Muse from DIK status. In the last quarter of the narrative the author decides she needs a climatic event and comes up with one that makes Maggie look both immature and selfish. The whole scenario knocked the grade down because it’s both unnecessary and shows a woman using her daughter and love interest in a rather callous manner.
Less of a problem but still irksome to me was how quickly Maggie hooked up with a new guy. She’s kicked out her live-in partner of four years at the start of the novel and within a month is involved in a love triangle. I received the sense that she couldn’t stand to be on her own and always needed a man in her life, and that’s a trait I tend to find a bit off-putting.
While not without flaws, I would still recommend Maggie Finds Her Muse to those who enjoy low key rom-coms and to anyone looking for older heroes who are to die for. It’s a quick, easy, fun read and the gloriously well captured Parisian setting makes the foibles easy to forgive.