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Gargoyle shifter and rock guitarist Dante seeks solitude at the Chateau to work on his music. When a shy young painter asks to paint him, temptation grows. She's too difficult to resist.
But she would never understand his secret. If it gets out, it would ruin his career.
And destroy so much more...
Voted Book of the Month for January at Long and Short Reviews!
“Gina and Dante had chemistry galore! ... It’s a fast-paced tale and their relationship goes from sweet to very hot quickly! Dark Muse is not just a romantic tale. In addition to Gina’s and Dante’s love story, the island, itself, is not without danger.” ~ Reading Between the Wines
- Gargoyle shifter
- Shy heroine
- Age gap
It takes time before Gina warms up to people and her shyness is often misunderstood. She hasn’t had to worry about meeting new people at a remote art colony until a new resident arrives—a rock guitarist more suited for a billboard. Her carefree days of painting at the medieval-styled castle on a remote New England island are shattered when she stumbles right into his welcome gathering.
After a falling out with his band, Dante wants nothing more at Les Beaux Arts on DeRoche Island than solitude to work on new songs. When a shy young painter asks to paint him at sunset, he’s tempted by the opportunity to be alone with her.
Someone at the colony claims to know what Dante is and asks for his help. Dante fears his plans are coming undone, especially as grows more drawn to Gina. Her scent and vulnerability are too difficult to resist. But he must stay away from her—she would never understand his secret.
5* Review of Dark Muse from Books and Beyond Fifty Shades! – “While it is a story about struggle, it is also about love; and doing whatever needs to be done to be with the one you are attracted to. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Gina and Dante. This story has the perfect amount of witty banter, sex, and romance.”
Long and Short Reviews – “A wonderful continuation of the Chateau Seduction Series. Involves the previous characters, but definitely a stand alone book as well. I love the new (to me) aspect of the paranormal. I often find hot sex scenes are put in merely to enhance the scene, but in these books the romance and sex intertwine and fit perfectly into the story.”
“Oh, blast!” Gina’s courier bag caught on the oversized doorknob leading into one of the community rooms, yanking her back toward the hall. Her belongings emptied onto the floor, pens and paint supplies rolling across it. She didn’t dare glance up to see everyone staring at her. “Sorry, sorry,” she mumbled and kept her gaze cast down as she took the nearest seat.
She hated being the center of attention, and she’d just captured everyone’s focus through her clumsiness.
“Are you okay?” asked Cameron, the manager of the art colony on DeRoche Island. He handed her a pen that had rolled his way.
“I’m fine.” She shook her head, wishing to divert the focus. Not only was she late, but she created a scene with her dramatic entry. She barely took notice of what Cameron said as she fumbled stuffing her belongings into her bag. Tonight, the residents had gathered to welcome a newcomer, and she not only showed her difficulty with time management, but also her lack of grace.
“We have a new guest at the Chateau,” Cameron said. “Dante is a musician. Some of you may know him from the Stiff Lips, but he plans to work on some solo projects.”
Gina glanced up to see where Cameron gestured past a row of familiar residents. Holy hell. What was someone who looked like him doing at an art colony on a remote New England island? He appeared more suited for a Times Square billboard advertising bad boys.
His light brown hair fell past his stubbly chin, but didn’t reach his shoulder. Long enough to show a rebellious streak, but not so much that he’d fit in with the hair band era. He wore faded jeans torn at the knees and an untucked black button-down shirt leaving the top two buttons undone. Tattoos galore crept out from under the rolled-up sleeves, a black leather and silver band on each wrist.
When he turned to face her, he didn’t express any annoyance at her lateness. In fact, his deep chestnut eyes appraised her in a notably different way. One that sent a slow burn beginning deep within her, ending with a schoolgirl blush.
Still reeling from his gaze, she glanced up and caught him continuing to study her with an inquisitive glint. Chaos erupted through her body.
Cameron continued. “Dante will be with us for six weeks. Yes, he’s a well-known rock guitarist, but please offer him the same privacy and respect you grant each other to work on your art.”
Holy mother of doom.
A rock star. That fit the clothing style and band name. If this band was so famous, why didn’t she know it?
Because you live under a rock.
True. She had been known to be hermit-like when consumed by a painting, but that didn’t mean she didn’t listen to music.
“Welcome, Dante. I’m Kelly,” said Gina’s friend, who also played guitar. Gina glanced her way to see if Kelly was swooning the way she was.
Nope, Kelly appeared her cool, calm self. Probably just a fellow musician to her. Gina wanted to shake her shoulder and say Hello? Did you not see how hot he is?
After the other residents of the colony greeted Dante, Gina realized she was the only one who hadn’t extended a welcome. Good one, not only did she show up late, but she had to add aloofness on top of it. Talk about being rude.
“Welcome to Les Beaux Arts at the Chateau DeRoche, Dante,” she said with an exaggerated French accent as she bowed forward in her chair. His name rolling off her tongue sounded delicious, and she repeated it in her head twice more. But why did she have to cover her discomfort with mock pretension? Ugh, she could be such an ass sometimes. Especially when it came to social situations. With extremely good looking rock guitarists. Well, that last part was new, but it didn’t help her awkwardness.
Dante stared at her for a prolonged moment. He hated her already; he had to with her ridiculous greeting. Her heart pounded while she waited for a reaction. Then one corner of his mouth twitched and spread into a smile.
“Thank you for the welcome.” His eyes passed over everyone in the common room before returning to Gina. “I’m looking forward to my time at the Chateau.”
“Just call it the castle,” Tim interrupted. “We all do.”
Dante turned to listen, and Gina wanted to throw something at Tim for interrupting. She wanted to hear every word Dante had to say.
But that’s all he said. Others dominated the conversation while he watched in silence. Gina peered at him when she thought no one was looking. Not only was he devastating in the looks department, he had a relaxed manner about him. Although he didn’t say much, he exuded a confidence that attracted her. It was something an awkward artist like herself would never have—that elusive factor of being comfortable in his own skin.
He glanced her way and caught her staring at him. She turned away, cheeks flushing. Damn, she’d been looking a little too much for a little too long.
She should say something, start a conversation; maybe come up with a semi-coherent reason for why she had been scoping him out as intently as a scientist peering through a microscope.
But she couldn’t think of one damn thing. So, she kept her eyes averted for the rest of the welcome, nursing a glass of wine, before she could escape to the safety of her room.
* * *
Stop looking at her.
Dante fought to keep his eyes off the dark-haired woman who’d stumbled into the room with a bang. He did not come to the art colony to meet women, but with her entrance, he couldn’t help but notice her and when he did, how damn attractive she was. Her embarrassment showed a vulnerable side that spoke to him immediately, that human trait that often touched his kind.
Her scent carried over to him, an intoxicating female fragrance with a hint of flowers that made all his senses flare and his body respond. Distracting him from all else. Tormenting him.
In an odd way, being drawn to her removed some of the uneasiness that had permeated his mood throughout the day. Got him out of his own thoughts for a few moments at least. The stranger in a new land aura had surrounded him since he’d arrived on the island earlier, especially when he’d reached the castle and stared up at the imposing edifice. It was to be his home for several weeks and he didn’t know what to make of it. Sure, he’d seen castles before and had been in many big, fancy digs, but now he’d be living in one where he could focus on his music. It was like a dream come true—and also terrifying. He’d be alone. No hanging out jamming with the band. No concerts. No parties. Just him and his guitar, which was what he needed after the incident with the Stiff Lips.
The remoteness of the castle was mentioned on the art colony’s website, but when he glanced past the stone exterior to the ocean and saw no signs of land, it underscored just how far they were. The island itself was sparsely populated with most of the residents on the other side of the island where the ferry docked. The tension hadn’t left his shoulders until he saw the gargoyle statues, even if they were just for show. He smirked, nodding to them as if they were old friends, although no life flickered beyond the stone.
He’d stepped toward the imposing front entrance and muttered to himself.
Better than rehab.
After being shown to his room and given a brief tour of the castle, he’d had something to eat. Cameron had asked him to come to one of the community rooms that evening to meet the other residents. He’d agreed with a bit of reluctance. He wasn’t here to make new friends.
He’d sucked it up to sit through the niceties of the evening until he could find solitude, maybe play something. But when she stumbled into the room, he’d given up his introspection to wonder about her. Her hair was pinned up in a haphazard ponytail, but silky strands had fallen out and framed her pale face. Her eyes were dark and filled with curiosity. She wore brown leggings covered with a long off-white sweater and what appeared to be ballet slippers. The more he stole glances at her, the more he wondered who she was and what she was like. She hadn’t even given him her name.
Not only did he forget his discomfort in adjusting to this new setting, much darker fantasies slipped into his mind, involving her and the things he could do to her if they were alone.
Get your head in check. Don’t fuck up the opportunity by screwing around on day 1.
Then she spoke. The put-on posh accent surprised him at first, but then he smiled. Her attempt at a light welcome in this such a serious setting struck him as humorous and a little aloof. He’d bet it was a defensive measure masking some sort of insecurity. Now what would make this beautiful woman insecure?
Whoever she was, she fascinated him. Now all he had to do was forget her so he could focus on why he’d come to the castle to begin with.