Artists use all manner of materials to express their vision, to interpret the world around them, to affect the hearts and minds of their audience.
But what if the artist himself were the medium? And what if artistic inspiration weren’t the only force at work?
If painter Stefan Cobbe and art investigator Luke Morganstern don’t answer those questions fast, they stand to lose their reputations, their relationship—and their lives.
Just a FYI – I think that reading The Artist’s Touch and Tested in Fire together made a difference in how I felt about both books.
The Artist’s Touch
Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.
Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.
As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.
Stefan lost everything when his partner died, including the very thing that defined himself. Without his artistic inspiration, he was lost. The very last person he expected to see when he was at his lowest, was the man he walked away from.
Luke doesn’t want to believe that Stefan is the forger he’s after, but the evidence against him is so strong, it’s hard to deny. The closer he gets to Stefan again though, the more he realizes that there’s something else going on. Something that’s not going to be easy to explain. Something that’s going to be even harder to escape from.
Even though I liked the story and loved the mysterious ghost connection, I have to agree with other readers who expressed a need for more… The Artist’s Touch was less than 150 pages, which was way too short to cover all the threads weaved through this story. I really would have liked to have gotten to know both Stefan and Luke a little better. *sigh*
Tested In Fire
Six months ago, Stefan Cobbe was at rock bottom: grief-stricken, guilt-ridden, debt-laden, and oh yeah—possessed by a homicidal dead painter. But after reconciling with his first love, Luke, and moving to Sarasota with him, Stefan is ghost-free and preparing for his first major show. Yes, he still has debts, and no, Luke doesn’t understand Stefan’s desire for independence. But compared to last year? No contest.
Luke Morganstern ought to be happy. After all, his art-investigation business has recovered and he’s got his boyfriend back. But Stefan stubbornly refuses to move in with him or accept Luke’s financial help, and it’s really starting to bug him. Who knew that the biggest test of their relationship wouldn’t be time or distance, but his own insecurities? After Luke’s next job—a trip to Italy to retrieve a mysterious artifact—he plans to convince Stefan that it’s time to totally commit.
But when Luke returns, he changes, and Stefan begins to suspect that the person in Luke’s skin isn’t Luke at all. He can hardly go to the police and claim his lover is the victim of a supernatural hijacking though. He needs alternative help to find Luke and get him back, because he refuses to let anyone—or anything—come between them again.
I think I might have enjoyed Tested in Fire more than The Artist’s Touch because I already knew Luke and Stefan. Their back story wasn’t quite as important. They were both in a better place than they were in the previous book, plus the unique twists in Tested in Fire kept the pages turning.
I don’t want to give a lot away, so I’m going to keep this review vague and brief. I will say that as much as I love a good ghost story, like the one in The Artist’s Touch, the unique “magic” in Tested in Fire was what made this story my favorite between the two. It also reinforced the bond between Stefan and Luke that the first book was kind of lacking.