Oh those sexy artists...
Here are some wonderful Painter Heroes and Heroines in Romance Novels. My lists are never in any particular order.
1. Seducing Cinderella by Gina L. Maxwell
Mixed martial arts fighter Reid Andrews's chance to reclaim his title as light heavyweight champ is shattered when he's injured only months before the rematch. To make sure he's healed in time, his trainer sends him to recuperate under a professional's care--Reid's best friend's little sister, all grown up.
Disorganized and bookish Lucie Miller needs some professional help of her own. She'd do anything to catch the eye of a doctor she's crushed on for years, so when Reid offers seduction lessons in exchange for 24/7 conditioning for the biggest fight of his career, Lucie jumps at the chance.
Soon Reid finds himself in the fight of his life...winning Lucie's heart before she gives it to someone else.
2. Counterfeits by Kris Bock
Painter Jenny Kinley has spent the last decade struggling in the New York art world. Her grandmother’s sudden death brings her home to New Mexico, but inheriting the children’s art camp her grandmother ran is more of a burden than a gift. How can she give up her lifelong dreams of showing her work in galleries and museums?
Rob Caruso, the camp cook and all-around handyman, would be happy to run the camp with Jenny. Dare he even dream of that, when his past holds dark secrets that he can never share? When Jenny’s father reappears after a decade-long absence, only Rob knows where he’s been and what danger he’s brought with him.
Jenny and Rob face midnight break-ins and make desperate escapes, but the biggest danger may come from the secrets that don’t want to stay buried. In the end, they must decide whether their dreams will bring them together or force them apart.
3. Mr. Family by Margot Early
Kal Johnson is a still-grieving widower with a young child. He can't imagine marrying again—not for love, anyway. But it's becoming increasingly clear that his daughter needs someone besides him. A mother. Kal's solution is to place an ad in a local magazine.
Wanted: Woman to enter celibate marriage and be stepmother to four-year-old girl. Send child-rearing philosophies to Mr. Family….
Erika Blade is a woman who's afraid of love. And sex. She answers the ad, figuring she's probably the only person in the whole world to whom a "celibate marriage" would appeal. After all, she does want children but she doesn't want to acquire them in the usual way. As it turns out, Kal likes her letter—and soon discovers that he likes her. More than likes. He's attracted to her. The one thing that wasn't supposed to happen.
4. In Your Eyes by Laura Moore
A gifted artist, Genevieve Monaghan expresses the wonder and beauty of life on canvas. When millionaire philanthropist Alex Miller asks her to create a painting for the new children’s wing of a major Boston hospital, she finds his high-handed ways exasperating and his stunning good looks distracting—but she cannot resist his proposal. She embraces the project, willing to suffer Alex’s presence for the sake of her art. Yet soon Gen finds herself falling for Alex and his virile charm.
At the pinnacle of wealth and power, Alex Miller stands alone. Women flock to him, drawn by his standing and immense sex appeal. Nothing touches his heart—until he meets Gen. A natural beauty, she is a breath of fresh air in his life and has no interest in his riches or glamour. Although they couldn’t be more different, the growing attraction between them is palpable, sizzling with intensity. Even as they fight to deny their feelings, Alex and Gen are losing themselves to the one thing more awe-inspiring than beauty: love.
5. If You Stay by Courtney Cole
24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.
He's a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.
But he's got his reasons.
His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn't understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.
As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn't work. His dad couldn't overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn't keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.
Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn't want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn't there, then it isn't, right?
And it's never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn't know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he'd better figure it out because he needs her to breathe.
When memories of his mother's death resurface from where he's repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one...the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.
But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.
He knows that. And he's working on it.
But is that enough to make her stay?
6. Sweet Mercy by Jean Brashear
Honey Creek Cottage is the house of Jezebel Hart's dreams -- and the place of Gamble Smith's nightmares. The place he built with his own hands, every stick and brick a testament to his love for the family he lost. The place now in disrepair, its gardens tangled with loss and neglect, much like Gamble's heart. He can't bear to live in it. Yet he isn't ready to let go. Not even to the vivacious Jezebel, who has put her volatile past behind her and wants to plant roots. A woman whose sex-goddess looks, Gamble discovers, can't match her strength and compassion. They come together out of mutual need, but find mutual healing. Except...she's hiding something that could shatter their fragile bond.
7. Collide by Megan Hart
A childhood accident left Emmaline vulnerable to disturbing fugue states that last minutes but feel like an eternity. The blackouts are unsettling but manageable…until she meets Johnny Dellasandro.
The painter gained fame in the '70s for his debauched lifestyle and raunchy art films. His naked body achieved cult status, especially in Emm's mind—she's obsessed with the man, who's grown even sexier with age. Today he shuns the spotlight and Emm…until she falls into a fugue on his doorstep.
In that moment she's transported back thirty years, crashing a party at Johnny's place. The night is a blur of flesh and heat that lingers long after she's woken to the present.
It happens again and again, each time-slip a mind-blowing orgy, and soon Emm can't stop, though every episode leaves her weaker. She's scared by what's happening, but she's even more terrified of losing this portal to the Johnny she wants so badly. The one who wants her and takes her—every chance he gets.
8. Flirting with Disaster by Victoria Dahl
Artist Isabelle West has good reasons for preferring a solitary life. Tucked away in a cabin in the woods, she has everything she needs…except a red-hot love life. That is, until a hard-bodied US marshal threatens to unearth secrets she's spent years protecting. But giving in to the sparks flying between them can only lead to one thing…disaster.
Tom Duncan lives by the letter of the law. But no one has tempted him—or confused him—more than free-spirited Isabelle, who arouses his suspicion and his desire. As their connection grows, and their nights get hotter, they find their wild attraction might shake everything he stands for—and expose everything she has to hide.
9. The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
Daisy Flattery is a free spirit with a soft spot for strays and a weakness for a good story. Why else would she agree to the outrageous charade offered by her buttoned-down workaholic neighbor, Linc Blaise? The history professor needs a makeshift fiancée to secure his dream job, and Daisy needs a short-term gig to support her painting career. And so the Cinderella Deal is born: Daisy will transform herself into Linc’s prim-and-proper fiancée, and at the stroke of midnight they will part ways, no glass slippers attached. But something funny happens on their way to make-believe bliss, as a fake engagement unexpectedly spirals into an actual wedding. Now, with Linc and Daisy married and under one roof, what started as a game begins to feel real—and the people who seem so wrong for each other realize they may truly be just right.
10. Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr
Colin Riordan came to Virgin River to recuperate from a horrific helicopter crash, the scars of which he bears inside and out. His family is wonderfully supportive, but it's his art that truly soothes his troubled soul.
Stung personally and professionally by an ill-advised affair, PR guru Jillian Matlock has rented an old Victorian with a promising garden in Virgin River. She's looking forward to cultivating something other than a corporate brand.
Both are looking to simplify, not complicate, their lives, but when Jillian finds Colin at his easel in her yard, there's an instant connection. And in Virgin River, sometimes love is the simplest choice of all….
To vote for the best of the best and get more recs, visit my Goodreads list: Canvas: Painters in Contemporary Romance.