I've loved everything I've read by Melanie Jacobson: her writing is clean, fun, refreshing and sweet. Painting Kisses is no exception. Lia Carswell has left behind a hot-shot life in New York as a premier artist (leaving behind her not-so-hot ex-husband) for a quieter life in Salt Lake City working in a diner and helping her sister raise her niece, Chloe. After her experience with her ex, she's less than interested in dating, particularly not anyone who's handsome and confident, like Aidan, the construction worker who flirts with her at the diner--he rings all the wrong bells after her previous experience with romance. She's actually more interested in Griff, her nice-but-quiet neighbor, who doesn't scare her--but who also doesn't spark quite the same emotional response.
After getting an unexpected commission from a former New York contact, Lia finds herself doing something she never thought she'd do again: paint. As she rediscovers the joy of creating, she finds herself opening in other ways as well, including to the unexpected joys of a new romance.
I thought this was quite well done. The characters are real--and, seeing them through Lia's eyes, we make some of the same misjudgments that she does. I liked, too, that this novel had some unexpected depth: it wasn't just about romance and kissing, but about Lia coming to terms with her past. As an amateur artist myself, I also resonated with Lia's deep satisfaction in creativity, and I thought Jacobson's descriptions of that process were nicely done. One of my favorite lines in the book compares Lia's sisters to paintings: a radiant Klimt when she's rested, a muted Modigliani when she's exhausted. That was enough to conjure a near-perfect impression for me.
My only real complaint is that the book is too short! I wanted just a little more resolution to the love story.