Kenon is the art world's equivalent of a rock star. The young painter can pick and choose which commissions he takes on. The portraits he creates for the rich and famous help keep the private artists' club he has created afloat and at the center of New York's art scene. Kenon is used to getting what — and who — he wants. When a man catches his eye, he can be rather ruthless in pursuing them, but it's the pursuit that thrills him. Once he beds his quarry, he doesn't hold on to them for long. Kenon has been used and betrayed in the past, so he avoids letting anyone get close. What he doesn't see is that now he has become a user himself.
Wally is a struggling young writer, working as a bartender while awaiting inspiration for his first great novel. That inspiration comes when he is hired to tend bar at an opening for Kenon's latest works. The artist mesmerizes and confuses the young man so much, he runs away from their first meeting. He is certain the famous artist is well out of his league, but he can't stop thinking about Kenon, and fantasizing, and ultimately writing down his fantasy. For his part, Kenon loves a chase and sets about planning Wally's capture. He loves the game, and is sure it is one that will end once he has had Wally in his bed for a night, or two.
“Artist's Touch” sports a rather familiar romance plot — rich and powerful sexual predator sets his sights on a new prey who is more than he seems. However, while you may know where the story is going long before it gets there, it's still a not unpleasant journey. While the characters may be familiar, they are described in enough detail for them to become more than just set pieces. Kenon's persona, in public, comes off a little over the top, and I suspect he and the whole world he inhabits would have anyone familiar with the art world rolling their eyes, but it all fits in with popular misconceptions about art and money. Of course, it's unlikely that anyone reads a book like this expecting real insight into the world of the characters.
For what it is – a light romance – the book is quite satisfying. It probably won't touch you deeply or stick with you, but it's a pleasant read.