"But he didn't look happy; he looked edgy, mildly dangerous. He was whispering at my ear, his face in my hair, breathing the air from my lungs; his hold on me was firm and the pressure from his fingertips on my arm hurt, nearly took my breath away."

Art has been in Stella's life since she was a child and it follows her wherever her soul takes her. Stella drifts through the art scene in Chicago and winds up in a small apartment in Chelsea, New York. Surrounded by the smell of paint and a fresh desire to learn and create, Stella wanders through New York's art society. It's in this world that she meets Joseph, a man whose air of mystery and danger takes her breath away—and captivates her, body and soul. Chelsea Matinee follows Stella's life as she fights to find a place in Joseph's life and to understand how an empowered woman can be so weak in the hands of a man like Joseph.

Art and sex are locked in an inextricable embrace through Smith's words; every sentence is sensuous and filling. Artistry is described with the same breathless passion as lovemaking, interspersed with references to classical painters and modern feminist works between lushly erotic scenes. Stella emerges as a realistic but flawed heroine who struggles to gain control over her own sexuality. She loves and learns, coming back to her lover again and again despite realizing the potential dangers of being with a man like Joseph. She finds a thrill in the combination of lust and fear, but is by no means a weak-willed puppet. Under Joseph's magnetic grip, she explores her own desires and boundaries, finding an odd kind of love in this electric but troubling man. Who is Joseph, anyway? What has Stella gotten herself into? And why, oh why, can't she break herself free from this man's spell? Smith paints an enchanting encounter set against a backdrop of the lively art scene of the 70s.

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