PAINTED FACES (Painted Faces #1) by L.H. Cosway
Published; December 16th 2012, Smashbooks
Come forth with an open mind, for an unconventional tale of love..
Dublin native Freda Wilson considers herself to be an acquired taste. She has a habit of making offensive jokes and speaking her mind too often. She doesn’t have the best track record with first impressions, which is why she gets a surprise when her new neighbour Nicholas takes a shine to her.
Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she’s around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a travelling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn’t know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.
She is gob-smacked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. Later on, Nicholas asks her if she would like to become his show assistant. Excited by the idea, she jumps at the chance. Soon she finds herself immersed in a world of wigs, make-up and high heels, surrounded by pretty men and the temptation of falling for her incredibly beautiful employer.
In this story of passion and sexual discovery, Nicholas and Freda will contend with jealousy, emotional highs and lows, and the kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime.
** WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS **
Painted Faces by L H Cosway was started as part of the RARE18 Readathon that was held by the P Turners in January and I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish the book in one sitting, however I was not disappointed, as this was a story that needed to be cherished.
Instantly I became fond of Fred (Freda), our average Irish lady, who is both beautiful and honest. Her attraction to Nicholas, the stranger next door was tangible to say the least. Here is a handsome New Zealander who flirts outrageously with Fred as soon as they meet. Fred is a baker and all round sarcastic character who bounces brilliantly off Nicholas, the flamboyant, talented and handsome drag queen. Their instant connection for me was the core of this story and it is a remarkably beautiful story.
The emotional rollercoaster that they take, both separately and together kept me hooked, the chemistry between them sparking off the page, to my utter delight. I loved getting to know these characters, seeing Fred as this independent, witty, flirty young lady who is open minded. And this is perfect for Nicholas, a very mysterious young man, who is both beautiful inside and out. He goes against all stereotypes and I think it is this that pulled me into this story, this is what appeals to Fred. A girl who isn’t looking for a romance, but finds one in the most unlikely of places. I felt a connection to Fred on a level I haven’t in most female protagonists, she was your average girl. But there is something wonderfully un-average about her that I love. I related to her on so many levels that I felt she could be real.
Seeing their relationship develop, going through all the emotional highs and lows is an adventure itself. Nicholas is so strong but a troubled soul, the life he’s lead up to this point one not always consisting of rainbows and glitter, yet he never fails to put a smile on your face. With eyes that draw you in, the body of a Greek god and a voice from the heavens, any reader would be attracted to him. I could picture him on stage, his presence palpable.
I love that he is flawed, that he goes against all stereotypes and that Fred is the one who connects with him.Your heart breaks for him at the horror and ignorance he has faced, yet you grow to love him even more. There is something highly appealing to me as a reader to see a male protagonist who is both an alpha male and so in touch with his femininity. The two sides to this character are both beautiful and Cosway creates these characters amazingly.
Going against the stereotypes of a standard contemporary romance couple, Fred and Nicholas are refreshing to read. The sensuality, humour, friendship and loyalty between them is something I fell in love with, eager to read more and see how things turn out for this adorable couple. Cosway knows her characters perfectly, every little nuance and flaw, painting them in a light where you can see these and love them. I never wanted this story to end, I fell so in love with Fred and Nicholas.
Separate they are remarkable characters, together they are the one of the hottest literary couples for me. The intimacy between them is subtle, sweet, steamy and delicious, leaving you craving more. It is safe to say that this is a story that makes you think outside the gender norms, opens your mind to the possibilities of love and leaves you feeling at a loss with the turn of the last page.
I am so in love with these characters, that I know for a fact this will be a novel I will read again and again. Cosway has created characters that are completely unique, a couple that I could only dream of finding in real life and a man who encapsulates the fluidity of gender roles perfectly, he is the most delicious of book boyfriends, by far one of my favourites.
Thank you L H Cosway for giving us Fred and Nicholas.