Painted Faces

Painted Faces - L.H. Cosway 4 solid stars!!Book Description: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. My Thoughts:I was looking for something different from my usual reads. Sometimes you get stuck in a rut when romance is your genre of choice. So when I got the chance to read this, I was really excited. And I have to admit, a little apprehensive. After all, I’m a huge fan of the rough tough alpha men…you know, the super masculine type. How masculine can a drag queen be? Well, if I learned one thing from reading this book, it was to throw away my expectations and judgments. Though it ended up not being as taboo as I originally thought.It’s true that Fred is a little awkward and somewhat abrasive. She was shockingly crude at times, and that was a bit of a turn off for me. Though the fact that there could be huge cultural differences may account for some of that. The story takes place entirely in Ireland….which, just so you know, is the one place in the world that I’d love to visit. And I love that the author seemed to leave enough of the people in the story and didn’t Americanize it too much. Sometimes that detracts from the story for me, but in this case, it made it more realistic. Back to Freda, or Fred as her friends call her…Fred isn’t necessarily instantly attracted to the new neighbor. Her best friend and room mate, who is gorgeous and very interested, seems to have a much better chance of attracting the very attractive Nicholas. I love that Fred is so self aware and yet not self deprecating. She’s a tad overweight and has never been one of the hot girls, and she knows and accepts it. So Fred admires from a distance what appears to be a playboy used to getting the girls he wants. She has no expectations and therefore doesn’t put on a show for him. Until he puts on a show for her! Nicholas invites his neighbors to his performance at a new club in town, not letting on the nature of the act. Naturally, Fred is shocked, her roommate is instantly un-attracted, and Nicholas appears to truly be in his element dressed as a woman amidst a screaming room full of gay men. Fred actually seems to breathe a sigh of relief when she assumes that Nicholas, or Viv onstage, is gay as well. He throws her another curveball when he proves just how un-gay he is. The sex is hot…and let me set your mind at ease when I say that there is no sex while Nicholas is his girlie half, lol! He’s all man when he gets down and dirty…in fact, he’s right up there on the level of my usual possessive, pushy men. Only he’s extremely attuned to the female body….I really enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. There’s a depth to Nicholas that isn’t readily apparent. While the author could have taken this in a direction that screams dysfunctional, she didn’t do that. Nicholas is unapologetically Viv…he’s so uber-confident in his masculinity, and THAT was very attractive to me. He’s the epitome of male outside of his performances and his effeminate side only shows up when it’s necessary…on stage. He’s the perfect dichotomy, and it made for such a fabulous story! I learned that I could actually have some book lust for a cross dresser, a drag queen, a man who likes wearing women’s clothes. It still makes me laugh, it still makes me a bit uncomfortable. But it’s true *wink wink*. Though I don’t think the lipstick and heels would ever be a turn on for me. I like masculine just a bit too much.The book itself isn’t primarily about Nicholas’ other side. It’s actually more of a story of accepting things that you may not understand. It makes you think about how every person you meet has a story behind the façade that they put on. And both their public and private faces are part of who they are. In order to really lay judgment on someone, you’d have to know them very well. Appearances are only skin deep, after all! And when you DO get to know someone well enough, you don’t judge them at all. You accept them, all sides of them. There were a couple of cringe-worthy crude moments that were not so great. (Who talks to their brand new lover about their pap smear?!) Nicholas showed his player status a little too well…I’m pretty big on the H/h steering clear of other lovers during the entirety of their acquaintance, whether or not they are together. Just a quirk of mine, and I will say that there is absolutely no infidelity that takes place.Overall, I loved the book! I was impressed with how well put together it was…little to no editing or spelling mistakes, which we all know is the great ruin-er of self pubbed authors recently. I’m looking forward to more from this author who can come up with a completely original way to tell a story of unconventional love.My thanks to the author, [a:L.H. Cosway|5622223|L.H. Cosway|], for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Edit to add: I just found out that this author is an editor and proofreader, which is why I wasn't tripping over mistakes constantly....huge plus!