Monday, January 14, 2013

Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

5 Incredible Stars!  My first 5-Star Favorite of 2013!!

Freda Wilson is hard-working, opinionated, insecure, self-deprecating, and uses a brash personality and a somewhat crude sense of humor to cover for a lack of confidence.  Nothing has really lit up her world for quite some time.  Until she meets her new neighbor, Nicholas Turner.  Nicholas is charming, gorgeous, sexually magnetic, talented, truly emotionally damaged, and completely heterosexual.  He is a cabaret performer, new to Dublin, and takes an instant liking to Freda.  Surprised, but flattered, by Nicholas's interest in her, Freda is excited to be invited to his opening night at a local club.  Curious to see just what exactly Nicholas and his show are all about, she is surprised and fascinated when he appears before an adoring audience in drag!  A strong friendship begins to grow between Nicholas and Freda, and soon she is working as his assistant.  Immersing herself in this new world is thrilling, but Freda soon finds herself plagued by rapidly escalating feelings for Nicholas.  And not all of them are one-sided.  There are demons to be faced, emotional minefields to be waded through and ultimately difficult decisions to be made.  All to the soundtrack of some of the world's best-known cabaret songs...naturally.

Original.  Beautiful.  Witty.  Charming.  Emotional.  Sexually-charged.  Edgy.  My list could go on without stopping, but these are *some* of the words which first sprang to mind upon finishing Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway.  Truly, this story is an invigorating breath of fresh air.  It is unique from anything else you may be reading in this genre at the moment.  I guarantee, and without a doubt, that is one of the things I loved the very most about this story

I feel that I have to begin with a confession.  When I first came across Painted Faces on Amazon, completely stumbled upon it by accident, not long after its release, I thoroughly disregarded it after reading the book summary.  I'm ashamed to admit that now.  I was *not* keeping an open mind.  Men in women’s clothing, for whatever reason, have never been a turn-on for me.  In fact, in a story that includes it in any sexual way--whether it's between two men or a man and woman--it usually works just the opposite for me.  Or, it always has up to this point (cue my look of utter befuddlement).  L.H. Cosway…that is a mighty and magical writing pen you have.  I cannot fathom that anyone else could have written this same story and changed my mind SO completely!  You have zero knowledge how stunned I was to find myself reading a passionate scene between Freda and a still-in-partial-drag Nicholas, thinking, my God, that is a one sexy, hot MAN!!  In or out of drag, Nicholas did it for me in a BIG way.  I bow down to you, Madam Author.  You have achieved the impossible!

I want to discuss Nicholas and Freda a little bit more.  They are both strong characters, and I quickly became emotionally invested in both of them.  Though, I won't lie.  Nicholas holds my heart, and I know he'll always have a piece of it no matter who else comes along.  But, Freda and Nicholas *together*?!  I positively hung on every interaction between these two, from the simplest to the most emotional!  I honestly cannot think of one scene between them that is not in some way imbued with emotion of multiple kinds (even if some of those emotions were new, unrecognizable and forced into nonexistence by the characters, in that moment).  The conversations between these two, the chemistry they have...all of it makes this story so worth reading.  You can see and feel how they brighten each other's world.  And, it has to be said, these two, together, brightened *my* world.

I want to make a special point of saying that the really wonderful thing about all of the emotion explored in Painted Faces is that, even at its darkest, it doesn't leave *you* with a permanent scar.  For me, the only way I can think to describe it is that there is a lightness and sense of hope to the writing that doesn't allow you to get mired down in the emotional low points.  That is a particular blessing as 2012 became known as The Year of The Ugly Cry for me;)

I almost don't know what else to say. There is not one thing I would change about this book.  I loved everything.  The storytelling is stellar.  The writing flows.  The story picks you up at page one and carries you along for the ride.  I literally read this straight through, without stopping.  I could.  Not.  Put.  It.  Down.  Not even once.  And this is not a short story!  But, I simply had to know what was going to happen next.  You fall into this story as easily as you fall in love with it.

Please don't make the mistake I did for so long, by not reading this, and not even considering it!  In all honesty, you will regret it if you do.  I speak from experience.  Open your mind and your heart, and, not long after, I believe you'll find yourself writing a very similar review:)

      **A copy was kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.**

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