What to Read Wednesday

This week’s recommendation is Painted Faces, by L.H. Cosway.

Painted Faces
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.

What I thought pink
I was skeptical when this book was first suggested to me. I like my heroes strong and edging toward the Alpha, and the thought of a guy who dressed up as a woman seemed like the opposite of this. However, from the moment I opened the book I was drawn in, first by the character of Freda; a strong, self-deprecating Dublin girl, then by Nicholas, her new, gorgeous neighbor, who turns out to be a drag queen.

They become friends, maybe a little more, though Nicholas’s closed-off emotions and Freda’s lack of self-esteem make things messy and rocky. She agrees to be his assistant, finding sensuality in the way she dresses him up before his appearances, then takes his clothes and his make-up off, transforming the glamorous Vivica Blue back into Nicholas. The dichotomy between his two personas is absolutely fascinating, as is Freda’s reactions to both sides of him. I loved reading about their burgeoning relationship, the way their characters grew as a result of the emotions it brought out in them both.

I confess, when I read the blurb I turned my nose up at this story. But I’m so glad I listened to Lucia and bought it regardless. I still love Alpha males, and there was definitely a side to Nicholas that was very Alpha, but he was so, so much more. He had depths and scars and emotions that tore me up and made me cry, but he also took what he wanted without necessarily thinking things through. He was messed up, but his relationship with Freda made him a better person, and that’s exactly what I wanted from this story.

Five glamorous, beautifully dressed stars to this one.

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