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Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

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.
FIVE Stars!

“We all paint on a face to show the world,” Nicholas replies philosophically. “For some of us, that’s quite literal.” He takes a brief pause. “When you’re passionate about something, you don’t mind suffering a little discomfort.” 

To be quite honest, when I first read the synopsis, I was a bit hesitant. I wasn’t sure how I would like my Hero dressing in women’s clothing. I like my men as men, like all rugged and pure Alpha male. But let me tell you something: Nicholas isn’t character to be written off quite quickly. My reluctance was very short lived. I was sucked into his and Freda’s (a.k.a. Fred) characters. For the record, Nicholas is one fine male specimen. Even as Vivica, his female counterpart, I found sexy. I think it all came down to the writing and storytelling. Seeing Nicholas/Viv in Fred’s eyes was so…I don’t know…entrancing. I’m honestly left speechless as to how I can describe my feelings towards Nicholas. One thing is for sure, like Fred, you can’t help but love him. 

He really is a beautiful mess. A beautiful mess that sucks you in and messes you up too. 

OMG. How do I even begin to describe Nicholas? He’s magnetic, charismatic, flirty, fun, quirky, humorous and, let’s not forget, extremely handsome. As for his stage persona, Vivica, well she’s quite the talent on stage. However, the more we get to know Nicholas, we find that he has no middle ground. He’s either extremely happy or extremely sad. From the beginning we find that Nicholas’ past isn’t all rosy and bright. Life as a traveling performer can be lonely. But when Fred enters his life, things start to change. He pretty much immerses her into his world. She is quickly introduced to Vivica. Fred is undeterred. As a matter of fact, she immediately embraces Nicholas/Vivica. To each his own, right? She constantly calls him “Viv” and welcomes both Nicholas and Vivica with open arms. He has never felt more comfortable about himself until Fred. When she’s around, he’s purely happy. 

“Every woman is different,” he explains. “Some of them make you feel satisfied, others make you feel high, most just make me feel cleansed. There’s no guile or ulterior motives with you. You’re just in the moment for whatever it might bring.” 
She doesn’t know it yet, but she is his muse now, his everything. 

I loved Fred’s character. Her sense of humor almost mirrors mine. She’s whip smart so don’t get in the way of her wicked tongue. Though Fred doesn’t see it, she’s also very beautiful, even though she’s not the typical woman guys go for, with all her curves and such. She definitely has some self-esteem issues. It’s apparent that Nicholas is drawn to her, but what she doesn’t understand is why? Nicholas and Fred immediately become close friends. Why is Nicholas constantly flirting and wanting to spend time with her? Is it for a quick shag? It surely doesn’t feel that way, but with Fred’s way of thinking, she certainly thinks it is. 

“This is…dangerous,” he says, eyes tracing the planes of my cheeks, the curve of my lips.
“Probably,” I whisper in reply.
He leans in closer. “I want to be inside you Freda.”
I bite my lip. “Mm hmm.”
“What do you want?” he asks.
“I think I want the same as you,”
“Fuck,” he mutters, and it comes sounding like a vow. 

Nicholas is all man. The way he flirts, the way he talks, the way he made me squirm; it’s all man, baby. This definitely isn’t your typical romance story. It’s unique and unconventional in a lot of ways. I think that’s the reason why it stands out so much. I absolutely LOVED this story and highly recommend it. 

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