Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

Painted Faces

Grade – A-
Hotness Level – Blaze
Kink Level – No Kink
Genre – Contemporary
Reviewed by Anne
Freda, aka Fred, is an abrasive 25 year old woman living in Dublin.  She bakes cupcakes and works at a charity shop.  She has good friends, including her roommate, but she tends to speak her mind without filtering out things first.
Nicholas is Fred’s new neighbor.  Not only is he gorgeous but she’s instantly drawn to him.

Even within this short conversation, I’ve noticed something sort of electric about his personality, something addictive.  His eyes pull me in, like they hold secrets that could make my boring old life so much more exciting.  You don’t come across men this alluring very often.

When Nicholas invites Fred to come see his show, she’s surprised and then delighted to learn that he sings and dresses in female clothes.  He’s very, very good and Fred is even more intrigued by her new neighbor.
However attracted Fred may be to Nicholas, but there’s no way she’d act on it. She knows he’s way out of her league and any kind of romantic relationship is bound to leave her with a broken heart.  Too bad for Fred, because Nicholas is very attracted to her and he’s ready to act on it.  Fred is cautious with her heart, though, so they fall into a friendship with some incredible sexual tension. 
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of romance without external conflict, and that’s exactly what this one is.  This whole story is about how Fred and Nicholas work through their issues and and it’s delightful, funny, and painful to read.  This story is told entirely from Fred’s point of view, and I really enjoyed her voice and the way she looked at the world.  Another bonus is that the story is set in Dublin and it’s not Americanized.  I enjoy reading slang I don’t know and I’m smart enough to figure out what phrases mean if it’s not one I’ve seen before.
It’s not a perfect read.  There were some things that bothered me.  Throughout the book, Fred says “No” to Nicholas’ advances, while wishing in his head he’d ignore her and continue to pursue her anyway.  Often he does ignore her “No.”  Fred is OK with this, because she’s secretly hoping he really does like her enough to keep trying.  However, Nicholas had no way of really knowing that, so I found it annoying.  There were a couple plot lines that never went anywhere.
Still, it was overall a big winner for me. I didn’t want to put this down while reading it, which made my real life quite inconvenient. 
A couple points I want to be clear on:
  • This story does include references to Nicholas’ sexual abuse as a teenager.  This is important to the story, not superfluous.  It is not discussed in graphic detail.
  • While he enjoys dressing up as a woman, Nicholas’ sexual orientation is straight, and Nicholas and Fred’s relationship is a man/woman relationship.  These characters would have been interesting to read about regardless of sexual orientation, but I include this in my review in case you’re looking for a specific kind of story.
I’d love to read more L.H. Cosway.  Goodreads shows that she’s got two series, one looks to be vampire/paranormal, and the other a YA/paranormal.  I’m going to cross my fingers and hope she does some more contemporary romance.

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