Maxine’s Bookshelf: Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

January 30, 2019

This is a book I think is very important as a turning point in the romance world. While many readers who enjoy this genre gravitate toward the bigger names with overused tropes, L.H. Cosway is a woman who is reinventing the definition of romance. An author who lives in Dublin, Ireland, Cosway has twenty-nine published works, not including the short stories she’s contributed to anthologies. But one of the most remarkable things about this author is her motto: “Imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.”

 

 

Summary of Painted Faces:

 

Goodreads summarizes Painted Faces as “Dublin native Freda Wilson gets a surprise when her new neighbor 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 color when she's around him. He is a traveling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn't know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night. She is shocked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. 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 new employer.”

 

Why You Should Read It:

 

When I’m looking for a new romance to read, I strive to find authors that are pushing the boundaries and breaking the stereotypes of the romance genre. They’re not all bodice rippers that cater to a certain demographic of women; in fact, a new genre called New Adult emerged after Jamie McGuire wrote Beautiful Disaster. While some New Adult romances portray a contemporary love story with an uber-masculine man and varying types of women, Painted Faces is entirely different.

 

When Freda introduces herself to Nicholas saying she goes by Fred, Nicholas then introduces himself as Vivica. Freda takes this in stride, thinking it's a joke and goes along with the charming wit of her new neighbor man. It's not until a few nights later when Nicholas invites Freda and her friends to his show where he's a cabaret singer, that she sees Nicholas was telling a truth when he introduced himself to her as Viv. He dresses in drag, sings and goes by the stage name of Vivica Blue. Freda quickly becomes enchanted with his singing voice and the performance he puts on. She sets aside the initial shock and expresses no judgment for the man dressing as a woman.

 

 

And When Freda later finds out that Nicholas not only loves women but also that he's a straight man who simply likes to be a woman to feel free, she wants to know even more about him. With a new job as his dressing room assistant, Freda and Nicholas grow closer and begin to show readers that everyone deserves love in a completely original way. Not only did Cosway develop her characters well-- she makes you fall in love and root for them. Nicholas has a detailed past that explains why he prefers to perform in drag, and while many readers are turned off by something culturally considered emasculating, I think it’s wonderfully unique. It's beautiful how Nicholas wanted to defy what others may have teased and tortured him about. He was true to himself and found an amazing love in the end.


Not all romance is about the physical intimacy of a couple. While I love romance, the new and different elements of Nicholas and Freda's love opened my eyes to a relationship that's more than just physical attraction, you fall for a person's heart. I would strongly recommend this L.H. Cosway novel as well as others I have enjoyed in her Hearts series.

 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

Unless you have a lot of time to spare, don't start a book conversation with Maxine, because she can talk for hours. She's an avid reader, primarily contemporary romance, but every once in a while she'll pick up a suspenseful thriller. She's been writing since high school, mostly fiction, and thinking of characters and situations to put them in for as long as she can remember. Her motto is "everyone deserves love," and therefore her dream is to help push representation for different races, disorders, and disabilities in the romance genre.

 

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