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I read. Mostly Romance. I like to talk about books. The end.

Painted Faces

Painted Faces - L.H. Cosway There were 32 incidences of smirking in this book, mostly by the main characters, but plenty of the side characters got in on the smirking action. While it's safe to assume that this was due to a combination of bad word choice by the author and lack of editing, the smirking was so perfectly in character for these obnoxious assholes that I can't exactly complain.But I'm getting ahead of myself...I actually want to start with what I liked (or almost liked) about this book, because Painted Faces had so much potential that it made the final result that much more disappointing.I liked the setting--I've never read a romance set in contemporary Dublin, and that made for a fresh feel. Cosway did a great job of making the city feel like another character (a likable one!).Of course, I liked the drag queen hero. While there was a traumatic past as an explanation, I didn't feel hit over the head with it, and Nicholas' choice of career wasn't treated as a problem because of that past. I also enjoyed how much he truly just liked Freda exactly as she was, and how personality-wise they really were a perfect fit.I actually liked Freda. I liked that her insecurities made her loud and obnoxious and a goofball instead of withdrawn and socially inept like so many other romance heroines. I liked that she was mostly okay with her size and didn't call herself fat when she wasn't (except for a wildly out-of-character comment near the end that I'm going to ignore for now). I even liked how snarky and judgmental she was towards pretty much everything and everyone, that the woman is a total misanthrope...Or I would have liked all that, and Freda, if the author knew when to quit. This story is told in the first person present tense, which means we get Freda's thoughts and interpretations. We get ALL of her thoughts and interpretations about everything that pops into her head and every person she encounters. And while her snark and misanthropy were funny and refreshingly different at first, it got old...a little goes a long away with that type of personality. And while she's often aware of her faults, she can be incredibly dense about others' reactions to her behavior. She does things to annoy Nora--her roommate she describes as anal--for kicks, and then feels hurt and acts like Nora is a bitch and out-of-line for being mean in return. And about Nicholas liking Freda, warts and all? That's because he's an even bigger asshole than she is. He finds her rudeness hilarious, and he obviously sees her insecurity as a sign that he could get away with anything with her, and unfortunately, he's right. Hours after meeting her, he grabs her and tells her he wants to fuck her, because, "I thought you were making all the passive aggressive comments because you were into me." And he does that constantly throughout the story-invading her space when she's made it clear she doesn't want that. After constantly declaring how much he likes and wants her, he comes on to another woman in front of her, has sex with that women and makes a big morning after display in front of Freda, and the later tells her that he was thinking of her while he was inside that other woman. Charming, no? I'm not even against a character having sex with other people before he/she gets together with hero or heroine, but the way it was done here was the absolute wrong way to do it. And for all of Freda's judgmental nature, she's willfully blind to how fucked up Nicholas' behavior is. Every time she reacts negatively to his actions--telling him off after he grabs her in the beginning and slapping him after the comment about his one night stand--she blames herself, thinks she overreacted. It's like she thinks drag queens are above criticism...she makes it clear several times that she doesn't consider herself judgmental precisely because she has no problem with men dressed as women. That's all it takes to have an open mind, I guess. And she never stops making excuses for him, up till the end. When she forgives him for hurting her--in his typically cruel way--a lot of it has to do with his traumatic past. She's in love/lust with him, yes, but unlike with every other person in her life there's no honesty with herself about his faults. She doesn't accept that the man she loves can say and do horrible things; instead she excuses him and convinces herself that he will magically be better because he loves her and truly didn't mean to be a dick. Those two are either really going to live happily ever after or they're going to crash and burn spectacularly in a couple of years, probably after one of them finally grows up while the other stays exactly the same. This book was so frustrating. If any one book can be proof of the importance of a good editing, it's this one. I'm not a big stickler for grammar, though it's bad enough to be a deal breaker for many (mannekin for mannequin was my favorite), but what this book needed more than anything was content editing. So much potential for a truly great story with unique characters, wasted.