Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review for Beloved Unmasked by Brita Addams

Born in 1898 to a heartless prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, a name meaning “of little value” or as his mother reminds him, “nothing.”
In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a fortuitous meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.
As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. A telegram from the War Department deals a staggering blow and interrupts David’s pursuit of a law degree. He must gather his wits and move forward. While his future looks bright, specters from Storyville return.
The past holds both pain and love, and facing it head-on might destroy David or give him the freedom to live the life he has dreamed.


When it comes to m/m romance, I can always count on Ms. Addams to pile on the intense emotions that pull readers into the action.  She's done it yet again with this third installment in the Tarnished series and its young hero who gets put through the wringer to come out stronger on the other side.  She's crafted an atmospheric tale that has you living and breathing the ups and downs of the times while witnessing the differences between the haves and have nots.  It all makes for a compelling story with a protagonist you can't help rooting for.

Picayune was born the child of a whore and his mother never let him forget it. He had a strong will though and smarts which saw him to success as a lawyer after recreating himself as David after years of her physical and mental abuse. All along his journey to betterment he was rewarded for his strong work ethic and good heart through the support of numerous people.  His mother might not love him but he created an unconventional family of his own.  Though he found success in his career love eluded him.  Growing up in the world of prostitution made many jaded when it came to love but not David who was holding out for something real and strong.  It left him lonely quite often and wondering "what could have been" in a twist that ultimately gives him what he's always wanted. David was an admirable character whose rise to success was hard-fought and richly deserved as he rose above his humble beginnings.  He never forget those who once cared for him though, helping those still in that world to find something better in scenes that warmed my heart.

Aiding him in his journey to HEA was an intriguing and colorful cast of secondary characters that affected David's life in very different ways.  Growing up it was prostitute Spencer who brought a bit of cheer to Picayune's life and introduced him to the many realities of living in their harsh world.  Theirs was a relationship of love and friendship held back by fate from becoming more until a life-altering event brings them back together in a surprising and cheer-inducing twist. Spencer's a fun and flirty character who always brought a smile to my face for his outspoken comments.  He too went through some very heavy things in life and his road to HEA was another highlight of the story.  David's mentor Emile was another important part of his life as he was always supportive, never wanting anything in return.  He was scared of his sexuality becoming common knowledge which held him back from happiness when it was offered and took the story in a melodramatic turn that felt unnecessary by being what he wasn't. Emile though was a good man who gave David the tools to his HEA and I'm still hoping he finds one for himself.  This was ultimately an intriguing story with compelling characters that fully immersed me in this saga of rags to riches to romance.  Most of the characters were memorable and immensely likable with David's mother being the exception for her nastiness and cliched demands and actions towards the end of the story that added unnecessary drama.  Readers who like historical reads seeped in the language and sights of the times will be drawn to this m/m read and its sensual romance amidst the dramatic recreation of a single life and I applaud Ms. Adamms for her engaging storytelling.

My rating for this is an B+

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

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