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EXCERPT FROM FAUXMANCE by L H COSWAY

“So, what did you think?” came a voice from over my shoulder.

I turned, and Julian Fairchild stood a mere foot away. He’d changed back into his own clothes, which, no offence to Suze, suited him much better. His dark grey shirt highlighted the colour of his hazel eyes, while his slacks hugged his hips perfectly. He wasn’t overly muscular. In fact, there was something about him that was quite feminine. He reminded me of Louis from the Anne Rice vampire novels. Well, a modern version at least.

He had a sexy, masculine aura, but he was too beautiful to be described as manly.

Androgynous was the word.

I swallowed a gulp of champagne for courage, then replied, “I’m no fashion expert, but I thought you all looked great.”

Julian moved closer until we stood shoulder to shoulder. “I hope I lived up to Suzanna’s expectations. I’ve never done a catwalk before.”

“You seemed fine to me,” I said, my voice neutral. I couldn’t seem to muster any warmth or flirtation, such was his effect on me.

I wasn’t looking at him, instead keeping my eyes trained on Suze and her bevvy of admirers, but I could hear the humour in his tone when he replied, “Just fine? You really know how to boost a man’s confidence.”

I flicked my eyes to him briefly, words coming out before I could think to censor them. “Surely, your confidence doesn’t need boosting.”

“It does when the lady I’m trying to chat up is as disinterested as you are,” he said with a wry smile.

I frowned. He was trying to chat me up? Me? I almost forgot I was Elodie tonight, not Ellen. Of course, he was trying to chat me up. My dress left very little to the imagination.

Okay, this was my chance to flirt with a real live human. Don’t screw it up, Ellen.

I mean, Elodie.

Damn, this was confusing.

I mustered a smile in return, a real one. “Who says I’m disinterested?”

Julian’s laugh was just as attractive as the rest of him. “Oh, you’re not?”

“I asked my question first.” I tried to keep my voice sweet and flirtatious, lighthearted. That’s what Elodie would do.

He pursed his lips, considering me. I hoped my layers of makeup kept my rosy cheeks from view. “Hmm, your body language for a start. It screams ‘leave me alone’. Then there’s your tone of voice, your facial expressions. They all tell a story.”

The way he spoke intrigued me. There was something different about him, something unlike most men. I’d grown up with two brothers and a widowed father, so I knew what I was talking about. Julian paid a lot more attention than the average male.

When I lived at home, I could’ve walked into a room with blue hair and green skin and my brothers wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

“Am I so transparent?” I asked, because I wanted to hear more. He ensnared me.

Julian’s gaze wandered from the top of my forehead, lingering on my eyes and nose, then my mouth. “I wouldn’t say that.”

Heat filled me from the way he took me in so completely. This man. This stranger. He was unlike anyone I’d ever met.

 

Our Review

‘I wished love at first sight, soul mates, and being destined for one single person, was real because it was a romantic, idealistic fairy tale. And I envied Ellen for her ability to believe.
But I, well, I’d had my eyes opened too many times in this life to still believe in fairy tales.’

There is something so incredibly charming about L H Cosway’s quirky, warm and sincere characters, the uniqueness, and warmth of her storytelling, and the way in which her captivating and poignant words consistently leave their mark on our hearts. With Fauxmance,  L H Cosway once again managed to dig deep into human emotions, and in doing so, she ensured Julian and Ellen exuded a real sense of honesty and sincerity that drew us to them, making them feel relatable and personable. So much so, we found ourselves becoming protective of them and experiencing their hurt and pain deep in the tendrils of our hearts.

‘I had a strong urge to comfort her, give her a hug. I knew how it felt to be overwhelmed by the world.’

Twenty nine year old Ellen Grant suffers severe social anxiety, an affliction that has plagued her since childhood. Ellen draws on an alter ego, Elodie, who is the complete opposite of the shy, awkward Ellen. Elodie is outgoing, scandalous and can spin a good story about imaginary partners, adventures and sexual exploits. It is at the Polka Dot Café where ‘Elodie’ regularly catches up with her new friend Suze, regaling her with fanciful stories. Yes, unbeknownst to Elodie, thirty two year old Julian Fairchild constantly eavesdrops on their conversations, being as captivated and entertained by Elodie’s stories as Suze, and decides he wants to get to know the fun loving Elodie a little better.

Julian strikes up a conversation but is surprised when Elodie becomes closed off, her personality meeker and, well, a few things don’t add up for the astute people watching Julian. He soon calls her bluff, the jig is up and for Ellen. but Julian offers to give Ellen the confidence to come out of her shell, to bring a bit of Elodie to Ellen.

‘You’ve changed me, Julian Fairchild.” He gave a devilish look. “Have I corrupted you though? Because that’s my main goal.”

We were first introduced to Julian in Showmance, as Rose’s BFF and roommate, and it was interesting finding out Julian’s past, to see what made him tick. Julian’s effervescent personality and zest for life comes in spite of the dark and tormented childhood and formative years he suffered – unloved by his mother, seeking sex as a means to survive, his escorting soon became more. Julian loved the human contact. Despite his fun-loving ways, Julian often cut a sad, lonely and vulnerable figure, and wow, he tore our hearts out.

Ellen has many secrets to share, as does Julian, which they both reveal slowly. As complete opposites, these two characters complemented one another beautifully. Julian and Ellen were delightfully fascinating and we couldn’t’ help but fall head over heels for them both.

“That’s what I fear will happen to me,” she revealed. “That I’ll be alone forever.”

We adored Fauxmance, and particularly loved the book related theme. It took us back to those heady pre Kindle days when we would line up and wait expectantly for that elusive next book in a series – picking up our paperback admiring it lovingly and digging right into the story. We really miss that!

‘There was something about Julian’s stares like he saw all of you, even the parts you tried to keep hidden.’

Fauxmance delivered a sweet and emotional romance which was peppered with the trademark humour we’ve come to know and love from this author. L H Cosway’s wit is as on point as her vivid imagery. In fact, so adept is she at painting a picture with her words, before Ellen described Julian as ‘He reminded me of Louise from the Anne Rice vampire novels…..he had a sexy, masculine aura, but he was too beautiful to be described as manly’ we had conjured this exact image, thanks to the creative visualisation L H Cosway provided.

A story of love, acceptance and not being afraid to love who you are. A fitting message found in a beautiful story.

Synopsis

In this era of social media, we all pretend. 

We pretend to be prettier, happier, more confident versions of ourselves, but not Ellen Grant. She takes it to a whole other level and pretends to be someone else entirely. Adopting the persona of a woman far more interesting is the only way she can break free of the socially awkward, romantically inept girl she really is.

And it’s all going swimmingly until she catches the eye of a man at her local coffee shop. Julian Fairchild has been noticing her for a while and he’s fascinated. Little does he know, the woman he thinks he’s obsessed with is a fake.

It’s not long before the jig is up, and Julian discovers Ellen’s true identity. However, he has a proposition. If she really wants to pretend, he can introduce her to a world where she can be anyone she wants. Ellen is intrigued by the prospect, and, blind to the nature of Julian’s profession as a male escort, closes her eyes and lets him lead the way.

Can Ellen keep her feelings in check while discovering a new world of thrills and excitement? And will Julian let it show that he isn’t entertaining Ellen purely out of the goodness of his heart?

Fauxmance is a standalone contemporary romance featuring characters first seen in L.H. Cosway’s Showmance.

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