I love titles. They are like flirtations between the author and the reader. An effective title is more provocative than a sexy cologne, more arousing than the smile before the kiss. A great title evokes the possibility of the novel. It’s a promise of what’s to be fulfilled. If the reader embarks on a journey of trust by opening the cover and diving in to the pages, the title is the ticket, the doorway.
Beloved Unmasked was a ticket to a ride that more than fulfilled its promise. When I first read the title and looked at the art-deco inspired cover, I wondered what exactly “beloved unmasked” might mean. It felt so vague and mysterious. Whose love? Which characters? Could it be the prostitute turned mother and her son? Or one of the many well-developed male characters who populate the book’s 1918-era New Orleans?
The most compelling recommendation I can make of any book, and which is most specifically apt in this case, is that Beloved Unmasked was so well-written, I simply wanted to spend time in its world. As much time as possible from the moment I started the book until the moment I finished it. The novel starts with a bit of history and then dives in to story. The main character is so well-drawn, his voice naturally evolves as he grows. The cast of secondary characters is so rich-no pat villans or one-dimensional throw aways here. I read a lot but it has been a long time since I have stayed up too late, put aside chores and work just because I can’t wait to see what happens in an intricately-crafted book world. But I did that with Beloved Unmasked and finished it in two days!
Brita Addams is a gifted storyteller. If you enjoy historical fiction, you’ll find this among the best told tales. Natural and authentic, Beloved Unmasked does not feel like the end result of someone who googled a time period and scribbled out a story. This book is a work akin to time travel. The voices feel so authentic, the details of life in New Orleans in the infancy of a new century feel so real, so genuine, I felt completely transported. But no info dumps, no extraneous detail here—the author knows how to show the reader the world as it was as though she were there, weaving a world that is as real as the one we live in today, even though its truth is more than one hundred years past.
A word about genre—this is a MM romance, but I don’t think it should be limited or defined by the label “MM romance”. Beloved Unmasked is a story about a man who wants to make himself over—literally redefining himself. Readers who enjoy history, law, culture, New Orleans will find so much depth in Ms. Adams’s story. This book can compete alongside the best of the best historical novels and also hold sway beside erotic MM romance—the story does not disappoint in any category.
Picayune and the characters of Storyville—Sapphire and the Gems, Nester, Charley, Spence, Emile—will come to life on the page and will transport you.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book. This book is not heavy on the sex, but is replete with adult situations, conflict, and growth. Unexpected plot turns, secrets, surprises—this book does indeed unmask the main character’s beloved. For me, the promise of Beloved Unmasked was multi-level. Not only did I discover a love for David Reid, Emile, Luke and Spencer, (no spoilers here!) but this book unmasked my love for Brita Addams, a masterful writer of historical fiction.