Book Reviews

(Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andrew Q. Gordon at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Urban Fantasy / Curses / Fairy Tales / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 17-October-2012

Book Blurb

Jay Walker has two wishes: to perform the play of his dreams alongside his best friend at Wellington’s Tory Street Theatre, and to meet that special someone. Someone he’d go to the ends of the earth for. Someone who might only exist in fairy tales.

When Jay meets accordion busker Lethe Cross, it’s like living a dream come true. Lethe’s music captivates Jay, and he resolves to meet the man who plays so beautifully. But then he discovers Lethe’s life is more like a nightmare. The phrase “down on his luck” can’t begin to cover it. Determined to help, Jay does some snooping for answers—and winds up on the wrong end of a centuries-old curse. The good news is there’s a way to break it. The bad news is it might cost Jay his life.


Book Review

We all wear masks, especially in public. We hide behind them, protecting ourselves, only showing what we want others to see. We don't want them to see through our masks, to our real face beneath. Lethe Cross, of (Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andrew Q. Gordon, would love for someone to see him for who he is. Alas, Lethe's cross to bear is a curse placed on his family years ago. People looking into his face see not him, but whoever they want to see most. Lethe doesn't feel like a person, merely a reflection of other people's desires. When Jay Walker first meets Lethe, he happens to be wishing to meet his soul mate. When Jay looks into Lethe's face, he sees Lethe. It would seem that this is the happily ever after ending which both men want, but it's only the beginning of a series of consequences which they must fight with all they have to overcome.

Lethe is a tragic figure, having lived his life under a curse which allows him no freedom of expression, no close relationships, and a great deal of despair. His gift for music is his salvation and his solace, the only thing that is uniquely his and he clings to it with all that's in him. He tries to accept his cursed fate, but sometimes he just wishes that someone would see and love him for himself. Lethe is a kind, gentle, loving young man. When someone is under the spell of his curse, he acquiesces to them, letting them act out their illusion as best he can. Mostly, he avoids it at all costs for the after effects it brings. Either way, Lethe loses. When tragedy strikes, Lethe generally does what's best for everyone else, rather than himself.

Jay is a sweetheart. He's poor as a church mouse in material things, but richer than a king in others. Jay has a best friend who is handsome, funny, adventurous, bold, and a talented actor. Gristle and Jay are as close as two friends can be and tell each other everything. They are compatible in every way except one, Jay is gay and his friend is straight, eliminating the possibility of a romantic relationship. When Jay meets Lethe, he's taken right away. They get together and appear to be happy, but there are many things about Lethe that bother him, such as his secrecy, his submissiveness, his mistrust. Even when Lethe finally breaks down and explains the curse to Jay, he still has no idea of the extent of sacrifices he will endure. It comes down to not how well he knows Gristle or Lethe, but how well he knows himself, his ability to see behind his own mask.

This tale is marvelously written, with characters I fell in love with at once. The characters were so real to me; they were such wonderful people, that the angst caused by their suffering broke my heart. I felt as if something beautiful had been presented to me then yanked away. By the end of the book, I was so drained that it was difficult for me to shake off the heaviness, and look toward the happy for now ending. With all that said, isn't the job of an author to make us feel like we are part of the story? Isn't it a great accomplishment when they can make us feel deeply? I believe it is. This story definitely did that for me. I'd recommend this story to anyone wanting a deeper experience intellectually and emotionally, one which will have you pondering about it long after the book is closed. Thank you, Anyta and Andrew. I commend you on a story well told.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 210 pages/62973 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-August-2012
Buy Link