Before. Everything was so much better Before. I wasn’t haunted by nightmares, my place at school was secure and my face was flawless. Now, I’m a freak and everything has changed. The worst part is that I can’t remember the night I was sentenced to the shadows. The memory has been stolen from me and I just can’t shake the feeling that someone, something is out there -watching.
Just when I think I have my life handled, Sam, with his intimidating golden stare and shiver inducing voice, makes me realize that I don’t know anything. He makes me see that my scars don’t matter. That they never mattered. I can’t help but fall for him, completely unknowing that he knows exactly how I got this way. Not knowing he was involved.
Heven has no idea how closely death stalks her. She has no idea what I have done to keep her alive. I fear the day she learns my secrets, finds out what I really am. But even then I cannot stop, I vow to make things right. Finally her hunter will be hunted, Heaven and Hell, faith and sin will battle, and we will be victorious. But first, Heven must learn to be what she never imagined. I know her strength is there – I feel it. If we are to overcome all odds, she must push past her flaws - her frailties - to become much more.
What if you sensed you were being watched…
But whenever you looked no one was ever there.
What if you knew you looked hideous…
But someone called you beautiful.
What if you surrendered your heart…
Only to have it betrayed.
As a child... oh, who am I kidding? Even as an adult, my favorite fairy tale was/is “Beauty and the Beast.” I love that story so much, and I’ve often wondered why there weren’t more tales reminiscent of such a classic love story. Stories that capitalize on inner beauty and not the worn out, wearisome accounts of glamorous, perfect, unattainable lead characters. What if there was a modern day take on my favorite tale…. and even better…. What if the beauty bore the disfigurement instead of the beast? Masquerade is that book, complete with a uniquely refreshing, intriguing twist.
Heven is a teenage girl with a stunningly bright future. She’s beautiful, popular and on the cusp of becoming head cheerleader: A perfect life. Funny how perceived perfect lives never stay perfect. Following a long, studious essay-writing session after-hours at the public library, Heven is attacked on her way home. A brutal and mysterious attack that left her scarred. Masquerade is the story of a brave girl’s emotional journey to learning to love herself again and an amazing boy’s love for her - an amazing boy who has some pretty heavy secrets, I might add. Secrets that could bring Heven and Sam’s relationship to a crashing halt.
"I shouldn't feel safe. I never felt safe around anyone new, but his presence was like a blanket to my shivering insides, whatever he projected reached out and wrapped around me, keeping my fear at bay."
I think my favorite character in the story was Heven’s wise and loving grandmother. I never got the chance to know my grandparents, but from the way my grandmother has been described to me, she sounds a lot like Heven’s.
“You are far more than those scars, Heven.”
“Your scars do not define you, young lady. Your actions do.”
And it’s a good thing that Heven has her Grandmother, because her mother is, shall we say, less than supportive? Her answer to everything is Church, Bible study, chicken, and more Bible study. However, I believe there is much more to Heven’s mother than meets the eye, and I look forward to that revelation.
Sam was extremely appealing and quite fascinating. He made it his sole purpose to protect Heven - whatever the cost to him. His character and his back-story were heartbreaking. The way he ached over the attack and the blame he shouldered for what happened to Heven were incredibly sad. His love for Heven: Beautiful. He was willing to go to the ends of the earth and back for her. Never once, did he “see” her scars. He found her just as lovely with her scars, as he did the very first time he saw her.
“I felt as though an invisible tether reached out of me and went directly to her. It tugged at me as I stood there, begging me to close the distance, for just one chance to see her smile.”
“I let her presence fill up every hole inside me. And that first time I saw her smile I knew that I loved her.”
Through Sam’s kindness and love, Heven began to break out of her shell and overcome her reclusiveness.
“He said the words easily, as if they cost him nothing. Yet they were words that were more valuable to me than anything, and I was very afraid that they cost me my heart.
His smile fell away and he grabbed me and began kissing me aggressively, almost like he was angry that I dared to make him feel that way. I answered his kiss with my own.”
Heven’s character really grew in this story. I was unsure about her timidness and withdrawal from the world at the beginning of the story, but watching her develop into a strong and confident young girl was immensely rewarding. Sam saves Heven in more ways than one, but I adore the fact that Heven saves Sam too. Sam needed Heven’s love every bit as much as she needed his.
"His eyes shone like the summer sun with a hint of surprise."
I really liked that Sam’s secret was NOT the secret I had initially guessed, which is what gave Masquerade its uniqueness and originality. Not to get too spoiler-y, but I have a lot of unanswered questions surrounding The Hope and The Hate, Heven’s mother, the gifts that were given to Heven, and also some lingering doubts about Heven’s best friend and her boyfriend. These are all things that will definitely make the reader anticipate what Cambria has in store for Sam and Heven in Charade (Heven and Hell #2).
"I learned a long time ago a person's appearance is only a disguise for who they truly are."
A huge thank you to Cambria Hebert for sending me an ARC of Masquerade and for allowing me to read and review her work.