#ReleaseBlitz — A Face Without A Heart by Rick R. Reed + Giveaway & Review

A Face Without A Heart

Rick R. Reed

Blurb

A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”


A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.

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Buy Links

 Amazon US | Amazon UK | DSP Publications

 

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Excerpt


He was beautiful. Beauty is so seldom ascribed to men, too often incorrectly attributed to men with feminine features—wavy blond hair, fine cheekbones, teeth cut from porcelain. But I’ve always thought of beauty as a quality that went deeper than the corporeal… something dark, dense, inexplicable, capable of stirring longings primal, longings one would be powerless to resist.

He was beautiful. I sat on a Red Line “L” train, headed downtown, bags of heavy camera equipment heaped at my side, one arm resting protectively over them. I watched the young man, unable to train my thoughts on anything other than this man who had blotted out the reality of the day, magical and transforming. Beauty, especially so rare a beauty, can do that. The young man was an eclipse, his presence coming between myself and the reality of the day hurtling by outside train windows.

He had come in behind three foreign people, a bright counterpoint to their drab clothes, colorless, already wilting in the August humidity. They chattered to one another in a language unrecognizable, Polish maybe, and I was annoyed at their yammering, unable to block it out sufficiently enough to concentrate on the book I was reading, a biography of William Blake.

I almost didn’t notice him. It wasn’t like me to pay much attention to what went on around me, especially when I was preparing for a shoot. Usually I used the time on the train to set up the photographs I would take, the way I would manipulate light and shadow and how it fell on my models, to arrange the props, set up and test the lighting.

But something caused me to look up when the doors opened—perhaps I was struck by the dissonance created by the unknown language—and I saw him. Close-cropped brown hair, a bit of stubble framing full lips, a bruise fading to dull below his right eye. The bruise did not detract from the man’s beauty but served to enhance it, making of the rough features something more vulnerable. The bruise was the embodiment of a yearning for the touch of a finger, the whisper of a kiss. He wore an old, faded T-shirt with a Bulls logo, black denim cut off just above his knees, and a pair of work boots, the seam on the left beginning to separate. In spite of the workman’s garb, there was something intellectual about the man, an intensity in his aquamarine eyes that portended deeper thought.

At that moment, I made a decision. I don’t know what caprice seized me. I have always led an orderly life, completely without surprise. But when the train pulled to a stop and the young man stood, I acted on an impulse that was as sudden as it was uncontrollable.

Review

I have not read the original, and as this is a retelling—I feel it’s important to say that upfront—so my experience with this book will be on this story alone, and the author’s writing which I found to be completely engrossing, and all-consuming, as I sat and read from start to finish. . .with only doggy breaks in between.

Liam Howard, a photographer and artist, spots a beautiful young Gary Adrion on the "L" train and follows him, hoping to see if he will pose for him. Unbeknownst to Liam, Gary is far more knowledgeable in the art world than he lets on, but he agrees to meet—eventually posing—and the results of the masterpiece cause Gary to see himself—beautiful, flawless—and without realizing he sets into motion a deal with the devil that will change his life forever—ultimately sending himself on a downward, life-altering path. 

I kept saying to myself, "be careful what you wish for." Those around Gary saw him having the perfect world. He was vain and lived a hedonistic lifestyle with far reaching fingers of devastation and as the years pass and Gary falls deeper into drugs, sex, and even murder, he becomes more miserable in his existence knowing there is no way out—the deal has been made.

A Face Without A Heart is told from several points of view—each one telling their thoughts about Gary—what they think he may be doing or what has happened to him. Even before Gary met Liam he seemed to be someone who may have skeletons in his closet. His childhood—while financially secure—was emotionally laden with ill-will and despair.

As the years went on—and the downward spiral continues—he became very jaded, bitter and angry at everything and had no friends except for Henrietta and Liam, and even they had questions that often found no answers or got brushed over. However, Henrietta—in my opinion—is the root cause for everything that went wrong in Gary's life while Liam truly loved him but often found himself at a loss. [Liam] It seemed as if Gary and I, the both of us, were on a collision course with disaster. I didn't know where it would end.

From the first page, I was consumed by the lyrical prose that flowed effortlessly as Reed took me on this journey. The content is graphic in nature, and while disturbing in a lot of places, I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know what would happen next.  The dark, edgy, and gritty narrative kept me on the edge of my seat and a few times I'm sure I was holding my breath.

There’s an underlying fear—or nervous energy—that stays with you from the moment you start reading—and like a train wreck—you have to watch it play out—knowing it will crash and burn. This story will not be for everyone—I would even go so far to say it isn’t even for me—but I truly enjoyed the author’s writing.  I can’t say whether you would enjoy it more, or less, being familiar with the original work. . .as I am not, but since I had no preconceived ideas or expectations, I found it thought-provoking, compelling, and enlightening. 

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Author Bio

Rick R. Reed
is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, "a writer that doesn't disappoint."

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever "at work on another novel."
Stay Connected At These Locations: Facebook Page | Twitter | Google+ | Blog | Website |Bookbub | Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

Giveaway

Cover: Aaron Anderson  🔹 Publisher: DSP Publications   🔹  Length: 56,887 words

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