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New Release Blitz: A Face Without A Heart by Rick R. Reed

A Face Without A Heart | Rick R. Reed

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 1, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56,700

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

Smashwords | Kobo

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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.

Excerpt

A Face without a Heart
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
GARY

There is blood on my hands. I look down at a body, a body that’s become a thing—monstrous, ugly, inanimate. It could be a sculpture, a figure formed from wax or porcelain. The soul inside is gone, leaving a shell. I wipe a line of sweat from my forehead with a trembling hand, trying to tell myself these things, trying to believe that what lies at my feet is nothing more than an object, something to be reviled, something not worthy of further consideration.

It’s not easy to believe. Although the corpse does not have a twinkle in its eye or the simple rise and fall of a chest, it’s hard to remove myself from the plain fact that the body possessed those movements, those simple signs of life, just minutes ago. Distance, for now, seems more a matter of location than of feeling. The body at my feet wears the badges of its untimely demise—a dented face, a split-open skull, blood and grayish-pink matter seeping out. The bruises have already begun to rise, ugly yellow-pink things all over the body.

I stoop, plunge my fingers into the deepest hole, the one on the belly, to feel the warmth and the entrails. Amazed that the breathing has stopped. Amazed that I have such power.

I lift a finger to my mouth and slowly run it over my lips, the blackish liquid warm and viscous, metallic to the taste. I recall the vampire films I loved as a youth, never really believing such a thing could exist.

Now I do.

I have stolen a life so that my own might continue. There is something vampiric in that, isn’t there? Because without this theft of a beating heart and an expanding and contracting pair of lungs, I would be unable to live.

Isn’t that the real essence of the vampire?

It seems too quiet here, deep in the basement of a high-rise. A dull clanging is my only accompaniment, pipes bringing warmth and water to tenants above, whose lives continue, ignorant, untouched by my murderous hand. And that’s the amazing thing, the thing that causes my breath, when drawn inward, to quiver.

Life goes on, in spite of this monumental act, just a quick, surprised scream and a heartbeat away.

There is blood on the walls, spattered Jackson Pollock-style. Who can say what is art and what is murder?

This so-called victim who now lies in final repose on a cold concrete floor, staring vacantly at nothing or perhaps at the hell that will one day consume me, can no longer chastise me, can no longer beg me to drop to my knees with him and pray, pray for forgiveness, imploring Jesus to lead me down the path of the righteous.

It’s not too late, he said before I brought the mallet down on his skull, cracking it open like a walnut, slamming it into his windpipe, his gut, an eye socket, his shoulders as he fell, anywhere the mallet would ruin, destroying, sucking life.

He was wrong. The final irony of his existence, I suppose, is that he thought he had the power to do anything, to change another person, whom, I must admit, he cared very deeply about.

No, that power rests in my hand, the death-dealing claw that changed him. And people whine about how change never really lasts when it comes to others, how they always unfortunately revert to their old ways, the ways you don’t want them to be. Anyone who has ever tried to change another knows this to be true. Oh certainly, the change may last a week, a month, even a year. But soon the real person comes back, the one who has been waiting in the wings for just the right cue, the one that will allow him to say “Ah fuck it, I’ve had enough.”

But the change I’ve wrought in my friend can never be undone. He is dead and always will be. I have a power of which psychiatrists and psychologists can only dream. And I accomplished my transformation in a matter of seconds, behind a red-tinged curtain of rage.

Pretty sly, eh? For a man who’s spent most of his life doing nothing but looking after his own selfish needs and pursuing his own pleasures, it’s a pretty accomplished thing. Decisive. For once, a man of action.

I nudge him with my foot and am amazed at the heaviness my friend has taken on in death. His body doesn’t want to give, to roll; it has become a body at rest…forever.

I turn and head back upstairs. There are matters to attend to…clothes to be burned, an alibi to be concocted. People will want answers. And conveniently, I will have none. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. What was it my other friend once told me? “The only people worth knowing are the ones who know everything and the ones who know nothing.”

I know nothing about this. And now I must go back into the realm of the living to ensure my ignorance remains secure.

But alone, I know that ignorance is one of the few luxuries I can no longer afford. Alone, I have only the luxury of time to contemplate how it all began.

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About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.”

Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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New Release Blitz: Pattern For An Angel by CJane Elliott

Pattern for an Angel | CJane Elliott

Release Date: December 1, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Length: 17,150

Buy Link: Amazon

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Blurb

Can an angel gown for a little boy let a single dad and a drag queen stitch together a new pattern for love?

Hospice nurse Gabe Martin is bisexual but doesn’t have time for love—his main priority is raising Ian, his adopted five-year-old son. Ian loves wearing dresses at home and wants an angel gown for his kindergarten holiday pageant.

When Gabe visits a sewing store to get help with Ian’s costume, he’s assisted by a bewitching employee named Loren who opens up Gabe’s focused world.

Drag queen Loren Schuster likes playing with gender norms and wearing skirts and dresses in everyday life. A bad breakup killed his interest in serious relationships, but he reconsiders that stance when gorgeous single dad Gabe walks into the shop.

Loren helps young Ian see it’s okay to be himself, and together, Loren and Gabe create a new pattern for a family full of love.

Excerpt

Oh well, you win some, you lose some, Loren thought after he rang up her purchase. As he was replacing the purple-blue material on the shelf, the bell to the shop door tinkled. The store had been crazy busy, which was to be expected for the Friday after Thanksgiving. He turned. Now there’s someone I’d love to win.

The guy coming in the door was seriously hot—dark and lanky with a mouth made for kissing. He was being steered along by a gal, but they were enough alike to be siblings. Loren hoped. His mouth twitched at the expression on the guy’s face and his wide eyes. Safe to assume he’d never been in a sewing shop before.

Loren stepped out from behind the counter and remembered that he was wearing one of his favorite skirts when the guy’s gaze dropped. He braced himself for some negative reaction and was floored when the guy smiled happily and nudged his companion. She brightened.

“Oh, you’re perfect,” she exclaimed.

“I am? I mean, of course I am, but why?”

“We’re looking for a way to sew an angel dress for a little boy.”

“Aww. That’s wonderful.” Loren waited for Hot Guy to say something, but his smile was more than enough. “Do you have the pattern?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Hot Guy had a deep voice. Lovely. He got the pattern out of his bag and handed it over.

“Hmm. Yes.” Loren inspected it and nodded sagely. “This seems straightforward enough.”

“It does?” Hot Guy was even hotter with that hopeful expression.

The truth was, Loren was talking out of his ass. Mia was the expert, and this was her store. Loren enjoyed being around the fabrics and different materials, the buttons and the lace, because he loved playing dress up. But you could put what he knew about sewing into one thimble. However, Hot Guy and his girlfriend/partner/sister didn’t need to know that.

“The problem is,” the gal said, “neither of us know fuck-all about sewing. I still can’t believe Ian’s kindergarten expects the parents to sew these costumes. I mean, are we in the 1950s or what?”

“So this is for your little brother?” Loren asked.

“My son,” the guy said.

Huh. He didn’t look old enough to have a kindergarten-aged child. Bummer that Hot Guy was apparently married or whatever. But that was the story of Loren’s life.

Then the gal piped up. “Gabe adopted him last year. He’s a great kid.”

Sounded like they weren’t together if only Gabe adopted this kid. “Great. So you’re Gabe, and you’re…?”

“Nita. We’re sister and brother. Gabe’s a single dad.” Nita cut a significant glance at Gabe, who frowned back. Loren could relate. Sisters always loved to meddle in their siblings’ love lives.

“Hi, Gabe and Nita. I’m Loren. I’m sure we can help you figure out the sewing part. Let’s start with material.” Loren’s favorite. White satin was way more fun than drab paisley.

Ten minutes later, after a delicious wallow in all the permutations of white satin, they had the fabric. Gabe hadn’t offered many opinions about which material but had seemed amused by Loren’s and Nita’s many exclamations.

But when Loren confronted the rest of the pattern instructions, his head spun. Mia was usually here and helped folks with deciphering the patterns. Loren could only guess what some of it meant but did his best to pick out thread and other needed parts and assembled them on the counter.

“Well. This is everything.” Loren hoped. He started to ring up the items.

“Everything but a sewing machine. What do we do about that?” Nita asked.

“You can rent them. This seems a simple enough pattern.” Panic rose in their faces, and Loren quickly added, “Or, better yet, you can hire someone to sew the costume.”

“Could you?” Gabe asked, shooting a sudden intense glance in his direction.

Damn. Of course he could not. But something made Loren say, “Why, I’d love to!”

Life was getting interesting. Even if Loren had to learn to sew. By tomorrow. How hard could it be?

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since.

A psychotherapist by training, CJane is an award-winning author whose sexy, passionate stories explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is bisexual and an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

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Review Tour: Mud & Lace by Jay Northcote

 

Mud & Lace | Jay Northcote

Rainbow Place #4

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Universal Link

Length: 240 pages

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design

READ MY REVIEW

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Blurb

When Wicksy falls for drag queen Charlie, they discover that both sexuality and gender can be fluid.

Simon Wicks—Wicksy to his rugby teammates—has only ever been interested in women. But when he sets eyes on Lady Gogo, a drag queen who performs at Rainbow Place, he can’t stop thinking about her. He knows there’s a guy behind the fishnets and make-up, but he’s ready to explore his fantasies, and Lady Gogo is game for making them come true.

Charlie adores performing in drag. It allows him to indulge in his love of cross-dressing while earning some extra cash. Fooling around with a mostly straight guy in secret seems like a fun diversion, and gives him the chance to explore his feminine side. He feels safe wearing the mask of his confident alter ego, because the real Charlie is hidden from view.

When Wicksy sees more of the guy behind the make-up and glitter, his attraction to Charlie persists, and he realises he’s bisexual. In turn, Charlie begins to understand and accept his gender fluidity.

As their mutual journey of self-discovery brings them closer, the secrecy becomes increasingly hard to deal with. If they’re going to have a future together, they both need to find the courage to show people who they really are.

Although this book is part of a linked series, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.

Rainbow Place Series

Book #1 – Rainbow Place – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 – Safe Place – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #3 – Better Place – Amazon US | Amazon UK

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About the Author

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Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

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