The Darkest Gift by Len Handeland
Two worlds collide in this story: one man, the other a vampire. They form a strong bond and, eventually, are bound by a blood covenant known as the dark gift. They are destined to create their own world until their love is violently ripped apart by jealousy and rage. Love eventually triumphs over despair and misery in a different place and time. Are they destined to be together?
Laurent Richelieu is a 250-year-old vampire whose lover and vampire maker, Fabien Levesque, is destroyed in front of him by his vampire maker Stefan in a jealous fit of rage, exacting revenge for Fabien’s rejection of him. Laurent narrowly escapes and leaves Paris to settle in the New World. He anonymously seeks shelter and refuge in the newly established city of New Orleans, with his trusted servant Barthelme sworn to Laurent’s secret. Cloaked in darkness, Laurent struggles with modern times and, in deep despair, haunts the French Quarter’s jazz bars. He listens to beautiful music and seeks out dark tables in the back to hide his blood-soaked tears and mourn the loss of his long-lost love, Fabien.
Deep isolation and loneliness also consume Jack Devereaux, a man’s man who struggles to accept his true sexual attraction to other men and who recently came out of a ten-year failed marriage to a woman. Jack feels estranged from connecting with his gay community because his Catholic faith forbids it. He feels as if he’s unable to exist as either straight or gay. His reluctance to accept his true sexuality leads him from one disastrous sexual encounter to another. Swearing off his same-sex attraction leads Jack back into a straight jazz bar where he unknowingly meets a refined and elegant gentleman that entices, attracts, and, oddly, disturbs Jack. Are they destined to be together? Does Laurent honestly care for Jack? Or is there a much more sinister plot involved? Can the help of a self-described Voodoo High Priestess named “Queen Raphaella” alter Jack’s predestined future, or is his fate already sealed?
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Len Handeland pursued a career in fashion illustration by attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in Manhattan. At FIT, Len studied a wide range of art, design, and illustration courses. However, Len eventually found himself in the hair industry, where he had a successful 27-year career as a sought-after hair stylist, colorist, and salon owner. Throughout his career, Len owned several hair salons, including one in San Francisco’s Union Square for nine years and two in Sonoma Wine Country for eight years. After retiring from the hair industry, Len became a full-time writer in the spring of 2021.
Len has become an award-winning fiction author, focusing on vampires, paranormal activities, and murder crime dramas. He has been passionate about writing since middle school and has taken numerous creative writing classes to refine his skills. In 2017, Len attended The San Francisco International Writer’s Conference, where he found inspiration for his first book, “The Darkest Gift,” based on his love for vampires. He credits the late Anne Rice as the author who inspired him to write his dark vampire story. Len’s debut novel received 5-star reviews from readers and professional book reviewers, and it became a finalist in the American book fest contest in the fall of 2021.
Len’s first novel, “The Darkest Gift,” won first place in the Bookfest 2022 Fiction/Horror category awards. In addition, Len’s book and author interview was featured in the fall literature issue of “DeMode” magazine, where Len’s book was named one of the ten must-read books of 2021. Furthermore, Len’s second novel, “Requiem for Miriam,” a murder crime drama with paranormal activity, won the 2022 Literary Titan Award for Fiction/Horror. His third book, “Tales from the Chair,” based on his 27 years in the hair industry, won the Firebird award in 2022 under the beauty category. Currently, Len is writing his fourth book, “Transplanted Evil,” which will be published in August 2023.