I loved the only other Ace Collins book I've read, The Christmas Star, but I've found that Christmas novels can often be different from an author's regular style of work. Having now read the most recent release by Ace Collins, I can say that's definitely the case here. The Christmas Star and The Cutting Edge have little in common besides the author. The former is a nostalgic look at the Christmas season, while this book's narrative is stark and often violent. The pages describing Leslie's assault are particularly harrowing. I wanted to skip over them, but forced myself to at least get the gist of what happened.
Leslie has everything going for her, but has never had much control over her life. Her mother and her agent have determined its course, and now an unidentified gang of men have turned it upside down. Even as she recovers, Leslie's agent seeks to keep her hold on the young woman's image and profit from her misfortune. Her mother sees Leslie only in terms of her looks, thus undermining any hope for psychological recovery. Leslie can either listen to her mother or an encouraging friend. One will lead to despondency, the other to a new life. In the meantime, is Leslie's attacker still stalking her?
The Cutting Edge is a contemporary thriller about a battle between good and evil, and morality versus power. While the timeline seems somewhat unrealistic, there are twists and turns that give a new perspective to what's come before. There was one twist I certainly didn't expect. The characters vary in their relationships both before and after the attack. The agent's true regard for Leslie is soon revealed, but Leslie's cousin, Meg, is a major factor in her recovery. Meg is the encouraging Christian at Leslie's side, but she isn't a one-dimensional, always patient, always smiling caricature. Naturally, there's the expected positive ending, but it's a book I nevertheless enjoyed.
Thank you to Abingdon for my free Advance Reader Copy of The Cutting Edge, which I received in exchange for an honest review to be written and posted by me within a certain timeframe.
A young woman comes home to seek approval or is she looking for justification about a decision she has made mentally, but not acted on. She is about to come against the biggest threat of her life. While not making anyone aware she is on her way home, just waiting for a cab, Leslie Rhoads finds herself ensnared in a trap that leads her down an unbelievable and unforeseeable life-altering experience.
Meg is an ER nurse who is Leslie's cousin and is shocked when a young woman near death is wheeled into the emergency room. She calls up from deep within herself the ability to hold herself together while seeing such brutality. What she later realizes is that she knows the patient, and the patient has been running away from her life in the small town of Springville for years.
Leslie's mother is a character almost beyond description and is not the most caring or compassionate mother when she first sees the scars left by the assault to her daughter; all she can see is lost money. As hours turn into days and days into weeks, the police are stumped and not sure how to proceed.
In the meantime, as Leslie vainly tries to end her suffering, she is engaged with a little patient in the same hospital who suffers similar pain. Is the pain merely skin deep or does it go all the way into the soul of the victim? Will those who did such a violent act ever be brought to trial?
By the way, a high school flame comes to visit Leslie just after her first surgery and she is unable to view anything other than blue eyes. Leslie believes she is "ugly" through and through and if Hunter is interested in her it is a missionary date and nothing more, but is it? For those who don't know what missionary dating is, it is going out with someone for reasons other than relationship interest.
So many characters bring this novel to life that the reader might even forget this isn't reality! Each time I started a new chapter the climax kept building as the reader knows that the antagonist isn't simply going to disappear. The questions beg to be asked of how will he or she be caught and brought to justice through good police work or cooking oil? Now you might want to know what I mean by police work and cooking oil, it is clue which will be understood once the novel is read!
Since Leslie can no longer be a model and believes she has no other life beyond her past endeavors, as well as no high school diploma, what are her options? Where is her faith in the Lord and does she trust Him to bring about the healing of her heart along with the deepest desires of her heart?
Ace Collins in his new book, "The Cutting Edge" published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Leslie Rhoads.
From the back cover: When your entire future is destroyed, why would you bother to rebuild?
Leslie Rhoads may have grown up in a small town, but is on the verge of becoming a supermodel in the Big Apple, when the 24-year-old is chosen to grace the cover of Style magazine and star in the controversial Passion Nights perfume ads. But before she can step into the spotlight, Leslie is assaulted by a drug gang and disfigured with a broken scotch bottle. Without her perfect face, she is lost and no amount of surgery can ever make her what she once was.
Now trying to hide her face from the world, Leslie encounters more trouble as she seeks to rebuild her life: unrequited love, thoughts of suicide, and her assailant out to finish the job. Little does she know that a young girl named Angel will turn it all around, showing Leslie the joy and potential in life and the fact that love truly is blind.
Ace Collins understands that what we judge others by is the face. If the face looks good then we say the person is good, whether that is the case or not. Leslie is about to take over a prime perfume account and become what she always dreamed about: a supermodel. That dream is shattered by a gang attack and a beer bottle. Her face is badly scarred and irreparable. Now what does she do? And on top of everything her attacker wants to finish the job he started. I think this is a brilliant character study with the focus on beauty. Mr. Collins throws in all kinds of sub-plots that keep the story moving briskly As Leslie begins to move on with her life. Through Mr. Collins' excellent writing skills we come to understand Leslie and want her to be healed from her almost crushing pain. Mr. Collins has given us themes of devastating loss, and forgiveness and how we can deal with them. This is a fun read that gives us a lot to think about.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Leslie is a New York model at the top of her career. When her agent suggests the next big step in her career is an advertisement that requires nudity, Leslie knows she needs to go home and talk to her parents. Her conservative upbringing makes faint warning bells sound. The flight puts her in her hometown airport late at night. While she waits for a taxi she is abducted. When she refuses their advances, one of the men takes a broken scotch bottle and attacks her face. She nearly bleeds to death before she is found.
For Leslie, the struggles have just begun. Her perfect face was who she was. How can she live with her identity torn and deeply scarred?
This is a powerful study in what makes a human beautiful. Others try to convince Leslie that beauty is within and that who she really is still resides within her. We follow Leslie as she is angry at God, as she wants to die, as she begins to come to understand who she really is on the inside. We endure her mother who groomed Leslie from birth to be the physically beautiful woman she could never be herself. We root for Hunter who loved Leslie in high school and loves her still. We observe with awe as Leslie meets a six year old girl who is so scarred on the inside Leslie can only weep. And we hold our breath as the slasher comes back to finish the job.
This is a character driven novel as Leslie confronts so many issues when her life so dramatically changes. Reading groups would have a great deal to discuss. Is it healthy to place one's self value on something like appearance, or a job, or a husband? What do you do when that one thing is destroyed? How do you keep living and find new meaning to your life? How do you establish your own identity when a parent wants to force one on you?
The writing is not eloquent. There are no memorable sentences. But the character issues carry the story along so well that you want to read to the end. And you are rewarded with hope for Leslie and others scarred so deeply.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.