Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ARC Review: Lead Me Not by Ann Gallagher

Lead Me Not
From the blurb:

Isaac Morris has devoted his life to preaching against the sin of homosexuality. But when his sister proposes a documentary to demonstrate once and for all that it’s a choice—with Isaac choosing to be gay as proof—he balks. Until he learns his nephew is headed down that perverted path. Isaac will do anything to convince the teenager he can choose to be straight . . . including his sister’s film.

When Isaac’s first foray into the gay lifestyle ends with a homophobic beating, he’s saved and cared for by Colton Roberts, a gentle, compassionate bartender with a cross around his neck. Colton challenges every one of Isaac’s deeply held beliefs about gay men. He was kicked out by homophobic parents, saved from the streets by a kind pastor, and is now a devout Christian. Colton’s sexuality has cost him dearly, but it also brought him to God.

As the two grow closer, everything Isaac knows about homosexuality, his faith, and himself is called into question. And if he’s been wrong all along, what does that mean for his ministry, his soul, his struggling nephew—and the man he never meant to love?

Heather's rating:

Christian romance for the M/M crowd? Apparently so.

I can see why L.A. Witt adopted a new pen name for this book: it is a HUGE departure from her normal stuff, so if you are expecting smoking hot man sex and dirty talking, look elsewhere. This is a totally clean romance with only kissing on page. Everything else is only vaguely alluded to. It is also pro-religion, treating Christianity with respect and showing how devotion and faith can coincide with being queer. If that isn't your thing, look elsewhere. I enjoyed reading something that was different from my usual reading material, but I found that the relationship development took a backseat to the religious messages.

I've always been fascinated by religious zealots, or really anyone that strongly believes in a faith. For a mostly cultural Jew with liberal opinions on social issues, I have a surprising number of very religious friends. For a time, my closest friends were a group of wig-wearing, no opposite sex touching, virgins until marriage, long sleeves and tights in summer, Orthodox Jews. I also have a number of Mormon friends, and I am lifelong friends with not just one, but two girls who grew up to be lesbian pastors. But honestly, the only time I have ever been frightened or turned off by a religious person was when I met my friend's Fundamentalist Christian cousins. They reduced me to tears, preaching about the word of Jesus and how my heathen Jewish ways were wrong. There was no gray area, in their minds: I was going to HELL.

Because of that power of that encounter, I have my doubts that this book would ever happen in real life. The people who grow up in churches that homeschool and preach fire and brimstone would probably never consider trying to "be gay" as an experiment, even if they were repressing their homosexuality. I don't really buy it, but I went with it anyway.

First of all, I think that the author did her research well. There are a ton of scripture passages quoted, and there are many arguments about their interpretations from both the anti-gay and pro-gay Christian backgrounds. I was a little lost with some of the Bible references, but I sort of hung in there. I think if you have even a working knowledge of the old and new testaments, you would probably be able to follow along... sort of. It is nice that the author really goes so far to show different arguments against homosexuality and how you could disprove them in a religious context. However, on the flip side, much of this book is devoted to religious discussion, which left the relationship development as sort of an afterthought, for me.

I think my problem is that I didn't feel a ton of chemistry between Isaac and Colton. It sort of felt like they were together mainly because they were both Christian and patient with one another. It isn't a really bad thing because I feel like the focus on the book is meant to be on reconciling religion and homosexuality with romance as a catalyst, but it isn't what I prefer to read about.

I think if you have an interest in religion and want to read a story that is different from the usual, you should try this book. I honestly could see this book distributed in LBGT Christian youth groups like the ones depicted in the story. It feels like a book about how "everything happens for a reason," which can be a powerful message for some people. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but I'll stick to the smutty stuff from here on out.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Preorder this book (Expected publication date: August 24th):

Riptide, Smashwords, Amazon

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