From the blurb:
Tattoo artist Seth Wheeler thinks he’s struck gold when Darren Romero rents the apartment across the hall. The new guy is gorgeous, witty, and single, plus he’s just the right blend of bold and flirtatious. Perfect.
Except then Darren reveals that he moved to Tucker Springs to take a job as the youth pastor at the New Light Church. Seth is not only an atheist, but was thrown out by his ultra-religious family when he came out. He tends to avoid believers, not out of judgment but out of self-preservation.
But Darren doesn’t give up easily, and he steadily chips away at Seth’s defenses. Darren is everything Seth wants in a man . . . except for that one massive detail he just can’t overlook. Is Darren’s religion the real problem, or is it just a convenient smokescreen to keep him from facing deeper fears? It’s either see the light, or risk pushing Darren away forever.
What I love about L.A. Witt is that she isn't afraid to try new things. Where most other authors don't want to go there and write a M/M romance with religion in it, L.A. Witt dives right in. In fact, I think she is one of the most fearless authors out there, trying her hand in all sorts of genres, all sorts of pairing, all sorts of genders, all sorts of races, and just going for it!
I've read about two dozen (!!) L.A. Witt books, if you count all of her other pen names, and it is always a mixed bag of good and bad for me. I liked this story, but I really had conflicted feelings about it in the end.
I'll start by talking about the narrator, Charlie David, who is very popular in the world of M/M. Now, I enjoy Charlie David a lot, and I think he does a fabulous job with his emotions and timing while reading, but it drives me UP A WALL when a narrator doesn't change his voice when reading two MCs. It literally makes me crazy. I really, really need my narrator to have very separate voices for both MCs, and really for all side characters too, and I'm not particularly happy with anything less. I found this narration to be a bit frustrating because, while I loved Charlie's acting skills, I had a hard time following who was talking some of the time.
Now, in terms of the plot, this book also has me divided. I'm always interested in reading stories with religion in them because, well, I'm fascinated by really religious people. Some of my closest friends in the past have been orthodox Jews, and I've learned so much about what really believing in something intangible means (interesting lessons for a mostly secular Jew like myself). I personally am friends with three different ministers/rabbis, the two ministers both being lesbians (what are the odds??), and only one of them can I picture dating a non-believer. Mixed religion relationships are very difficult things to navigate, as I know well, having dated a devout Catholic and then marrying an atheist.
Honestly, I had a hard time imaging someone who is a pastor marrying a non-Christian. I really struggled with it. Even if Darren decided that he didn't mind having open discussions with someone who didn't share his beliefs, it is hard to forget that Darren's whole JOB requires him to give sermons and spend lots of time at the church. There are also many holidays to observe, traditions to preform, and speeches to make. It was just unfathomable to me that these two men would be able to be together and not participate in these events as a unit.
My husband is an atheist who was raised Christian, and the only way it has managed to work out so well between us is because he is totally cool with us doing the Jewish holidays and traditions. If my husband really believed that Jesus was his lord and savior and wanted our kids to believe too? Yeah, it would never work between us. It is one of those things that I tried to wrap my brain around in the story, and I'm still not sure if it made total sense to me, even knowing that Darren's religious beliefs are only one facet of his life and not even close to the whole thing.
Much of this book (most, I'd even venture to say), focuses around sex and discussions of religion. Seth and Darren both have baggage from past relationships and past religious experiences, and it was really interesting to read about that, even if it wasn't new ground for me. In terms of sex, these guys had a lot of it, and I thought that scenes were really hot and well done. I liked the chemistry between these two guys, and though I wish I had Darren's POV, I thought that the story was well-told.
This whole review is a jumble of mixed emotions. It was an easy listen, with some good and some not so good, but it made me think so I guess we can call it a win.
**Copy provided in exchange for an honest review**
Catch ya later!