Review: Devout by DK Jernigan, A Leong, A Anderson, A Sparrow & Cari Z

devoutReviewed by Jen

This is a collection of m/m shorts with priest themes. I went in expecting some serious forbidden love angst, but it wasn’t really that at all. The stories are very different, ranging from historical, to paranormal, to contemporary romance.

A Question of Faith by DK Jernigan – This is a very short, slightly paranormal story about a closeted priest, hoping to change a very conservative town from the inside out. Reverend Phillip is a man devout in his faith, and often turns to God for guidance in his actions. His sense of right and wrong is put to the test when a young man who is both gay and Infected with a magical gift is set upon by members of the town. Phillip must decide whether to help the young man and risk all he has worked to build. On top of that, he must consider whether his own attractions are influencing his decisions.

I liked this story. Obviously, in 25 pages, an author can only do so much. But I felt that both Phillip and Evan were fairly fleshed out as characters. There’s a little bit of bedroom play, but closer to third base than full on action.

Never Not a Priest by Annabeth Leong – Our leading man in this short is Father Paul, an Anglican priest, struggling with how his gay relationship fits into his vows of chastity outside of marriage. As the story begins, however, his church is embracing same sex unions and the bishop wants gay clergymen to take advantage of the opportunity.  For the first time in his life, Paul has the chance to live according to the dictates of his heart, without sinning in the eyes of his faith. But has he done too much damage to his boyfriend’s heart with his years of hiding?

This was a gentle story about a man’s struggle with his true faith and desires. There is a real earnestness about God and religion –and their place in a committed relationship. Not what I expected from a collection of stories branded as erotic. There’s sex, yes, but even that is less about the dirty and more of a religious experience. Well written, and with heart, but a little more devotional than I was looking for.

Lust Allure by Ann Anderson – The title of this story is pretty indicative of its content. It definitely rachets up the heat level.  Leo is a priest able to exorcise lust demons.  He and his brother are called into a small town overrun by them –and he has to draw them out. The thing is, he can only do it during sex with one of them. This is a spicy paranormal short –without much in the way of feelings. A good counterbalance to the Leong story.  But I’ll admit all the touchy feeling between Leo and his brother kind of squicked me out. What was up with that?

Water Wheel by Angelia Sparrow – We move from paranormal to historical with this short. Andrew isn’t really so much a priest as one in training. His father is the bishop, but his parentage is a guarded secret. Daddy Dearest is nothing close to a pious man and would use anything at his disposal to get what he wants, including his own son. When Rhys, the son of a neighboring earl comes forward to ask the church’s help in dealing with a drought, the bishop offers up Andrew to assist. Andrew has long fought his feelings for Rhys, but will he be able to stay on his path with temptation so close?

Obviously, not. I felt that for such a devoted guy, Andrew gives in to lust pretty easily. And that moves to love in a hot second.  This struck me as much a fantasy story as a historical one, just because it’s all so unrealistic. I kept waiting for a knight or a dragon to pop up.  It’s not very emotional or very sexy. Just ok.

Son of a Preacher Man by Cari Z – This was probably my favorite story of the collection. Ty is an exorcist who is struggling with the fact that his boyfriend’s body is now inhabited by the soul of a hellhound.  Is there any of Jeremy still there or is it all Seb? –And can Seb ever really have any feelings for him?  I actually felt the mixed emotions from Ty and I left the story wanting more.  The author made me care about these two in a very short time and I think that after this, I might check out more of her work.

Overall, I enjoyed the collection, but I do prefer my anthologies to feature stories that are a little longer.  Some of these were shorter than others, but the last one, especially, made me wish there was more to it.

Rating: B-/C+

*ARC provided by publisher for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Devout
by DK Jernigan, Annabeth Leong,
Ann Anderson, Angelia Sparrow & Cari Z
Release Date: December 14, 2014
Publisher: Storm Moon Press

Comments

  1. These stories sound interesting. I’m not familiar with any of the authors, but I might have to give this a try. Thanks.

    • Jen at Red Hot Books says:

      If you do, let me know what you think. I had not read from any of these authors before this, either.

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