I am such a sucker for a priest-romance. It’s rare I can turn one down, and this one has added angst… not just because the hero is gay, but because his love interest killed his brother.
Lucas barely remembers the night that put him in prison. He knows, though, that drunken bar fight ended with him hitting another man in the head with a bottle, ending his life. He served three years for his crime, and now he’s out on early release. All he wants is to stay out of jail. He plans to walk the straight and narrow. But his old friends have other ideas. They expect him to go back to the man he was before. Only, Lucas doesn’t want to go back.
Father Mark can’t believe that the man who killed his brother is back on the streets, and as the story begins, he doesn’t feel like he can ever get over what Lucas did. But a mutual young friend brings the two men into the same sphere and slowly they begin to see each other beyond their mutual tie to that horrible event.
There’s actually quite a lot going on in this story, from discord between Mark and his church to a homophobic community, to problems with Lucas’s old friends, and then some. The thing is, it all comes together so organically that it doesn’t feel too busy. The author does a very good job bringing the audience inside these men’s complicated lives and does a good job crafting the individual characters before even approaching a romance.
And speaking of the romance, this was a slow burn and all the better for it. The history that binds these two isn’t one easily overcome. But time and exposure helps make their ability to move past it, more believable. Both Lucas and Mark have demons to conquer; each is so sympathetic. Lucas, with his lack of self-worth and Mark, with his inner conflict over his needs versus the needs of the church. I found myself rooting for the peace they only seemed to find with each other.
There are some sexy times and they are well done, but the sex isn’t focus of the story. It’s about the journey each man is on –and how the other helps him get there. A satisfying conclusion, given more depth by the reminder that everything doesn’t have to end perfectly to be a HEA.
*ARC provided by Samhain
Click to purchase: Amazon
Mark of Cain
by Kate Sherwood
Release Date: May 20, 2015