I love a good forbidden romance. That’s why I generally jump on the tempted priest stories whenever I see them. After all, you don’t get a lot more forbidden than that. Here’s the thing with this book, though — it’s a bit different from your average priest romance, because the hero is about as far from your average priest as they come. He’s hot. He’s ripped. He has a dirty, dirty past filled with sex, drugs, and debauchery. And he really doesn’t even want to take his vows, so much as he feels like he has to. So while there is some teeth gnashing over falling for the heroine, it’s not exactly what you might think.
Thorn has been training to be a priest for the past eight years. He is dedicated to helping others and making amends for the accident that took the life of his best friend, Mikey. The only other thing he cares about is Mikey’s sister, Rose, and looking out for her as he promised his friend before he died. He is also totally hot for her, but he fights it, since he is trying to be a priest and all.
As the story begins, Rose gets roughed up outside the club where she’s been stripping. Thorn drops everything to take her to a secluded lake house to heal. And that’s where all of his carefully laid plans start to fall apart. The entire book basically consists of him fighting his attraction to Rose and failing over and over again.
I had some issues. The biggest was how quickly Thorn lost his priest veneer. How quickly he was talking dirty and doing some decidedly unpriestly things. I would have liked more build, or rather, a slower deconstruction of his new self. I also was disappointed that he wasn’t more devoted to his faith as a foil for the relationship. It was really all self-flagellation over Mikey’s death. As an obstruction to the romance, that wasn’t as strong.
I liked the way Rose was unapologetic about who she was. This woman has really struggled to stand up and be strong on her own two feet. The theme does get drilled in your head a little hard, but she’s not your average damsel in distress that Thorn needs to save. She needs help, but she values her self reliance and I respect that.
The whole “Rose” and “Thorn” thing was a little trite, especially with the corresponding tattoos. And there isn’t a whole lot actually happening in the book, beyond the internal tug of war over whether these two should be together. But there is a good vibe between the hero and heroine that made me keep reading. There is a deep, abiding connection between them, in a world in which they have been largely alone. I wanted them to make it work. Plus, there was enough sexual tension to provide a good payoff on the love scenes.
Overall, I guess I found it something of a mixed bag. But it had enough going for it that I don’t regret the read.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Lust Is the Thorn
by Jen McLaughlin
Release Date: April 19, 2016