I picked up this story for two reasons. One was because I have already enjoyed two other stories from this series that has more than one author tackling characters who all live and work in the same town. The second reason was sheer curiosity. I had to know how a story about a minister and an atheist tattoo artist could possibly work. In the end, I have to applaud the author for showing that for these guys that wasn’t the real barrier to their relationship. Personally, I’m still a bit unsettled by some of their discussions/arguments and what happened to them in their past. I suspect it will be that way for many other people too so fair warning that no matter what you believe it will probably be challenged in this one.
Seth is a tattoo artist who lives above his business. Seth is a little worried about what sort of neighbor he’ll get now that the apartment across the hall is being let out again. The moment he claps eyes on Darren he is attracted. They go out for a getting to know you beer and Seth can’t believe his good fortune. Darren is all things good in his book including just as interested in him as he is in Darren. That is until Darren drops what is like a bombshell on Seth. Darren is a minister. Seth wants nothing to do with church or Christianity ever again after the way his church growing up and his parents treated him. But this thing he feels with Darren-
The story continues with Seth and Darren going back and forth between awkward and comfortable. Darren is honest and open without being judgmental, but that still isn’t enough to set Seth’s issues at rest. Seth even sees Darren in action and feels happy with Darren, but he still can’t get past his personal hang-ups. It ends up driving the wedge between them that Seth was worried that Darren would do. Seth has to really start looking deep inside and listening to his friends before he loses something really good.
The plot is a gentle one in ways because its all about getting past barriers that are of the mind and heart and not something external. There are still steamy encounters which I’m still rattled about because they involved a minister, but hey, that’s on me. Its told from Seth’s point of view which was interesting in a way because he’s the one that was really struggling. I liked how it left Darren this shining light and beautiful man, but still an enigma in ways until the very end when Darren reveals the last of his secrets to Seth. My heart went out to Darren then as it did to Seth in the beginning when his hurts were revealed. I appreciated how the author respected both sides of the coin here and showed that there are good people on either side and false assumptions can go both ways. I think in the end the romance took a back seat in some ways- it had too because of the sort of barrier there was going in to this one. It left off with a realistic and authentic, but yet very hopeful happy for now.
Those who enjoy a deep-seated heart squeezing inner struggle of their characters along with their romance should give this one a try.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing the copy for review purposes.