Rating: 5 out of 5
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Growing up, Jason Stern led a charmed life complete with devoted sisters, a father who was one of Brooklyn’s most respected rabbis, and a mother who made the world’s best babka. He headed to NYU ready for anything—except falling for the wrong guy, coming out, and getting disowned by his once-loving family. In spite of that, Jason managed to graduate with honors. He’s got friends who treat him like family, and he’s proudly running the largest LGBTQ teen shelter in Manhattan. Life is good, but he’s still falling for the wrong men.
When charming, sexy Quinn Fitzpatrick begins work at the shelter, Jason falls hard and fast. Quinn is tall, blond, funny—damn near perfect. Only if Quinn’s gay, even he doesn’t seem to know it. If he does, he’s not telling anyone. And he’s about one ceremony away from becoming a Catholic priest.
Long hours of work turn to long nights of talking and laughter, and Jason dares to hope this time he’s falling for the right guy. But Quinn’s got a past to deal with and major decisions to make about his future. When Quinn leaves for a silent retreat, Jason knows the silence may change everything.
Only one thought crossed my mind when I read the blurb for this novel: OMG a Jewish MC! It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, especially in romance novels. But here’s an author I love, writing about a character I can relate to? *fist pump*
Jason is everything that I want in a character. He’s conflicted about his religion, separated from his family due to his sexuality, and a fantastically complex blend of selfless and flawed. He devotes his life to the LGBT homeless youth shelter where he works, and that’s where he meets Quinn.
Oh wow, Quinn! In training to become a Catholic priest, but taking a break while he double checks that the path he’s on is one he really wants to continue with. But what I love about him is how logical he is; he examines everything, even his faith, and never makes a decision until he’s certain.
“You’re sure he’s not leaving the priesthood because he’s gay?”
“I don’t think so.”
“But you’re not sure. Sheesh. How romantic would that be? Leaving the priesthood to pursue you.”
“Yes. You said you’ve gotten close. What if he has this massive crush on you and he’s going to renounce the priesthood so you two can be together?”
She let out a dreamy sigh.
“What the fuck did they put in your egg cream? Mine’s made with milk and syrup and sanity. I think you got the crazy seltzer.”
Karen did an excellent job writing these characters. The religious discussions were never overt, but still permeated the novel, becoming a fundamental part of who Jason and Quinn are. Their relationship with each other was gorgeous (and so, so sexy!), and their relationships with their families, especially Jason’s, caused some delicious tension.
This is one of those books that will completely own you from the moment you pick it up until the moment you finish it, and will linger in your soul for days after.
[Also, I read this over Hanukkah, and the scene where Jason and Quinn celebrate Hanukkah made me so homesick that I almost cried.]