Review: Priest

Review: PriestPriest (Priest, #1) by Sierra Simone
on June 18, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 354

FINAL DECISION: Shock content but very shallow. The “priest” in this book knows nothing about being a priest and never acts the part at any part in this book. I didn’t find any connection between these characters.

THE STORY: Tyler Bell is a priest who has his world changed when Poppy Danforth comes into his confessional one day.

OPINION: This book disappointed me on all levels. It was not edgy, it did not depict any real conflict on Tyler’s part, and it didn’t even deliver a particularly good romance. I’ve read other books by Simone that were really good.  If I had started with this book, I wouldn’t have read any further.

Tyler doesn’t seem like a well formed character. If an author is going to set up a conflict, there should be something real about it if the book pretends to take place in contemporary society. Unfortunately, this book strikes me as someone who thinks they know about Catholicism and thus has done no research into the actual conflicts that arise when a priest falls in love. Priests do leave the priesthood, but this hero strikes me as someone who doesn’t really have a deep spiritual life that would be expected from someone who went through the formation for the priesthood. The unreality about and denigration of the Catholic religion made this book unreadable for me and it took me weeks to get through it. And the denigration is not the attempt to be edgy and have characters do incredibly blasphemous acts. It is the fact that Tyler’s conflict doesn’t feel real.

For example, at one point he goes to his congregation and states that “God is bigger than our sins. God wants you as you are — stumbling, sinning, confused…This won’t come easy to us Catholics. In a way, it’s easier to dwell on sin and guilt than it is to dwell on love and forgiveness.”  Ironic, considering that this is the exact purpose of Sacrament of Reconciliation aka Confession. Catholics should be aware that God loves them and wants them to come to him and will receive love and forgiveness. Any priest who has gone through a modern formation would certainly be aware of the focus on this by the Catholic Church. It is a stereotype of the Church that it is gloomy and sin focused.

Not only at this point, but throughout the book, Tyler doesn’t seem to know much about an adult, full educated and informed Catholicism as would be required of a man who had gone through the rigorous formation necessary to become a priest. The Church has suffered from a number of bad, horrible, non-faithful priests throughout the years breaking their vows and committing horrible crimes, but this is supposed to be the hero of the story.

This could have been a great book if it had taken Tyler’s conflict seriously. Instead, the book seems like it is arguing against a straw-man version of the Church. I know of several men who left the priesthood for various reasons related to their changing view of their purpose in life. Perhaps they wanted to be married, perhaps they decided they had differing views from the Church. This book doesn’t take the conflict seriously because it comes from a lack of correct information.

I had another visceral problem with Tyler’s journey. In Catholic parlance, a priest is married to the Church. Thus, from the beginning Tyler is committing a type of adultery with Poppy. Perhaps because I took his vows to the Church seriously, I didn’t find his pursuit of Poppy (from the moment he met her) as romantic, but rather as a type of betrayal. In essence, this is a cheating book for me and in order for me to accept the romance, I have to have real reasons for the break from the existing relationship. The inability to provide any real foundation for Tyler’s dissatisfaction with his priestly state — other than wanting sex — undermined this book at every turn.

This fed into my real problem with this book — the romance just didn’t work. There was no connection between Tyler and Poppy other than sex. While sex can work to create a relationship in romances. Here, I never got a sense that these characters had any connection other than lust. Poppy never really gets to know Tyler and Tyler certainly doesn’t connect with Poppy’s interior life. Indeed, my conclusion at the end of this book is that neither of these characters have any deep interior at all.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book gets so many basic facts about the Catholic priesthood wrong, it was difficult for me to take it seriously from the beginning. Other readers who don’t know basic things like it takes at least 6 to 9 years for a man to become a priest might not be so bothered.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PRIEST is the first in the Priest series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 1.5 stars.


Review: Christmas in Silver Springs

Review: Christmas in Silver SpringsChristmas in Silver Springs (Silver Springs, #6) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #6
Published by MIRA on October 29, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 432

FINAL DECISION: This is a book about rebuilding. Both Tobias and Harper are starting new lives. I found their struggle emotionally satisfying although I really didn’t like that Tobias kept his secret for so long. That was a bit annoying even though I understood his character’s motivation. I just think that they needed more time to process the truth so I docked the book a little.

THE STORY: Tobias Richardson has just been released from prison after serving a long sentence for shooting someone when he was seventeen. Tobias is determined to turn his life around and moves to Silver Springs to be with his brother. When he spots a woman he is instantly attracted to, he notices that she seems sad and gives her a rose. Harper Devlin is on the verge of having her divorce from her rock star husband finalized. After a decade of marriage, he wants his freedom to explore his superstar life and has left Harper and their two children. But Tobias can’t bear to tell Harper the truth about his past and Harper isn’t sure her marriage is over which complicates the relationship these two keep wanted to explore.

OPINION: A book about forgiveness and starting over, I thought that the multitude of relationships that were about forgiveness worked tremendously well for me.

Tobias is a man literally starting his life again after spending all of his adult life in prison. While he is strong, he also has a soft heart. I loved how kind he is to Harper even when she was hurting him with her behavior. He is always concerned about her feelings even to his own detriment because he wants her to be happy. He also doesn’t really feel that he deserves happiness.

This book is about layers and various types of forgiveness. Ultimately, Tobias must forgive himself in order to seize his own happiness.

Harper is having to find her own footing after her husband asked for a divorce in order to live the good life of a rock star. He’d rather sleep with groupies than spend time with his wife and children. We meet her right as her divorce is becoming finalized and her relationship with Tobias helps her find herself. Things are complicated by the tug and pull of her ex-husband who wants another chance. Harper is torn between a new relationship and keeping her family together.

I found her bouncing back and forth frustratingly realistic, but I was annoyed by her because she really was hurting Tobias with her actions.

The only part of this book that bothered me is that Tobias waits too long to tell Harper about his past. That might have been okay, but I didn’t really feel like the reality of his past was confronted by these two as they get together in the end. I needed more exploration of their relationship when they are together and honest with one another. But that was a small complaint about what was overall a satisfying story.

This book has a beautiful ending which stayed with me long after I finished the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: I didn’t like Atticus much after UNFORGETTABLE YOU, but he has been redeemed for me in this book. I hope we get his story soon.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHRISTMAS IN SILVER SPRINGS is the sixth book in the Silver Springs series. It operates as a standalone although I think there is more depth to the story (involving the side characters) if the reader has read UNFORGETTABLE YOU (which is about the hero in this book’s brother).

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Dragon Reunion

Review: Dragon ReunionDragon Reunion (Dragon Hearts 8) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Dragon Hearts #8
Published by Carole Mortimer on 1st November 2019
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 110

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable little story that gives a view of everyone’s happy ending with a new story about a familiar stranger that comes to the Pendragon home. Insta-love with almost no character development, but I liked it anyway.

THE STORY: Maddox Wilder unexpectedly ends up in Wales and is drawn to the Pendragon Castle where he meets a strange family and a young woman, Carys Evans. There is something very familiar about the Pendragon brothers, but Maddox and Carys are intensely attracted to one another. Maddox has secrets and maybe some things to learn about himself.

OPINION: This was a fun story. The setup is pretty predictable for those who have read the series. Man sees woman and instant attraction between them ends up with them as mates.

The nice thing about this one is that there is a stranger who arrives at the family castle. I thought this story worked better as an organizing device than others in the series.

There isn’t much to the story between Maddox and Carys as their attraction and “love” is instantaneous. Rather, this is a story hanging on who Maddox actually is.

A simple and non-complex story, but I found it enjoyable for an easy read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a nice little story to close out the series. We get to see all the couples and get some update on them as part of the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DRAGON REUNION is the eighth and final book in the Dragon Hearts series. It’s better to read this book as part of the series because there are lots of characters and situations that only make sense if the other books are read.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.