Author ~ Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn
Published ~ 8th September
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Can a priest and a rock star obey love's call?
Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld's childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper's calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back.
Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He's determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness.
As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started.
Jasper and Nicky's careers have ruled their lives since they parted as teens. When they come face to face again, they must choose between the past's lingering ghosts or the promise of a new future.
Jasper is the openly gay Catholic priest in his small hometown of Little Heights, Maine. He felt the calling at seventeen and has not wavered from that path, leading the congregation for the past eight years. The church’s official stance is that as long as he is celibate he can be gay and be a priest, although not everyone is happy with him. He loves leading his congregation but his joy is Blue Oasis, the church shelter he runs for LGBT youth.
Nicky aka Nico Blue is the songwriter and guitarist for the rock band Vespertine. I loved Nicky from the moment he hit the page, strung out on heroin, sitting in front of a pile of cocaine, numb and barely functioning. Nicky has known for a long time that his beloved childhood friend turned lover, Jazz, will never come back to him, but even seventeen years later the pain and despair won’t go away.
Fresh out of rehab Nicky returns home to his parents’ house in Maine to continue his recovery and make amends to those people he believes he let down. He knows his time there is limited and he needs to get his life back on track before his management forces the band back into the studio in L.A. His best intentions to make amends with Jazz are immediately derailed when he enters the church confessional with Father Jasper aka Jazz, the only man he ever loved. Jasper is astonished to find out Nicky thinks he never loved him and Jasper vows to change that wrong and support Nicky as a friend.
Nicky’s body is a testament to the love he can’t forget and the man who broke him as a seventeen year old in love. He is not looking to hurt Jasper or ruin the life he has made for himself, but Nicky knows he needs to face up to the reality he has been denying all these years. He also needs to find a place in his new sobriety where the music that has always been a part of him is able to flow again without the anger and the drugs.
As the two reconnect they discover more about the miscommunications, misinformation and parental guidance that led to Jasper’s leaving Nicky for the church so many years ago. Although Jasper has never doubted his beliefs he has sometimes doubted what was behind his decision to serve. It isn’t until Nicky returns that Jasper’s eyes are really opened and he is forced to face the truth behind that doubt. Facing new pressure from the Bishop about the fate of Blue Oasis and the reopening of old wounds and feelings long denied has Jasper rethinking the path he has chosen and Nicky’s place in it.
I have a weakness for both broken boys and second chance stories and I will say that I did read most of this book with tears in my eyes, not just because Nicky has had such a hard time and his pain was so raw, but because of the purity of his love for Jazz. The book is beautifully written and brings out so many emotions. While there is plenty of drama and angst, it was not all what I expected. As Jasper gets to know Nicky again, he is surprisingly rational in much of his decision making with regard to his future path. Watching Nicky and Jazz find their footing around each other and working through their past as the sexual tension builds was delicious. The slow build is necessary as Jasper is serious about his faith and his calling and while his feelings for Nicky resurface quickly, he doesn’t want to hurt Nicky or disrespect his commitment to the church.
In addition to Nicky and Jasper, there are some outstanding secondary characters. Nicky’s adoptive parents are wonderful, caring people who offer unwavering love and support along with Ramona, the bandmate Nicky never really got to know from within his drug induced daze. The kids at Blue Oasis are a light in both Jasper and Nicky’s lives and a source of some lighter moments in the story. While the religious aspect is often front and center as it is a big part of who Jasper is, the book is first and foremost a beautiful story of love and forgiveness and two men finding their way back to the place that makes them happy and whole.
I loved this book!!!