Rosie Thinks: Hate to love stories are hard to get right. Very hard. As in, about one in a hundred actually feel legitimate and don't feature insta-lust and cliches to help the storyline along. This is one of the best examples I've ever read of 'hate to love' done right. Our main characters here are Lucas Cain and Mark Webber. Mark is a gay Anglican priest, committed to helping everyone around him and committed to his job. Lucas Cain just got out of prison after serving three years. The charge? Killing Mark's brother in a drunken bar fight. So can you imagine the kind of hate between these characters? When Mark sees Lucas out celebrating his first night free, he's consumed with hatred and is determined to do his best to make him pay. But Lucas has come out of prison a changed man, and all he wants to do is lead a steady, sober life, and take full responsibility of what he's done.
I've been putting off reading this book for a long time, since I wasn't a fan of one of the man characters being a priest. As a personal issue, I'm not a fan of overly religious stories, especially ones that shove it down your throat. I'm not a religious person at all, and could see the religious aspect in this story totally putting me off. Luckily, I couldn't resist the allure of such a highly rated hate/love story! So if you have the same worries I did, don't be - I found Mark's perspective and personal storyline, wherein he faces problems with the Church, to be interesting and not off-putting at all. One thing I had no idea about was that Anglican priests are allowed to marry, and that they're also accepting of openly gay priests (although I did go to an Anglican school for five years of my life, so oopsy).
Lucas was a fantastic character. He is so filled with self-loathing and guilt that my heart went out to him, despite him committing a horrible crime to land him in jail in the first place. He doesn't make any excuses, and tends to take the weight of the world on his own shoulders, so it was amazing watching him open up to love and healing as he made his own personal journey towards recovery. Which brings me to another thing I really like about this book: both main characters had their own storylines throughout the novel. They had their own battles to fight, and it kept me consistently interested in their story. Not once did I lose interest! The situation at the beginning seems so helpless and traumatic that I couldn't imagine it ever ending happily. But Kate Sherwood did a brilliant job at slowly, realistically bringing the two together, so even the reader could feel the love and forgiveness between the them.