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When a man is consumed by hatred, is there anything left to love?
After a tough day of counseling sessions, Anglican priest Mark Webber is looking forward to a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. When he sees who’s bellied up to the bar, though, he reaches for his cell phone to call the police.
It’s Lucas Cain, the man who killed Mark’s brother three years ago. Apparently he’s out of jail and hanging out with his old crowd, which has to be a breach of parole, right?
Pulled over upon leaving the bar, Lucas blows a clean breathalyzer and hopes this isn’t a harbinger of things to come. He’s ready to build a sober, peaceful life. His friends aren’t ready to let him move on, though, and he ends up taking refuge in an Anglican half-way house.
Thrown together, Mark and Lucas find common ground in the struggle to help a young gay man come to terms with his sexuality—and the fight against homophobic townsfolk. As attraction grows, the past is the last stumbling block between them and a future filled with hope.
Warning: Bad boys being good, good boys being bad.
Kate Sherwood has steadily entered my personal “author whose works are usually solid” list. I admit that I haven’t read her popular MMM series – mainly because I don’t like MMM – but the last few books of hers are satisfying.
“Mark of Cain” is quite complex but nonetheless a compelling read. The complexity comes from the situation in which how the two main characters connected. Lucas Cain killed Mark’s brother three years ago. Yes, this is a story about a killer and the victim’s brother. I think throughout the years of my reading MM romance, I can count only few titles offer similar situation (a killer and someone related to the victim). I think that premise is the one that pulls me in – even if I’m not exactly a fan of the religious element (Mark is an Anglican priest).
This is a slow-burned kind of relationship. So do NOT expect instant lust or instant connection. Lucas is adamant to turn his life around; he takes ownership of his crime and if he has to move away from his ‘old’ life, and be alone, so be it. My heart goes to Lucas – I know that he kills Mark’s brother, and I’m not trying to justify his crime, but I also think that people can truly regret things and try to be a better person. Lucas is doing his best and every time he seems to hit bumps on the road of redeeming himself. I’m just happy that he has people who believe in him, like his parole officer, or Elise, the owner of a farm where Lucas works.
Mark is definitely struggling with his growing sympathy with Lucas. It’s truly captivating to read this – because even if Mark wants to hate Lucas, he finds that the young man kind and he actually appreciate the later friendship. Mark is struggling with his own problem coming from the church; even though Anglican church accepts gay priest but it apparently there’s still politics playing and Mark has been stonewalled several times. His friendship with Lucas helps him – and later their growing attraction – makes Mark really feel happy and content and motivates him to do what is right.
There is a secondary plot – well, it’s a plot that brings Mark and Lucas to work together – with a gay teenager named Alex, which I also enjoy.
This is a long novel (my Kindle clocks it in more than 350 pages) but it never feels long. I read it on course of two days – darn working hour! – because I want to see how Mark and Lucas make it.
My only complaint for this book is basically the route that Ms. Sherwood takes when it comes to the church. I am a Muslim so I won’t pretend like I know about being an Anglican (or other form of Christianity) but it seems that the resolution for this just cements the perception that ** mild spoiler ** religion is bad and un-accepting when it comes to LGBT. It might be true in real life, but heck, sometimes I wish for the story that defies this, you know? It gives me hope.
Oh, and maybe at times, Lucas’s martyr behavior frustrates me – although at the same time the fact that he indeed a killer makes me able to dismiss my frustration. It is understandable.
In overall, this is another satisfying read from Ms. Sherwood.