Review: Vespertine, by Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn

The Blurb:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]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.

 The Stats:

Published:      September 7, 2015
Print Length:  396 Pages
Genre:             M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher:       Ledra
POV:                3rd Person of both MCs
Type:               Stand Alone

See the book on GoodReads.


The Review:

4Star

I was really excited about this book because of the publicity leading up to its release as well as the high-praise reviews I saw.

This was very much a second-chance, friends to lovers, opposites attract, lion-falling-in-love-with-the-lamb romance.

As the blurb states, Jasper and Nicholas were childhood friends/sweethearts and were then ripped apart. They both followed wildly divergent life paths into adulthood; one becoming a rock god, the other a priest. Let me just say…that premise alone had me clamoring to get my hands on this.

The Rock God, Nicholas, with his tats and humor and the wildness about him was swoon worthy. His addictions and salacious past were gut-wrenching, but pretty much what you’d expect of the rock-star lifestyle. His start in life wasn’t so great with the exception of two Cleaver-esque parents who never stopped loving him and supporting him, no matter how restless he was. Regardless of his addictions and fame, he’s a really good guy and there’s a lot about him to fall in love with.

The priest, Jasper, was lovely. He truly came across as a wide-eyed, sheltered innocent in so many ways. Almost like his maturity levels on some things were stunted due to his priesthood and sanctuary from the worldly temptations ‘regular’ folk face every day. He embarrassed easily, he could be shocked easily, he blushed easily…and got nervous easily. It was adorable and endearing.

These two gorgeous characters were a pairing of sin and virtue, fire and water, dark and light, the lion and the lamb. Together they somehow made sense. It was sweet and hot and a little explosive seeing these two come together. They worked well together, strengthening each other, holding each other up, finding the median where they both fit.

While I loved the premise, I need to state that I’m not a big fan of a lot of religion in my romance books. I can take it in small doses. Unfortunately, for me, the dose was a wee bit high here with scripture and prayer. I get it. The book is half about a priest. However, I’d nearly about had my fill before the half-way mark. Just…a little much, is all I’m saying. I think the ‘priestly’ side of story could have held just as strong without some of it.

Another small issue that I think is holding me back on a full-on five star review is that I kind of wanted more angst from Jasper regarding his decision to leave the priesthood. His reasons were multi-faceted, not wholly to do with Nicky, but I’d think that his decision to leave would have been filled with so much more turmoil. I’m not Catholic, I don’t know what I’m talking about there other than what I’ve always understood about the priesthood from friends, literature, media, etc. With that sort of calling-from-on-high, it just doesn’t feel authentic to me that he would have walked away without more soul-deep reflection.

Some conflicts seemed a resolved just a bit too hastily, the above for one. Also, there was a bit of a misunderstanding between these fellas in their youth that ultimately drove them apart and set them on such opposite paths. They talked it out, it was a mildly angsty moment…then it seemed like was resolved.

So, to that end, there were some weighty arcs and sub-plots here that I think could have/maybe should have been dug into just a little bit more.

But still, this was a gorgeously written and engaging story. I’m SO glad I read it. And I’m happy to recommend it to my fellow readers.

Read September 19-23, 2015 and review posted on GoodReads

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