Rating: 4.5 stars
Tattoo artist Seth Wheeler watches as his new neighbor, Darren Romero, moves in across the hall from his apartment. Darren hits all Seth’s buttons, he is cute, smart, flirty, with a great sense of humor. Plus Darren seems to like what he sees when he looks at Seth, so things are looking great. Until Seth asks Darren what he does for a living and all Seth’s expectations of a flirtatious romance or even a hot one night stand fly out the window.
Darren Romero came to Tucker Springs to take a position as youth minister at the New Light church in town and that is a very real problem for Seth. Seth is a committed atheist and has been since his church and his family threw him out when he told them he was gay. Now Seth avoids even the mention of church and anyone who believes in religion, even someone as hot and engaging as Darren.
Being neighbors makes it hard for Seth to avoid the minister and Darren refuses to give up on their friendship and possible relationship even as Seth fights the growing attraction between them. Seth knows that Darren is perfect for him in every way but one. Can Seth finally make his peace with the past and the part the church played in his abandonment or will Seth let the man he has come to love slip away because of his faith?
I have loved each and every Tucker Spring novel that has been released and Covet Thy Neighbor is a great addition to the series. L.A. Witt presents us with two beautifully developed characters and adds the unusual element of religion to the mix. Seth Wheeler is a character introduced in previous stories. He has hovered around the other couples as a best friend and tattooist in Tucker Springs but we never learned his story until now.
Seth came from an ultra religious family and conservative church. So when he came out, their reactions cost him his family and faith as he was thrown out of his house and permanently disowned. In describing his past, Witt gives us a very real feel for the deep pain and feelings of abandonment that Seth feels even now years later. The author shows that the loss of family is a wound that never fully heals, and for Seth meeting Darren is like tearing off a scab on his soul. Seth wants to protect himself and for him that means distance. Distance from Darren and distance from the religion that hurt him so deeply.
Darren is his opposite, a man of faith for whom his religion is felt at the cellular level. It is not possible to separate the two. I love that L.A. Witt treats this issue with the seriousness it deserves. So many GLBTQ people have felt abandoned by their churches and religion just as Seth does. Equally true is that not all religions or even individual churches are discriminatory. Some are supportive of the gay community, and it is important to give those pastors and institutions a voice as well. The author does so here with Darren Romero, and it works beautifully.
Darren Romero’s faith is one he has arrived at only after working through a series of obstacles and events that could have derailed that faith at any time. I loved that Darren is such a well rounded religious character. He has his flaws and his moments of doubt. And his past also contains a time where his openess came with a cost. Darren is up front about his sexuality, he is smart, compassionate, and “smokin’ hot”, at ease behind the pulpit as he is in the bedroom. And the arguments and discussions he has with Seth are thought provoking and ones that could be heard in towns across America.
Another element of this story that grabbed me was the GLBTQ youth that Darren worded with and provided shelter for. The scene with Seth and the trans girl rings true. It’s also heartbreaking because you just know how many children out there this girl represents. This novel is just what I have come to expect from L.A. Witt and the Tucker Springs series. A great plot, interesting, fully realized characters and a narrative that moves the plot along at a lively pace. I was astonished at how quickly I finished the story, to my utter dismay. At the end, I wanted more of Seth and Darren, and the kids, and well, more of Tucker Springs.
As I stated before, I can’t get enough of this series, and each new story just cements it place as one of the best continuing series out there. I can’t wait to see what these amazing authors will come up with next.
I love this cover. Much like the other covers of this series, it works on all levels, from the models to the background. Just great.
Here are the books in the order they were written:
Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt