Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Isaac Morris strongly believes in spreading the word of the Lord as he firmly and loudly protests homosexuality at rallies organized by his church at any and all LGBTQ pride gatherings. Following in the footsteps of his father, the leader of the church which has a zero tolerance for that type of sexual deviant Sodomizer, he and his brothers are being groomed to take over the flock when, and if, his father retires. At one such protest, a gay man challenges him to prove that being homosexual is a choice. Stunned, Isaac begins to think through the possibilities of proving that one can choose to be homosexual and one can choose to come back to the Lord and be heterosexual again.
His twin sister, Ruth, encourages him and helps him to convince their father and older brothers that their plan is sound. Their nephew Griffin has been struggling with being gay and is due to be sent to a special camp as a last resort to save him. His father, Isaac’s brother John, supports the project in the hope that it will help Griffin see that he can become “normal” through a conscious decision to change. Ruth, a film major, and Isaac, a recently divorced man, have nothing to lose by setting up a house in Seattle to film a documentary while Isaac infiltrates the gay community to prove being gay is a choice. Motivated by the knowledge that he is helping Griffin and others like him, Isaac stifles his nausea at having to do this project. Focusing on the hope that he can help lead those sinners back to God, they move forward with their plan.
His first foray into attempting a hookup ends up with him being bashed in the alley behind the bar, CapitalOUT. Colton, one of the bartenders, accompanies the bouncers as they head into the alley to break up the fight and rescue the guy. It’s Colton who treats Isaac’s wounds and extends the hand of comfort, healing, and friendship to Isaac. And it’s Colton, whom Isaac turns to when he decides he needs some guidance before attempting this again. Colton is a sweet, quiet, confidant man who conveys a soft-spoken attitude and acceptance of the Lord’s way in most everything he does. Colton volunteers all his spare time at his church, a church which welcomes and supports LGBTQ members and provides a youth center for those teens who have been abandoned by their families.
Pastor Mike once saved Colton from the same fate, and Colton is firm about giving back to the church which saved his life. Over time, Isaac finally acknowledges that the church is based on love and respect for all who seek the Lord, and he has lengthy discussions and debates with the pastor about the sections of the Bible his father uses as a basis for his hatred of homosexuality. Pastor Mike shows Isaac a different interpretation and suggests that Isaac’s father is using the Bible for his own means to spread hatred, rather than love. (To clarify here, no one knows who Isaac’s father actually is.)
Isaac also discovers that he has feelings for Colton, feelings he never felt for his wife, and feelings which scare him. How can he come to care for a man? Is he really gay? Can he possibly go back when this film production is done? And can he break the heart of the wonderful man he’s come to care for? The decision is taken from his hands when his brothers discover his confidential video of his private thoughts about each situation he’s been thrown in. They also discover that he works now as a bartender at CaptialOUT, and they come storming in to pull him away— but not before revealing his secret to Colton— a secret which clearly devastates Colton and tears the couple apart before they ever have a chance to commit to each other.
This is an absolutely wonderful story. It’s long, and non-explicit, but that seems of little importance as it clearly shows the depth of love two men can have for each other. This story is not so much about the sexual attraction as it is about other things that attract one person to another. The beauty of the soul of a man, his goodness shining through, the buildup of trust between two people and yes, even the butterflies in the tummy when their gazes meet across a room.
What happens to Isaac and Colton and how the issues are resolved is both fascinating and engaging and I quickly reached the point where I didn’t want to put the book down. I highly recommend this story to all lovers of M/M romance, and especially to those who struggle with the arguments related to religion and homosexuality and the “word of God” in the Bible. I found the story quite educational and enlightening without feeling as if I were sitting at the foot of a preacher and being spoon-fed Bible studies. This story is also great because it can be shared with family members who prefer to read non-explicit romances or those who may be considered too young to read such stories. I can summarize by saying that when I finished the book, I was stunned by the powerful message and the depth of feeling conveyed to readers. Don’t hesitate to read this one.
Cover Art by L.C. Chase depicts two men, representing the MCs, standing against a background of a crowd of protesters holding up homophobic placards.