Author: Renae Kaye
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska
Rating: 3.00 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/02/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Gay, Gay Romance, Romance
Safe: Book Two
Andrew and Paul learned about God and Jesus in different churches and realize their views of spirituality are worlds apart.
Andrew was raised Catholic and was told his homosexuality was a sin. For his entire life, he hid the truth. He married and had children to present a façade to the world—that of a straight man. It’s not until he has an affair with Paul, who shows him a different side of Jesus, that Andrew realizes he can be gay and still believe in God. Paul’s Jesus is one of acceptance and love, and in Paul’s church, being gay is not a problem.
For Paul and Andrew, falling in love is the easy part of their journey. They must make it through the fires of cheating, being discovered, Andrew’s wife leaving, the necessities of childcare and family life, the demands of their jobs, and working on their commitment to each other. Only then can they be safe in each other’s heart.
I loved the first book in the series, Safe in his Arms, and so I jumped at the chance to read this one. Even more so since I really liked Paul’s attitude in the first book, that mixture of snark and levelheadedness. I’d call Safe in his Heart more of a spin-off of the first book, they overlap for a big part, and some of the first book’s cast make appearances here (YAY for more Lon and Casey!).
However, Paul’s story with Andrew left me somewhat disappointed. I’m usually a big fan of this author’s, and the writing was as good as ever. The book had a good deal of really touching moments, and the sex scenes ranged from beautiful to steaming hot. Also, I liked the way sparks flew between Andrew and Paul right from the start. It was easily comprehensible how they fell in lust and couldn’t get enough of each other, they had that kind of chemistry. Even their ensuing camaraderie and later, friendship, seemed almost inevitable, since their personalities complemented each other so well.
But that’s also where my problems began, because I just couldn’t make myself warm up to Andrew. He started out a hypocrite, a bigot and a coward and he never changed over the course of the story. He never acted on his own initiative but only ever reacted to people and/or circumstances once they looked to fit his convenience. I couldn’t quite fathom what Paul saw in him beyond the hot sex, why he was so dead-set on committing to Andrew who took and took and took from him, took him for granted and never gave anything back to him except more neediness. Helper’s syndrome, maybe? At any rate, this made Paul appear more like a pushover than the caring and desperately loving man he might’ve been supposed to be portrayed as, and I ended up not liking him all that much anymore either.
Then there was the religion thing. Don’t get me wrong, I knew going in that religion would play a big role in this book; it’s stated in the blurb, after all, and religious self-doubts and anguish can add delicious angst and conflict to a story like this. But there’s a thin line between religion as an edgy point of conflict and religion as a convenient excuse for shortcuts, and unfortunately, this story tipped over into the wrong direction for me. The real kicker was a do-gooder priest filling pages with a sermon about why it’s okay for Christians to be gay. This might be a personal thing for me, but I don’t like preaching of any kind, no matter the topic, and certainly not while I’m reading for entertainment. Other people’s mileage may vary on this, though, so—just saying.
Tied with all of the above was Andrew’s marriage and his wife, Kristy. Now she was one of the flattest, most unreal characters I’ve ever come across, more of a prop than a character really. Her seemingly unfounded personality changes threatened to give me whiplash; she turned into whatever the plot required at any given point, from caring mother to selfish dawdler to heartless quitter to homophobic zealot to enthusiastic supporter. On the other hand, their marriage in and of itself didn’t bother me much; they had a rather Victorian arrangement translated into modern times, and I wouldn’t even call what they did to each other cheating, rather acting on mutually agreed-on terms. It was rater the way how Andrew hid behind his marriage as much as he did behind his religion, everything to keep up appearances. I honestly don’t think he’d ever have owned up to what Paul was to him if Kristy hadn’t left him. This was actually the biggest beef I had with Andrew. I felt as if he ended up committing to Paul mostly by accident rather than actually choosing him or even putting forth the slightest effort to make him his.
So yes, I realize most of my issues with this book had to do with my intense dislike of Andrew’s character and personality, which makes it difficult for me as a reviewer to voice an unbiased recommendation either way.
If you’re thinking about picking up this book, by all means, go for it and see for yourself; who knows, if your feelings about Andrew’s personality, about Christian verbiage and convenient excuses differ from mine, you might well end up loving this book to pieces.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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