BY Sierra Simone
Rating: 4.25/5 Genre: Contemporary Romance Steam: Explicit--Taboo/Erotica Publisher: Sierra Simone Pub Date: June 29, 2015 Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Content Warnings: suicide of family member, sexual assault (not described), emotional abuse, trauma, breaking of religious vows
There are many rules a priest can’t break.
A priest cannot marry. A priest cannot abandon his flock. A priest cannot forsake his God.
I’ve always been good at following rules.
Until she came. Then I learned new rules.
My name is Tyler Anselm Bell. I’m twenty-nine years old. Six months ago, I broke my vow of celibacy on the altar of my own church, and God help me, I would do it again.
I am a priest and this is my confession.
Ok. I read this book. I didn’t hate it. But I will never tell a soul in my family that I’ve read this book (looking at you Catholic guilt).
This book is a lot. First you’ve got the whole priest having pretty intense sex everywhere in the church. But this book is a bit more layered than just that. We’ve got Bell’s sister’s suicide due to the church & then add some emotional abuse as well.
Now that’s established I thought it was a very well written book that takes on a lot. I was raised Catholic although I don’t consider myself practicing. But because of having to go through confirmation & taking some theology classes in college I loved this aspect of the book.
Tyler’s internal dialogue was amazing. I appreciated how Simone tied in a lot of biblical and canonical references throughout the book. It added humor and made things a bit more palpable? Like the altar scene (spoiler alert they do it on the altar). But like it was good? The writing around sex and church and God was brilliant.
While Tyler and Poppy aren’t the best at communication, I thought it was well done enough. Tyler consistently asks Poppy for her consent and checks up on her while they’re doing some pretty intense things. I wish we would have gotten some more non-physical intimate moments, but the lack didn’t take away from the book. But the after moments were always the tenderest.
The supporting characters added an extra layer of humanity to Poppy and Tyler which was super needed. I loved Millie and Father Jordan to be especially endearing. God I loved Millie. I do wish we saw more of their town, but it didn’t detract from the book.
My anxiety was on high alert the entire time waiting for the fallout. Which was both not as bad as I expected, but still bad enough to rationalize my anxiety. Like how could it not be bad? I mean it could have been worse, but your anxiety is totally rational.
Tyler was bit of a sad horny boy, but he grew over the course of the book. So, I ended up liking him. On the other hand, Poppy was criminally underdeveloped. I wanted some more from her. I think I felt this way because it’s only told from Tyler’s POV. Like I knew she was had an MBA and was driven, but I wanted more. I needed her to have more authority. I mean explicitly describing your, uh, encounters to a priest is pretty authoritative, but I just felt like she wasn’t there.
I had some problems with the more church oriented things but that’s on like a personal issue. (Missionary work is something I don’t agree with and it took away some liking points for Tyler).
Long Story Short
Do I recommend this book? Yes. If you can get over a priest doing many *creative* things with a woman ALL OVER the church, then read it. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds, or at least I didn’t think it was. Honestly the way that Simone writes everything it is beautiful. I still can’t get over how enjoyable it was. I was super hesitant, but it was worth it. I’ve also read Sinner and am working through Saint now if that says anything. They’re TBR busting. I will be going down the Simone backlist soon.
If You Liked This One…
I would recommend checking out Roni Loren’s novels. Her The Ones That Got Away novel is probably the closest to this book. However both Yes & I Love You and What If You & Me are also heavy and steamy! Totally recommend them! Additionally I feel like these books are just Catholic, steamier versions of Rosie Danan’s series with The Roommate and The Intimacy Experiment they feel very similar but Danan’s are Jewish (at least TIE is). But similar themes of religion, expectations, and sexuality are all explored.
Sierra Simone is a voracious reader of all things including the smuttiest smut, young adult, piles of non-fiction for research, and everything Bill Bryson (especially on audio).
She loves writing the dirtiest things that she can think of, King Arthur, sparkling water, Tarot, coffee, leggings, and learning new words daily.
Her previous jobs have included firing ceramics, teaching living history lessons in one-room school house in full, 1904-approved school marm attire, and working as a librarian for several years—not in that order
She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, two children, and two giant dogs. (And two cats, but they’re so naughty we don’t talk about them.)
Her novels have been published in Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, and Romanian. She’s been featured in Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, Marie Claire, and Library Journal with a starred review.