Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Published: May 20, 2014
ISBN: 978 1 61922 021 8
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M
Book Format: E-book
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by: Helena Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org
“When a man is consumed by hatred, is there anything left to love?
When Anglican priest Mark Webber sees the man who killed his younger brother three years ago, having fun in a local bar with his friends and apparently back to his old ways, he calls the police and reports him.
Lucas Cain has spent the last three years in prison after he killed a man in a fight he can barely remember. He wants to create a sober and peaceful life for himself and has no intention of breaking his parole conditions. When the cops pull him over after he leaves the bar his breathalyzer results are clean. If he wants to stay out of trouble, he’ll have to create a distance between himself and his old friends though, so he moves into an Anglican half-way house.
When both Mark and Lucas get involved with Alex, a gay teenager coming to terms with his sexuality, they have to find a way of working together. As they get to know each other hate turns into feelings of friendship and, eventually, attraction. But with Mark’s church, Lucas’ old friends, homophobic townsfolk and Mark’s mother all against them the men will have to be strong and determined if they want to beat the odds.
I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like the book. While the blurb sounded intriguing I also feared I might be in for a predictable and possibly slightly frustrating read.
Well, colour me surprised. Not because the story turned out to be completely different from what I expected, it wasn’t. No, I’m happily surprised because there was nothing frustrating about this book. The story didn’t contain any forced or protracted drama. With a story- line as described above this was always going to be an angsty book, and they have a habit of upsetting me. It was wonderful to read a book in which the angst made perfect sense and was portrayed realistically. There is a lot of it and yet it doesn’t feel as if that’s the central theme of the book. The angst is part of a much larger story; it didn’t take over or dominate the narrative
This story and the relationships between the characters develop organically. There are no ‘magical’ moments, no instant conversions or other miracles. Not every issue is resolved when the book ends. This realism made The ‘Mark of Cain’ a near perfect book for me. In most romance novels I read there will be at least one character I want to slap because of their stupidity or refusal to communicate. I loved the honesty and openness between Mark and Lucas. It is great to follow two characters who actually listen to each other.
Of the three main characters I was most impressed with Lucas. He’s made a terrible and fatal mistake in the past and is trying to keep himself going from day to day. He’s not looking for forgiveness because he doesn’t think he deserves it. He wants to be a better man but doesn’t think it will ever make up for the wrong he did in the past. He is matter of fact about the situation he finds himself in and never allows himself the luxury of self-pity. He never sees himself as a martyr, which means the reader doesn’t have to see him that way either.
“Nah. I deserve what I get.” – Lucas
It took me a bit longer to fall for Mark and I’m not entirely sure why. There were moments when I adored him. I loved the words he uses when he talks to Alex about being gay, because it’s such a wonderful way of talking to a confused 16 year old.
“I walk, I sit, I wake, I sleep. All gay, all day” – Mark to Alex
Maybe it took me longer to like Mark because I fell for Lucas straight away and he didn’t. And while his reasons for thoroughly disliking Lucas were better than good, I still wanted him to see what I saw in Lucas. As soon as he did start to see it, my reservations about him were gone. I also thought the process Mark goes through when it comes to his faith and the Anglican Church were well worked out and convincing.
The idea of the two men bonding over Alex - a sixteen year old boy struggling with his homosexuality and his homophobic father - and their need to help him was inspired. Alex infatuation with Lucas was adorable and the way Lucas and Mark dealt with it was sensitive as well as realistic.
I could say a whole lot more about this book. I fell in love with it and I tend to get carried away when that happens. So I’ll force myself to stop now. I just want to say that if you happen to be looking for a wonderful romance centred around two men you can’t help but fall for, you need to pick up this book. It is well written and immaculately plotted. You will find a smooth read with sparkling dialogue. If you enjoy a few smiles and chuckles with your angst, this is the book for you. If you want your next book to introduce you to two characters you may not want to say goodbye to, you could do a lot worse than pick up ‘The Mark of Cain.’
“We’re nothing like Romeo and Juliet, he said. Cause we’re going to make it.” - Lucas
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.