This one took me a bit by surprise. I wasn't sure how the religion/pastor side of it was going to work- especially given in pretty much very single MM romance I've read, religion = bigotry and extreme homophobia. This one still had those aspects, but it also had people of faith who were also accepting rather than judging.
Oliver was one of those who fell into the stereotype - when he was outed to his family and church, they kicked him out. He did what he felt he needed to in order to survive, which landed him on the wrong side of the law, in jail and detoxing on his own. It wasn't until a kind pastor showed him acceptance that he found something else - hope. Taken under his wing, 14 years later we meet Ollie again. Now a pastor himself, he tries to help those who struggle with sobriety and acceptance, running a church and NA chapter that focused on LGBTQ+ people and awareness.
Archer is a retired drag-queen who still haunts the scene yelling with special events. He met Ollie through mutual friends, but a string of previous relationships have left him jaded as he is yet to find someone who accepts him for all of who he is - both the gay man and the queen. He has a strong dislike for anything associated with religion after qhat his mother went through when he was young. While sparks fly between him and Ollie, he can't get past Ollie's vocation and pushes him away. But Ollie isn't giving up and wants to prove to Archer that he is a man as well as a pastor, that religion can be about acceptance and that not all churches are the same.
Their story is well written and beautiful to follow. Ollie's sermons also provide some very good words to live by - choosing your own family, acceptance, and forgiveness being the main ones.
I did like that both Archer and Ollie got some closure on the issues that arose in the story - but I also felt that Ollie's resolution was rushed, and could have been explored better. From when he received the shock to meeting with his NA sponsor, to how it finished up - bits of the story were missing. One example that bugged me - before Ollie's meeting with his sponsor, there was never a mention of Ollie struggling with his sobriety, or needing a drink or hit, yet the conversation he had with his sponsor indicated that it was an ongoing issue. I felt this was very abrupt and didn't fit the Ollie I'd come to know.
I could almost say the same about Archer and Ryder, but from the sounds of it, Ryder's involvement is a setup for the next book - if not then I'll be sorely disappointed as there was no resolution to the issue Ryder faced at the end, even if he did finally accept that Ollie and Archer were the real deal and apologised to them.
In short, a better read than I was expecting, and definitely a different storyline associated with religion and MM romance than I've come across too.
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