Can a priest and a rock star obey love’s call?
Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld’s childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper’s calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back.
Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He’s determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness.
As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started.
I’m not even sure how to review Vespertine except to say that I absolutely loved this book. It’s definitely one of my top ten for the year and I am so freaking glad I didn’t let its length deter me. I’ve found that while I don’t care for religion in my M/F romances, I actually don’t mind it added to the mix in my M/M romances. In the case of Vespertine, I found it particularly enjoyable because of the message it contains for potential readers – you can reconcile your faith with your sexuality.
As this book deals with the Catholic faith, I found it even more meaningful because while I am not Catholic, my best friend and significant other for almost a decade was and watching him reconcile his faith with his homosexuality was at times heartbreaking. Because of this, I found Jasper’s struggle often hit me hard and I appreciated the solace he found within his beliefs even when they were partially responsible for his distress. I was also glad that his mentor, Thomas, was there to give him the advice and guidance he needed and not the condemnation others within the church hierarchy obviously felt he deserved. But what led to Jasper’s crisis of faith – which isn’t quite accurate because he never lost his faith in God – was Nicky’s return to town to continue his recovery after his release from rehab for drug abuse.
Because Nicky and Jasper were each other’s firsts – first love, first kiss, first sexual experience – there is plenty of sexual tension zinging between them despite Jasper being a priest. That is, after Nicky unloads his anger over Jasper “dumping him for God” all those years ago. Despite the anger and time that has passed, Nicky still loves Jasper but he is hell-bent on not crossing that line because he knows that he cannot survive losing Jasper to God a second time. This is one of the aspects of the book I really liked – that the authors did not make Nicky out to be the man sent to seduce Jasper from God’s path. Their history and friendship allowed the authors to infuse humor into the story when needed and do so in a way that it felt natural. [On a side note: I never thought I’d find a bunny massacre funny, much less hilarious and yet I did. You’ll have to read the book to understand that one.] I loved watching these two men rebuild their friendship and support the other when it was needed. The addition of Blue Oasis, the LGBTQ youth home, added a facet to the story that not only provided opportunities for the reader to get to know both men, but it was pivotal to Jasper’s choices for his future. I loved that I wasn’t sure of where the authors were going to take the story. I knew what I hoped for and I knew what I wanted to happen, but I found myself uncertain on more than one occasion as to how things would play out for and between Jasper and Nicky. And I loved that. In fact, there is a point towards the end when the story really picks up and the uncertainty ratcheted up so much that I stayed up reading until 3am because I had to know how it ended. Suffice it to say, I loved Vespertine and found the ending to be perfect for Jasper and Nicky.