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4.6 out of 5 stars13
4.6 out of 5 stars
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This is an amazingly well-written tale of love and humanity, of the good and the bad that can be found in people, of trying to do the right thing even when it would be so much easier and so much more fun to just go with the flow and do what feels good, of sacrifice, of standing up for what's right, what you believe in, what's worthy and what you want but feel you have to earn. It's a tale full of emotions, but never OTT, just a tale that leaves you with a warm feeling inside, and a sense of, 'aaaah'. It's a 5* Keeper of a tale.

If you've read Breathe by Sloan Parker, and loved it, but wished that it could have been simply a tale of leads who should not be able to be happy together, finding lasting love together, without all the annoying distractions of family and intrigue, then you'll love this tale, as it focuses mainly on Lucas, who's just out of prison for killing a man when he was 18/19, and who's still on parole for three years, and on Mark, who's a local priest whose brother Lucas killed, but who tries to do the right thing, the Christian thing, but who proves he's not above sinning and wanting revenge.

The circumstances that brought the leads together were believable and ordinary; it was refreshing that there was nothing fabricated/obvious about it, and it was clear that each struggled with their own form of guilt, but never at any point did the author make me feel as if Lucas was just a killer; he was a guy who'd been young and stupid who'd gotten drunk and into a fight, killing someone by mistake, but who'd paid the price, who'd come to terms with his demons, who'd repented, who felt himself unworthy of happiness or anything beyond a basic existence, and who was trying to do the right thing, and trying stay on the straight and narrow. I liked him from the start, and his sense of right and wrong was strong, made him a target, at times made him a bit of a victim, but he remained steadfast. He seemed incredibly mature and with a strong sense of morality, and yet at the same time, strangely naive (though I don't mean this in a derogatory way) and...innocent and almost childlike.

Mark, man of the cloth, tried to do the right thing and help his fellow man, as well as helping a gay teen, but he proved that he was simply human, and perhaps in his eagerness to do what he felt he had to, what decency should make him do, proved that he was just human and not without sin himself. That his faith was tested, and then turned against him, was both sad but cathartic, and at then end, proved to be the catalyst that would be the making of him.

I liked that the tale wasn't heavy on recriminations, but that at the same time, it wasn't all puppies, sunshine and roses, and that there were tough decisions that had to be made, that both made sacrifices, but that ultimately, there was good in both Mark and Lucas, which triumphed. If you're looking for a hot and heavy tale like Breathe, you won't be getting that in this book, at the leads don't get together until 62% of the tale has passed, but that was entirely appropriate for the leads, who had to learn to forgive, accept forgiveness, redeem themselves and learn to believe, and for the way in which the tale was written.

The ending was perfect - low key, like the leads, but with the kind of relationship that Mark had wanted, but thought he wouldn't be able to openly have, and that Lucas didn't feel was his right to have. It wasn't preachy, it wasn't heavy, but it was uplifting and positive. I loved the tale, it's as simple as that.
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on 27 February 2015
Mark of Cain, Kate Sherwood
Genre: GLBT, Romance.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Well, Kate’s a prolific author, and yet this is the first book by her I’ve read. It certainly won’t be the last as it’s a great novel, a solid romance wrapped up in a thought provoking story! I love romance, but it has to have something more than just a meets b and they live happily ever after. One of the reasons I love the GLBT genre is the way its so subject to problems that create the angst I love. Its a very real feeling, and something that in real life is terribly sad but makes for a terrific fiction read.
Mark, what a problem for him. The Church, his passion and his profession, counsels tolerance and that he should help Lucas, and that’s what he’d do if it was any other man. Try to help him move forward, to be a better person in future and be sorry for what he did – a reformed character. This time though its too close to home, it was his little brother that was killed in the fight and its left his family distraught, so to see Lucas out and about, getting on with life, enjoying all the things his brother can no longer have is like a red flag. I can understand that – he’s a very devout man but he’s also human....and of course he’s only seeing one side of Lucas, the side that he wants to see.
Lucas isn’t like that though, he’s always regretted that moment of madness that took a man’s life. He wants to change, doesn’t want to go back to that old life but his friends aren’t happy about that, and he’s forced one night to make a decision that leaves him homeless and jobless – both violations of is parole terms. His parole officer gets him into the halfway house Mark’s church runs which has done such good in the past.
Marks is gay and is sort of accepted, some of the congregation are ok with it but others not so and make it clear. He gets into trouble after helping a young boy who’s struggling with being gay...we can see what a great job he’s done, how depressed Alex was and how close he was to suicide, and yet his father is furious and accuses Mark of grooming him. It throws the Church into a defensive position, threatens Mark’s job and shows just what I feel about this whole issue and the Church’s position – Marks acceptance by the church only goes so far, he can be gay so long as he keeps his lover hidden, no one knows a kind of DADT policy, and he has to be someone the Church approve of, certainly not an ex convict. Premarital sex is frowned upon by the church, but as gay people aren’t allowed to marry the church accepts this as a “compromise”. To me its just hypocritical. It shows Mark just how head in the sand he’s been, thinking he could change the church from within, he’s already been passed over for a role that he would have been perfect for in favour of someone not gay, but who’s so far not done anything for the position....It makes him question what brought him so much peace about the church, which is a shame as its been all he wanted since he was a teen.
As Lucas and Mark get thrown together more and more over circumstances, he sees another side to Lucas, and sees he’s not the man he’d assumed, and how much he’s saddened, regrets what happened, and how the guilt burdens him. There’s some really sad parts, some real thought provoking issues, and its so much like real life where things are never as black or white as they seem. Lucas can’t remember much of the fight having incurred a head injury, but from Marks thoughts about his brother he could well have been a protagonist in the fight, and he was taller and heavier than Lucas. That doesn’t excuse Lucas but makes me ( and I think Mark) wonder if all the blame can be laid at his door.
There are so many issues here, the rehab of prisoners, if someone who’s killed should be accepted once the sentence is done, the church stance on GLBT, and of course how best to help young people who question their sexuality. Bigotry – not just over GLBT issues but over ex offenders too and how some of the police treat them, the parole violations – should they be treated as absolute, because if so Lucas broke several through no fault of his own, and in one case protecting another person. Then there’s the romance, it grows slowly and its hard looking back to see exactly when Mark began to see Lucas as a person and not just as his bothers killer, and then to go from there to attraction...its very cleverly done. There are some great characters too - Elise, the lady who’s younger than her years and runs the animal sanctuary, Alex, the young teen with the bigoted father, Mark’s parents, his boss in the church Father Terry, and the parole officer Darren who had so much vibrancy about him. Its a book I loved, that drew me in and totally engrossed me for hours. Its not a short read and that allows for the multiple story lines to really be explored .
Stars: five, a great challenging story full of love and drama.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.
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on 5 July 2014
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and was sorry when it ended. The first time I've read this author and already working my way through her Dark Horse series. She writes so intelligently, with authentic characters and little twists which keep the reader interested. It's a beautiful love story which you can't possibly see working at first, between a killer and the victim's brother, who's also a priest with huge dilemmas to work through. The insider knowledge of the Anglican church and the prison system add to the whole, with an underlying anti discrimination theme.

Highly recommended.
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on 5 January 2016
A definite five stars. At first look it looks like your stereotypical MM romance but when you start reading you realise it's much more than that. Its about love, forgiveness, acceptance and trust. Good characters and well written too. Loved Mark and Cain, and not forgetting him, so funny, determined and likeable.. and I can't forget the Squirrel...!!
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on 10 August 2014
I love the secondary characters, which very much includes faith and the town itself. I have put off reading this book as I don't particularly enjoy faith type books, but this was not what I expected. Gorgeous settings and a perfect story of love and humanity and all kinds of redemption. Dare I hope for a second book...
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on 30 June 2014
I really thought this book was a nice read and it was an interested twist on falling in love with someone. Read if you just want to see what I am talking about when I say interesting twist or if you like gay love stories. Avoid obviously if you have a problem with two guys falling in love.
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on 26 June 2015
I love this story, like any good romance it made me laugh, cry and frustrated me at times but throughout there was always hope which made for an awesome happy ever after.
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on 6 August 2014
A brilliant story of love,hate and reconciliation. The characters are three dimensional and realistic and draw you into their world.
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on 9 September 2014
It was OK not some thing I would read again but if you are int o the romance scene then this would be just down your alley
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on 6 October 2014
Wonderful Story, well written with very believable characters that you can relate to.
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