Dana reviews Ancient House of Cards by Bryan T. Clark (Published April 13, 2014, 197 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: This week at RGR we decided to review books that had previously been reviewed on this site by other reviewers to offer another perspective on the story. I picked Ancient House of Cards because it had been on my wishlist for a while because of the cover and the blurb. I enjoy books that can explore religion and homosexuality but in a positive way.
To read the previous review of Ancient House of Cards, click here.
Blurb: Sebastian Morales is smart, gorgeous and has just turned 30. He is also one of the youngest priests to be assigned to the sleepy little town of Morris Colorado, nestled just below the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Born in a remote village in Spain, Father Morales’s life had been perfectly scripted as he obtained his dreams. Now in America, he is tasked with revitalizing an aging congregation. The job seems easy until he meets Ian Stephens. Ian is troubled, good looking, openly gay and trapped between his own dreams and the responsibility he feels for caring for his aging mother.
Escorting his mother to Sunday mass one morning, Ian’s and Father Morales’s lives intersect, changing both forever. Ian believes he has seen something in the Father’s eyes that morning— a spark, an intuition— or was he just fantasizing about the seductively alluring priest?
Ian is willing to risk it all in order to find the answer, in turn feeding his own sexual desires and causing boundaries to be questioned by everyone.
After an unforeseen yet unforgettable kiss between the two men, will an Ancient House of Cards be toppled when they are faced with the moral dilemma that neither of them can escape?
**Readers should know this book contains a non-traditional HEA.
When I first read the blurb I was very interested in reading this book. It’s not the first book I’ve read about a priest or religious figurehead in a gay romance. I have respect for priests and the priesthood even with it’s muddled past, so I’m not looking to see a fall from grace necessarily, but to see a love so strong that it overcomes barriers. Sometimes, though, love is not enough. For Ian and Sebastian, that is the dilemma. I love their relationship together, but I do hesitate to call this story a romance.
The story is told from many points of view – Ian’s, Sebastian’s, Ian’s mom, and even Ian’s best friend Miles. It gives a good viewpoint of what is going on throughout the novel. Ian is out of a poisonous relationship with a cheating ex. They have broken up several times and Ian always takes his repeat offender boyfriend back. Loving relations aren’t something he knows a lot about, though, coming from an abusive home. His siblings and him rarely talk and his mother pretends that he is only going through a gay phase. For a while, I was angry with his mother, but you can see life is sometimes a history of repeating patterns. His friendship with Miles is the only sturdy relationship he has and I am grateful for Miles.
When Ian meets Sebastian there is a spark they can’t deny. Sebastian’s role as a parish priest complicates things. Obviously. Things bloom between them, but can they really make a lasting relationship hiding their love. Though Ian loves Sebastian he also can’t let his ex go. I did some screaming at my kindle at some points in this story for sure. Wanting Sebastian to take a leave of absence from the priesthood. Wanting Ian not to talk to his ex ever again. So many balls were up in the air and I knew that they would come crashing down. I think that Ian knew he was making mistakes as they went along. He just needed to know he was loved, that he was worth something,
Of course those balls do come down and I don’t want to give spoilers away. The author does point out that this book offers a non-traditional HEA, though, I would say that it is more non-traditional HFN. This story feels very much like real life with lots of bumps, twists, and turns. In reality, we are all just looking to find happiness in each day, and I think so do Sebastian and Ian. Will counseling help Ian and his mom find peace in their lives? Will Sebastian be able to merge his love for God and service to the church with his love for men? I definitely recommend reading this book and you can find out the answers. I thought it was well written and I would read more from this author.
8/10 Pots of Gold (80% Recommended) – Compares to 4/5 Stars
Bryan Thomas Clark is a boisterous extrovert who is a proud member of the GLBT community. After twenty-seven years in law enforcement, he retired in 2015. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bryan now lives in the Central Valley of California with his husband of thirty-one years. Behind his keyboard working on his next novel, Bryan writes gay fiction with an emphasis on a moral dilemmas and M/M romance. On the rare occasions he isn’t writing, Bryan enjoys traveling, following his husband around the state of California to various equestrian competitions, laying by a body of water soaking up the sun, and watching a good movie while snuggled up with his husband on the couch.