I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Amazon Digital Services on April 5, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Source: the Author
Mentored in the enchanting world of the courtesans, beautiful, intelligent and outspoken Catalina Cosme has her pick of any man the city offers. But no man has ever captured her interest…until she lays eyes on Father Benedict Mortimer. Determined to prove that even holy men can fall, Benedict becomes her greatest challenge yet.
The former pupil of a grand inquisitor, Roman Catholic Priest Father Benedict Mortimer was once the worst sort of libertine before he became a ruthless speaker of The Church. Now he is a man haunted by the horrifying sins of his past. After reading the memoirs he wrote during his years in the seminary, Catalina never imagined the condemnatory author was that self-same kindhearted priest whom she sought refuge with when she escaped an abusive benefactor.
As their unlikely friendship forms, Catalina’s aim for seduction begins to fade, and the love she was never allowed to experience blossoms for the man beneath the cloth.
Although Benedict offers to be her new and anonymous patron, he denies himself the temptation of claiming her body in exchange. But desire may prove to be stronger than resilience, and the salvation he believes he had long ago lost may be closer than he realizes.
This book almost begins to straddle the line between historical romance and literary prose. It’s deep, exploring taboo and sometimes uncomfortable issues. Neither the hero nor the heroine is an ideal historical romance character, but from this ‘failure’ comes the very story the author is trying to tell – people are not defined by the labels society gives them or those they give themselves, but rather they are defined by the strength of their character, their conviction, and ability to embrace the love they deserve.
Catalina was frustrating at first. She made little to no effort to escape her physically abusive benefactor. Moreover, her initial attempts to seduce Father Benedict came from a place of manipulation and spite. But in a beautiful and poignant character arc, Catalina develops true feelings for the priest and her quest to cause Father Benedict’s downfall morphs into a real desire to see him succeed and to connect with him on a intellectual and spiritual level.
Father Benedict was a more compelling and likable character. He struggles to resist his desire for Catalina and maintain his priests’ vows. Her presence in his life stirs up old memories he’d rather forget and it is through these memories we learn about the former libertine-turned-holy-father.
Together, Catalina and Benedict are able to forge a new path. Their love and devotion to one another is fascinating because it is forbidden and taboo. There are lots of emotional surprises in this novel and the author does a fantastic job of weaving lots of historical details into the narrative. I look forward to reading more novels by Ms. Mhairi.