Reviewed by Elizabetta
AUTHOR: Kate Sherwood
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: 338 pages
When a man is consumed by hatred, is there anything left to love?
After a tough day of counseling sessions, Anglican priest Mark Webber is looking forward to a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. When he sees who’s bellied up to the bar, though, he reaches for his cell phone to call the police.
It’s Lucas Cain, the man who killed Mark’s brother three years ago. Apparently he’s out of jail and hanging out with his old crowd, which has to be a breach of parole, right?
Pulled over upon leaving the bar, Lucas blows a clean breathalyzer and hopes this isn’t a harbinger of things to come. He’s ready to build a sober, peaceful life. His friends aren’t ready to let him move on, though, and he ends up taking refuge in an Anglican half-way house.
Thrown together, Mark and Lucas find common ground in the struggle to help a young gay man come to terms with his sexuality—and the fight against homophobic townsfolk. As attraction grows, the past is the last stumbling block between them and a future filled with hope.
Warning: Bad boys being good, good boys being bad.
In Mark of Cain, Kate Sherwood delivers a very satisfying, thought-provoking, heart-tugging romance. This author can effectively wrap me around her literary finger and make me fall in love with, and yet, another intriguing, broken character.
Lucas Cain made a big mistake when he was eighteen years old. He got drunk one night and did a bad thing, the worst, he got in a bar fight and killed a man.
Is he a bad person? Reading his story will show that even good people can do bad things.
Does he pay for his crime? He’s put in a maximum security prison and does the time.
But his burden is carrying the weight of one act that changed forever the course of his life. And, really, is three years in lock-up enough payment for manslaughter? Lucas will be the first to say that he can never pay long enough for having taken a human life.
The question is, can he dig himself out of the dark hole in which he finds himself? That is the crux of the story. Can Lucas try to change the course of his young life? When he gets out of prison, can he make restitution and somehow find a way towards forgiveness?
The author comes close to making Lucas into a martyr. First off, he comes from nothing and nowhere. There is not one mention of parents or family. His only anchor in the world is the friendship of a guy who is just as broken and angry as he is. Lucas is released back into his hometown where he must deal with the censure of his community and dysfunction of his punk friends who don’t make things easier at all. Lucas’ quickness to lay down and take what he thinks he deserves for his crime… where any slight and injustice to him is seen as earned, where he has given up any hope for even the wish of happiness for himself, comes close to overdone. I felt that sometimes in reading the early part of his story.
But, I never once stopped caring about Lucas and hoping for the best for him. Under the hard, protective veneer is a gentle soul who wants to make things right. When he comes in close contact, consistently, with Mark, the brother of the guy he killed— when their paths habitually cross— it’s for a reason. It’s the most unlikely of paths towards redemption.
Mark is an Anglican priest (the kind who can marry), a gay clergyman who has his own problems, separate from his animosity for Lucas. Mark faces censure from many in his own church who don’t accept his sexuality. It is very sad to see how his church fails this essentially, kind, generous, deeply spiritual soul. But Mark and Lucas’ story isn’t all about being gay and facing bigotry, although there is a lot of that in the story. It’s as much about finding forgiveness. And this focus is refreshing.
This is a wrenching read at times. Mark and Lucas go through so much for their HEA, and ultimately Mark has to make as big a sacrifice as Lucas, he has his own lessons to learn. But the ending is so well earned and it is made that much sweeter for it. Recommended.