Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Saint and the Sinner
SERIES: Wilde Love #4
AUTHOR: Sam Burns
LENGTH: 219 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 9, 2017
Owen Quinn has been trailing after his brother’s best friend since he was a kid, but what everyone took as admiration has always been love. For years, he’s had to keep his distance because the object of his affection has always been taken. Now with his father sick and the career he’s been planning since he was in high school circling the drain, the one person who’s there for him is the man he loves, but can’t have.
Mickey Martin is practically a member of the Quinn family. He grew up sneaking sips of sacramental wine in the church storage room with Keegan, looking after Owen, and since he was fifteen, working for Brendan. When his mom passed away, they were right there by his side. He owes the Quinns everything, but now his love for the youngest Quinn might cost him all that he holds dear.
After the series’ road trip in Strike Up the Band, we find ourselves back in Chicago and under the eyes of less lawful men.
Mickey Martin has been working for the Quinn family since he was a teen. And it has gotten him to where he is today: number two man of one of Chicago’s most powerful mobs. With Brendan Quinn dealing with cancer–and the very real possibility of having to admit failure for the first time in his life–Mickey is looking at being “the boss” in every meaning of the word soon. But that has never been what Mickey has wanted. Because while he might have been working for the Quinns for years, they are more family than anything, and watching his father figure dying is not something he has ever wanted to relive. Though, maybe he’ll get lucky and his boss will find out about his feelings for Owen–Brendan’s youngest son–and solve that problem all together.
Owen has spent years trying to be everything his family is not. At university, studying to be a cop, he has done all he can to distance himself from his father’s business. He has seen what it has done to his father, and what it did to his brother before he got out, and Owen has no intention on walking on the other side of the line. Even if it means he could possibly have Mickey. But with the power structure of the Chicago underworld in flux–and with the uncertain future for his father–Owen finds himself questioning everything. Especially what he would have to do to have a future with the man he loves.
This was one of those series I feel into solely because the author sent a request to the blog, but it has been a series of very happy discoveries with each book that has come out. I’m not sure how Sam Burns has pulled it off, but each of these books have balanced the light-hearted tone with real struggles expertly. They never get too angsty, but there are always real stakes in each of the stories, so you want to find out what happens, but are never too worried that you are going to be pulverized along the way (though book three did try to take us out at the knees there in the beginning). And while there are other book series out there that take a light look at the criminal element, these ones don’t ever really go so overboard as to make it feel ridiculous. Unlikely, maybe…but in a way you kinda wanna believe.
Owen and Mickey’s struggles in this book are mostly centered around the two world’s they live in. So tied together because of the people they care about, but also divided by the paths they have chosen and the lives they have lived. Owen can’t be a criminal, and Mickey has no clue how to not be. Yet they know each other well enough to be drawn towards the inevitable end. And a rather messy end it is. Not really because of what Owen’s father could do–at least in regards to physical violence–but because of the real possibility of Mickey becoming something he can’t come back from if he stays in “the business.” Their choices, their futures, are the antagonists in this book. Which I actually really like. There is no “bad guy,” not really, and so everything rests on them. If they succeed it will be because they made the hard choices. And if they fail…well it will be because they fucked up. No one to blame but themselves in the end. I just think it made for a very compelling read. You become invested in their struggle. You try to think of a way out for them the whole way through the book, and seeing the very real complications, you try a little bit harder each time to compel them into not being complete idiots.
There has not been a single book in this series that I have not enjoyed immensely. They are just a lot of fun. The characters help anchor the more unrealistic aspects of the world, making you care a little bit less about how “real” it all is, and instead focus on how real they all feel. That the author has been able to keep up the quality of writing over the last four books–and even improving with each one–is something I can really appreciate. They also have a rereadablitly to them, which is always a plus in my column. So once again, I’m giving this my recommendation. And while it might be readable as a standalone, I think this one, more than the others, works best if you have read at least Sins of the Father (if not Straight from the Heart as well) beforehand since that one deals with Owen’s older brother Keegan.