ARC Review + Giveaway: A Beautiful Sin by Terri E. Laine & AM Hargrove

22 Jun 2016

Book Title: A Beautiful Sin
Author: Terri E Laine & AM Hargrove
Series: Standalone 
Release Date: June 23rd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Since I was a boy, my desire was to marry the church. To give my vows and life over to God despite the corruption in my soul.

I am a sinner, the embodiment of temptation, or so I’ve been told.

Yet, I’ve never touched, never kissed, never sought the company of another until her.

She is my weakness, my salvation, my downfall and my freedom. Our sins are bound tighter than fate.

My name is Canaan. I am an ordained Roman Catholic priest, forever and always.

Her name is Haven. She may be my destiny, my destruction.

This is not a love story, but rather a confession of all my sins.

Warning - A Beautiful Sin is a forbidden romance that blurs lines between passion and religious faith. Please be warned, the subject matter may be offensive to some readers.

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Wow! A Beautiful Sin was one of those books I picked up simply from the taboo premise of a priest potentially breaking his vows of chastity. There, I said it. But let me say this, the book blurb doesn't do this book a fraction of the justice it deserves. In fact, the book is so much deeper than the blurb depicts.

I won't go into that much detail because I think experiencing this story is best done with a fresh palate and no preconceived thoughts or direction. In fact, I'm so glad I got to read an early copy of this without seeing any reviews. I had no clue what this was going to be like... Is it going to be dark and dirty like The Original Sinners? Or smutty like Priest? This book is neither. This book is both heart-wrenching and hopeful....sad yet healing. Loved it!

We meet a beautiful young priest named Father Canaan Sullivan. His childhood is tragic and only when he's reassigned to his local childhood parish does he find his haunted memories resurfacing. The nightmares of his early years in this parish come back in technicolor.

Haven Richardson also lived a tragic childhood after her mother passed away- living with an abusive uncle. She's now an adult and finds herself looking at the priest of Holy Cross church. He looks familiar and it doesn't take long to figure out how she knows him...or knew him. And her haunted childhood memories suddenly resurface as well. Can these two find solace together or will all their inner secrets instead continue to fester and prevent them from healing and moving on in life?

So, I freaking loved Fr. Canaan. This wasn't the trope where you take a priest and hear not much about his day to day life of chastity and all the sudden he throws caution to the wind and breaks his vows of celibacy. This is a man who knew since he was a kid that he wanted to marry the church- to be a priest. He is a good man, a holy man, but still, a man. And Haven is the first woman to truly make him pause...did he make the right decision all those years ago?

It's been said that priests are immune to beauty. I say whoever came up with that statement was a blind fool. The woman possessed the rare type of beauty that one never forgets, and I'd come across attractive people throughout my life, but never one that gave me pause.

A Beautful Sin, due to the Catholic priest hero of this book, has a fair amount of religion in it. If taboo is your cuppa but religious themes tend to bother you, this may be too much. I, on the other hand, thought the Catholic side of the book made it that much more realistic and the plot felt more "filled" if that makes sense. Yes, Canaan's inner thoughts and day to day happenings dealt with Mass, prayers, and religious musings, but he's a priest and that's expected. Being of Catholic upbringing, it just further attached me to this angsty love story. I felt like I knew Canaan so thoroughly as a person AND a priest and the character development of him especially was perfectly done.

A Beautiful Sin is a FANTASTIC story filled with pain, regret, blame, but also hope, understanding, and healing. I haven't read anything in the past by these authors but wow, their dual POVs were spot on in this story. I can always weigh my feelings of a book based on how much I absorb and how much I find myself thinking about it when I'm not even reading. This is one of those books. The minute I opened the kindle, I picked right back up, fully invested in these characters. So much conflict. So much pain. My heart bled for both of them but Canaan really struck a cord with me.

This book is not smut. This plot will attach to your heart and soul and even a non-praying person will find themselves praying for a happy future for these two characters. The plot, at times, is a bit dark and emotionally intense yet also poetic and so beautiful. It's book cover is perfect for the story within its pages. 

 I'm so happy I gave this book a try. It's not what I expected but instead a book that opened my eyes and, unfortunately, I feel it's probably fairly realistic in many sad ways...and I also hope too that it's realistic in the happy, healing ways. 

I'd highly recommend this book for readers looking for something truly different, something emotionally intense but who also aren't deterred by a decent dose of religious undertones. It's who our hero is so it's in the book. And it truly needs to be... I will spoiler tag a trigger that may bother some people. Please don't click it unless you have known triggers. This plot otherwise really needs to be experienced as it comes. There is child sexual and physical abuse in this book. 

 I truly devoured this book and I hope to see lots more from this author duo. Bravo!

Advanced copy received by the author in exchange for my honest review.

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