Book Review: Absolution by Nicole Colville and E.M. Leya

Sinful Temptations Collection #2
by Nicole Colville and E.M. Leya
M/M Contemporary
4 Stars


Although this is book two in the collection, it can be read as a standalone or the first in the series.

For most of his adult life, Jon dedicated his life to the church, finding solace in helping others, but there has always been something missing. Up until now, he's been able to push that aside and move forward, letting everyone think he's happy and doing what he loves.

Ash doesn't want to continue with life. Left behind to live a cold and empty life after his partner died in a tragic accident, he doesn't see any future for himself. He goes through the motions of living, but inside he’s ready to give up. All that's left behind is the anger and hurt he has inside him.

Finding comfort in each other's company, the two men struggle with emotions, guilt and fears about the future. Confiding only in each other, they grow closer, both denying the bond building between them, and a past that won't let them move on.


Jon is a priest who isn't have so much as a crisis of faith, as he still believes, so much as a crisis of career. Ash has lost his long-term partner a few months ago and is still grieving his loss. The wedding reception of Zach and Killian (the heroes from the first book in the series) are a catalyst for these two troubled men.

Ash is jealous that Zach and Killian have what he will never have, they are just about to start their new life together as a married couple and have a future to look forward to. Ash and Derrick never got the chance to get married and all Ash has to look forward to in the future is an empty life and an empty bed. He's been running since Derrick's death, his work as a freelance photographer enabling him to travel as much as he likes and he doesn't stay too long in one place.

Jon sees Ash and can sense straightaway that the young man is troubled and he wants to help him. Jon too is a little jealous of Zach and Killian and their life together. He's been a priest for a long time and thought that was all he wanted. But he sees friends and family getting married, having families of their own, travelling and living their lives. His own life feels very stale and lonely, with only his housekeeper to see every few days. He has his parishioners, of course and he wants to look after them, and does the best he can. But lately, he feels there is something missing and he doesn't quite know what it is.

Jon and Ash have both been running for a long time: Ash from his grief over Derrick, and Jon from his own homosexuality. He and his first boyfriend were caught kissing at school; Joe's family blamed Jon for leading their son astray and moved away, taking Joe with them. Jon ran from home and finally ended up running to the priesthood.

Ash engenders feelings in him he never thought he'd  have again. When he said his vows and committed himself to the Church, he meant it. But with Ash, he feels a strong lust that he hasn't felt for years.

I think I prefer this book over the first one. It's more of a character-driven book than plot-driven, not that that is a bad thing, it's just different. These two characters do feel lust for each other, and maybe something more, but they do not jump straight into bed with each other, which for these two characters is very believable. Jon is still struggling with his vows and Ash with his grief. There is some delicious UST throughout the book, though, so it feels sexy, even if there isn't a lot of sex.

It's well-written but does have its problems. There is a lot of introspection and navel-gazing going on, and after a while reading another passage about Jon's guilt and struggle and Ash's thoughts on whether or not he was cheating on Derrick by liking Jon got a little repetitive. The book could have done with being a wee bit shorter. We know the emotions these two characters are struggling with, we don't need to be told it again and again and again.

But all in all I enjoyed it and the characters stay with you even after the book is finished.

It can stand on its own, but I'd suggest you read the first one, Horizontal Analysis, first to get to know some of the previous characters beforehand.


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