Book Review

Priest by Sierra Simone

Priest

  • Author: Sierra Simone
  • Genre: Romance/Erotica
  • Publication Date: June 18, 2015
  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Series: Priest #1

Rating: 3 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: reference to systemic sex abuse within the Catholic Church, death of a sister by suicide, grief

There are many rules a priest can’t break. 

A priest cannot marry. A priest cannot abandon his flock. A priest cannot forsake his God.

I’ve always been good at following rules. 

Until she came. 

My name is Tyler Anselm Bell. I’m twenty-nine years old. Six months ago, I broke my vow of celibacy on the altar of my own church, and God help me, I would do it again. 

I am a priest and this is my confession.

I’ve seen this book pop up here and there on BookTok, but it wasn’t until my friend Kim told me about it that I actually had the urge to pick it up. Normally anything related to the priesthood wouldn’t appeal to me, but … I do trust Kim’s judgment and she hasn’t led me astray yet, so here I am, having just finished this book. I’m not going to say it’s a masterpiece or a favorite, but it wasn’t a bad read either. There are some things I enjoyed, but others I didn’t like as much, and some things that surprised me.

I’ve never quite understood the appeal of joining the priesthood and living a life of celibacy, especially as a young man, but this book explains that part really well. Tyler discusses some of the things that he loves about the church and his faith, the aspects that comfort him as well as the things he hopes to change by working from within. There’s an aspect of guilt associated to his connection with his sister and the signs he missed, as well as a strong connection to his own spirituality and how he feels guided by the hand of God. And obviously we see him struggle with lust after meeting Poppy.

However, there’s a lot of telling and not showing. We’re told that Poppy is smart, yet all we get to see of her is the slutty side and the one where she consistently makes poor choices. She leaves a life of privilege and makes some decisions that would be frowned upon by the society that she was raised in. She makes some questionable choices when it comes to a sexual partner, and then comes to confession to tell the priest about it in excruciating detail. 

As far as the relationship between Tyler and Poppy goes, it starts pretty quickly on a physical basis. It continues that way, but then somehow morphs into love. There isn’t a lot of romantic development, aside from her sharing filthy experiences in the confessional booth and him spending the entire time thinking filthy thoughts about her. And speaking of which, I’ll freely admit that I don’t have a lot of exposure to priests, but I would expect them not to be dropping a ton of f-bombs. So much of Tyler’s inner monologue is him justifying breaking his vows, and trying to figure out a way where he can have the best of both worlds—having Poppy yet still being able to do the job he loves as a Catholic priest.

“I wanted both lives—the life where we were believer and priest and the life where we were man and woman—and every moment that passed without my mouth on Poppy’s skin, more and more of my willpower bled away, until I was left with the uncomfortable knowledge that I would endure whatever guilt or punishment I had to in order to touch her again.”

As for the smut, it’s easily the best part of the book. It’s well written and super hot. The sexual tension between Tyler and Poppy is there, and the fact that they’re not supposed to be doing what they’re doing makes it taboo and therefore intriguing and exciting. And picturing the cover model as the Tyler in the pages of this book? It was perfect.

I don’t know about you, but as soon as I’m told I can’t have something, it’s all I can think about, and it’s all that I want. I can only imagine that it’s similar to what happens in this story, where Tyler is only allowed to focus on spiritual matters rather than sex, and Poppy isn’t allowed to want a priest. But instead, what happens is that Tyler’s focus is on Poppy rather than on the needs of the people of his parish. It makes me wonder if this is what happens to other priests, and I’ve never been more happy to be Jewish, where my rabbi is married, and I have the benefit of going to him OR his wife for spiritual guidance, knowing that they aren’t lusting after forbidden fruit because they’re forced into an unnatural state of celibacy.

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