Mark of Cain, Kate Sherwood
Mark of Cain, Kate Sherwood
Genre: GLBT, Romance.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Well, Kate’s a prolific author, and yet this is the first book by her I’ve read. It certainly won’t be the last as it’s a great novel, a solid romance wrapped up in a thought provoking story! I love romance, but it has to have something more than just a meets b and they live happily ever after. One of the reasons I love the GLBT genre is the way its so subject to problems that create the angst I love. Its a very real feeling, and something that in real life is terribly sad but makes for a terrific fiction read.
Mark, what a problem for him. The Church, his passion and his profession, counsels tolerance and that he should help Lucas, and that’s what he’d do if it was any other man. Try to help him move forward, to be a better person in future and be sorry for what he did – a reformed character. This time though its too close to home, it was his little brother that was killed in the fight and its left his family distraught, so to see Lucas out and about, getting on with life, enjoying all the things his brother can no longer have is like a red flag. I can understand that – he’s a very devout man but he’s also human….and of course he’s only seeing one side of Lucas, the side that he wants to see.
Lucas isn’t like that though, he’s always regretted that moment of madness that took a man’s life. He wants to change, doesn’t want to go back to that old life but his friends aren’t happy about that, and he’s forced one night to make a decision that leaves him homeless and jobless – both violations of is parole terms. His parole officer gets him into the halfway house Mark’s church runs which has done such good in the past.
Marks is gay and is sort of accepted, some of the congregation are ok with it but others not so and make it clear. He gets into trouble after helping a young boy who’s struggling with being gay…we can see what a great job he’s done, how depressed Alex was and how close he was to suicide, and yet his father is furious and accuses Mark of grooming him. It throws the Church into a defensive position, threatens Mark’s job and shows just what I feel about this whole issue and the Church’s position – Marks acceptance by the church only goes so far, he can be gay so long as he keeps his lover hidden, no one knows a kind of DADT policy, and he has to be someone the Church approve of, certainly not an ex convict. Premarital sex is frowned upon by the church, but as gay people aren’t allowed to marry the church accepts this as a “compromise”. To me its just hypocritical. It shows Mark just how head in the sand he’s been, thinking he could change the church from within, he’s already been passed over for a role that he would have been perfect for in favour of someone not gay, but who’s so far not done anything for the position….It makes him question what brought him so much peace about the church, which is a shame as its been all he wanted since he was a teen.
As Lucas and Mark get thrown together more and more over circumstances, he sees another side to Lucas, and sees he’s not the man he’d assumed, and how much he’s saddened, regrets what happened, and how the guilt burdens him. There’s some really sad parts, some real thought provoking issues, and its so much like real life where things are never as black or white as they seem. Lucas can’t remember much of the fight having incurred a head injury, but from Marks thoughts about his brother he could well have been a protagonist in the fight, and he was taller and heavier than Lucas. That doesn’t excuse Lucas but makes me ( and I think Mark) wonder if all the blame can be laid at his door.
There are so many issues here, the rehab of prisoners, if someone who’s killed should be accepted once the sentence is done, the church stance on GLBT, and of course how best to help young people who question their sexuality. Bigotry – not just over GLBT issues but over ex offenders too and how some of the police treat them, the parole violations – should they be treated as absolute, because if so Lucas broke several through no fault of his own, and in one case protecting another person. Then there’s the romance, it grows slowly and its hard looking back to see exactly when Mark began to see Lucas as a person and not just as his bothers killer, and then to go from there to attraction…its very cleverly done. There are some great characters too – Elise, the lady who’s younger than her years and runs the animal sanctuary, Alex, the young teen with the bigoted father, Mark’s parents, his boss in the church Father Terry, and the parole officer Darren who had so much vibrancy about him. Its a book I loved, that drew me in and totally engrossed me for hours. Its not a short read and that allows for the multiple story lines to really be explored .
Stars: five, a great challenging story full of love and drama.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.