Christianity has done a great deal for love by making it a sin. – Anatole France
When it comes to religion, Seth Wheeler can only be described as a devout Atheist, though that wasn’t always the case. Seth was a believer until the day he came out of the closet to his fundamentalist Christian parents and they, in turn, disowned their son for being gay. Seth made it through their abandonment with a few scars, but is doing alright by himself at Ink Springs, the tattoo shop he owns with his friend Lane.
Darren Romero is the man who moves into the vacant apartment across the hall after Seth’s friend Robyn moves out. When it comes to religion, Darren can only be described as a devout Christian—kind of goes with the territory seeing as how Darren’s a minister and all, which is the very definition of irony, isn’t it? Kind of like a cosmic joke: an atheist and a minister meet, and the sexual attraction between the two of them is like an act of God, something indefinable and out of control.
L.A. Witt has given Seth a lot to wrap his head around when it comes to Darren, not the least of which is that he’s a gay minister, but also that Darren’s version of Christianity is nothing like the version that Seth’s familiar with. Darren’s religion is the one that teaches love and patience and kindness and compassion, the one that doesn’t brag or boast, the one that trusts and perseveres even when he’s tested by those who call themselves fellow Christians. But that’s not Seth’s religion; Seth’s doesn’t trust in anything that looks like faith, and that’s where the conflict begins and ends for these two men who can’t resist the temptation of each other.
Covet Thy Neighbor is a book I don’t think is possible to read and feel entirely neutral about, which is one of the things I liked so much about it in the end. Whether you see yourself as a religious person or not, or whether you even consider yourself a spiritual person (which, in my opinion, is very different from religion) or not, I think it’s possible to find parts and parcels of one’s beliefs in Seth and Darren’s story, especially if you subscribe to the belief that loving someone is not a sin. It addresses prejudices in various forms, and is a book that questions The Book, which is filled with contradictions but is the basis for an entire belief system and defines the way those believers treat those who think differently.
I liked this one, liked the message and the conflict between the MCs and liked that it wasn’t about fixing the differences between Seth and Darren, but about accepting them and compromising in order to make them work.