The Prayer Waltz

Title: The Prayer Waltz
Author: K.Z. Snow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

Five Star Read

THE BLURB

For eight months, the peculiar circumstances surrounding the sudden death of Steven Brandwein’s lover, an enigmatic ex-priest, have weighted his mourning with mystery. Desperate for emotional closure, Steve makes a journey he’s put off for years: he travels to the town that was once an integral part of his late lover’s life. Steve hopes his pilgrimage will help him better understand Frank, serve as a final farewell, and allow him to move on.

His visit to St. Jerome’s Church one snowy, silent night proves more consequential than he’d ever anticipated. Evan McAllister, an unassuming man still grieving over the death of his son, befriends Steve. As their bond grows, they both make startling discoveries—not the least of which, for Steve, is that he’s ready to love again.

THE REVIEW

A few months ago, in the comments of a not-so-favorable review I did, there was some discussion about DSP and the range in quality of the books they have been putting out. In that discussion, KZ Snow fretted about her upcoming releases with them — of which this is one — based on what we were saying. Well, she needn’t have worried. What a great little story The Prayer Waltz is!  It is the first book by her that I’ve read and I wonder why it has taken me this long. Looking at her backlist, though, I think it’s because the majority of her works are either paranormal and/or futuristic, neither of which are favorite genres for me. At any rate, I’m really glad I read this lovely, well- and tightly-written novella.

Steve’s lover, Frank, died eight months ago in a mysterious accident and Steve has travelled to Prism Falls, Wisconsin, in the hopes of finding some answers. Prism Falls is the town where Frank spent quite a few years as a priest, and first stop for Steve is St. Jerome’s — or St. Jerry’s as the locals call it — where he was pastor. In the midst of a trio cleaning the church, one of whom is a man buffing the floors, and with a heavy heart, he prays to whoever is listening. Heading off to the bar across the street when he is done, he meets up with the “buff buffer,” Evan. As they chat, Frank’s name comes up and Evan’s reaction seems a touch excessive upon hearing about his former pastor’s passing. Knowing there must be something more to the story, Steve invites Evan back to his room to finish the conversation where he learns, among other things, that Evan’s teenage son died a year ago. As the days pass and the more he discovers about Frank’s existence in Prism Falls, the more he realizes how little he knew of the man with whom he spent four years. He also finds himself falling for the quiet, unassuming Evan.

This quiet, sweet and gentle story is effectively told in three ways: first-person narration by Steve, third-person flashbacks by Evan and letters to Scott (Evan’s son) by Evan. I found both protags to be very likeable and sympathetic, two normal guys dealing with grief the best way they know how, and now helping each other with their healing. These are the kind of people I would be friends with, and I found myself wanting to console and help them. I felt the chemistry beneath the sorrow, and I thought their attraction and romance to be completely believable; even though they get together relatively quickly, there is no insta-love here, and a hopeful HFN felt just right. I could easily see an HEA for these two.

If you’re thinking that this is a heavy book based on the blurb, fear not. Yes, there is sorrow and angst, but there is also laughter and love. There was such a range of emotions here for me: I teared up (Evan’s letters to his son and Steve’s prayers had me grabbing for Kleenex), my pulse raced a bit at the steamy smexxin, I sighed in happiness, I laughed (especially at Steve’s funny, loud comments during sex):

“I am so being fucked!” I shouted, mindlessly pulling at my dick.

Evan’s hips swung forward. The sudden fullness was exquisite.

“Pack me, Evan!”

“Steve, for chrissake, don’t make me laugh.”

I whimpered as he found the perfect rhythm. “I love cock.”

For secondary characters, there are none that take up a whole lot of screen time, but I really liked Peg, one of the church cleaning trio who talks with Steve when he comes in that first time (as well as later in the book). And then there’s Frank, who even dead is as much of a presence as a third protag, and who we get to know almost as well as Steve and Evan know him — or maybe as little, as that is one of the points of the story.

Regarding the mystery element of the book — what the heck Frank was all about and what were the exact circumstances of his death — I thought the resolution was healthy and therapeutic. It could have turned out to be a different tale altogether if the author had gone the route of focusing solely on trying to get to the bottom of Frank’s enigmatic life (and death), and I’m glad she went the way she did. It caused just enough angst to add yet another emotional layer, but not enough to weigh it down.

OVERALL

I highly recommend this wonderful novella by an author that I will keep an eye out for in the future.

20 comments

  • I loved your review , it described exactly how I felt when I read this book, all the teary parts and all the lol parts , it was great to read . I think I felt all the emotions that K.Z. Snow wanted me to feel when I was reading this book . It was a very emotional read for m.

    • Good morning Nastassia, and thanks for stopping by and commenting. Thank you for your nice words and I’m glad I was spot on in the review for you. I agree that KZ was very successful here with making her readers feel many things.

  • I’ll be picking this one up for the in-bed humor alone. So very many books take the sexy-time waaaaaay too seriously waaaaaay too often.

  • Wonderful review, Lynn. I enjoyed reading KZ’s story Bastards and Pretty Boys and I’m looking forward to reading this one. 🙂

    • Hi Lily, and thanks. Since I’ve written this review I have been thinking about picking up Bastards and Pretty Boys myself.

  • Oops, forgot to shout my gratitude to Anne Cain for her beautiful cover. (That one won’t turn up in your annual competiton . . . will it, Wave?)

    • K.Z.
      Oh ye of little faith. 🙂 Why would you think that your cover would show up in my Ugly covers Competition? On second thoughts hmmm….. Kidding!!! It might turn up in my Annual Great Covers though.
      Lovely book and a great debut with Dreamspinner.

    • 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by KZ. What a great book. Congrats.

      And yes, that cover is a perfect fit to the story and so lovely.

  • Thank you, Lynn, for the time you took with this little book. I’m so glad your first experience with me didn’t disappoint you. (I’m used to saying that to men. What a pleasant change! *g* )

  • Great review, Lynn. I loved this book too and cried and laughed at all the bits you mentioned. I especially liked the interaction between Steve and Evan about Evan’s chest hair which had me in fits of laughter.

    A lovely story packed full of emotion.

    • Oh yeah, the chest hair! So funny…

      It’s good to see when I’ve gotten a review right, so thanks for commenting Jen.

  • Lynn
    I’m so happy this book worked for you. K.Z. is one of my favourite authors and readers on this site love her books. I thought you would like The Prayer Waltz which is why I asked you if you would like to review it. Great review and on the money!

    • Hi Wave, and thanks for letting me read and review this lovely story. I am so keeping an eye out for future releases from her.

  • Oh, Lynn, a 5 star book for you to review. I’m so happy for you!

    This sounds great. The first thing I read from K.Z. Snow was Bastards and Pretty Boys, back in December when it was a free Christmas giveaway. I wanted to read something else by this author but as you said, the futuristic/paranormal stories didn’t have much appeal. This, on the other hand, is right up my alley. Off to buy…!

    L

    • Thanks Leslie. I was so happy to get a winner for a change, and I knew within a few pages that it would be. I hope you like it as much as I did.

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