Title: Blessed (The Matawapit Family #1)
Author: Maggie Blackbird
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Release Date: July 6, 2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 356
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another man. In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.
Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered: the loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more than the deacon. Darryl intends on using his power to destroy Deacon Matawapit and his church.
Hoping to save the church, Emery races home. But stopping Darryl is harder than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life: please his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain true to his heart and marry the man created for him.
This is very erotic book about a spiritual journey.
Set in Canada, “Blessed” is a very densely-packed story of two men who have loved each other since boys, but are torn apart by religion – Emery feels called to become a Catholic priest while Darrell works with the Traditionalist Society to strengthen First Nations rights. Both are of Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) blood but Emery’s mother is white and his father is a Deacon in their Catholic church.
The Anishinaabe struggle with the legacy of Residential Schools which removed children from their homes and forbade them to speak their language or follow their traditional beliefs. Traditionalist societies work to restore and support the Anishinaabe culture. Emery’s family is very staunchly Catholic and they are very involved with their church and while Emery’s father very much believes he is always (emphasis on always) right, they are sincere in their wishes to help people and bring them closer to their God.
Emery has almost completed his course of study to become a priest but is in the process of discernment and is awaiting a clear message that God wants him to commit to becoming a celibate priest. He returns home and has to deal with his unresolved feelings for Darrell. This issue is the prism through which we view all of Darrell and Emery’s interactions. It seems at times as if every action or reaction is based on how this affects Emery’s decision, and Emery’s father as well as Darrell is constantly questioning Emery’s actions.
I like the romance and passionate love between Darrell and Emery, once they get past old hurts and recriminations (and once Darrell stops being a hot-headed jerk), and quickly realize that the bottom line is they love one another but just need to reconcile that with each man’s religion and mission. The ending feels somewhat rushes into a HEA for Emery and Darrell and resolution of Emery’s issues with his father, with a look to the future as Emery and Darrell work to strengthen and support their entire community.
While I appreciate the time and effort the author took to thoroughly present this conflict (and she does a wonderful job of doing so in giving credence to all viewpoints and opinions) as well as giving us an in-depth view of the issues of First Nations people, it made for a very intense and dense read. At times it feels like there are no lighthearted scenes or casual conversations – everything is subject to intense analysis by all parties involved – and as a result the pace of the story at times is very slow. I really struggled with the almost singular focus on Emery’s discernment and its repercussions and personally felt it lent the entire story a complex feel. Of course, I realize this is just my own opinion. 3.5 stars for “Blessed.”