Guest Review: Vespertine by Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn

Can a priest and a rock star obey love's call?

Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld's childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper's calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back.

Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He's determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness.

As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started.

Jasper and Nicky's careers have ruled their lives since they parted as teens. When they come face to face again, they must choose between the past's lingering ghosts or the promise of a new future.

Guest Reviewed by Vivian

Salacious premise that delivers without falling apart.

First love, a pivotal moment that remains emblazoned in the mind. Some memories are sweet, some hurt, but for everyone that's had it run through their fingers and slide away with youth, it also carries a bittersweetness.

Nico Blue is a rock god. A star. A mess. Lost in his own persona, he's dying. A harsh wake-up call brings him back home to recover, to regain himself. To find what he lost with time.

Jasper, a devout man of the cloth who truly believes in his calling, his service, his mission. He uses his faith to serve both his community and disenfranchised youths in the church run LGBTQ foster home. He never lied or disowned his inclinations, but he did follow another path--abstinence.

The expressions, explanations of liturgy and procedure are well done. There is no scoffing at religion. Jasper believes and the story treats it appropriately, with reverence. And I have to say, that was important to me as I was reading the story. It's easy to set up strawmen and knock them down, but religion isn't the easy out here.

Straight off, the initial clash between Nicky and Jasper is spectacle. Nicky's out of control and it is embarrassingly obvious--Nicky is doing confession all wrong. It's about ones' own failings not accusations. But, Jasper is a patient man who struggles and wants to help his childhood friend, sweetheart to get beyond the pain and heartache, to find a good place again. So herein starts a tentative dance. They push and pull, but both respect the boundaries set.

Jasper is unfair. Nicky's been upfront and honest about his feeling for Jasper and Jazz is taking liberties while keeping him arm's distance as he experiences a true crisis of faith. Things shift in the liminal spaces. And that's where Jasper and Nicky find each other again. Zeitgeist.

While there isn't suicide ideation, there are definite shadows that linger and move forwards and backwards during the story. Pain needs an outlet; there's a lot of it here. This story is an UST lovers' dream, but when it breaks loose--it rolls through like a tidal wave.

Midway, I couldn't see how this story could end without it falling apart. Physical love and the Catholic priesthood are a paradox; they can't exist simultaneously. Choices must be made. Actually, there's one loophole to that--One.

Favorite quote:
With his first words, “Hey, my name’s Jasper,” he’d somehow grabbed hold of Nicky’s hands and pulled him out of the cage he’d been in his whole life. He’d made him a real boy.

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