The Color of Light (Goddesses Anonymous)
About the Book:
For more than a decade minister Analiese Wagner has felt privileged to lead her parishioners along a well-lit path. Her commitment has never been seriously tested until the frigid night she encounters a homeless family huddling in the churchyard. Offering them shelter in a vacant parish house apartment and taking teenage Shiloh Fowler—a girl desperate to rescue her parents—under her wing, she tests the loyalty and faith of her congregation.
Isaiah Colburn, the Catholic priest who was her first mentor and the man she secretly longed for, understands her struggles only too well. At a crossroads, he's suddenly reappeared in her life, torn between his priesthood and his growing desire for a future with Analiese.
Divided between love and vows they've taken, both must face the possibilities of living very different lives or continuing to serve their communities. With a defeated family's trust and her own happiness on the line, Analiese must define for herself where darkness ends and light begins.
Have you ever decided to read a book, even though you were pretty sure you were going to hate the ending? Since I've read and loved the other Goddesses Anonymous books, I decided to read this one too, though by reading the blurb above, I was pretty sure Isaiah was going to end up leaving the priesthood for Analiese (Harlequin does publish romances, not tragedies). I liked the book anyway, but I won't give it the "A" I've given other books in the series because I believe in keeping promises.
Like the other "Goddess" books, this one features a romance between one of the goddesses and someone else, along with the story of someone they help. Analiese was a widowed before they divorced news reporter out on a story when she met Isaiah, who was comforting the people she was sent to interview. She realized she wanted more out of life and through a friendship with Isaiah, came to the realization that she had a call to the ordained ministry. She fell in love with him, but realized that he could not be hers and keeping in touch became painful. Isaiah was a Jesuit priest. What that means is that instead of working directly for a bishop in an area, he belonged to a community of priests and brothers that pooled resources and expenses and engaged in ministry as a group. Some Jesuits teach, some are parish priests and some, as in any large organization, are administrators. Isaiah entered the priesthood to care for people, but for the last several years, despite the fact that he has asked to be in a parish, Isaiah has been an administrator, a job he hates. Between hating his job and reaching a certain age, he is questioning whether he should remain a Jesuit and a priest, because he has carried a flame for Analiese all these years. He is now on sabbatical trying to decide what to do with the rest of his life.
Analiese was ordained by the United Church of Christ, but she is pastor of an old-money non-denominational church is Ashville . She has given her life to her work and is turning forty this year. She isn't unhappy, but she is tired, and, at times, lonely. One night she finds a homeless family setting up camp on church property, and she invites them to use the apartment the church Sexton (custodian) has recently vacated. Of course some members of the congregation object, and of course Analiese wins that battle. We hear her sermon on the Good Samaritan. The story follows the homeless family from the time Aaliese takes them in until they achieve some level of independence through the help of the goddesses. We learn how they became homeless and see how difficult it can be for people in that position to turn the ship around. We see how well-meaning people can do more harm than good, and how those who mean to harm can sometimes seem to do good.
Isaiah admits he is more of a people priest than a doctrine one, and at one point he tells Analiese that when counselling teen boys he did all he could to encourage them to use condoms without actually telling them to do so (the Catholic church teaches that both non-marital sex and birth control are sins). Analiese and Isaiah end up in bed before marriage. While the scenes aren't graphic, they are there, and neither one feels guilty.
I liked the basic story, and if Isaiah had been a widower who had been faithful to his wife despite his attraction to Analiese and was now free to pursue a relationship with her, I would have loved this book. I just did not like the way Emile Richards dealt with the Catholic church and priestly celibacy.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade: B