Aiden Bell never had plans to be a monk and he never planned to break Elijah Iverson’s heart, but that’s exactly where Aiden’s life is now. One night when Aiden was at his absolute lowest point, he gave up his career and his money and he now finds peace and purpose in his prayer. It’s been five years since he left Elijah and while Aiden hasn’t seen Elijah during that time, the all-consuming love Aiden has for him has never dimmed. But Aiden can’t have Elijah because he’s pledged to have a cloistered life and, anyway, Elijah is now engaged to someone else. Aiden doesn’t want to be struggling with his vows, but when Elijah shows up at the monastery to write a magazine article and also to see Aiden, Aiden feels his control slipping.
Aiden never felt worthy. He doesn’t feel worthy of God and he never felt worthy of Elijah and Aiden is taking steps to seek an even more cloistered life in Europe. Only now, Elijah is coming with him on his monastic road trip. Aiden and Elijah have not reconciled their past, and now with kisses on their lips and worship for each other on their fingers, Aiden is struggling with all he has worked for and all he needs to keep his mind quiet. But Aiden wonders, what if he can have God and Elijah? Aiden will have to search his very soul for the answers and when he sees his path, he has to be sure that Elijah will walk it with him.
This book is extraordinary. The writing is mesmerizing. I say that as a person who goes out their way to not read religious books and I say that as a reader who fell hard for all of Sierra Simone’s books, but thought to skip this book due to the theme. If I had done that, I would have missed out. This book was compulsively addictive throughout, and I wanted to read it as fast as possible, while simultaneously making it last. Saint is book three in Simone’s Priest series, with the first two books being M/F, and while there is some tie-in to the series as a whole, it worked absolutely fine as a standalone.
Aiden was a successful millionaire and he walked out of life to save his life. There is a backstory of depression and surviving his sister’s suicide and Aiden is introduced in an almost haunting manner. Elijah is Aiden’s older brother’s best friend and Aiden fell in love with Elijah before he even realized that’s what he was feeling. We learn of their history throughout the story and we are given the perfect amount to see them as they were.
Aiden has not taken his solemn vows yet, but he is living as a monk and feels that is the path he has to stay on. He knows that coming to the monastery saved his life, but even now he will cringe at himself and his behavior as he never feels enough. When he sees Elijah again, it takes his breath away and the stunning narrative that develops when they are in the same space together is sensual and erotic.
This book can be read for the taboo element of a monk in his habit breaking his vows, but this story is so much more than that. There is a lingering hunger beneath every interaction between Aiden and Elijah and everything is meticulously plotted, including their names, and Simone writes from a place of research and knowledge adapted to a conversational tone. We get brief point of view from Elijah from his notebook writings and from excerpts from his article and this piece pulls the story together in even more remarkable ways. The book has a great atmosphere as the men move through different monasteries in Europe and break each other down as they poke at old wounds, while stripping each other down both emotionally and physically. The men have never gotten over each other, they never wanted to, and Elijah never had answers or closure, but he has no idea how to compete with “fireflies in the cloister.”
I would have liked a bit more insight on the night that everything changed and then Aiden’s mental health treatment, but that is just a small piece and clearly the book worked without it. Saint may not be for everyone, and I wasn’t sure it would be for me. However, it is a stunning novel of an eternal love.