Emotional overload. That’s what this read was. Feelings all over the place. And even if I’m conflicted about some of the content, just the magnitude of feels this story brought me makes it an indisputable 5-star.
Synopsis: Aiden was always the fun guy, the life of the party. Happy, charming and living fast. Until one night changed his life and he left to become a monk. His boyfriend Elijah was left floundering without a proper explanation or goodbye. And now, 5 years later, Elijah comes to visit Aiden at his cloister, telling him he’s getting married. Only, neither of the men have gotten over the other. And despite the dramatic way things ended between them, their attraction is stronger than ever.
Despite not being a religious person myself, I was still deeply moved by Aiden’s dedication. And the way the monastic life was depicted was – though obviously romanticised – both beautiful and alluring. However, I still can’t decide if I think it was an escape for Aiden or an actual sanctuary.
Apart from being thought-provoking in the extreme, and I’m guessing just plain provoking to many people, the philosophical aspect of this story was captivating. Heavy and angsty too. I hadn’t really considered the emotional discord of someone deeply devout but also queer before. Although, to be fair, Aiden’s angst wasn’t so much about his love for another man as his love for someone other than God.
If I were to describe this story with just a few words it would be angst, sizzling sexytimes and heavy theological questions. And that’s obviously what Simone was aiming for. But to me, this story was also frustrating. It made me irritated and plain angry at times. Aiden’s insistence that he absolutely wanted to belong only to God, that he kept telling himself that he could and would give up Elijah, became tiresome pretty fast. His inner monologue was stuck on a loop, and even if his love for Elijah was the main cause of his existential crisis, some of his repetitive arguments did get boring after a while.
My main problem with Saint, however, is the way Aiden’s mental illness was downplayed. Or at least pushed aside. All the focus was on God, on Aiden’s faith, on his conviction that God saved his life and that he therefore owed God. And think what you will of the intervention during the darkest night of Aiden’s life, but the fact is that he was saved by therapy and anti-depressants. So I was angry that the severity of mental illness was largely disregarded. Religion and faith can’t cure depression, and not acknowledging that fact pisses me off.
Anyway. This is still a beautiful (and naughty) story. I loved it. I hated it. It was all the emotions. It’s also so very well-written and well researched. High quality writing all around.
Highly, highly recommend.