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REVIEW: The Gospel of Love: According to Luke by Jackie Barbosa

Dear Ms. Barbosa,

A while back you mentioned on Twitter that you were writing a series of four novellas, each written from one of four brothers’ first person POVs. The series is called The Gospel of Love because the brothers’ names are Luke, Mark, Matthew and John.

The Gospel of Love: According to Luke by Jackie BarbosaI asked if these were Christian romances and you said that no, they were erotic romances. I had never read an m/f romance written entirely from the hero’s first person POV, so I was intrigued. When you offered to send me the first two novellas I accepted. The Gospel of Love: According to Luke is the first novella in the series.

Chicago corporate lawyer Luke Finley is a serial monogamist. The story begins with Luke, his three brothers, and his youngest brother John’s best friend Lisa Sullivan having drinks at a pub. Luke is relating the way his girlfriend, Elaine, threw him out of his own condo because he wouldn’t marry her.

Luke and Elaine have just broken up and Luke believes he is not the marrying kind, which is why he is surprised when Lisa follows him outside after he leaves the pub, and tells him that the real problem is that he chooses women who aren’t the type he would marry.

Even more than that, he is surprised to find himself intensely attracted to Lisa, whom he has always thought of as one of the guys. The feeling is mutual, and the two of them spare only a brief thought to how sleeping together would affect Lisa’s friendship with the Finleys, before they go to Luke’s hotel and jump each other’s bones.

At the hotel lobby, Luke starts to feel possessive of Lisa and once they make it to his room he can’t get enough of her. It comes as something of a shock because he has always been drawn to tall brunettes and Lisa is a petite blonde. But he is in for an even greater shock when a tearful Elaine shows up at his door, hoping to mend their relationship.

An unpleasant scene ensues, and Lisa decides they should cool it and take a break from each other for a few months. She does not want to be the other woman in Luke and Elaine’s relationship. The problem for Luke is that he knows the one he wants is Lisa, not Elaine. But how to convince Lisa of that?

I started reading this novella after a long reading slump and it was what broke me out of it. The first person male POV was as much fun as I had thought it would be, especially since fear of commitment was Luke’s big issue. I enjoyed seeing him squirm when his feelings for Lisa exceeded all his rules and preconceptions.

Luke’s narration had a certain degree of bluntness that one would expect of a guy and that was therefore appropriate but it took me some getting used to when it came to some of the sex words. The sex was steamy (Luke and Lisa can hardly keep their hands off each other) but what I enjoyed most was getting to know the characters, so I would have liked one or two more interactions outside the bedroom between Luke and Lisa.

Lisa and Luke were both confident and smart, but at the same time they had their vulnerabilities and hadn’t always led perfect lives. I particularly liked that Lisa’s background included something she recognized had been a big mistake, and one that she didn’t want to repeat.

Luke had good reasons for his fear of commitment and even though I wasn’t 100% on board with the way those feelings were resolved, I had a lot of sympathy for what led to this internal conflict in the first place.

There were one or two points in the story when I wished for more insight into Lisa’s thoughts, but on the whole I thought you did a good job of conveying what Lisa thought and felt through Luke’s interactions with her and his perception of her.

The playful chemistry between Luke and Lisa both in and out of bed really came through, and they were both endearing. I also enjoyed Luke’s relationships with his brothers, especially John. I found myself wondering about John and his ex-boyfriend and interested in their story. Matthew and his ex (a girl in his case) sounded like an interesting couple as well.

I thought it was impressive how much sex and plot you packed into 78 pages and after my long reading slump, I was grateful to enjoy and finish a story. The Gospel of Love: According to Luke was a lot of fun and it earns a B from me.

Sincerely,

Janine Ballard

Book Link | Kindle | nook
| Sony| KoboBooks | Fictionwise

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

19 Comments

  1. Ridley
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 15:56:04

    So this is a series that mixes m/f in some books with m/m in another? If so, I’m on board. Male POV and a mix of relationship types sounds like a win.

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  2. Janine
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 16:01:31

    @Ridley: Yes. My understanding is that there are four novellas in the series, one for each of the four brothers. I believe first three are m/f and the fourth is m/m.

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  3. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 16:11:02

    Hi Ridley and Janine,

    Now that someone has commented on the thread, I feel safe popping in, lol.

    There will be four novellas altogether when I finish the series. Luke and Matthew are already published and available (although Matthew’s book is still not showing up on Amazon, which is annoying), and I’m wrapping up work on Mark’s book, which is due out in June. These three are all m/f. John’s book, which I’m not allowed to tackle until 2012 (because I promised not to write anything in 2011 that I hadn’t already started) is be m/m.

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  4. Kaetrin
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 20:17:08

    sounds great – off to go shopping! :)

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  5. Kaetrin
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 20:21:26

    Okay, I found them at ARe for $4.99 each. That sounds steep for a 78 page book. Maybe I’m just cheap? I’ve put them on my wishlist but I think I’m going to need a little more of a push before I actually spend the $$. Advice anyone?

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  6. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 20:24:14

    FWIW, Amazon and B&N both currently have them discounted to $3.99. I think it is $4.42 on Fictionwise.

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  7. Janine
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 20:32:41

    @Kaetrin: I agree the price is on the high side considering the length. I had a lot of fun reading the novella but since I didn’t purchase it, I’m hoping someone else who has read it will weigh in with an opinion on whether they feel it was worth the cost.

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  8. Kaetrin
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 20:44:37

    I have a Sony reader and I usually buy in epub or pdf – so I don’t buy from Amazon. I haven’t bought from B&N – do they sell in a format friendly to me or will I have to learn mad skillz to be able to read it?

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  9. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 20:47:23

    To my knowledge, B&N is epub format and so compatible with the Sony reader, although I don’t know how difficult it is to get the file from B&N to your reader.

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  10. Jaclyn
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 21:29:32

    @Kaetrin I have yet to successfully migrate a BN purchased ebook onto my Sony Reader. They use epub files, and they apply a layer of DRM to the file. That’s just my experience, but I think that BN’s DRM will not allow you to take a title out of ADE into Sony’s Reader Library. (If someone knows differently, please share!)

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  11. Kaetrin
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 21:50:20

    I had a look on the B&N website and I’m not even sure if I can buy it in Australia anyway, it seems like it might be geo restricted?

    In any event, even though it’s cheaper at B&N, with their DRM, I don’t want to buy it if I can’t use it – can you imagine? I spend $3.99 at B&N, can’t use it, and then spend another $4.99 at ARe and it’s only 78 pages! (and srsly, this would so happen to me!) I’m interested, but I need a bit of reassurance that the price is worth it wherever I get it from (no disrespect to Ms. Barbosa intended) and that where I get it from I can actually see it on my reader. Anyone who can chip in with advice, please feel free! :)

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  12. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 08:51:38

    @Kaetrin: I’m pretty sure B&N doesn’t sell in Australia. /sigh

    And there’s absolutely no disrespect taken. I honestly wish I could reassure you that the experience would be worth your investment, but of course, that’s something that’s so personal, I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying it would be even if it were someone else’s book and I’d absolutely loved said book. I regularly drop close to $5 on a Starbuck’s latte when my husband is out of town and can’t make my coffee at home. I’d like to think my novella is worth at least as much as a glorified cup of coffee with steamed milk, but then, I am hardly ever willing to spend that much on a full-length novel in digital myself, so I’m a bit of a hypocrite, aren’t I?

    If you’ll email me directly (jackie at jackiebarbosa dot com), I’ll see what I can do about getting you a usable copy of the file in epub for a reasonable price. No promises, but I’ll do my darnedest.

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  13. miz_geek
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 12:09:49

    Jaclyn is correct – B&N uses epub with Adobe DRM, but they use their own special flavor of DRM that won’t work on non-Nook eReaders without further modification.

    I think Fictionwise often has coupons if you sign up for their newsletter. 25% off would make it about $3, which isn’t bad. Kobo has a $2 off coupon right now, but I don’t see the book listed there (and they tend to be more expensive in the first place).

    Or maybe I have eBucks at ARe I can use….

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  14. Janine
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:10:21

    @Kaetrin: Jane posted on Twitter that she enjoyed the novella as well, although she thought it was a bit short.

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  15. Jane
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:21:58

    I did enjoy it but I had a couple of problems. First, Lisa knew that Luke had a hard time committing and dated women he knew that he would tire of. When she confronts him and basically offers herself up, he buys the premise that she was wanting just sex. But she obviously wasn’t. She was saying that if he took her, he would want something lasting.

    As someone as commitment phobic as Luke, you would have thought he would have a) ran far far away and b) turned her down because she was part of his extended family and didn’t want to hurt her.

    As written, his inability to see clearly Lisa’s intentions seemed foolish and inconsistent.

    I think that we were supposed to be given a glimpse of Lisa’s POV but I felt it was false given that the reactions to the stated intentions of Lisa didn’t fit Luke’s character.

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  16. Janine
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:35:46

    @Jane: Interesting. My interpretation of that was that Luke had dormant feelings for Lisa that he first became aware of as a bolt of lust from the blue, and that this momentarily blinded him to other considerations. Therefore it wasn’t until he’d already slept with Lisa and realized he wanted more of her that the commitment issues reared their head.

    The main thing that jarred me about this (which I forgot to mention in my review) is that I felt he should have been consciously aware of an attraction to Lisa before she confronted him.

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  17. Jane
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:46:46

    @Janine But from the very outset, he had commitment issues. The story opens with “So she said, ‘You’re never going to marry me, are you?’ and I just stared at her, because I told her when she moved in I wasn’t the marrying type. And then she threw me out.”
    and

    I wanted companionship and a reliable lay, not a soul mate. At thirty-eight, I was well into confirmed bachelorhood, a serial monogamist with no intention of converting to the real thing. And with my demanding job, the last thing I needed was a wife, a picket fence, and a dog, to say nothing of babies.

    So we know that he isn’t interested in anything long term. Lisa obviously thinks he is or should be.

    “I don’t think you’re not the marrying type, Luke. I think you choose women who aren’t the type you’ll marry.”

    Her intentions are right out there. Is Luke so callous that he would fuck his brother’s best friend and then leave her? Is he so driven by his cock that he can’t think about how having sex with her might be bad for him, his brother and her? This was too easily glossed over for me.

    It didn’t ruin the story but it bothered me.

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  18. Janine
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 17:59:49

    Hmm. I think I felt that Lisa knew what she was getting into with Luke. She was willing to take her chances and said so when the family issue came up. She and John (Luke’s brother) obviously thought she should take the opportunity to jump Luke’s bones and see if she could change his mind.

    As for Luke, I think he secretly wanted his mind changed. He wasn’t happy living the “companionship and a reliable lay” lifestyle that he claimed he wanted. But he had done a number on himself and convinced himself he’d be happier that way. Because he was lying to himself, his temporary blindness where Lisa was concerned seemed believable to me.

    His subconscious let his hormones get the better of him, if you will — so that he could get what he secretly longed for despite his internal conflict.

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  19. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 18:11:52

    I’m not going to argue the finer points of Luke’s motivations, but I will say–OMG! There’s an argument over the interpretation of a book I wrote on Dear Author.

    Excuse me while I squee with giddy pleasure, lol!

    ReplyReply

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