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.
I 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.