Review: Lead Me Not by Ann Gallagher

Note: This ARC was provided by Riptide Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

"Tonight felt...bigger than it should have been. Like this was something inevitable that we'd been moving toward for...for I don't know how long. Like God was moving us toward tonight, and when tonight happened, it wasn't something I could choose or deny. It just was. And I couldn't stop it from happening any more than I could stop my own heart."

Isaac Morris grew up listening to his father preach about homosexuality and how egregious a sin it is, casting those in the gay community as the scourge of the earth, guaranteeing their place in Hell. Now, Isaac has taken on his family's ministry, hoping that these people they see as Sodomites will see the error of their ways and turn to Christ. When his twin sister suggests they make a documentary showing that being gay is a choice and that one can choose to be heterosexual if they want to, Isaac is hesitant but sees it as an opportunity to get their message across, especially when his nephew is showing his own gay leanings. He knows what he'll embark upon won't be easy, but he keeps in mind that he'll return to the way life was.

Choosing to be gay is more difficult than Isaac thought, with his own preconceived notions of the sinful lifestyle preying upon him constantly. But it is when he is viciously attacked by gay bashers outside of a known gay club that his journey truly begins. He is rescued and cared for by one of the club's bartenders, Colton Roberts. Colton is not what Isaac expected--he's kind-hearted, generous with his time, and is a devout Christian who just happens to be gay. He's also had painful experiences that haunt him to this day. The more he gets to know Colton, the more Isaac questions his own convictions, and the more time they spend together, the more he becomes confused about who he truly is and if what he's feeling is really a sin.

There's always a slight hesitation that I experience when it comes to books that have some sort of religious angle to them. I don't like being preached to or feeling as if a particular belief is being shoved down my throat. When I first read the blurb for Ann Gallagher's Lead Me Not, I was immediately curious and wanted to see how the story would play out, especially since I had yet to encounter an LGBT romance that had religion and faith as one of its centerpieces. I read this amazingly thought-provoking and heartfelt book in one sitting and I came away from it not feeling like I was being lectured to or patronized. No, this was a story about two people who discovered themselves and a love that the neither ever thought possible.

This really was a tale about Isaac's journey, not to homosexuality, but to finding answers to questions he never thought to ask and to learning more about himself and the kind of man he is. For too long, Isaac had been blinded by the prejudices instilled upon him by his father and the supposed teachings they spread in their church. Isaac believed that being gay was a choice these people they labeled as sinners made and that they could simply choose to not be gay. The idea behind the documentary--to prove that being gay was a choice, or alternatively, to disprove that one was born gay--was a very interesting one, though I highly doubt that Bible thumpers would even consider doing something similar for fear of being made fools of.

Isaac went back and forth as the story went on, sometimes being open to the possibility that, maybe, he was indeed wrong about the gay community and homosexuality as a whole, but there were still times that he would be adamant about his long-held beliefs, refusing to open himself to new viewpoints. But the hesitance and resistance were what made Isaac feel real, and while there were times that I was frustrated with his closed-mindedness, I couldn't help but empathize with him, imagining how difficult it must be to even consider that he and his family had made mistakes in their thinking and preaching. Meeting and becoming closer to Colton opened his eyes, mind, and heart, even if it did take several tries and some time.

I couldn't help but take note of several things mentioned in the book, things that I'll be researching on because they piqued both my interest and curiosity. After all, we're never too old to learn new things and the books and Bible passages included in the story deserve to be delved into further. I've always been a believer that the Bible can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and yes, that means that it can and has been misinterpreted as well. Belief in God shouldn't be about the religious sect you're a member of; it's about faith and the knowledge that God loves and accepts you for who you are. I've added a lot of books this year to my list of favorites, but Lead Me Not is one of the all-time best reads I've come across. Five-plus stars. ♥

Release Date: 24 August 2015

Date Read: 22 August 2015

Learn more about Ann Gallagher here.

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