Elisabeth Lane's Reviews > One Sinful Night in Sao Paulo

One Sinful Night in Sao Paulo by Amber Belldene
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really liked it

One Sinful Night in Sao Paulo was an eagerly anticipated read for me. I had read one of Amber Belldene's paranormals and, sadly, vampires not being my cup of tea, wasn't hugely enthusiastic about it. However, I have enjoyed Belldene's writings on the Wonkomance blog tremendously so I had a feeling that I might have a greater appreciation for a contemporary offering.

The premise of One Sinful Night is that soon-to-be seminary student Cassie goes to Sao Paulo for her brother's wedding. Though she is hopeful it won't be awkward, a recent move left her ill-prepared for travel and a late flight left her tired and off-balance. So it really isn't the best time to encounter her brother's best friend and former crush Adam Forrester. Cassie is no longer a teenager though and despite Adam's reservations about engaging romantically with his best friend's baby sister, the tension between them is palpable from the start.

The novella perfectly captures the chaos of the days leading up to a wedding and the atmosphere that imbues a wedding party. A number of things go wrong with the pre-wedding preparations, but these characters are all basically functional, even if they don't always believe it of themselves. Surprisingly rich for a novella, Cassie and Adam's former interactions, the history of the couple getting married, and their families manage to provide context without detracting from the main romantic arc.

But the highlight of this story for me was Cassie. She has always been seen as good and holy and going into seminary with the objective of becoming a priest has only reinforced this idea for the people around her. I'm Christian myself and deeply cognizant of both the difficult relationship the church has with sex and the public perception of Christians as anti-sex. The fear Cassie has that she can't be seen as both "good" and appreciative of the gift God has given through sexual intimacy is unfortunate, but it's one that resonated with me. And while there aren't any explicit answers here, Cassie's faith is one of grace rather than judgment, for herself, for Adam, and for the world. Her worries and fears about her continued desirability as a romantic partner are so human. And One Sinful Night left me feeling hopeful, both in its happy ending for Adam and Cassie, but also for Cassie's calling.

Now, this book is not an inspirational. There is pre-marital sex (or possibly extra-marital--there are no immediate marriage plans on the horizon) in it and it's hot. There's also not a lot of religious content; what is present is more an exploration of the reasons Cassie is entering seminary and her very real doubts, not doctrine or theology. As it happens, all of that was perfect for me, but may not be right for every reader looking for pastor romance.

If I have one criticism of One Sinful Night, it's that I would have liked to see a more in-depth exploration of the questions surrounding Cassie's calling and her sexuality, as well as Adam's reservations about being with someone as together as Cassie. We get the idea that Adam has had a difficult and somewhat reckless past and while I completely bought into their HEA, I just wanted more. But that's ever the problem with novellas.

I was so pleased with One Sinful Night in Sao Paulo. The modern, progressive Christian tone was one I simply haven't seen anywhere else and I have to admit, I wallowed in it. A unique offering for sure and I can only hope for more like this from Belldene.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of One Sinful Night in Sao Paulo from the publisher and I am friendly with the author.

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Reading Progress

December 24, 2014 – Started Reading
December 24, 2014 – Shelved
December 24, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
December 27, 2014 – Finished Reading

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Maria Rose I'm looking forward to reading this in the next week or so

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