Cover Image: Almost Priest

Almost Priest

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Member Reviews

Loved, loved, loved this story. Such a beautifully written story. I honestly love the forbidden love affair trope.
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I'm going to be the odd one out here and say that I am not a big fan of this at all.

To be fair, I initially thought this book was promising. I was totally on board with the whole small town, taboo concept. Sadly, my love for small town romances was not enough for me to give this a glowing review.

This book revolves around Colin, an about to be ordained priest, and his forbidden romance with Samantha, a girl who his brother brings home to spend the summer with their family.

I absolutely loved Colin as a first. He started out being so sweet, and innocent which are characteristics I generally like in my heroes. But then his whole back and forth regarding his ordainment started becoming annoying. His indecision started to hurt the heroine that I ended up siding her more (not that she was a perfect character herself) and even wanted her to just give up on the hero altogether. I also personally think that the foundation for this romance was so flimsy and heavily based on lust that I don't believe all the 'I love you's' they keep throwing at each other. Not to mention the odd pacing at the end where everything happened and seemed to resolve itself in a snap of a finger.

As for the writing, there were times in this book where the imagery was so lush and beautiful that I was so compelled to read. However, there were parts where the telling outweighed the showing that I felt like the storytelling dragged.

With that rant-filled feedback, I'm so sad to say that this book isn't for me. Will I continue with series though? I'd say yes. I may not have liked this particular book but I'm oddly still interested in the rest of the series.


tw: anxiety, panic attacks, death of a child (past)
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Almost Priest is the first book in the McCullough Mountain series by Lydia Michaels. This is the first book I've read by the author.
This is a favorite trope,  the taboo of it all,  lusting after an almost priest and your "boyfriends" brother. 
Colin McCullough had known he wanted to be a priest since he was a boy and now two months before he's to take his holy orders he is inexplicably attracted to a woman,  but not just any woman, the one his brother brought home from college as his girlfriend.  And the attraction is not one sided. Samantha Dougherty was just hoping for a relaxing break before she finished her last few classes to obtain her degree and start teaching in the fall.  She knew her feelings for Brayden weren't going to last beyond the summer and they've got luke warm chemistry at best.  But when she stumbled upon his brother Colin just out from a shower all her girly parts stand up and cheer.  This is so unexpected and fighting the mutual attraction is impossible.  They know this really can't go further as Colin is determined to still take his vows, but sometimes what you think is simple turns into so much more.  Everything has consequences. 
This was a slow build and took me a bit to get into the characters,  well worth the read and looking forward to the rest of the siblings stories.
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I’m a Christian. 
I’ve attended Church my entire life. 
I graduated with my Master of Divinity from Seminary in 2020. 
I’m on the path towards priesthood. 


I typically avoid books that center a romantic, emotional or physical relationship with a Priest who has vowed to be celibate. Given the numerous accounts and allegations of abuse that the Church continues to receive, I don’t find this particular trope very appealing. 

However, when I learned that the love interest, Colin, was not yet a Priest, I wanted to know more about how the author would address Colin’s vocation to Priesthood. 

I signed up for the struggle, and I got it. 
“He was questioning his vows. He was suddenly questioning the path he;d been on practically his entire life.” 
“He was coveting his brother’s girlfriend.” 
“He wanted to give her a love story, but he couldn’t.” 
“The longing that pulled deep in his body was so unwelcome and took him so off guard that he found himself in a panic.” 

The Mccullough family is a magnificent, loud, tight-knit family. I immediately wished I had also been invited to stay at their home. In a way, I was. As I read I was captivated by the relationships, traditions, and characters. 

I DEEPLY APPRECIATE MAUREEN and the way the Author has described her:  
“Round bosom”, “generous curves”, “sturdy waist”, “wide fingers”, “a woman who took great pride in working hard for her family”, “soft and loving”, “absolute femininity”, “her eyes twinkling like a little girl’s”, she had a gift for putting “guests at such ease.” LOVELY. 

AND, “It didn’t matter how many times she said bollocks or c*ck in a sentence. It was all just noise coming from a sweet, loving woman with a dirty mouth.” BUT some of the language was a bit jarring. “Braydon’s mother’s language jerked Sam’s attention away”, and it jerked mine away from the book too. For example, Sammy wonders, “When she had become such a s*ut for architecture?”. That and the use of the word c*ck was a bit much for me! 

The setting was beautiful, as Samantha fell completely in love with the land, so did I. 
I love the beach, the baseball diamond, the bon-fire, and the pub. 

This book made me feel like I was on a vacation with a big, boisterous, busy family. 
Knowing that this book was the first in a long series about each of the siblings, made each character’s introduction and presence so intriguing. 

I think there was a missed opportunity here to have Sammy be demi-sexual! 
A few quotes, 
“She knew he was feeling tickles of emotion that were absent from her.” 
“She somewhat resented that her body couldn’t produce even the most mediocre reaction to his attention when he gave it.” 
“The kiss was pleasant, but nothing more.” 
“She never really dated seriously.” 

but then, it becomes clear that,  
“It wasn’t that she wasn’t sexual. She simply led a more pragmatic life.” 

Given that the author, and some of the Mccullough family members are inclusive of members of the Queer community, I think it would have been really cool to see how Sammy would have navigated something like queerness with Colin. 

It does include some spicy scenes so if you’re looking for those, you’ll find them! 

I think I’m going to read the rest of the series this summer and see what else the Mccullough family gets up to!
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Thank you to Harlequin Bailey Brown Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

Almost Priest introduces readers to the McCullough clan when Samantha goes home with somewhat-boyfriend Braydon to stay with his family during a break from college. While Samantha is trying to find a way to let Braydon down easy, she finds herself drawn to his brother Colin, who is set to become a priest at the end of the summer.

The author does an excellent job of setting up a series of unforgettable characters in the McCullough family that will undoubtfully grow in size and complexity over the course of the ensuing series. I appreciated the sensitivity that is taken when discussing someone's commitment to commit one's life to their religious faith. However, I was skeptical with some decisions that were made - particularly on Colin's part - as his and Samantha's relationship grew.

One thing that bothered me about Samantha's point of view was how irritable she became when Braydon's spent time with his ex-girlfriend - she only seemed to care because it made her look bad (rather than her actually being jealous).
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Thank you Netgalley and the Publisher for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. This was an enjoyable book.
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Forbidden love, star-crossed lovers, falling for the wrong brother and secret pregnancies, this book, ALMOST PRIEST, the second in the McCullough Mountain Series by author Lydia Michaels, has something for every romance reader.  With shades of THE THORNBIRDS, and frequent references to it, the eldest son in a large family spends his final summer before his final vows for the priesthood at home with his large family and one of his brothers’ not-quite girlfriends. One deep look in each others’ eyes and the plot thickens.  This is a great story with good characters, strong psychological background and plenty of adult behavior.  The series as a whole is wonderful.  I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
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Oh wow Almost Priest, you sweet piece of forbidden fruit. Lydia Michaels has created a perfect book for those that were Thorn Birds fans at an early age and probably had no business reading it as a child. Reading about Colin and Samantha learning about love and intimacy together was a beautiful ride and the family surrounding them was so lovable that I need a book about every since one of them. I read this in one sitting, I could not put it down.
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This is a new author for me, one I really enjoyed!
Colin McCullough has always been a man of devotion, and at summer’s end he will finally receive his Holy Orders. Samantha Dougherty never intended to cause trouble, but when she’s invited to stay at McCullough Mountain for summer break, she proves to be an irresistible temptation. Hot summer nights lead to secret moments of seduction neither Colin or Samantha can resist. No vow of celibacy is without sin. Colin’s thoughts are far from pure, but his intentions to become a priest remain. What should have been a relaxing holiday with his family has turned into a trial of loyalty, lust, courage, sacrifice, and possibly love.
This book is beautiful, full of aghast and romance. Colin is an amazing character, even though he can be a bit frustrating sometimes. He has never been with a woman and never had the need to experience that part of himself as a man. Sammy is the kind of ‘girl next door’ that thinks she isn’t really special. But when they meet in a bathroom —almost naked— they both realize that there’s a lot in life that we can’t predict. 
There are soooo many great moments here. The dialogs are deep and emotional. The steamy moments are full of feelings and sensuality. I adored Colin’s family. They are amazing and I’m going to love reading about them. 
I highly recommend this book.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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Even though I enjoyed this book and thought it flowed well,  for me something was missing. I couldn’t really take to Samantha the main character but loved Colin’s family! The story follows Samantha, who has gone to stay with her friend Brandon’s   family in the mountains, and Colin his brother who is on course to join the priesthood. There is a question mark over whether or not Samantha and Braydon are more than just friends which  confuses all involved.and their feelings towards each other.  The other family members quite obviously  have their own stories and these were touched on but more as an aside and at one point I didn’t understand how one in particular fitted in to the main story. I really hope that these are covered in future books. 
Thank you Netgalley and Bailey Brown Publishing for the opportunity to read this.
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I gave this a three because you'll love this romance if this is a trope you enjoy. The characters, the storyline, journey, and everything was excellent just not my cup of tea

 I don't love a brother girlfriend story plus the priest thing also added another awkwardness level for me. 

Colin's background and life goal to be a priest is absolutely a different angle for a romance. He has an honesty that is none other but he is conflicted about his plans. 

Samatha is an honest person and I love how she interacts with the whole clan. she isn't about the drama.s he has a maturity that is admirable 

Not my cup of tea but a good book for anyone who loves this trop
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I’m always up for a new to me author and this book was just what I needed. 
An interesting concept for a romance story. I enjoyed the interaction and how the characters were fleshed out, mostly because the idea of a man becoming a priest and his normal life and desires was really intriguing to see how it will evolve. 
Lots of interesting secondary characters as well and an overall story that was quick to read and get into it. 

Very grateful to the publisher for my review copy
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Quick Summary: Wow! I've almost been rendered speechless. This was epic, as romances go.

My Review: The McCullough family is certainly an interesting family. I was completely smitten with the lot of them. Book one drew me in immediately, and before I knew it, I was done. I loved C and S's story. How sweet that they found their way to each other. Their love story was epic.

Rating: 4.25/5
Recommend: Yes
Audience: A
Series: Yes
Keeper: Yes
Re-read: Yes
Follow Series: Yes

Appreciation is extended to the author and to the publisher, who provided access to this title in exchange for an honest review.
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Lydia Michaels, you had me at the blurb. I went into this book with high expectations because it was my first book by this author and because I was absolutely obsessed with the idea that the hero was Catholic and about to become a priest.

Colin McCullough is an interesting man. Almost thirty and devoted to God, he was a sexy, walking, talking, holy, preaching machine, who’s whole existence is thrown into upheaval when he meets his younger brother’s friend/girlfriend. Samantha is conflicted. Her life is planned out but she is suffering from personal demons she just can’t escape from. Then she meets Colin. There is a definite connection between the two of them - a very complicated connection…. I was completely taken in by it and ended up staying up, way past my bedtime, to see it through. 

Was it worth it? Absolutely! 

Sam and Colin’s story is going to do a number on you. It’s an easy book to read even though it deals with heavy topics. I really, really enjoyed it and am definitely going to read the rest of the books in the series. 

𝗔𝗟𝗠𝗢𝗦𝗧 𝗣𝗥𝗜𝗘𝗦𝗧 gets the judy.ann.loves.books stamp of approval, TBR and Enjoy!
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