Title: Exodus 20:3
Author: Freydis Moon
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 02/01/2022
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, PNR/fantasy, horror, romance, Latine, transgender, D/s power play, construction worker, angel, suspense
Religious eroticism and queer emancipation meet in a claustrophobic monster-romance about divinity, sexuality, and freedom.
When Diego López is guilted by his mother into taking a low-key construction job in New Mexico, he doesn’t expect to be the only helping hand at Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. But the church is abandoned, decrepit, and off the beaten path, and the only other person for miles is its handsome caretaker, Ariel Azevedo.
Together, Diego and Ariel refurbish the old church, sharing stories of their heritage, experiences, and desires. But as the long days turn into longer nights, Diego begins to see past Ariel’s human mirage and finds himself falling into lust—and maybe something else—with one of God’s first creations.
Freydis Moon © 2022
All Rights Reserved
“You have the address. Go.”
Diego López gnawed his lip as he leaned against the rusted tailgate on his father’s busted Chevy.
He cradled his phone against his ear and tried to focus on his mother’s voice, exhausted and cold, rasping through the speaker. The gas station was quiet—nearly abandoned—but his attention darted to an oasis floating above the highway and a napkin tumbling across the empty lot. He pitched his shoulder upward to steady his phone and smacked a pack of Lucky Strikes against the heel of his palm.
“I can find a way to pay you back,” he said and pulled a cigarette free with his teeth. “I don’t need another handout, and I definitely don’t need to play carpenter at some bullshit church to—”
“Cállate,” his mother snapped. “You listen to me, mijo. You get in that truck, you drive to that church, and you make this right. No one put you behind the wheel of that car—my car—and no one put the… the drugs in your wallet, and no one—”
“I know.” He sucked smoke into his lungs and switched his phone from one ear to the other.
“This isn’t about the money. This is about honor—familia. You go, understand? Go, work, get paid, come home. Do your community service and fix your life. This man, this Ariel, he’s giving you a chance. Take it before he changes his mind and hires someone else.”
“Yeah, because every able-bodied worker in town is trippin’ over themselves to go rebuild a church in the middle of the desert, Mamá. Sure.”
“You made your choice. Go.”
He angled his mouth toward the sky. She wasn’t talking about his fourteen-hour stint in jail or the cash-bail she’d worked double shifts at the diner to pay for. She was talking about the sickle-shaped scars beneath his shirt, the choice he’d made three years ago—eighteen and able to say, Yes, do it. Same vague guilt trip, same acquiescence. You’re like a coyote, she’d said to him once. Halfway to a wolf but still something else. He thought about that as she breathed on the other end of the line and imagined her sitting in the recliner in his childhood home, rolling a slender joint, watching fútbol while a pork shoulder braised in the crockpot. Sometimes she tripped over his name, her tongue unused to making the sound, but when she’d met him at the door after he’d been released from El Paso Detention Center, she’d said Diego with her full voice. Cracked every syllable like a bone.
“Yeah, okay.” He sighed. “Do you want me to call?”
She huffed. “Eres mi sangre.”
He shook his head and finished his cigarette, then crushed it beneath his boot. “Sé.”
“Tomorrow, then. You’ll tell me about the church?”
“Sure, yeah. Tomorrow.”
“Drive safe,” she said.
Diego ended the call without saying goodbye. He stood with his thumbs tucked through his belt loops. Endured the heat. Watched the road. Pictured himself elsewhere, across the state, settling in Austin. He’d bartend to make ends meet. He’d never touch narcotics again. He’d rent a studio apartment, and fill it with houseplants, and learn how to cook. He’d send money to his abuela, and he’d visit her more, and he’d grow the fuck up. Becoming another disappointment on the López family tree wasn’t an option anymore.
It never had been, but stealing the car, crashing the car, getting caught… Yeah, that changed everything.
Early summer rippled through the dry air. He scanned his phone again, reading and rereading the address his mother had sent him—coordinates, actually—before he hoisted into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. According to Google, Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was located in Luna County, New Mexico. He pulled his lip between his teeth again. Seven grand to help rebuild a decrepit church in the middle of the desert? Camming paid more. He’d found that out after getting hit with top-surgery bills. But now that his mother knew about the Vicodin, he certainly didn’t need her to know about the porn too. He manifested the future he’d imagined—bartending in Austin, visiting his grandmother, making pozole in his apartment—and drove toward a city called Sunshine.
My Review – 4 stars
I really enjoyed the perspective on religion. The part that resonated with me the most was Ariel’s belief the things we see as wrong or sinful aren’t necessarily God’s thoughts, but are instead man’s version. I’ve often felt that way.
The description of Ariel’s true self had so many parts I had a hard time piecing them together into an image I could “see” as I was reading. I did like that he wasn’t the typical angel we see depicted.
Diego had his flaws, but he also had a hidden strength. Despite his rocky past, he wanted a second chance to do something with his life. I admired him for dusting himself off and trying again.
For me, the ending felt a bit unfinished. I realize this is a shorter story so there’s less room for a more in-depth storyline, but I guess the romantic in me wanted a more definitive HEA for Diego.
If you’re looking for a quick steamy LGBTQ read that will also resonate on a deeper level, you can’t go wrong with Exodus 20:3 …
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.
Meet the Author
Freydís Moon (they/them) is a biracial nonbinary writer and diviner. When they aren’t writing or divining, Freydís is usually trying their hand at a recommended recipe, practicing a new language, or browsing their local bookstore.
One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!