by Bonnie Dee, historical (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $2.50, ISBN 1-59998-595-0
Ooh, Blackberry Pie is as naughty as its title may suggest to dirty-minded people everywhere, as it tells of the hot and carnal affair between Reverend Nathan Andrews and an Appalachian woman Grace Parkins in the 1930s. She offers him some of the blackberries she has been picking when he first bumps into her after getting lost while he's hiking along the mountain trails, hence the title of the story. Nathan is still a new face around the place since he's just arrived here two months ago, with the local Grace Baptist Church being his first church since he graduated from the clergy.
On the bright side, Nathan can marry, which is a good thing since his faith has been rigid, if you know what I mean, the moment he sets eyes on the sprite-like Grace. Grace isn't taking no for an answer and I don't think God will be pleased that Nathan's moral fiber isn't strong enough to withstand the caresses of a God-fearing mountain woman bent on seduction. Nathan even goes after he's done, "God, I should be sorry, but I’m not." God is so sending a few thunderclaps to singe his rear end.
Blackberry Pie is, from all appearances, a simple story of a minister's sexual awakening. Nathan is exactly who he appears to be - he hasn't done much more than to chastely kiss a woman's cheek before he discovers a much different kind of biblical knowledge with a wild woman in the mountains. However, author Bonnie Dee often goes the extra mile to make every story of hers come off a little more than fluff, so here Nathan and Grace also connect on an intellectual and emotional level. It is also pretty clear to me that Grace, despite her unconventional ways, has faith in God that is as strong as Nathan's, if not stronger because her faith has been tested by adversities that Nathan can only imagine in his comparatively more pampered background. Therefore, those two are a pretty good match.
I really like this part when Nathan realizes that he has to see Grace again.
Nathan turned and walked briskly toward the road leading up the mountain. When he was out of sight of the church, he broke into a trot and after several paces a flat-out run. He raced up the slope, a line from the Song of Solomon reverberating with his thudding footsteps, “I am my beloved's and her desire is for me. Come, my beloved, and let us go forth into the fields. There I will give you my love."
Blackberry Pie is a short story, yes, but I find that this one feels complete in the sense that I don't feel shortchanged in story, romance, or characterization. This story comes off like a sweet blossoming love story and I'm only sorry that Blackberry Pie ends too soon when I'd love to have a second helping.
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