From Publishers Weekly
Authentic Cajun touches (and recipes) spice up Wheaton's delightful debut yarn about faith and the yearnings of the flesh. Fr. Steve Sibille, the reflective protagonist, is re-evaluating his vow of celibacy after being tempted by Vicky Carrier, the sinfully conceived but beloved daughter of St. Peter's church's former padre. Father Steve considers the repeated advice of his family friend Miss Rita, a scene-stealing African-American centenarian who tells Father Steve that what he needs is a woman. Things get stickier for Father Steve when his gay friend, Fr. Mark Johnson, quits the priesthood and the Rev. Paul Tompkins attempts to woo St. Pete congregants to his Pentecostal church, leading to a big showdown and the festival of the title. Wheaton writes with an infectious energy, and his affection for the characters and culture is authentic without being overbearing or cheesy. Do the bon temps rouler
? In Wheaton's hands, they sure do. (Jan.)
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*Starred Review* Father Steve, a small-town Louisiana priest, has major problems. First, the women. Denise, a self-styled Lolita, is one of his two altar girls. Miss Rita, a centenarian daughter of a slave who helped raised Steve, lives on the booze, pork skins, and other illegal foods he sneaks into the nursing home. Four female congregants have stopped coming to morning mass because he made eye contact during the service. And Vicky, the illegitimate daughter of the previous priest, is becoming much more than a friend. Father Steve’s other friend, the charming Father Mark, is leaving the priesthood because of issues with his homosexuality. Yet Father Steve considers the Pentecostals to be the biggest thorn in his side. Their charismatic preacher has set up shop just down the road, and will stop at nothing to build his own flock, including wooing the local Catholics. So Father Steve does the only thing he can to keep his church intact: he organizes the First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. Readers need to hold onto their hats because Wheaton’s roller-coaster ride of a book has hilarious highs that plunge to soul-baring angst, then zoom back up to the top. --Shelley Mosley