Book Reviews

A Little Sin by Sionnach Wintergreen

Genre Gay / Historical / 20th Century / Doctors/Nurses/EMTs/Vets / Military/Former Military / Officer of the Law / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 19-January-2021

Book Blurb

Sheriff Avery O’Rourke has tried to obey his strict Christian faith and lead a “normal” life. In 1923 in a rural East Texas town, “normal” means heterosexual. A cholera outbreak has made Avery a young widower, so he is married to his job. When a murder investigation forces him to confront his truth, will he finally be able to accept being gay?

Veterinarian Garland Sands has returned from Europe to take over his father’s practice. Struggling with shellshock (PTSD) and heartbroken by the suicide of his French lover, he resigns himself to a quiet, solitary life as a country vet. But the murder of the town doctor brings the sheriff to Garland’s doorstep looking for help with the investigation. Seeing Avery awakens dormant feelings. Can he love a man who hates what he is?

This isn’t the lavish 1920s of The Great Gatsby. This is the flip side of that coin—rural East Texas. No electricity. No indoor plumbing. No flappers. In 1923, the timber barons have left and racism, homophobia, and sexism thrive.

Book Review

“If loving you is wrong I don't wanna be right. If being right means being without you I’d rather be wrong than right… Long as I gotcha by my side...” ~ Luther Ingram


Finding a hanged dead man is not a good way for Sheriff Avery O’Rourke, of ‘A Little Sin’ by Sionnach Wintergreen, to start the day, especially since the deceased is the town doctor. Usually, he would be the one Avery depends on to confirm his cause of death. Since he is the only doctor in town, Avery had to improvise and take him to the next best thing, the new vet, Garland Sands.


When Avery arrives at the Sands ranch, he is greeted by a black woman who claims to be Dr. Sands’ secretary. She tells him that she used to be his housekeeper but that he promoted her and keeps his own house. Even before meeting him, Avery decides that Garland has some strange new-fangled ideas. Thinking that she may be too fragile to hear about why he is there, Avery hesitates to tell her. As it happens, Dr. Sands is over at another farm delivering a calf. Avery decides to go over to the farm to meet the vet there. Garland isn’t at all what Avery expects. He looks so young and handsome, and in some ways much too “childlike”. It is hard to take him seriously, especially with the grave nature of what he has come to discuss. Right away, Avery decides that Garland must be homosexual.


Finally, Avery gets to the reason he is there; the dead body in his wagon. Garland recognizes him as Dr. Watkins and says a benediction. Then Avery tells Garland the story about how he found him. They go back to Garland’s where he does a more thorough examination. Garland finds that the doctor’s tongue has been cut off and stuffed in his bottom. Avery questions why someone would do that considering that the doc wasn’t gay. Garland locks eyes with him and listens to Avery telling him that he would know if he had been. He reassures Avery that his secret is safe with him. The only conclusion they can reach is that the dead doctor had a secret that someone didn’t want to come out in the open.


As Avery leaves Garland’s place, he can’t stop thinking about him. He knows he is attracted to men but has always tried to contain his feelings. It’s simply too dangerous, not to mention it goes against everything he believes in. It is a sin, pure and simple. As much as he is attracted to Garland, he becomes more conflicted. When he finds another body, he begins to think there is a serial killer in their midst. When Garland becomes involved in the investigation, he and Avery get closer. Garland is puzzled by the attraction he feels toward Avery. He is hesitant to get involved with someone so conflicted but the feelings are too strong. He can’t deny the feeling of belonging that he feels when he is with Avery. Avery doesn’t understand his feelings but he can’t seem to stay away from Garland. Finally, when they come together, what they have feels too good to be wrong.


This intriguing murder mystery coupled with a romance does a great job of portraying life in the West during the 1920s. In particular, it showcases attitudes toward women, race, and sexual preferences. It was a tough time if you slipped out of what was considered normal at the time. Avery’s and Garland’s behavior definitely fit into what was considered aberrant. Yet, through a lot of soul searching, especially by Avery, they found a way to work around the roadblocks set up for them and be together. Thanks, Sionnach, for the exciting and endearing tale.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novella, 166 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 23-February-2018
Price $2.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
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