This is a Book-with-a-Message. The Message has to do with homosexuality and Christianity and it is dealt with thoughtfully. That part of the book is interesting, absolutely. But the Message is so loud it starts drowning out the characters, who become pawns in service of the Message. If you want to read a thoughtful treatise on homosexuality and the church in the form of a novel, a parable so to say, this is your book. If you're looking for a love story set within the church, this isn't it. But it starts out that way, which may lure a lot of people in that aren't going to be happy with how it plays out.
You start the book already knowing Paul is going to lose his ministry somehow. Don't start yelling at me, this is not much of a spoiler, everybody figures this out right after the prologue. I don't know why the author chooses to start the book with this giant spoiler. Maybe it's to introduce all the mountain lore that starts each chapter. Maybe it's because all love stories in Literature-with-a-Capital-L must have tragedy and foreshadowing. I personally don't much care for stories with the Sword of Doom looming over the character's head from start to finish. When this loss comes closer and closer it made me go please-don't-fuck-things-up-with-Ian-please-don't-fuck-things-up-with-Ian-please-don't-fuck-things-up-with-Ian-please-don't-fuck-things-up-with-Ian, because that was the best we could still hope for at that point.
Things get fucked up with Ian. There is no HEA or HFN. So yes, as a parable it is really good, as m/m it sure is depressing. I don't like having to make peace with the will of God to be able to stomach the ending. I would have given it another star or two if there had been a reunion with Ian.