Monday, May 16, 2011

Team Anything Goes: Accidental Atonement by IdPattThat


"Team Anything Goes" is pretty self-explanatory. Anything Goes and we do mean anything.

The Team Anything Goes Pick is...

Title: Accidental Atonement
Author: IdPattThat
Chapters: 15
Words: 68,931
Reviews: 508
Summary: Leah Clearwater considers herself a lost soul and happiness a lost cause. Will community service with the new youth pastor show her that even she deserves a second chance?

Jeanne - I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that I love this story, so I’m not going to waste your time telling you something that you already know. Instead, let me tell you something that you may not know. There is a little Leah Clearwater in every woman.

Every woman has been dumped, cheated on, abandoned or generally disappointed by love at one time or another in their life. Yet, we are constantly reading romantic fiction that shows us that only perfect girls that don’t complain about their lot in life get to be truly happy. BULLSHIT! I’m sick and tired of women being told they have to be change who they are to be worthy of love.

In Accidental Atonement we see Leah in all her prickly (extremely) canon glory. She is sarcastic, bitchy and generally a pain in the ass. Of course, her behavior is the result of her own deep pain over the death of her father and heartbreak over her ex, Sam, dumping her for her cousin. Despite all this, Leah finds a romantic interest in the most unlikely of forms, a beautiful, optimistic, Christian youth pastor. Edward Cullen is the embodiment of every good guy (and maybe a few bad ones) that we’ve all crushed on at bible camp, youth group or in high school. Kind, funny, and talented, Edward is not the kind of guy that Leah is used to being interested in her. After all she’s not a nice girl, and just like most of us, Leah believes that only good girls deserve good boys like Edward.

The secret beauty of this story is the universal truth that it shows all of us mouthy, bitchy, or just plain imperfect women in the world that love is a possibility for us too. There are decent, trustworthy men out there that will love us, despite of our flaws, or maybe even because of them.

If you doubt that you could be interested in a story about Leah and Edward. If you consider yourself a hardcore Edward/Bella shipper or even if you just don’t get non-canon couples. This is the story that you should give a try.

In the lines of this wonderfully written story not only will you fall in love with the idea of Edward and Leah as a couple, but you will fall in love with Leah. Not because she’s perfect, or pretty or special, but because you will come to see her how Edward sees her and believe that she is worthy of love, just like all of us.

Chele - This story is a revelation in the matching or corresponding people. IdPattThat has taken our familiar cast of characters (except *ahem* Bella), and put them into an AH universe that makes them all seem fresh while keeping so much of their canon histories and personalities intact. And she has done it brilliantly, weaving sexual tension and tenderness so tightly I thought I would explode.

I’ll admit that I had less than zero interest when Jeanne first recced it to me. Youth Pastor Edward? Bad Girl Leah? I figured she was just petting her favorite little ship, and so I ignored the earnest praise for the first few chapters. I could not have been more wrong. This is the ship to end all ships. The characters are flawed, funny, honest, and so real I feel like I could touch them.

Edward is, in a word, perfect; and is only made more so as he reveals his flaws and insecurities. Leah is obviously flawed, but just as balanced and perfect in her own right, with a deep soul and endless kindness simmering below the surface. They bring out the best in one another, and it’s beautiful to watch. I literally swooned. There were butterflies in my stomach as I read which made me feel less badass, but I didn’t care because it was beautiful to watch. Yes, I said watch, because the visuals that IdPattThat creates with her words are so vivid, it was like I was watching a film.

Now is the perfect time to start reading this, as the sexuality and chaste touches start to explode. You can pant along with the rest of us, and beg IdPattThat to write faster!

Jen - It wasn’t until I started reading fanfic that I took issue with SM’s portrayal of Leah in the Saga. I want to ask SM, if you lost your fiance in something approaching what Leah experienced, wouldn’t you be pissed at the world for a while? While some authors do fall back on the easy characterisation of Leah as the pack bitch whom everyone can’t stand, there are a number of fics that use canon elements of Leah’s story while resisting the urge to turn her into a bitter harpy. Accidental Atonement is one of those fics. I’m glad that no one in fic-land can see me as I read IdPattThat’s wonderful updates. I tend to get all flaily, swoony, crazy happypants.

Leah has a tough outer shell, but you see hints of her vulnerability in her interactions with her mother Sue, her brother Seth, and Chief Swan--her mother’s husband. One of the things that makes me positively giddy about this story is watching Leah come to believe that she is worthy of love and affection. I think anyone would truly swoon if someone said any of the sweet things Edward has said to Leah to them. Leah has built up some pretty strong defenses, but she is no match for some of the sweet things he says to her.

I wanted to laugh at the ridiculous idea.
I wanted to cry from happiness.
I wanted to run away.
It was too much to handle, too good to be true.
I'd never thought that someone as good as Edward would be led to me.

When his eyes met mine I knew. I knew he was serious and that what we had was real. That no matter what I had done or he had been through, something had brought us here, together.

Edward may be a youth pastor, but he’s not holier-than-thou; he has faults and blemishes in his past. He knows that Leah is ambivalent, at best, about religion and he doesn’t try to force his faith on her. When Leah thought he was Mr. Perfect it was easy for her to dismiss him and think snarky thoughts. As he’s shared bits of his past, which unexpectedly includes drug use, Leah has felt safe enough to share parts of her past as well.

The UST is through the roof. Leah exercises restraint thinking she’s not good enough for him. Edward doesn’t kiss her because he thinks he won’t be able to stop. Their first kiss will have you seeing stars; it’s just delicious. Each new intimate moment is sweet and swoon-worthy. It’s almost as if they are shedding their pasts and beginning anew with each other. There’s nothing 'fancy' about their first night together--no candles or a fancy nightie--but it's so imbued with a feeling of romance.

Give Accidental Atonement a try, and send IdPattThat lots of love for this beautiful story.

Teal - Though I will admit I’m a big fic whore and like to see all different ships in this fandom, just for the fun of it, Leah/Edward has always been a really hard sell for me. In fact, my fellow Pervs raved and raved and RAVED about this story for such a long time before I finally stuck my toe in the water. Once I did, though, I was really captivated, and of course, understood what had them all hooked. The characters are easy to fall into, whether you’re loving them, pulling your hair out over them, or in recent chapters, falling over all swoony for them. It’s just plain good. Sure, we’ve seen fics with similar themes, but are they all memorable? Probably not. This pairing, however, definitely is. When everything builds in their physical relationship, be sure to have a hose or cold shower ready -- if you’re anything like us, you’ll need it!

Jess - I tend to shy away from stories with religious themes. Often the characters are either painted as religious, abusive zealots or are so wishy washy in their beliefs that they misrepresent the whole concept and are nothing more than a gimmick or poorly used story device. So, as you can imagine, I was a bit leery when Jeanne rec’d this story to me. Not to mention, I was just on the cusp of exploring other pairings, and Leah/Edward wasn’t quite on my radar yet. What I found, however, in Accidental Atonement was a beautifully written story filled with slow burn and deeply spiritual characters that are so easy to love.

The summary for this story sets the tone early that Leah, as we’d expect, is jaded because of some deep, past hurt. Except unlike with SM’s Leah, this Leah isn’t an outright bitch or what seems like a lost cause. She’s a good person with a good heart. She simply needs some place to channel it and someone to help draw it out. She loves her family, especially her little brother, Seth, and her relationship with her mom and Charlie is relatively easy going. But like all of us, she’s made some bad choices, and that’s how she finds herself stuck doing two hundred hours of community service at a local church. For someone who is “not a God person,” this isn’t exactly ideal, but her first encounter with Edward stirs something inside her and starts the ball rolling.

When the songs were finished, the kids cheered and I looked around for this Edward guy and frowned. I assumed there would be some kind of adult supervision with a group of such rowdy kids. He may have gotten them all settled down with his performance, but a ruckus would definitely ensue if someone didn't come to keep order. The kid set the guitar in its stand and took a seat on the edge of the stage, his feet crossed in front of him and hands folded in his lap.

My jaw dropped as he spoke.

Oh. Shit.

"All right, guys, let's get started. If this is your first time here, I'm Edward Cullen, the youth pastor."

I was so going to hell.

Edward, aka “Youthpastorward” is the epitome of what a youth pastor should be. Open, honest, warm, accepting, caring, and firm in his beliefs. We see countless examples of his compassion as he raises his younger sister, Alice, draws in and builds a relationship with Seth and the other youth kids, and slowly softens and pursues the heart of a woman who has been deeply hurt in the past.

One of the things I really love about this story is how IdPattThat doesn’t feel the need for Edward to make excuses for his religious beliefs. He is who is he because of events that have shaped him. He also doesn’t force his beliefs on Leah. Again, she is who she is, but it’s through his grace and compassion, his openness and acceptance, that Leah feels safe. It’s not always easy for her, but Edward is unrelenting in his pursuit.

There are so many swoony scenes in this story, and the build up between them left me practically panting. In the mix of all that UST, though, is some hysterically funny inner monologue for both of them. Here’s a little snip-it leading up to their first kiss... which God help me, I was practically begging for:

"Are you ever going to fucking kiss me?" I asked, and Edward laughed, throwing his head back, his eyes shining with amusement.

"Oh, I might." His forehead pressed against mine, and he rested his hand on the back of my neck.

"What are you waiting for?" I whispered...

"I haven't kissed anyone in a long time," Edward said, mock-doubtfully, as he slowly shook his head back and forth, his nose touching mine.

"Then you should probably fix that." I pulled away from him so I could see his face.

He nodded, his jaw set tight. "I should."

"I'm willing to help you out." I raised an eyebrow at him. "As part of my community service. For the greater good and all."

He laughed, his mouth stretching into a grin. "Very civic-minded of you, Leah."

Then he kissed me. I mean, really kissed me. With one hand in my hair and the other wrapped around my body. His lips were gentle on mine, as if he could whisper all of his secrets to me. I took them all in with little gasps, my body bending to his and my arms tightening around his neck. When he pulled away it was with a small nip to my bottom lip and a huge smile.

And that was just their FIRST kiss. Imagine the restraint he shows as things start to really progress between them and how freaking amazing the other lemony goodness is. Trust when I say, it was worth the wait.

Their first time together is exactly what I imagined. There are awkward moments, sweet moments, and moments so intense and passionate my toes curled.

Everything that transpires between them is so believable and real, and that’s probably the thing I love the most about this story. It’s rich, real, so full of passion, and leaves me wanting more every single update!

Liz - Like Jess, I tend to steer clear of stories with religious themes, for many of the same reasons. When I started hearing my fellow pervlings swooning over IdPattThat’s Accidental Atonement I admit I was compelled to give it a try.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.

Leah Clearwater knows her life is a mess. To answer for a DUI, she finds herself being sentenced to 200 hours of community service. Leah is assigned to volunteer with a local youth group, and discovers a little eye candy when she arrives. When she realizes the object of her lusty appraisal is the youth pastor she’s assigned to volunteer with, you can imagine her reaction.

Leah is a little bit of what you’d expect, and a whole lot of what more writers should make her. She’s flawed, damaged and cynical, but with a compassionate soul and a heart full of love just waiting for someone worthy. This Leah is a character I can see in myself, and that draws me into her story in a way few writers have managed.

Edward is also broken, with a painful story to tell. He is quite possibly the world’s perfect man, but not in the ways “Edward” always is. He isn’t a two-dimensional caricature of broody, swoony perfection, but real-world perfect. He is devoted to raising his sister, has a social conscience, is mature beyond his years, lives his spirituality by example, and still manages to be the lust-inspiring heart throb we all want him to be.

”He's doing good things here" Mom whispered the third time she caught me staring.

"It's kind of scary," I muttered and stepped around her.

"What do you mean?" She asked as she grabbed some cans off the shelf in front of her.

"He's just so…" I trailed off, not knowing exactly what to say. Faithful? Honest? Frightening? Oblivious? "Trusting."

"It's what he does, baby." Mom laughed and I frowned. "He trusts and he teaches the kids to do it, too."

"But – to completely turn your life over to some omnipotent being who no one even knows is real - I just can't. I don't understand it, Mom." I told her and she smiled sadly at me.

"Some people just… don't." She shrugged and turned away from me. Seth slipped quietly out of the trailer and off to help hand out packages.

"Do you?"

"Do I what?"

"Believe." She turned to me and reached out to touch my face softly.

"I do," she said with a small smile.

IdPattThat writes a rich, full story, and doesn’t relegate her secondary characters to the shadows. Every one of them has a purpose and well-developed soul. You’ll fall in love with Seth and Alice as they help each other grow and bloom, and with Charlie as he slowly reveals his deep love for his step-children, and Jake is a refreshing addition as Leah’s best friend and protector.

Now is a perfect time to start reading this gem. Fifteen chapters of UST will leave you panting, and there’s lots of story left to be told.