Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
After several years of happy coupledom, Matt and Evan can relax in the knowledge that their little family has survived the worst of it. The two older girls are away at college, the twins have yet to fully hit teen angst, Matt is doing well with his part time security consulting, and Evan is about to be promoted to captain—it seems like things are calm and bright.
Until they aren’t.
As the holidays approach, Evan and Matt get a shock no parent is ever prepared for: feisty Miranda, Evan’s eldest, has a new boyfriend, Kent, and they are talking marriage after just three months together. In fact, Miranda wants to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner—along with his parents, Blake and Cornelia.
Lives are in transition as everyone gathers at the stunning Hamptons beach home of Daisy and Bennett to celebrate the christening of their new baby. Griffin and Jim—secretly growing tired of their rootless lifestyle—are in a rocky spot in their relationship. And as the godfather, Griffin finds himself yearning for something he’s sure Jim won’t be interested in.
Matt and Evan are looking to reconnect during the long weekend, as their respective careers pull them in separate directions. With less time spent together, Evan grows concerned about what will happen when the last two kids leave the nest.
1st Edition of Cherish published as an eBook by Loose Id LLC, November 2012.
This is the fourth and fifth book combined in the Faith, Love & Devotion series by Tere Michaels and it is a series close to my heart. We first met Matt and Evan in the first book Faith & Fidelity, at the angst ridden beginnings of their relationship. Then Evan was mourning the loss of his beloved wife and first and only person he has ever slept with. In addition to his grief, he was trying to do his job as a police officer and fill in the void for his four kids left behind when his wife died. Evan is full of pain, grief and overburdened by stress and doubts about his ability to be a good father and step up to the plate. Matt is a complete mess when the reader and Evan first encounter him. Forced to resign from the police force he loves over behavior issues, he has become a bitter, disillusioned drunk, getting by as a security cop and on anonymous sex with women. But a conversation in a bar and the exchange of personal confidences leads to an unlikely friendship that eventually turns into a shattering love affair that forces each man to rethink his sexuality and their acceptance of the fact that they love each other. It is a tough road for Evan and Matt, especially Evan, who has the reactions of his children, former inlaws and police force to think about.
One of the things I cherish about this series is that Tere Michaels lets us in on the emotional fallout and oscillating feelings, including bouts of denial, that come with identity earthquakes. By that I mean the paradigm shifts that occur within a person when the most basic self knowledge is proven wrong. And being gay or bisexual is a major shift for them both. The author lets their relationship play out, not over one book but four stories, including this one. The Evan/Matt relationship here is the strongest it has ever been (and that’s saying something) but even here it has its shaky moments, most of which come from the stress brought on by Miranda. Let me tell you, there are many times that I am as frustrated with Miranda as everyone else in her family. I don’t like her behavior, I can’t think of too many people who would. But it is realistic? Yes, I think so. And while we all would wish that Evan get a grip when dealing with her, those of us who have been in his shoes will also understand his reluctance. But does that sound like I think of them as characters? No it does not. And that’s the beauty of these stories and these amazing characters, they might make you gnash your teeth and pull some hair, but they are never anything less than believable.
Michaels also takes into account how much alike fathers and their daughters can be as Evan and Miranda’s behavior is often a reflection of each other. Matt too has aged and grown into his role as caregiver/second father to at least 3 of the kids, and his growth is as realistic and wry as can be. Tere Michaels has a wonderful grip on relationship dynamics, not only between romantic partners but familial relationships too. Siblings squabbles, family arguments, and the small joys of an established bond are all found here in this latest addition to the series.
Cherish takes place over Thanksgiving and includes the family of Miranda’s boyfriend, which adds that unknown element so often present at Thanksgiving when multiple family groups, including strangers, are brought together and forced to engage each other on the most intimate of American celebrations, the Thanksgiving dinner. Expectations are perhaps unreasonably high for what we think this holiday with its traditions of being grateful and giving thanks will bring. And that stress alone has blown up more turkeys than any fryer on the market. I will tell you that all ends well, at least temporarily for this wonderful family I have become so fond of.
Then comes Blessed and the tribe, at least part of it, is gathering together again…this time for Shane and Helena’s wedding. It’s stressful, funny, and wry look at relationships formed when older. But Shane and Helena’s marriage is making the others ask Matt and Evan when they will get married and once again the ground under them starts to shake. I loved this section because I adore the secondary characters Michaels created as a support system for the main couples.
Missing from the wedding? Jim and Griffin who are on their way to Albany where Griffin’s dad has had a heart attack. Griffin is a mess, Jim is being his rock and uncertainty is in the air. and then later at the Drake household where Griffin’s father has had a heartattack. And instead of the word blessed, I often thought of substituting the word blessed as in “There isn’t a blessed thing you can do about it!” Add a damnit or two as well. Because things are still shaky here underneath a calm exterior for a number of our favorite couples. Once again, Michaels has chosen to be into the raw and gritty of the relationship dynamics instead of the “hearts and flowers”. The author grounds us into the sometimes painful reality of the uncertainty, statsis and silence of non communication that can descend on the most loving of couples. And it plays out here for Matt and Evan, Jim and Griffin, and Daisy and Bennett. One happy moment in one of the couple’s relationship leaves an elephant of a subject matter in another pairing, a big relationship topic that the men are afraid to bring up. Why? Because doing so will take some deep introspection into their past lives and present emotional status. That’s always a scary prospect no matter how wealthy or experienced you may be and it sets the stage beautifully for the next book to come up.
Blessed is more a series of relationship vinaigrettes than a complete story. It skips from one situation and time line to the next. From the birth of Daisy and Bennett’s baby to their house in the Hamptons, with each scene portraying a moment or two in each couple’s growth in their relationship. I loved each segment, as it provides needed momentum and respite from the uncertainty and doubt that comes with most of the other stories. However, its Tere Michaels at the pen and however happy the couples appear, the cracks and fissures are starting to appear that will cause the foundations to shake for all of them in Truth and Tenderness, the 6th and final story in the series.
Truthfully, I can’t get enough of all of the couples and their combined stories. Sometimes their actions anger or frustrate, or give cause for hope and joy, or something realistically in between. Love and relationships take work. That’s a truth that should be painted at every wedding chapel or city hall. Fairy tales last but a moment and then real life sets in. That’s what Tere Michaels excels at giving us….couples we love living their lives realistically and authentically as possible. Yes, there are crimes committed, ones that get you locked up and others against the heart. Michaels charts them all and lays them out in this amazing series of novels.
I highly recommend them all and find myself eagerly awaiting the final installment. I’ll meet you there.
Cover art by Aaron Anderson. I find all these covers a little bland and nondescript. Nothing to separate this story from anyone else’s. Too bad.
ebook, 2nd Edition, 200 pages
Published February 13th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
seriesFaith, Love, & Devotion #4&5
Here are the books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the history and couples involved:
- Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1)
- Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #2)
- Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #3)
- Cherish (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4)
- Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love, & Devotion #4 & 5)
- Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love, & Devotion #6) series finale