A MelanieM Review: Forever & Ever: A Collection of Stories (Faith, Love & Devotion #7) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Faith, Love, & Devotion Anthology

What happens after the story ends?

Join Matt, Evan, Jim, Griffin, and their friends and families for a glimpse of what happens after happily ever after. Between growing up and growing pains, weddings and retirement, changing careers and changing diapers, life is never boring. Changes, decisions, tears, and joy await as the years march on.

For most readers, we have favorites series we can name at the  drop of a hat.  Characters so beloved, so familiar that they have become a part of us over time, our affection and love growing with each story that rolled out, our connection deepening as we fell into their lives, riding out their romance rollercoasters and some very heavy drama.  And also for all the highs and rewarding moments that kept carrying all of us forward through the series and their relationship(s).

And with all series, there must come an end.  Not that we want to admit it.  But reasonably for every start, a finale must follow.

And for many reasons, that’s the one bit I always approach with apprehension and trepidation.  Series can get off on shaky steps but soon they are off and running, having found their foundation.  And they just get better and better in every way.  Faith, Love, and Devotion was great from the start.  Tere Michaels had characters that were messy, stubborn, closeted, hounded by demons, one had a deceased wife, kids that came with their own issues, police departments and cases that followed them with ghastly consequences, and so much more.  Complex doesn’t even begin to describe these men and their dynamics.

Nor how deeply I and so many others fell in love with them and their painful, often labyrinthine road to a relationship and HEA.  I’m surprised it was only seven books to be honest.

The author wrote skillfully of how mired down any current decision making is in the past histories, how choices for the future are often decided by others and elements flying under the radar.  In other words, these novels were real, believable, sometimes painful and frustrating to read when the characters behaved all too authentically. We could all shake our heads as Evan overthought something yet again, and we wondered how Matt was going to handle it. Don’t get me started on Jim and Griffin’s rocky path.  That had me glued to my Kindle through many a night. Oh, Jim and Griffin, who teetered precariously on becoming my favorites here. We lived with these people…over and over again We  watched the children grow up, the relationships change and mature as they do…and I started to wonder about the end of the series.

Luckily, Michaels decided to give all her readers a love letter. Forever & Ever: A Collection of Stories (Faith, Love & Devotion #7) by Tere Michaels is exactly that.  A collection of short stories that flow one to the other a year of several after that last book.  It shows the natural progression in the lives of these characters.  Mostly hilarious, some warmhearted and loving, it continues to tighten the bonds between all the people you’ve grown to over over all six novels and pulls it together in one last story to gladden your heart.

It’s a series finale you will be happy with.  Not something I have said every time.  No I can go back and read this one again and again as I do many of the books here and be delighted.  I think all lovers of this series and these couples will be too.

So yes I’m highly recommended this collection and this series.  New to Faith, Love, and Devotion?  I’ve listed the entire series for you below. Read them in the order they were written, What a wonderful journey awaits you!  It’s one I intend on taking again and again.

 

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 271 pages
Published December 25th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07L7HLQWY
Edition Language English
Series Faith, Love & Devotion (add to your Goodreads here) :

Faith & Fidelity

Love & Loyalty (the start of Jim Shea and Griffin Drake)

Duty & Devotion

Cherish

Cherish & Blessed

Truth & Tenderness

Forever & Ever: A Collection of Stories

Tere Michaels on Characters, the end of a Series and her new collection Forever & Ever: A Collection of Stories (Faith, Love & Devotion #7)

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Forever & Ever: A Collection of Stories

(Faith, Love & Devotion #7)

by

Tere Michaels

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tere Michaels here today on tour with Forever & Ever: A Collection of Stories
(Faith, Love & Devotion #7) by Tere Michaels.  Faith, Love & Devotion has always been one of my favorite series and I will say it’s hard to say goodbye to it. So Tere’s talking about her characters, the collection and the final chapter.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Tere Michaels

 

Thank you so much for having me!

Writing the final chapter in the Faith, Love & Devotion series has been a bittersweet experience for me. These characters are so precious to me, and I wanted to give the readers a glimpse past “Happily Ever After” into the future. So it’s happy – but also a little bit sad to say good-bye!

By doing a collection of stories, I was able to extend my reach beyond a year in the life, or a few years. I tried to hit some of the big events, both good and not-so-good, focusing on how these characters would handle it. (Spoiler alert: a lot of sarcasm and a few moist eyes.)

Forever & Ever is a love letter to my readers, a thank you for all their support over the past ten years. And of course, the bow on top is finally getting Matt and Evan hitched!

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

What’s funny to me, in revisiting Matt and Evan, and Griffin and Jim, is seeing how much of my own marriage is represented in their relationships! The basis of my relationship is humor – it’s our love language. And I realized how much I inject that into my characters.

Also overthinking. Matt might have my sharp tongue but Evan has my overactive brain! 

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA! That’s why I’m in this game – I want you to feel like these characters stay together far beyond “the end.” Like, these people are so perfect for each other, they’ve earned their happy ending and you never have to worry about them again. LOL

I read a lot of different genres but I feel very strongly about romance having an HEA. The emotional arc is the most important thing, so when I get to the end, I want that “forever” to be earned and memorable and meaningful.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

My first romance was “Palomino” by Danielle Steele, purchased for change at a garage sale. I read ALL her books, for years (“Fine Things” and “The Ring” are two of my favorites), but mostly I read historicals. Celeste De Blasis’ “Black Swan Trilogy” was my obsession. I loved that series.

YA wasn’t really a thing when I was a teen so I went straight from Nancy Drew to adult romance novels! It’s funny that I only write contemporaries when I refused to read them as a teen/young adult.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  

Weirdly enough, my biggest influencer was Dean Koontz. The first book I read of his – “Lightning” – was a contemporary love story/sci-fi book with time-traveling Nazis. I was knocked off my feet because it was this perfect blend of genres and tropes, with snappy dialogue and humor and emotion. And I thought – my God, you’re allowed to write like this!? It was a revelation. I really feel like that book was a key that unlocked my writer’s voice.  I didn’t need to write “formally.” I could be me.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

It’s like choosing your favorite child! (I only have one child so that’s not exactly hard for me…)

Two books immediately come to mind, and probably not the ones people would imagine. “Love & Loyalty,” the second book in the Faith, Love & Devotion series is my favorite. It took me three tries to start that book, and Griffin took forever to be born in my head but once he showed up, that book was a joy to write. There are still moments that make me cry when I read them!

The second is my novella “Holiday Roommates.” I was struggling with writer’s block and one day a man in an elf suit bemoaning his life popped into my head and boom! Nate Brandywine arrived and my block was wiped out. Nate and Sean are the epitome of my writing – they are both good people struggling through rough times, but they still work to help other people, and never lose their sense of humor. I love them dearly.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I am writing a new series, set against the backdrop of a Broadway show. Since Broadway musicals are one of my favorite things in the world, I am loving the chance to play in this world! I’ll be following several characters involved in the production (actors, a director, the money man), and their romances, as well as the show itself moving from casting to opening night.

I also have the last Vigilante book finally coming out in 2019! And another secret project I can’t quite talk about just yet! 

  • What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I like good people who are trying to grow and learn and heal. People who are eager to know themselves better. All my characters are on a personal journey – good people, doing their best, and not always succeeding. I can’t write an anti-hero. Even my Vigilante series character is basically a really good guy, who doesn’t always make the best decisions! That internal struggle fascinates me about people, and it always, always finds its way into my characters. In fact, that internal journey is the basis to my stories – it’s where a book starts for me.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

That’s a tough one! I write stories about real people working through real life hardships on their way to a happy ending to bring some positivity into the world. If someone reads one of my books and goes – yeah, let’s keep going. I can do this – then my work here is done.

And that’s why I write for a living. But for me, personally – I don’t how to stop. LOL Even if I’m not writing words down, stories are still being born in my head. It’s been that way my entire life and it’s like trying to explain why you breathe. The alternative doesn’t really exist.  

About Forever & Ever – A Faith, Love, & Devotion Anthology

What happens after the story ends?

Join Matt, Evan, Jim, Griffin, and their friends and families for a glimpse of what happens after happily ever after. Between growing up and growing pains, weddings and retirement, changing careers and changing diapers, life is never boring. Changes, decisions, tears, and joy await as the years march on.

Faith, Love, & Devotion Series:

 

About the Author

Tere Michaels unofficially began her writing career at the age of four when she learned – via a Disney magazine subscription – that people got paid to write stories. It seemed the most perfect and logical job in the world and after that, her path was never in question.

Tere’s specialties are snark, angst, and happily ever afters. And not so happily ever afters that eventually work out because she is, after all, a romantic – tempered with realism. She has written fifteen books including her popular Faith, Love & Devotion series and the superhero saga The Vigilante.

Nothing makes her happier than knowing she made a reader laugh or smile or cry. It’s the purpose of sharing her work with people. She loves hearing from fans and fellow writers and is always available for speaking engagements, visits, and workshops. Send her a message through her contact page or connect with her on Twitter(@TereMichaels) and Facebook .

Tere Michaels

www.teremichaels.com

https://twitter.com/TereMichaels

In Our Contemporary Spotlight: The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels (guest blog and exclusive excerpt)

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The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Taria Reed Digital Artist

Release Date:  October 9, 2017

Available for Purchase at:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tere Michaels here today talking about her novel The Heir Apparent.  Welcome, Tere!

 

✒︎

Thank you so much for having me!

I’m very excited about the re-release of “The Heir Apparent” – additional content and a rewrite of things I wasn’t satisfied with the first go around makes this a truly thrilling occasion for me as a writer. The subdued emotion of Henry and Archie, their quiet yearning for each other, the fear of opening yourself up to love; these are concepts I loved playing with. Usually emotional and stubborn hotheads grace my books! But while these men are cut from a slightly different cloth, I hope readers will respond to their journey. 

 ~ Tere Michaels

About The Heir Apparent

The heir apparent to a vast international company, Henry Walker has focused his entire life on pleasing his cold and distant father, a futile effort that’s left him no time for life, love, or making his own decisions. He has just one friend—one dirty little secret—Archie Banks. Raised on the Walker estate alongside Henry, Archie is now Henry’s driver, bodyguard… and occasional lover. Archie is loyal, but he’s about to graduate from college and has plans for his life that don’t include living every moment at the beck and call of Henry’s father. Not even for Henry.

With no warning, a shocking kidnapping leads to tragedy and chaos, thrusting Henry and Archie into a dramatic struggle that threatens them individually and as a couple. Can they find a way to heal the hurt of the past, save the company that is Henry’s birthright, and find a future together?

Exclusive Excerpt

“I want to be done with school.” Archie directed his gaze back to Henry. “I’m proud of my grades, proud to be graduating in a few weeks—even if it did take me twice as long.”

The as you hung in the air. When they were kids, it had been easier to pretend things weren’t so different. This wasn’t a staged period piece. The boss’s son, the housekeeper’s kid, playing and being best friends—that was natural.”

“Until you grew up and there were things like expectations and debts and responsibilities and two very different paths in life.

“I’m so proud of you,” Henry murmured. “I know you’ll be successful at whatever you choose to do.”

Archie didn’t respond, but his gaze was locked on Henry’s face; it burned and left Henry a bit short of breath.

“I don’t know about that,” he said finally. “Bodyguard and chauffeur are hardly proof I know anything in regard to international business relations,” he said lightly, rubbing his palms against his thighs as he finally looked away. “Could probably use a recommendation from Mr. Norman Henry Walker III.”

“You know I’ll do anything I can,” Henry said, his voice gentle. He resisted the urge to reach out and touch Archie’s socked foot, so close to his own leg.

“Trying to get rid of me, eh?”

The joke was well-intentioned, Henry knew, but after his father’s pontification on Archie moving to greener pastures earlier in the evening—well, it stung, and Henry felt himself stiffening into ramrod straightness.

“Yes. I can’t imagine who we’ll be able to find to open my door and drive the Hummer.” Henry fell into“borne of being together almost every day of their childhoods and so many days beyond that.

“Good to know,” Archie drawled, poking his feet into Henry’s thigh.

Neither of them mentioned the giant elephant in the room, which was calmly sitting in the corner on a colonial wingback next to a Tiffany floor lamp. What would happen when Archie graduated and moved on?”

About the Author

Tere Michaels writes happily ever afters in the big city – with heaps of snark, angst and humor. Her focus is on characters and all the ridiculous ways they trip through life and love. She has written fifteen books including her popular Faith, Love & Devotion series and the superhero saga, The Vigilante.

She is a member of RWA and Liberty States Fiction Writers

www.teremichaels.com

https://twitter.com/TereMichaels

An Ali Audiobook Review: Groomzilla by Tere Michaels and Nick J. Russo Narrator

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
groomzilla-audioWhen drama threatens to ruin a romance on a reality show, only a true friend can save a groomzilla’s wedding.

Daniel Green, an event planner with a neat, quiet, orderly life, reluctantly agrees to plan the wedding of his childhood friend Ander, an outrageous fashion designer soon to marry a wealthy entertainment lawyer named Rafe. To complicate matters, the happy couple have agreed to have their wedding made into a reality show—something that practical Daniel isn’t sold on.

Daniel is neither a romantic nor a wedding planner, but he’s the only person in the world who can manage Ander. Distracting him from his mission is Owen Grainger, a too-handsome-to-be-true producer whose quiet charm pulls Daniel into his orbit.

When the stress of the show triggers bad behavior from Ander, co-producer Victor Pierce decides it’s the key to a ratings bonanza, and he begins to undermine Ander and Rafe’s relationship to create more drama. Daniel is determined to protect his friend and his own reputation, but when he finds himself falling hard for Owen, there’s much more at stake than ratings.
I don’t know how I missed this book when it came out and I wish I would have read it sooner.  What a gem this was.  It was both funny and adorably romantic.  Daniel and Owen had the greatest chemistry together.  They shared some really touching and emotional moments, a few that even made my eyes tear up.  Their smexy scenes on the other hand burned up the pages.  I had a few issues with Ander’s behavior and if he had been my friend I would have been furious at some of the stuff he did.  That part of the story though wrapped itself up in to a very beautiful and emotional moment also and I once again got teary-eyed.
This book was narrated by Nick J. Russo.  I’ve listened to a lot of his narrations and have enjoyed them all but I think this may be one of his best.  He did a great job on all of the voices and his narration of Owen in particular was great.
I definitely recommend this book.  I really enjoyed everything about it.  I highly recommend the audio version.  It’s short, about 5 hours, and worth every minute.
Cover by Anna Sikorska:  I like the cover but don’t love it.  The models on the cover do represent the way the characters are described in the book.  It’s nice enough but doesn’t really stand out to me.
Audiobook Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 5 pages,Listening Length: 4 hours and 52 minutes
Published September 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published August 10th 2015)
ASINB01L9GLLZQ
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Groomzilla by Tere Michaels

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Review: 3.75  stars out of 5

Groomzilla coverWhen drama threatens to ruin a romance on a reality show, only a true friend can save a groomzilla’s wedding.

Daniel Green, an event planner with a neat, quiet, orderly life, reluctantly agrees to plan the wedding of his childhood friend Ander, an outrageous fashion designer soon to marry a wealthy entertainment lawyer named Rafe. To complicate matters, the happy couple have agreed to have their wedding made into a reality show—something that practical Daniel isn’t sold on.

Daniel is neither a romantic nor a wedding planner, but he’s the only person in the world who can manage Ander. Distracting him from his mission is Owen Grainger, a too-handsome-to-be-true producer whose quiet charm pulls Daniel into his orbit.

When the stress of the show triggers bad behavior from Ander, co-producer Victor Pierce decides it’s the key to a ratings bonanza, and he begins to undermine Ander and Rafe’s relationship to create more drama. Daniel is determined to protect his friend and his own reputation, but when he finds himself falling hard for Owen, there’s much more at stake than ratings.

Tere Michaels is a author who can tear at my heart with her characters and stories, her just concluded Faith, Love, and Devotion series is a perfect example of that.  So I was curious to see if she could deliver light hearted romance as well.

She does.  Tere Michaels style.

That means that angst, a pinch of sadness and a dash of anxiety gets thrown in with the humor and lighthearted romance.  It all starts with Daniel Green, an event planner with an unhappy childhood only made bearable by a boarding school friend Anders who is now Daniel’s only family.  Ander’s childhood is equally painful and they became each other’s support and heart sibling despite their startling differences in appearance and behavior.  Now Ander is getting married and wants Daniel to plan the wedding as well as be his best man.  Oh, and it’s all a part of a new reality online series.  What could go wrong?

That would be everything.

Daniel and Ander are both two damaged men who have worked through their issues, mostly, to become men who understand themselves and each other.  I loved Daniel, he’s worked hard to get where he is, with his own business, a degree from Harvard but he realizes that he’s starting to coast.  Ander is smarter than his extravagant exterior and I love the surprises that his character continues to deliver throughout the narrative, especially when you least expect it.  They are exactly the type of characters Tere Michaels does best.  Daniel and Ander look so different on the outside, one sort of nicely average, the other peacocky gorgeous, and yet so alike underneath where it counts. The author makes them believable, flawed, and so likable it hurts at times.

Ah, Daniel and Ander. Their relationship dynamics are the heart of the story, not the romance between Daniel and Owen, or even Ander and his fiance Rafe, and that’s probably why I didn’t connect as much as I did with Daniel and Owen.  It was because I was already invested emotionally in the deep friendship of Daniel and Ander and the wedding from hell.  I was so  caught up in what this wedding was doing to their friendship that it almost made everything else extraneous.  I also needed a little more of the Rafe/Ander dynamic, although what I had was delicious, especially those scenes  at the end.  And Victor felt exactly like a reality show “villain” and I couldn’t make my mind up where that  was good or bad.

Owen? Yes, I liked Owen even if I felt I didn’t get to “know” him as completely as I did the others.   I certainly could see him as part of Daniel’s life.  Perhaps if Daniel and Owen had their own story after Groomzilla and left this  one to Daniel, Ander, and Rafe,  that would have made me completely satisfied.  But that’s not how Tere Michaels wrote it, so I will say I loved so many portions of this story, and  the ending left  me  misty eyed and smiling. Those scenes with the video felt as “in the moment” as anything in the story.  These scenes were “character capsules”, delivering a punch of emotion that I had been  waiting for and now got. These were the people I  wanted more of, the ones I had gotten fewer glimpses of as the catastrophe of a wedding starts to overtake the story (pretty realistic element), ones that Daniel was missing too.  Really,that’s was wonderful thing to work into this plot. How the stress  can make the best of us go a little crazy and maybe even lose sight of who we are and who we love.

Oh, Tere Michael, how I love your writing, characters, and storylines. Not familiar with this author? Groomzilla is a fun place to start. I think you will fall in love with Daniel, Ander and Groomzilla.  I know I did.

 

Cover art by Anna Sikorska is cute but suffers from model use overload.  That dark-haired model is everywhere, from books about chefs (more than one) to geeks in love.  He’s cute but over used. This cover makes me think of other books instead of this one. A definite no no.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 160 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781634761833

A MelanieM Review: Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love, & Devotion #6) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Truth and Tenderness coverNewly promoted police captain Evan Cerelli takes command of his own precinct as Matt Haight’s security business begins to expand at a rapid rate. Both of their careers require more and more of their time—away from home and each other. When his most famous clients, Daisy and Bennett Ames, suffer a traumatic breakup, Matt is drawn into a dangerous and dramatic situation. With attentions diverted, Evan and Matt’s tight-knit home life begins to unravel.

As Griffin Drake’s movie nears final edit, his thoughts turn toward building a home with his new fiancé, Jim Shea—and maybe even starting a family. Before he can think of a new family, Jim is caught up in his past. The possibility of putting Tripp Ingersoll in jail once and for all beckons, and Jim wants the closure that has long eluded him. As a new lead spurs him on, Jim begins to lose sight of the future by chasing an old ghost.

Both couples struggle to remember that “happily ever after” requires hard work, trust, and tender, open hearts.

Truth and Tenderness by Tere Michaels brings the terrific Faith, Love & Devotion series to a heartwarming and totally satisfying close.  After discovering the amazing characters Michaels introduced in Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1), I soon became “obsessed” with these complicated men and their often tortuous path to love and HEA.  What a tough path its been for all involved, and that includes the reader.  It’s been a A Ticket Ride all the way to the end and I loved every word of it.

First there was New York City Vice Detective Evan Cerelli, a widower with a passel of kids.  He’s the character I most often wanted to slap upside the head….over and over again.  Evan has been one continual PITA in this series but I grew to love him mostly because Matt did.  And his kids did…as well as his sister.  Evan has lots of redeeming features that kept the readers involved in him, no matter that we often felt like giving him a boot to the rear.  He quaffled, and quibbled and ran from a character we loved immediately.  That was former Homicide Detective Matt Haight, a veritable Rubik’s Cube of emotions and doubt.  Both men had shied away from the fact that they were attracted to men and to each other.  Between Evan’s massive load of guilt over his treatment of the  dead wife he loved (although not in the way she wanted),  his kids and his wife’s parents, Evan’s journey to another relationship, let alone one with a man, was strewn with emotional land mines.  Ones he stepped on time and again.  Matt too came with enough baggage dragging behind him to outfit a trip to deepest Africa.  He had problems with trying to solve his issues with alcohol, he got fired from the police department, a job he was made to do and loved. Plus he was a total womanizer in order to hide what he felt towards men.  And it took books for these men to come together with any sort of equanimity or solidity.   There was doubt and fights even through this last story.  Man, love is hard for these two.  But also, in Tere Michaels hands, rewarding, believable, and fierce.   Through every hard won battle and advancements made, it seemed as though this pair then took as many steps backward.  And the reader was dragged back and forth along with emotional journey, becoming even more committed to their happiness along the way.

And not only did these men need to find out how to make their relationship work with their strong personalities, they had Evan’s kids to contend with and fold into their relationship as well.  That would be the twins, Danny and Elizabeth as well as the older girls, Katie and Miranda.  How I loved that Katie! In fact, these kids acted and sounded…well, like kids..ones still trying to recover from the loss of their mother. Again this was handled so authentically by the author that you wept and laughed and loved all the interaction among this family as it enlarged to include Matt.  Some kids loved Matt, others not so much seeing him as a replacement for their beloved mother.  Sound familiar?  Yep, it does.   And because it does, the stories worked even better due to the recognizable rivalry and reality they reflected back at us.

But the couple that really, completely stole my heart?  That would be Detective James “Jim” Shea, a Seattle cop, and Hollywood screenwriter Griffin Drake who met over a horrific homicide case, an investigation that runs the length of the series and is resolved finally here. Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion #2) was the book I went back to multiple times because this pairing was so hot, so gripping that I couldn’t get enough of them.  They were an odd pair, on the surface, but underneath, Michaels showed us two men who fit together so well, that imagining them ever parting was heartbreaking.  Jim Shea has so many  layers to him, one of which was a somewhat cold exterior he shed only with a few close friends.  Watching Griffin climb inside that barrier was such a joy of this story.  Equally so was watching the impact Jim made on Griffin’s life.

Tere Michaels created something remarkable with this series.  She brought these men, their lives, and struggle to make a difference and find love real and memorable.  I was so invested in these stories I often lost track of the fact that they were characters on a page (or screen).  I got angry over their actions (see Evan), I got frustrated when their relationship got stymied by their jobs (see all of them) and by their doubts and inability to communicate that caused them to stumble and fall repeatedly.  But then I was also there to cheer when they got it together enough to pick themselves back up and try to make it all work one more time.  How this series and the author put me and these marvelous characters through the wringer more times than I can count.  I love/hated every minute of their relationship waltzes.  How sorry I am that its finally over.

In Truth and Tenderness, all the pairings are looking fairly stable (at least for this group) when Jim decides he just can’t let go of the case that brought them all together.  There is Daisy and Bennett, Shane and Helena, Miranda and boyfriend Kent, Evan and Matt, Jim and Griffin.  While that may sound like a crowd, it’s not.  It’s all one giant extended family. But the explosions are about to start, and they happen everywhere, small and humongous just as Evan is getting his captaincy.  It’s the evil that is Tripp Ingersoil, the killer who got away with the murder of Carmen a teenage hooker, that is occupying Jim’s thoughts and time when they should be turned towards his new life with Griffin.  This is the case that brought them together when Griffin made a screenplay out of the story. It also made Jim a close friend/surrogate son of Ed Kelly, Carmen’s dad, another reason he can’t let go of this case. Well, that and the killer walked.

If someone asked me to point out one reason why this series resonated with me so, I’m not sure I could do it.  Yes, the dialog is snappy, believable and relevant in every aspect, from the “police speak” to the manner in which you talk intimately to someone you love.   Their words and conversations come at you with all the force of the grittiness that life and living entails. It’s not always pretty, flowers and hearts.  Sometimes its ugly, and painful and raw.  It’s stubbornness and silence, slamming doors and phone calls not returned.  Michaels gets that too about love and life and lays it all out here before us.   It’s not just that the characterizations are multidimensional and real, its that these men and the people that support them breathe, emote, and scream with an energy and vividness that captures you in every scene and situation.  Jim, Griffin, Evan, Matt and the rest work because we believe in them as well as their dynamics.

Same goes for the various plot threads and overall theme.  Michaels carries them all logically and authentically to the satisfying climax, including several white knuckle action scenes and situations.  Really,  you know, we wouldn’t have been happy with less.  These are police officers, detectives and killers so whatever happens need to reflect those professions, actions and accountability.  And it does.  Thank you, Tere Michaels, for that procedural attentiveness to detail as well.

Did I hate to see this end?  You betcha.  But was I happy with how it ended?  Almost.  Of course, it’s Evan and Matt who leave with that little bit of snarkiness you have come to expect from them.  I left them all 99.9 percent happy and that works for me.  It will for you too.  But if you are new to these men and their Rube Goldberg path to love and HEA, please run dont’ walk back to the first story and see how it (and they) all begin.  I have listed the stories below, use it as a list to check them all off.  And let me know which story was your favorite as you now know mine.

I highly recommend Truth & Tenderness and the entire Faith, Love, & Devotion series by Tere Michaels.  This book and this series will be on my Best of 2015 list.  Read them and find out why they should be on yours.

 Cover art by Aaron Anderson.  I don’t think I would be happy with any cover here because of all the elements I would want to see.  I thought it was ok but wanted so much more.  Probably not fair to the artist.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback      All Romance (ARe)   Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632167118
edition languageEnglish
seriesFaith, Love, & Devotion #6
charactersMatt Haight, Evan Cerelli, Jim Shea, Griffin Drake

Faith, Love & Devotion Series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, relationships and plot threads:

  • 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)

 

A MelanieM Review: Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love, & Devotion #4&5) by Tere Michaels

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Cherish & Blessed coverFaith, Love, & Devotion: Books Four & Book Five

Cherished

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.

Blessed

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.

Fatherhood.

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.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback   All Romance (ARe)  Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 200 pages
Published February 13th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781634761994
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
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