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

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

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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