Where Did the Month Go? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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3d-person-sit-pile-books-reading-book-26141531Where on earth did April go?  It seems like yesterday that the first of April was just approaching and now its almost over.  With the arrival of May, spring finally settles in and we can see summer edging towards us.  What a lovely time of the year!

Spring is a month rich in fertility, new growth, new beginnings are everywhere.  There’s an almost luxurious feel to this time of year.  So it seems with the books releasing as well.  What authors and stories have me over the moon?  Truth and Tenderness from Tere Michaels, the end of her Faith, Love & Devotion series, an all time favorite of mine.  I am savoring every line and paragraph not wanting it to end….it’s truly marvelous.  Joy Lynn Fielding’s Blowing Off Steam has me singing her praises and that of this incredible story too! Barb is loving The Tales of the Curious Cookbook series including Lost Along The Way by Marie Sexton!  Paul loved Amber Kell’s Unexpected Alpha, a book whose proceeds go to The Autism Society of Washington,  so check that out, including the author’s note at the end.  An Intrepid Trip To Love by Charlie Cochet brought a 5 out of 5 stars from Stella while Hoarfrost, in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series, is a favorite of Mika‘s.  If you haven’t already entered that contest, find it here, along with our author review.  Sammy is busy reading and writing as is BJ, more from them soon!  And I have the first in the Round Two stories from the Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States connected series for you this week as well.  More great books are on the horizon and we can’t wait to tell you about them.   What a great way to  end the month of April!

So stay with us all week, here is our schedule along with some favorite covers….

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Blowing Off Steam coverLost Along the Way coverUnexpected Alpha Amber kell coverFoolish Encounters cover

Sunday, April 26:

  • Where Did The Month Go? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, April 27:

  • Where There’s Smoke by Cari Z Tour and Giveaway
  • E.E Montgomery’s ‘Just The Way You Are‘ virtual tour – contest
  • A Stella Review: Family of Lies: Sebastian by Sam Argent
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Foolish Encounters Anthology
  • A MelanieM Review: Dead Blind by Lee Brazil (PF 2015)

Tuesday, April 28:

  • A Paul B Review: A Good Deed Done by Pelaam
  • A Mika Review: Scarred Souls (Scarred Souls #1) by T.T. Kove
  • A MelanieM Review: Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding
  • Best Covers of April 2015
  • Best Books of April 2015

Wednesday, April 29:

  • Morticia Knight ‘Justice Prevails‏’ Tour and Contest
  • In the Book Spotlight: Dreams of the Forgotten by Lexi Ander (excerpt and contest)
  • Lisa Oliver’s The Biker’s Omega Tour and Giveaway
  • Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton
  • A Mika Review: Crossed Hearts by K. Vale

Thursday, April 30:

  • Jayson James – How It Was Supposed to Be book blast and contest
  • In the Spotlight: K. Vale ‘Crossed Hearts‘ and contest
  • A Paul B Review: Unexpected Alpha by Amber Kell
  • A MelanieM Review: The Line by Angel Martinez

Friday,May 1:

  • MelanieM Review: Truth and Tenderness by Tere Michaels
  • A Stella Review: An Intrepid Trip to Love by Charlie Cochet
  • A MelanieM Review:  Emerald Keep by A Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder
  • A Mika Review: I’m The Guy You Hate by Isa K.

Saturday, May 2:

An Aurora YA Review: Once Upon a Time in America (The Knight Cycle #5) by Michael J. Bowler

Scarred Souls coverEven the Innocent coverIm The Guy You Hate cover

A Good Deed Done cover

 

 

 

A MelanieM Review: One Holiday Ever After Anthology by Tere Michaels , Elle Brownlee , Elizah J. Davis

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

One Holiday Ever AFter coverThe holidays are times of reflection, celebration, and coming home to those you love and who love you back.  It’s a time to reconnect with who you are and who you hope to be.  And sometimes, if you are lucky, this is also a season of miracles, of love found and a home discovered.  From New York City, to the winter isolation of the Maine woods, to the quaint, small town charm of Idaho, the men in these stories have different holiday desires. They’re looking for familiarity or fresh starts, but they have one thing in common—their happily ever afters might be waiting in the last places they think to look.

This season I have three top anthologies, all holiday collections.  One Holiday Ever After is among them, primarily because of the excellence in stories and heart from Tere Michaels, Elle Brownlee and Elizah J. Davis.  Before One Holiday Ever After, I was really familiar with only Tere Michaels, but after the wonderful stories from Elle Brownlee and Elizah J. Davis, I have searching out to find more stories by these authors.  Did I have favorites among the three stories?  Certainly but only by the smallest of margins.  Here is the story synopsis and my shortened reviews:

Holiday Roommates by Tere Michaels

As an out of work actor Nate Brandywine needs an emergency roommate for the month of December. During a humiliating gig as a Christmas elf at a NYC department store, he meets Sean Callahan, his producer and a man struggling under the weight of a past-due loan. Sean’s desperate for a place to stay in the city for a few weeks. A month of sharing a workplace and an apartment with someone you can’t stop flirting with? Maybe the holidays won’t be so terrible after all.

I love Tere Michaels and this short story just highlights why.  The characters of Nate and Sean are so believable and vulnerable that the reader will take them into their heart.  The secondary characters are as wonderful as the primary ones and the story’s plot is a realistic one that will pull you in immediately.  A great way to start a must have anthology.

Holiday Sanctuary by Elle Brownlee

Chris Declan is trekking through the wintry wonderland of rural Maine, searching for inspiration and himself, when he’s lost in a hug snow storm. The surprise blizzard that finds him seeking refuge in Paul Bak’s secluded cabin. Paul Bak’s secluded cabin is a prime spot to research and watch birds, a perfect place for an isolated Ornithology researcher. As the snow cuts them off from all around them, making the best of being snowed in together soon becomes a comfortable friendship with fireside chats, a quaint holiday celebration, and more. But despite their growing closeness, there’s one thing they avoid—what will happen when the snow clears and the holidays end.

Elle Brownlee had me at the name of Paul’s cat, Myn.  It’s short for…well, I will let Paul explain it:

“It’s for Moamyn.” Paul steered the conversation away from, well, wherever else it might have gone. But he couldn’t stop wondering after that last comment. “A long time ago in a land far away, the aforenamed and possibly apocryphal Arabian who wrote a definitive treatise on falconry.”

Be still my heart.  An ornithologist’s love story, complete with references to the subtle glory of the grasshopper sparrow.  I adored everything about this story, from the slow exploration of Paul’s comfy cabin, full of hidden objects full of clues to Paul’s character and passion for his profession to the wry humor and intellect that is Chris.  It’s slow, wonderful, and makes an impact on the reader that they won’t be fully aware of until the end.

Holiday Homecoming by Elizah J. Davis

Gavin Anderson never thought making it as a writer in LA would be easy, but when his latest project falls through, he gives up on Hollywood and heads to Bonabri, Idaho in hopes that the peace and quiet of his childhood home will help him figure out his next move. Instead he finds Eric Nichols, his parents’ cute and charming housesitter who is there to experience the small town Christmas festivities. Gavin’s plans for quiet reflection are no match for Eric’s holiday cheer, and he soon finds himself swept up in the spirit of the season. Gavin thought his life had hit a dead end, but in coming home he finds what might be a new beginning.

Here is a story full of the 3 H’s – hope, holiday, and heartwarming.  I finished this story and just kept on smiling as I remembered scenes and dialog from Elizah J. Davis’ Holiday Homecoming.  Adorableness, thy name is Eric Nichols, a man in search of love and home who finds it unexpectedly when he housesits for his best friend’s neighbors in the quaint small town of Bonabri, Idaho.  The town of Bonabri may not actually exist outside these pages but how I wish it did!  It comes to life in all its Chrismassy, nosy glory and I loved it.  I feel the same way about the disillusioned Gavin returning home after failing in Los Angeles and his slow “return” to the human being he always was underneath.  Much like the other two stories, I wish the author had made this a full length book.  Not because this feels incomplete in any way, it doesn’t.  But because I hated to say goodbye to the characters and town once they had hold of me.    It’s a fantastic story and a great way to finish out this must have holiday anthology.

I would read this One Holiday Ever After at any time of the year.  Still in the holiday season and spirit?  Perfection.  Missing the holidays because it is (fill in the blank season)?  This anthology will pull you in and make you remember why you love the holidays so.  It’s one of the top story collections of the year and one you won’t want to miss.  I am so glad I didn’t and you will be too.  A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2014 books!Best Books of 2014

 

 

Cover Artist: Angsty G.  Love the cover, it works perfectly for the collection and spirit of the stories found within.

Sales Links:        Dreamspinner Press ebook & Paperback      All Romance (ARe)   Amazon    Buy it Here

Book Details:

book, 280 pages
Published December 19th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632165783 (ISBN13: 9781632165787)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttps://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5849

Review: The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The Heir Apparent coverArchie Bank, body guard and driver for Henry Walker, scion of the powerful and wealthy Walker family, is also Henry’s childhood friend and secret lover.  Archie has used his job to help pay for his education and help support his mother and is now poised to graduate college.  But graduation means a change in jobs, leaving Henry Walker behind.  Henry doesn’t want to lose Archie but doesn’t know how to come out to his family or make a stand for their relationship.  All Henry sees is Archie slipping away from him forever.

Then a kidnapping goes horribly wrong, ending with Henry in the hospital and Archie under suspicion.  Together Archie and Henry must unite in order to uncover the mastermind behind the kidnapping before more lives, including their own, are threatened.

I love Tere Michaels.  Her Faith, Love & Devotion series is among my top all time favorite contemporary m/m fiction.  In The Heir Apparent, I see all the components that make her writing so enthralling and addictive, along with some minor issues that bring it down a notch or two.  First, the plot. It is full of suspense, well balanced with romance and hot, sexy scenes.  There are several layers to the mysteries here, not just the person behind the kidnapping.  I really enjoyed that aspect of the story, even though I identified correctly early on exactly who the person was behind the plot.  While some may find it frustrating that the characters did not recognize where the threat was coming from, I thought Michaels handled the reasons behind that gullibility with rationality and sensibility.

The two main characters are well defined with Archie  probably being my favorite, a kind of Upstairs Downstairs sort of thing.  Archie’s mother was a servant as well and they were part of the Walker home for a long time, albeit in their strictly defined roles. I do wish Michaels had given us more of a past recollection of Archie and Henry’s childhood together.  It would have helped give a firmer foundation to their current relationship than the one we are given.  Henry’s father at one point  talks about the boys misadventures as children, with Archie in the role of the child who always lead his precious son into scrapes.  But other than a tidbit here and there, nothing really substantial is relayed to the reader about their back history.  Henry takes a little bit longer to come to grips with.  He will not acknowledge his romantic relationship with Archie nor tell his father he is gay.  To be sure, Michaels has made Mr. Walker a powerfully intimidating personality, however Henry shows little spine with regard to him or his father’s close associate (almost an uncle figure here).  With Henry’s insecurity and passiveness, it takes some time before the reader connects with him, and that hurts the story in the beginning.

The Heir Apparent really picks up and delivers powerful, emotional scenes once the kidnapping begins.  This is when the story and all the characterizations gel for the reader.  From that moment on, Henry’s father becomes a person who  we identify with and connect with emotionally at the most basic of levels, that of a father who loves his son and fears for him.  Powerful stuff indeed.  Even shadowy characters, like Henry’s stepmother, come forward with a greater presence and impact once this traumatic event takes place.  Tere Michaels builds the story, layer upon layer, until all the pieces fall into place at the end, and the criminal is identified and caught.

Do the men get their HEA?  The plot points in that direction but, in my last quibble, the resolution to their relationship issues, doesn’t seem entirely satisfactory.  It ends with some things a little unclear and some readers will find that frustrating.  I know I did.

But with all my quibbles aside, do I recommend this story?  Yes, absolutely.  A Tere Michaels book is always something to be grabbed up, you never know what marvelous things to expect inside.  And some of the issues I had with the story, others might find not objectionable at all.  To tell the truth I did go back and forth between a 3.75 and a 4 star rating but the quibbles won out in the end.  Pick up a copy and  make up your own mind.  I would love to hear what you think.

Cover art by Dar Albert is got two gorgeous torsos to look at but what it has to do with the story is anyones guess.  Call this a miss.

Book Details:

ebook, 166 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Loose Id
original title
The Heir Apparent
ISBN13
9781623002589
edition language
English

From Mourning To Joy Once More, Animal Adoptions and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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You always hear that things have a way of changing overnight, but few experience it.  It didn’t quite happen like that here but it was close.  In my instance, things changed exactly one week to the day that I felt my heart shatter.  On June 4, 2013, my companion of 18 years, Winston died.  Exactly one week to the day, on June 11, another Winston came into my life, through circumstances so unusual, so connected, that I knew it was meant to be.   I have written that story, The Tale of Two Winstons – A Terrier Comes Home, to chart the beginning of our journey together.  Before that I had written of my first, indomitable Winston, my love of 18 years in My Winston.  But there was one fact I had left out.  You see, exactly one week before I found Winston, I had another dog, Snowflake, a rescue American Eskimo.

Snowflake was with me for two years, gorgeous and unfortunately so emotionally scarred by her previous family that only I could handle her.  I never got the entire  story but from her hatred of children and families in general, apparently she had been used as a target and punching bag by the people who owned her before me (and was rescued from).   One day we were out in the pasture, running and checking around for a loose horseshoe, when bikers sped by and Snowflake gave chase down the fence line.  Normally, that would have been fine as she couldn’t get through the wire and post fence, but sometime during the night a car had sideswiped the fence and taken down just enough to leave a Snowflake sized hole.  I am sure you all can imagine what happened next as Snowflake darted out onto that winding country  road.  Even as we raced to the vet, I knew my Snowflake was gone.

One week to the day, on that same spot, a shivering, heavily matted, rail thin Winston was found and went home with me carrying him in my arms, the same way Snowflake left that same spot.  Now 18 years later, exactly one week apart, my beloved Winston was gone and another Winston had arrived.  And each time, I knew it was meant to be.  How could it not?  I am not sure I believe in Fate but all these connections?  All these events strung together in order for one magical moment to happen?  How do I not believe in that?  Many people have said that Winston sent the other Winston to me, and I think I can agree there.  During that week of almost overwhelming grief and loss, I swear I could hear the thunk Winston made as he jumped down off the bed to investigate something in the house during the night.  Several times that occurred during that week, but since Winston arrived, not a sound.  This Winston likes to bury his food bowl (on tile no less) just like my old Winston did.  Perhaps one has taught the other his tricks without me knowing.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

My family now includes two rescued dogs, Winston and Kirby whose face adorns the banner of this blog.  They aren’t my first rescues and most certainly won’t be my last.  There are so many dogs (and cats) that need homes in shelters around the country.  And there are so many shelters in need of support, both monetary and in donations of supplies.  I know it is Father’s Day today but perhaps if your Dad is someone who has everything possible and you don’t know what to give him, maybe make a donation to your local animal rescue organization or humane society in his name as a gift.  I know it would be welcome.  I found my Winston by donating food to the shelter.  Who knows if a four pawed love awaits you there as well?  The larger groups, ASPCA, and the Humane Society of the United States, rescue animals from devastating events such as hurricanes and earthquakes and more.  They need your help too.

So here are some links to get you thinking about rescues and the organizations who need your help to continue their mission to save animals in need:

ASPCA

Humane Society of the United States

Montgomery County Humane Society

Days End Farm Horse Rescue – located locally in MD but travel all over the US to rescue large animals. Truly an amazing organization.

I am sure there are so many local rescue organizations around you that need your assistance.  They are only a tapped computer key away. Check them out as well.  Here are a few pictures of Winston and Kirby playing, they have turned into the best of friends.  Look below the pictures for the week ahead in reviews.  Happy Father’s Day!

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The week ahead in Reviews:

Monday, June 17:               Flawless by Cat Grant

Tuesday, June 18:              Fennel and Forgiveness by Ari McKay

Wed., June 19:                    In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey

Thursday, June 20:           Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Friday, June 21:                 The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels

Saturday, June 22:             Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Scattered Thoughts Best Books of 2012

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What a spectacular year for great books in every genre from historical to fantasy! I have read so many wonderful books and series this year that it is hard to even begin to narrow down the list, although I have tried. What makes a book great for me? So many things, that it needs its own list.

The books I listed here are ones that moved me to tears and made me laugh out loud, they took me to places I have never been to see sights fantastic, miraculous, and awe inspiring. I have watched dragons soar and seen twin suns set over alien worlds. Through these wonderful authors I have met people who continue to stay with me through the power of their stories and the connectedness that I feel with each of the characters I have read about. Sometimes the books have taught me something about myself and how I looked at others or just gave me a deeper appreciation for my fellow beings.

I have grieved with men who have lost their soul mates, been with them as they worked through the trauma and loss, and celebrated as they moved forward with their lives. I watched men fall in love, whether it be with shifters, wizards, or just a man they met on the side of the road. Love lost, love found or lovers rediscovering the best about each other…that seems to know no boundaries as far as who you are and what world you inhabit. It doesn’t even matter whether the story is set in the past or goes far into the future. The authors and books listed here are ones that I cherish and return to often to visit with them once more. If you haven’t already read them, I hope you will add them to your list of must reads, as they are surely mine.

Oh, and by the way, this list is not complete. There are some wonderful books still to be released in the last two weeks of December, and there are some that I just missed from my own reviews. So look to see a revised list after the first of the year. Really there is something for everyone here. Happy reading!

Best Historical Book:
All Lessons Learned by Charlie Cochrane (Best Series) review coming in 2013
The Celestial by Barry Brennessel
The Mystery of Ruby Lode by Scotty Cade

Best Short Story

Eight Days by Cardeno C
Fair Puckled by Bella Leone
Lily by Xavier Axelson
Leather Work and Lonely Cowboys, a Roughstock story, by BA Tortuga
Too Careful by Half, a Roughstock story, BA Tortuga

Best Contemporary Romance – Standalone

Fall Into the Sun by Val Kovalin
Marathon Cowboys by Sarah Black

Fallout by Ariel Tachna

Good Bones by Kim Fielding

Legend of the Apache Kid by Sarah Black

Mine by Mary Calmes
Play It Again, Charlie by RC CooperScrap Metal by Harper Fox
Sidecar by Amy Lane

The Cool Part of His Pillow by Rodney Ross

 Best Novels – Part of a Series

A Foreign Range by Andrew Grey
Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley
But My Boyfriend Is by KA Mitchell
Chase the Stars by Ariel Tachna
Cherish, Faith, Love & Devotion 4 by Tere Michaels
Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne Tenino
Full Circle by RJ Scott
Hope by William Neale
Inherit the Sky by Ariel Tachna (Best Series)
Second Hand, a Tucker Springs story by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux (Best Series)
The Journal of Sanctuary One by RJ Scott
The Melody Thief by Shira Anthony (also Best Series)
Who We Are by TJ Klune

Best First Novels
The Cool Park of His Pillow by Rodney Ross
Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
Inertia by Amelia C. Gormley (Best Series)

Best Supernatural Book:
A Token of Time by Ethan Day
Crucible of Fate by Mary Calmes (Best Series)
Druid Stone by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Ghosts in the Wind by Marguerite Labbe
Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed (Best Series)
Riot Boy by Katey Hawthorne
The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux

Science Fiction Books:
Emerald Fire by A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder
The Trust by Shira Anthony

Best Fantasy Books:
 Black Magic by Megan Derr
Burning Bright by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Chaos (Lost Gods series) by Megan Derr
Magic’s Muse by Anne Barwell
Poison by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Treasure by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Best Series – new books this year:
A Change of Heart series by Mary Calmes (supernatural)
Blue Notes series by Shira Anthony (contemporary)
Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane (historical)
Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux (and Madeleine Urban) (Contemporary)
Faith, Love & Devotion series by Tere Michaels (contemporary)
Infected Series by Andrea Speed (supernatural)
Knitting series by Amy Lane (contemporary)
Lost Gods by Megan Derr (Fantasy)
Sanctuary series by RJ Scott (contemporary)
Sci Regency series by JL Langley (science fiction)

So Many Great Series, here are more of my favorites:

A Matter of Time series by Mary Calmes (contemporary)

Jewel Bonds series by Megan Derr (fantasy)

Superpowered Love series by Katey Hawthorne

Wick series by Megan Derr
Best Anthologies:

Three Fates
Animal Magnetism
Lashings of Sauce
Making Contact

I know that many books are missing but I just did not get to them this year, including JP Barnaby’s Little Boy Lost series, Andrew Grey’s Range series, and so many more.  Look for them in 2013.  Do you have a favorite I should know about?  Write me and let me know.

Review of Cherish (Faith, Love & Devotion #4) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 4.5 stars

It has taken several years, 5 to be exact, for New York City Vice Detective Evan Cerelli, his four children, and former Homicide Detective Matt Haight to come together as a couple and as a family.  And for the most part they have made it without the emotional fireworks and mental turmoil that marked the first year of their relationship.

Now Even is going to be promoted to Captain of his precinct, the first out gay captain on the force, Matt is a successful security advisor when he is not a wonderful house husband to the two kids, twins Danny and Elizabeth, still at home.  Katie and Miranda are off at college, and their friends seem happy.  Life is good.

But Thanksgiving is coming and bringing with it the family explosions they thought they had left in the past. When Evan accidentally learns his oldest daughter, Miranda, is thinking of getting married to her boyfriend of less than 3 months, he flies off in a rage and is met with equal anger from Miranda who still has problems accepting her father’s relationship with Matt. A temporary truce between them sees Evan inviting Miranda’s new boyfriend and his parents to Evan and Matt’s house for Thanksgiving.  Also coming for Thanksgiving is Helena, Evan’s partner on the force and her boyfriend, Shane, and second oldest daughter, Katie, who “wouldn’t miss the fireworks for anything.”

And before the turkey is even on the table,  emotional explosions are going off and everyone is included.  Matt and Evan first have to survive Thanksgiving with their family and friends, and each minute more is making that unlikely.

This is the fourth book 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 and think that Evan needs to get a grip when dealing with her.  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.

I also loved that it 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.  If you are familiar with this story, you will love Cherish as I did.  If this series is new to you,  don’t start here.  Go back to the beginning to where it all started.  It makes the place they are at now all the more precious and rewarding.

And Tere Michaels?  I need more of another favorite couple here, that would be Jim and Griffon from Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love & Devotion #2).  Pretty please?  That would be a great Christmas gift for us all.

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)

Cover art by Croco Designs.  The covers for this series are just average.  They really don’t relate to the stories within nor do they make any real attempt to have models that look like the characters. Grade C

Books available at Loose id, Amazon, and All Romance.

Thanksgiving is Over, a Leftover Turkey Recipe and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers have been divvied out to family and friends, and the thought of cooking at the moment leaves me a little numb. On top of everything, I ended up the next day in an emergency care after hours clinic for a fever, sore throat and massive ear aches. So yeah, there’s that too that seems to go with the holidays.

Still the memories of family and good times are warm even if the leftover turkey isn’t and it leaves me plenty of time to read, review and knit a scarf or two as presents for the nieces.  The cold weather here in Maryland is bitter, the bird feeders stocked to the brim, and the terriers are snug in their (meaning my) bed.  If you need some books to fill your eStockings, here are some I definitely recommend:

Monday 11/26:                                Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane

Tuesday 11/27:                                A Slice of Love (Taste of Love #4) by Andrew Grey

Wednesday 1128:                           Cherish (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4) by Tere Michaels

Thursday 11/29:                              Spice ‘n’ Solice by KC Burn

Friday 11/30:                                   Black Magic by Megan Derr

Saturday 12/1                                   Holiday Stories

Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie (from allrecipes.com)

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: 12

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
2 cups frozen green beans
1 cup sliced celery
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/3 cups milk
4 cups cubed cooked turkey meat – light
and dark meat mixed
4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. Place the peas and carrots, green beans, and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until the celery is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander set in the sink, and set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup of flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, and Italian seasoning; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well combined.
4. Fit 2 pie crusts into the bottom of 2 9-inch pie dishes. Spoon half the filling into each pie crust, then top each pie with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of each pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pies with a sharp knife to release steam.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crusts are browning too quickly, cover the pies with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.