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