Title: Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, and Devotion #3)
Author: Tere Michaels
Buy link: Amazon.com
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (50K words)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
After their happily ever after in Faith & Fidelity, Matt and Evan move forward to a new chapter of their lives – inside the bedroom and out – with some surprises in store for both. Evan struggles with labels and feelings even as he wants to give in to his baser desires. Matt , now the ideal househusband of Queens, New York, has his own set of struggles – who is he now? What does he need and want?
A visit from his friend and one-night stand Jim Shea (of Love & Loyalty) throws everything into disarray as Evan’s jealousy and unease push Matt’s buttons – and not always in a good way.
Faith, Love, & Devotion Series
One year after the end of Faith & Fidelity reviewed here Matt Haight and Evan Cerelli are now living together as a couple. It is now two years since Evan’s wife Sherri died in an automobile accident and on the surface everything seems to be fine between the lovers, but Evan has a lot of difficulty accepting his new status as a gay man. In fact he refuses to use the word “gay” in relation to himself and has a hard time showing Matt affection in public because of his perception of what others might think of him. They had bought a house together in the same neighbourhood where Evan and Sherri had lived because they didn’t want the kids to change their school, the kids loved having Matt in their lives, and he is now a househusband and is revelling in every minute of his new job as co-parent to Evan’s kids. However, Evan has to figure out what and who he is before Matt gets tired of his waffling. He is still stressed out about what to call his relationship with Matt despite the fact that they are living together and sharing a mortgage.
Matt used to be a playboy and never had a long term relationship, or any relationship for that matter, and his biggest fear is that Evan would not be able to deal with the “gay” label and they would be headed for another breakup. He knew that Evan was still feeling guilty about moving on with his life just a year after Sherri’s death, and the stress was taking a toll on their relationship. He and Evan loved each other but sorting out Evan’s reluctance to deal with his new status, as well as not wanting to fully explore their sexual relationship was causing them both to be stressed and the obvious solution was to have Evan acknowledge Matt’s status as his partner. Evan’s major problem which had to do with his reluctance to be labelled as “gay,” was penetration. To him that meant he could no longer pretend to be straight or bi. Sexually they were still not being adventurous and so far had only had oral sex and a bit of sex play; they had not crossed “the final frontier” as they called it. Matt was eager to do so, especially since his one night stand with Jim Shea during his and Evan’s short separation in Faith & Fidelty had opened his eyes about how erotic this could be. When they went away for a weekend together and the Big Moment arrived, Evan’s inner turmoil about his sexuality was a huge stumbling block and they never made it over the finish line. Despite this problem, the passion between the characters was hot but Evan’s fears had the earmarks of being a deal breaker, and even though Matt continued to protest that he didn’t mind it was obvious that he did because to him this was linked to Evan’s refusal to accept their relationship.
Amidst all of this ongoing angst, another complication reared its ugly head. Matt had remained friends with his one night stand Jim and they talked on the phone every week, which Evan didn’t like, but his unease about their friendship escalated when Jim and his new lover Griffin from Love & Loyalty reviewed here paid a visit to New York to see a play and invited them out. The dinner was worse than Matt anticipated as Evan could not handle his jealousy when he met Jim.
In case you think that this book was angst ridden, there was a lot of fun between Matt and Evan and with the kids who were real scam artists. Here are a couple of funny lines from the book between Matt and Evan –
“I see your shadow,” Matt called over the pulse of the water.
“Those razor sharp cop instincts still exist.”
“Also I’ve seen Psycho like 40 times” His boyfriend pulled the curtain back, soapy and smiling. “You have a licence for that lethal weapon?” He gave Evan’s dick a pointed look.
“That’s a line?”
The closeness was evident between Matt and his new family as he gave them all the love he had never experienced. When another crisis reared its ugly head the children made it clear where their loyalties lay, and Ellie, Evan’s sister in law was a wonderfully supportive force in their lives.
Duty & Devotion is an excellent sequel and the quality of the writing is consistent with that of Faith & Fidelity. Matt’s and Evan’s romance comes full circle and fans of F & F will finally be able to put “The End” to their wonderful story as they retrace how they first met fifteen months ago, and deal with the everyday stresses of making a home together and co-parenting Evan’s four wonderful children. Matt’s characterization was brilliant and I also liked Evan’s partner Helena. The four children, Miranda, Danny, Elizabeth and Katie were all wonderfully portrayed. If I had a couple of concerns about this book one had to do with Evan’s character. I could understand his fears about declaring himself as gay but I thought that a year was more than enough time for him to have the courage to acknowledge Matt as his partner since everyone, including his colleagues in the Department and his boss, knew they were living together. However, Evan was a control freak so maybe this had something to do with his fears about public perceptions. My second concern was the use of condoms between two men who had apparently been in a committed relationship for a year; I didn’t understand why the author felt the need for condoms.
It’s always a risk to write a sequel to a much loved book like Faith & Fidelity because of high expectations, but I think that Tere Michaels did a very credible job of wrapping up this emotionally and sexually charged story about two straight men who were blindsided by love. The supporting cast was just as well drawn as the protagonists and I was pleased to see Jim and Griffin again; Griffin played a very important role in helping Evan see the light. 🙂 I think this author’s strength lies in her characterizations and readers will empathize with the struggles of this unusual couple and Matt’s role reversal as a househusband which he took to as a duck to water. Ellie was another wonderful character and her empathy towards the guys and love for her neices and nephew gave the book additional texture.
If you’re looking for a book that will tug at your heartstrings, and characters that you will love, you don’t have far to go. Duty & Devotion is a great conclusion to F & F and you will be entertained, emotionally drained, laugh out loud, and be uplifted at the same time. While you will enjoy this book on it’s own it’s not a standalone and I would recommend that you read it after Faith & Fidelity. Highly recommended.