Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, and Devotion #3)

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

 

 

 

 

THE BLURB

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

THE REVIEW

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.

 

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

37 comments

  • Hi Danae
    Good old eagle eyed me. 🙂

    Writing a review for friends is a great way to start. Who knows, you might have your own review site soon. 🙂

  • Ah, I loved it. Like Ingrid, I probably wouldn’t have caught the condom part without your mention. Thinking about it, I figure that since Matt was, ahem, indiscriminate before, it was probably more habit than anything else on his part. Who knows?

    I did my own quick review about my thoughts. I’m not great at reviews, but since it’s just for me and friends, I gave it a shot LOL.

  • Wave, I would not have noticed the condoms if you had not mentioned them. For me they are a so integral part of m/m romance that I notice it when they are not used.

    I think they are more like props. When going anal ones needs: lube, tick, condoms, tick.
    And since Evan is still in Vice I think condoms are a healthy precaution.

    What I did miss was a detailed description of the new house, or did I not see it?

    Also I am glad this story has ended, I got a bit tired of the always doubting Evan.

    • Hi Ingrid
      As I said in my comment to Aquina, the whole condom issue is probably my issue when they are used in situations that seem to beg the question “why.” In cases where a couple just met or don’t know each other’s history I would not notice.

      Like you, I got a bit tired of Evan always reverting to type, but as I said in the review his “control freak” personality might have been the reason the author had him acting in such a manner. Anyway it made for an interesting character “flaw”. 🙂

      I really like Tere Michaels’ writing. Solmeone mentioned that her next book will be an M/F so that means a long wait until her next M/M book.

  • Just finished reading the book and I loved it.

    @ wave – I disagree with your two concerns re: Evan’s reluctance to label as “gay” and the use of condoms. I think both of these fit the character of Evan and are not flaws in the book.

    Evan is not only a control freak but also has never even had to question anything about his sexuality until he met Matt. He met his wife just as puberty hit and that was everything for him for 20 years. I found it much for realistic for him to stuggle to accept and label his realtionship with Matt then to start marching in Pride Parades. But the good news is he is progressing.

    Regarding the condoms, I think that has nothing to do with preventing disease but more along the lines of reducing anxiety – it makes things easier to slip in and helps with clean up. Considering these are two grown men who have taken “forever” to even progress to anal sex and who may only have begun to even fantasize about it in the past year.

    I am quite sure once they have a comfort level and some experience the condoms will be left behind.

    So on the whole I agree I may have wanted to smack Evan upside the head at several times I still love his character and understand his flaws.

    • Hi Aquina
      I think what I said about my two “concerns” were as follows

      >>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 issue was that he would not even acknowledge Matt as his partner even though they were living together, sharing a mortgage, and Matt was co-parenting his children. I thought that an entire year of living together would result in Evan showing Matt at least that much respect. His constant waffling among their friends had nothing to do with marching in Gay Pride Parades. As I said in the review, being a control freak probably had something to do with the way he acted. >>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. < < Re the condoms, it just seemed to me to be silly for two men who had lived together and hopefully had shared health information to use condoms. I was just surprised that they used them. But that's just me. Rating the book 5 stars showed how much I loved the story, and while I thought that Matt's characterization was brilliant, there was nothing wrong with Evan's character, other than my one comment about his refusal to acknowledge Matt which was the main reason they separated in F & F.

  • Another wonderful review, Wave. I’ve been waiting for Book 3 since I turned the last page of her previous novel. Jim & Griffin and Matt & Evan have become four of my favourite characters in any fiction genre. Next to Josh Lanyon, Tere Michaels’ storylines, characters and supporting cast are brilliant. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks again.

    • Hi MaDonna
      Thank you.
      I know you will love this story which is available today. Alll of the men are in Duty & Devotion so readers will benefit by getting them all together and you will love the dynamic between Evan and Griffin, Jim’s BF. Let me know how you like the book after you have read it.

  • OMG, this is coming out already?? Wonderful! I thought it wouldn’t be released until several weeks at best. Faith and Fidelity was such a great story, I’m glad the sequel meets our expectations! Although I probably ought ot read Love and Loyalty first.

    • Mary
      You don’t have to read Love & Loyalty because that story is about two different protagonists, Jim and Griffin. There is a bit of a crossover and this is a wonderful story in its own right, but it’s not another sequel to Faith & Fidelity – it stands on its own.

      Duty & Devotion is the sequel to F & F so if you read the first book you can go directly to D & D.

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