Title: Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion #2)
Author: Tere Michaels
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK
Detective James “Jim” Shea is a Seattle homicide detective who has never taken his work home with him – until now. A case has gotten under his skin and though it’s “over”, it isn’t for Jim. The emotional toll has left him vulnerable and tied to the victim’s dying father.
Hollywood comes calling for a hot story and screenwriter Griffin Drake sees the tragic case as his ticket to more serious fare than his usual action blockbusters. But to get the whole story he needs to win over the stoic and protective Detective Shea.
Neither man has had much luck when it comes to romance or long-term relationships and neither is particularly looking but the attraction from their first meeting can’t be denied. An impromptu first date seems to have no end in sight – and their romance takes on the resemblance of a freight train.
But things are tenuous as looming problems outside the blossoming relationship threaten the peace; death, secrets and broken trust complicate the already worried waters as two men without much experience in commitment attempt to remain true to each other.
Faith, Love, & Devotion Series
Detective Jim Shea was devastated. Not Guilty! He knew all along it was a possibility but when the verdict was read it was as if the courtroom held its breath. This was a clear cut case where the accused, rich and privileged Tripp Ingersoll, was guilty of murder, but the jury thought otherwise. Jim and his partner Terry Oh had pursued every lead in the case for two years and in the end it was all for nothing. The victim’s parents sat stunned, then a few minutes later there was another blow as the dead girl’s mother, Della Kelly, suffered a massive heart attack and died in the ambulance, leaving a grieving husband and father.
Six months later Jim is still angry at fate but life moves on. He was working almost 24/7 because he had no social life – he had not had a date in a year. His straight roommate of 5 years, with whom he had fancied himself in love, recently moved out when he got married, so Jim was living alone in his loft. At 45 he had no one in his life except well-meaning friends who were always anxious to fix him up and he was resisting them with all his might. The only person with whom he had any sort of relationship, because he felt responsible for the way the murder case ended, was Ed Kelly, the father of the murdered girl. When Ed told him that he had an offer from a Hollywood screenwriter to write his story and he was considering it, Jim was concerned. Ed had refused numerous other offers to film his family’s story so Jim was understandably curious to see the screenwriter, Griffin Drake and his sidekick, a movie actress named Daisy Baylor who had starred in a number of his box office blockbusters. When the pair arrived to discuss the project Jim was still not in favour of their proposal but since this was what Ed wanted, as a tribute to his wife and daughter, he went along with it but agreed to Ed’s request to protect his interest.
Shortly after their first meeting Griffin arranged to have dinner with Jim to discuss the project and they got on like a house on fire, so much so that they ended up in bed. After spending the night together neither one wanted to be parted from the other and Griffin stayed almost a week at Jim’s apartment, to the delight of his matchmaking friends. But all was not sweetness and light as Griffin found out to his cost. His best friend Daisy, whom he had known a long time and trusted implicitly, sold him out and there was a good chance that the project would end up as another “Hollywood production” rather than the respectful, sensitive tribute to the Kelly family that Griffin had planned. Daisy’s betrayal could mean the end of his relationship with Jim who would not take kindly to Ed being deceived, and Griffin needed all his resources and skill to try to prevent both the movie project and his romance from being derailed.
Those of you who read Faith & Fidelity will remember Jim as Matt’s one night hookup and I was pleased when I found out that Love & Loyalty would be Jim’s story since he was such a memorable character. When I read F & F I thought at the time that Tere Michaels was an extremely talented and gifted writer but I didn’t believe that the excellent writing and characterizations in that book could be duplicated – I was so wrong – her second book reinforced my respect for this author. The characters are so incredibly three-dimensional that you see their fragility and feel the emotions, not only between Jim and Griffin but also in the way that Jim cared for Ed who was dying and had no one else. The romance between Jim and Griffin exposed all their vulnerabilities and secrets and Jim, who was a large and intimidating man, opened like a flower under Griffin’s loving touch; Griffin was the only one who could get close to the real Jim, an enigma to just about everyone, although he did let in a few very close friends occasionally.
The lovemaking between these two characters was erotic, sensuous and at times so moving that it was almost painful to be in their heads. But just when you thought that the book was totally serious, the humour was laugh out loud and most of the fun seemed to occur during and after sex. After their first time together they were both awkward and here’s some of the dialogue
“So you know, this is like that weird moment when you drop someone off at the end of the night and aren’t sure if you should kiss them…” “We’re a little bit past that point.” “Yeah, clearly. I haven’t ever dropped anyone off at their front door naked.” “Good to know, good to know.”
“I had a very nice evening; thank you so much for dinner,” Jim said politely. Griffin snickered. “You’re so welcome, Jim. I hope I can call on you again.”
As usual Ms Michaels’ story is character-driven even though the plot was pretty complicated, involving dealing and double dealing and betrayal, and at times I wondered if there would ever be any resolution to the many issues. Possibly one of the most complex characters was brittle and weak Daisy Baylor, Griffin’s best friend who had starred in many of his movies but had no faith in herself or her own acting ability. Based on Daisy’s character and lifestyle, people in Hollywood live in an alternate universe! The other secondary characters were lovingly drawn – Detective Terry Oh, Jim’s partner, his wife Mimi, Ed Kelly and Jim’s friends. The prose and dialogue were both outstanding but the author saved her best work for her two protags. Griffin was 10 years younger than Jim and looked like a geek, but under that exterior he was intelligent, intuitive and loving and he was determined to show Jim that being close to someone did not mean you were weak. Tough guy Jim, who was obsessive about cleaning:) lived a solitary existence; for him work was everything, but his safe world was turned upside down by Griffin and he couldn’t be happier. This plot is very different from Faith & Fidelity so please don’t expect any similarities, except for the writing style, characterizations and plot development. g
Love & Loyalty is a standalone book and will be released by Loose Id on September 8. Highly recommended and definitely a keeper. IMO Ms Michaels has written another winner!