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

33 comments

  • I can’t wait to read this! I also can’t BELIEVE I have to wait until Tuesday to buy it *stomps foot in impersonation of my 4 year old nephew*….Oh well, this will give me a chance to review Faith and Fidelity cause I have short-term memory loss lol! Thanks Wave for the wonderful review, I know I will not be disappointed, you seem to know EXACTLY what I like *BIG SMILE*

    • Elaine
      Instant gratification is not everything. Anticipation is the name of the game. You will love this book AND the characters. Just re-read F & F to get you in the mood. 🙂

  • I have been waiting for and anticipating this book for quite a while. I loved your review and can’t wait to ‘pick it up’ as soon as I can on Tuesday. Hmm, maybe I can sneak in a quick re-read of F&F before then…

    • Danae
      That’s the advice I gave Elaine. Re-read F & F to remind you of why you love these characters. Tere did a wonderful job on the sequel and I know you will love the story.

    • Hi Lily
      Most of the time I’m disappointed by sequels because they miss the boat, but not here. Tere Michaels did a great job on the plot and the characters and I know you will like this book as much as F & F.

  • I was well aware that this one is coming out this Tuesday!. I even added this book at Goodreads this weekend.

    Now I wait 🙂

  • Oh, Wave, you tease! I’m jealous that you got to read/review this a bit early. I’m very happy (and quite unsurprised) that you gave this five stars.

    Re. her next book being M/F–I haven’t read any M/F erotica/romance, but I may have to follow her there. But I got a chuckle out of Alexi’s “Once you go gay, it’s gay all the way.” comment. 😉

    Condoms: It sounds like it’s not explained in-story, but this can be a complicated issue, sometimes not even relating to disease at all. Maybe they don’t like cum, maybe they just don’t like a mess, maybe they just aren’t good about talking about certain things…. (shrug) Just throwing some possibilities out there. I liked Leslie’s “latex fetish” comment, BTW!

    • Kendall
      I’m just trying to beat you at your own game. 🙂

      Alexi was really funny but I agree totally. I used to read het years ago but no more, even if I really love an author. Many of my favourite M/M authors have asked me to review their het stories but I had to turn them down.

      Re some of your explanations – if you have oral sex and swallow, according to most reports using a condom for sex is like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. However, I’m not a medical expert. 🙂 Maybe Leslie is right about a latex fetish. 🙂

  • Hi Wave – Great review. Glad to hear this one was good. I had the same concerns about a sequel – they so rarely hold up to the original. And I really loved F&F.
    That condom thing is weird if they are co-parenting and own a house. Perhaps since Evan was not ready to accept that he was truly gay, this was his way of distancing himself from the act.
    Can’t wait to read this. Thanks again.

    • Hi TJ
      I just thought it was weird to use a condom with someone who had been your partner for a year. This and Evan’s characterization at times were the only niggles that I had. The book itself was great and Tere did a fabulous job on the plot, Matt’s characterization, and everyone else. She’s a terrific writer.

  • Great review, Wave. Thanks. I liked Tere’s other two books so I am looking forward to this one. My TBR pile just keeps growing.

    Re: condoms…maybe Matt or Evan or both have a latex fetish and that’s why they use them. That is within the realm of probability. Or, maybe it’s because of Matt’s one-time indiscretion with Jim–Evan isn’t entirely ready to trust 100%? Sounds like that reason might be in line with the other control freak aspects of his personality. Just a thought.

    L

    • Hi Leslie
      This was a really enjoyable book. Tere is such a terrific writer and she gets better with each book.

      My issue with the condom has to do with the obligatory “show the condom” that seems to permeate M/M romances (I don’t know about het because I don’t read them). Matt’s one night stand with Jim took place before he and Evan set up house – so it was more than a year ago – and one would assume that they both would have had the necesssary medical tests done before embarking on such a serious relationship, especially since children were involved. However, that’s me.

      • Maybe the condom thing is another way for Evan to keep a barrier (so to speak) between himself and Matt? Having the tests and going bare is a big step for a gay couple, and it calls for a kind of trust and commitment that it sounds like Evan is struggling with in this book. But if the issue isn’t addressed at all, I can see how it would strike a jarring note, maybe.

        Anyhoo, I’ve loved both Tere Michael’s books so far and I seriously cannot wait to get my hot little hands on this one. When I saw your review I got all excited because I thought maybe it had come out early (grumps) but I’m definitely going to be reading this the second it’s available.

        • Alexi
          >>Having the tests and going bare is a big step for a gay couple, and it calls for a kind of trust and commitment that it sounds like Evan is struggling with in this book. < < I thought that the commitment of assuming a mortgage and rearing 4 kids should have been more than enough to show that you trust someone. However the condom issue was not addressed in the book exceopt when it showed up during their getaway. Sometimes I sneak a review in a couple of days before the book is released to see if you're awake. You will definitely enjoy this one because it's packed with content.

          • Hi Wave,

            Well, when you put it like that I can see why it bothered you. I think Tere Michaels is one of those authors (like Josh Lanyon, say, or Z A Maxfield) whose writing and characterisation is so brilliant that tiny little mistakes really stand out, because you expect so much.

            I see on the author’s website that she’s working on an m/f story next (sob) so I guess we need to make the best of this one, since it’ll be a while before we get a new m/m story from her.

  • I am excited about this sequel, so thanks for the glowing review 🙂 I think the sequel is justified, as in F&F, Evan was kind of convinced himself to accept his desire for Matt, there’s always this danger that he hasn’t fully accepted his new “status”.

    I do think Matt’s encounter with Jim has helped Matt accepted his sexuality. Evan, on the other hand, didn’t have that experience and also has the guilt issue over his wife to deal with.

    can’t wait to get my hands on it! 🙂

    • Eve
      At times I wanted to slap Evan because he didn’t seem to realize how much he was hurting Matt. Yet when Jim came to town he couldn’t contain his jealousy. However the characterization seemed to fit because of his personality.

      Clearly they loved each other and there’s a whole lot more to the story that you will enjoy especially Matt’s relationship with the kids and their adventures going grocery shopping. 🙂 Don’t miss this. It’s a treat.

  • Thank you for this review. I loved Faith and Fidelity and had a bit mixed feelings about a sequel, anticipating the same you mentioned, that more often than not the sequels do not come up to the first books. But now I’m looking forward to reading this.

    • Hi Feliz
      There’s a whiole lot more to this book that you will enjoy, but I emphasized the guys’ relationship in the review since I know that fans of F & F would be interested in that aspect to the story.

      I think you will enjoy this book – I sure did.

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