Love & Loyalty by Tere Michaels
Detective 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.
Meanwhile, 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 there’s an attraction from their first meeting that can’t be denied. Their impromptu first date seems to have no end in sight ~ quickly becomes a barreling freight train of romance.
Looming problems outside threaten their relationship ~ death, secrets and broken trust ~ and they’ll have to learn loyalty to save their new found love.
Tere Michael’s follow up to the popular "Faith & Fidelity" is an entirely different book and stands easily on its own for those that haven’t read the previous book. Other than a very brief phone conversation, the characters from "Faith & Fidelity" don’t appear in this book and therefore readers won’t be missing any context if they pick up "Love & Loyalty" first. Other than the high quality writing and wonderful characterization, there are very few similarities between the stories. "Love & Loyalty" has a depth of emotion and a richness to the characters that comes across very well, but the hints of humor keep the story moving quickly and easily. Therefore while this is a solid and highly entertaining story, it lacks the emotional impact of the first book. That’s ok and readers will definitely want to read this book, as it’s a thoroughly engaging story.
Jim Shea is still dealing with the emotional impact of a not-guilty jury verdict in the last homicide case he worked. As a result, he’s become close to the victim’s father and is asked to consult on a movie project being proposed about the case and family. Jim isn’t sure the movie is a good idea but the screenwriter, Griffin Drake, is certainly good to look at. When Jim and Griffin go on an extended first date, the two start to wonder about a potential future when neither knows the meaning of healthy commitment. At the same time, some undiscovered details threaten to derail Griffin’s movie project and could impact their burgeoning romance.
The plot itself is perhaps the weaker aspect of the book, although not by much. The story moves swiftly as a mix of character driven and plot driven action. The characters get together rather quickly and although there are some doubts and concerns about the ease of their relationship, neither questions it much at first or even later. The side-plot involving both men’s jobs and the movie deal is interesting but really without much weight. The various twists the story takes are quick and keep the action always moving, culminating in a surprisingly fast read. The characters themselves are fresh, sharp, witty, and thoroughly engaging, which makes up for any lack of substance in the plot. Unfortunately the ending left several issues partially resolved, but that doesn’t take away any enjoyment from the story, which is a true testament to the good writing.
The characters really shine with the rich emotion and texture that colors each unique individual. From Jim’s obsessive cleanliness to Griffin’s adorable love of the bed and even Daisy’s bitter, unhappy attention seeking ~ each of the cast is fully developed and three dimensional with an honesty to their personality that connects to the reader. Jim and Griffin especially have an instant chemistry and an exciting relationship with their banter and witty commentary that makes an enjoyable story and immerses the reader into their world so much you forget it’s a story you’re reading and enjoy the journey with the characters. I almost wish there had been less outside influence as the story is less engaging when the focus shifts from Jim and Griffin together. However, the scenes between Griffin and Daisy are wonderfully written and show a dynamic, complex, and flawed relationship in its fragile beauty. All of the supporting characters are well drawn and none, even Lina and Jules, have a purpose and real uniqueness to their character regardless of how little or how often they are seen.
The writing as I’ve said is solid with a deft hand in delivering intense emotion alongside whimsy and humor. The light touch keeps the story from being too dark and melodramatic even as the themes of murder, death, betrayal, heartache, and fear are all apart of the story. Interestingly this light touch leaves the book with a somewhat disconnected feeling and lacking the weight and impact of the first book, yet this is great for an absorbing, well written, and enjoyable story. Fans of the author will definitely want to pick up this offering and those new to Michaels, but fans of great stories in the m/m romance genre, won’t be disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and eagerly await any new books by this author, either stand-alone books or sequels.
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