Tere Michaels’s Duty & Devotion
Length: Novel / 160 pages
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.
[Ok, why is it purple? I like the bottom half of the picture with the city and the police badge, though AGAIN naked chests. No one is shocked. Overall it’s a fine cover, just no clue why it’s purple.]
Tere Michaels is a must read author for me (among others). I’ve really enjoyed both of her previous books and Duty & Devotion is kind of a joint sequel for the two previous books. D&D focuses on Matt and Evan with some later help from visiting Jim and Griffin. The writing is as good as the other books and the characters are wonderful to revisit. Unfortunately as much as I enjoyed reading this offering, the story is choppier and lacks the same smooth effortless of previous books. Fans will want to read this and no doubt be delighted by revisiting the men and getting some closure on all four. There are a few more obvious problems in this offering that the entertainment factor doesn’t entirely overcome but for the most part, a very enjoyable and satisfying read.
Matt and Evan are re-introduced in a prologue that is actually a scene from Faith & Fidelity. This helps brings any readers that didn’t read F&F (and why haven’t you!) up to date and reminds fans of where the couple left after their emotional and tough road to happiness. Now several months later the two are in a new home, jointly bought, with Matt as the househusband taking care of the shopping, cooking, feeding, and kids while Evan is the same workaholic. The two men struggle to find a balance between their roles which are eerily similar to Evan relationship with his dead wife Sherri. It’s not exactly easy for these two men as they work out some significant issues with the help of a few friends.
The plot is mostly character driven as it revolves around Evan and Matt finding a balance in their new life together. Just over halfway through the story, Jim and Griffin make an entrance inciting fights, make ups, drama, and new understanding. They linger for a good portion of the story before letting Matt and Evan have some alone time to find a lasting resolution at the end. The pacing is pretty good and the story whips along incredibly fast. One of the best parts of the book is that it picks up only a few months after the last book left off so the characters and new events feel seamless, as if the other book hadn’t ended. Matt and Evan’s relationship is not all roses and happiness once they realize they’re in love but they still have to handle 4 children (one in college, one teen and two tweens) while their own emotions are starting to settle in after the honeymoon phase.
The sequel is not as emotionally powerful and striking as the first book, but that level of drama is hard to recreate. D&D doesn’t suffer from the lack of intensity since Evan is the same moody, emotional mess that can’t let go and enjoy his happiness while Matt is the same strong force that throws himself into everything full throttle. Matt is trying to differentiate him from Sherri and her mothering role even as he loves being the one keeping the house running and the family together. Evan’s journey is more introspective as he comes to grips with being in a relationship with a man and all that entails, including sexually. It is a realistic struggle to ignore the opinions of others as well as letting himself explore the occasionally scary new territories sexually. There is a lot of sex in this book, more so than I was expecting, but considering this is an issue between the two men, all the sex scenes are understandable. Matt and Evan haven’t “gone all the way” so to speak and thus their somewhat clumsy, stuttered attempts are depicted alongside the emotional highs and los they experience.
The few missteps I had with the book were including Jim and Griffin from Love & Loyalty. Although I adore these two and their humorous antics were welcome, they kind of lingered for too long. There are several scenes from Jim’s point of view beyond the incredibly awkward introduction dinner. Jim and Griffin help Evan come to terms with his new life as a gay (or bisexual) man but I personally wanted less of them. Their inclusion is important not only for Evan’s emotional advancement but it also gives Matt an outlet in a very peripheral way. So on the one hand these scenes tie intimately to the characters and the plot, but I also felt they took away from Matt and Evan and turned the story into an almost joint sequel. The other stumbles were several misspelled words and obvious mistakes in the writing/editing portion, including some name mix ups.
Overall another delightful offering from Michaels and one that fans will definitely want to read. Although you don’t have to read either previous books first, I would recommend it. The final resolutions are sweet, fitting, and have a very satisfying end that closes the chapter neatly on all characters involved. Hopefully the author will offer a new couple to entertain us in her next release. I look forward to it and in the meantime devour this and re-read the previous books, they’re worth it.
Get it HERE!