4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Lynn, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Tere Michaels

Review: Who Knows the Dark by Tere Michaels

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Title: Who Knows the Dark (The Vigilante: Book Two)

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: For those wanting excitement and non-stop action with a little mystery thrown in, Who Knows the Dark is definitely for you.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: A wanted man after the destruction of the Iron Butterfly Casino, Nox Boyet must flee the island of Manhattan—the only home he’s ever known. Together with Cade, Sam, and the rest of their ragtag group, Nox must find a place to hide from the District Police and the violent group of unknown drug dealers on his tail.

The solution—the Creel family farm in South Carolina.

But home isn’t quite sweet for Cade, the prodigal son. As Cade struggles with his own secrets, shadows of the past threaten not only Nox’s life, but his relationship with his son, Sam.

Nox knows there will never be peace unless he finds the answers to all his questions—and the answers lie back on the island. Cade and the others must choose their paths—find safety or follow the Vigilante into the darkness of the city? The city where Nox will come face-to-face with the past.

Dividers

Review: I’m quite familiar with Tere Micheals, having read almost everything she’s written. While this story is far removed from what I’m used to reading from her, I must say, I’m in love.

First and foremost, you must read these books in order, starting with Who Knows the Storm (Vigilante #1)Who Knows the Dark picks up right where the first one ended. Escaping the city and running for their lives, this colorful group of characters keep you on the edge of your seat and the pages turning.

I love the world the author created in this series. We get the familiarity of places we know well, like New York City. Everything is so vastly different, but still recognizable. The dystopian setting is amazing to read. The author’s descriptions of the destruction caused by the storms are so clear you can actually see ruins in your head.

Now, there’s a lot going on in this story. We’re in so many heads that it’s hard to keep up at times. This isn’t one of those books you can casually set down and come back to. (Though, why you would want to put it down is beyond me.) Anyways, this story moves, and it moves fast. I loved the quick pace and the ‘I wanna know what’s going to happen next’ feeling this book gave me. A very exciting read.

We know most of the characters from the first book. Nox is still trying to protect Sam at all costs, which includes struggling with telling Sam the truth. Part of me wanted Nox to get over it and just tell Sam already. Another part knows the sacrifice and commitment Nox has made to keep up his facade, so I get his situation. Even after this second book, I’m still not sure how I feel about this character. He’s just so serious all the time. I know he’s been through a lot and feels it’s his responsibility to keep everyone safe, I get it. But geesh dude, get some humor, will ya? Lighten up.

Cade, with his on again/off again feelings for Nox, has become quite helpful. Bringing a group of people on the run to his childhood home may not be really smart, but it’s the only choice they have. I wasn’t too sure when I first met him, but he’s proven himself loyal to Nox. He’s a survivor and is quick to abandon his own safety to help Nox. He’s a keeper.

And while we really don’t get a lot of time in Sam’s head, I feel as though I have to mention him. In the first story he was sheltered from the real ugliness of the city. Here, we see him in a budding relationship, coming of age in an unsettled world, and having to deal with Nox’s secret. That’s a lot to take on all at once. I’m hoping we see how he’s handling everything all in the next book.

For me, I didn’t connect with the main characters – I liked some okay, and others I could take or leave – but I’m enthralled by this story. Usually if I don’t have that bond with the characters, I don’t enjoy the book. Not so with this one. Ms. Michaels’ writing and storytelling expertise keeps me coming back for more. I’m loving each story, and the series as a whole, so I guess I don’t have to really dig the characters individually. I’m okay with that.

As for the other characters, they were great. Like I said before, we get POVs from many. Some backstories – which I loved – really helped explain why they were the way they were. We meet Cade’s parents and brother, whose computer hacking skills are a major asset to them. Mason and Jenny from the first story are back, along with many others. They all contributed to the story and made it that much more exciting.

Overall, I’m really enjoying this journey. For those wanting excitement and non-stop action with a little mystery thrown in, Who Knows the Dark is definitely for you.

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You can buy Who Knows the Dark here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna, Tere Michaels

Audio Review: Cherish & Blessed by Tere Michaels – Narrated by J.P. Handler

Audio Gem

Title: Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love & Devotion: Books Four & Five)

Author: Tere Michaels

Narrator: J.P. Handler

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 5 Hours and 46 Minutes

At a Glance: Two wonderful and insightful stories giving us more glimpses into the life and family that Evan and Matt (one of my favorite characters of all time) are building together.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Cherish

After several years of happy coupledom, Matt and Evan can relax in the knowledge that their little family has survived the worst of it. The two older girls are away at college, the twins have yet to fully hit teen angst, Matt is doing well with his part time security consulting, and Evan is about to be promoted to captain—it seems like things are calm and bright.

Until they aren’t.

As the holidays approach, Evan and Matt get a shock no parent is ever prepared for: feisty Miranda, Evan’s eldest, has a new boyfriend, Kent, and they are talking marriage after just three months together. In fact, Miranda wants to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner—along with his parents, Blake and Cornelia.

Blessed

Lives are in transition as everyone gathers at the stunning Hamptons beach home of Daisy and Bennett to celebrate the christening of their new baby. Griffin and Jim—secretly growing tired of their rootless lifestyle—are in a rocky spot in their relationship. And as the godfather, Griffin finds himself yearning for something he’s sure Jim won’t be interested in.

Fatherhood.

Matt and Evan are looking to reconnect during the long weekend, as their respective careers pull them in separate directions. With less time spent together, Evan grows concerned about what will happen when the last two kids leave the nest.

Dividers

Review: This combination of two shorter episodes in the lives of Evan and Matt gives us more insight into how they are adjusting to combining their households and lives. Once again, Matt is the standout character for me in this series. He is the real glue that holds this couple and this family together, much to the chagrin of Miranda. He calms Evan, takes charge when needed, backs off when things get too hot to handle and pretty much absorbs the shockwaves of this family.

Matt and Evan have moved to a new house and have settled pretty comfortably into their lives together. Matt’s got his work and he still takes on the bulk of the household and child care responsibilities. His relationship with the twins is good, and he’s still closest to Katie. Of course, Miranda continues to be a thorn in everyone’s side. But never has she purposely tried to ruin everyone’s holiday and, in the process, potentially sacrifice what might be a solid relationship. As someone who has been through some pretty tense family holidays, I couldn’t help but shake my head at her antics (well, more like throttle her – not unlike my reaction to my own family, at times) and congratulate Evan and Matt on how they handled the whole situation. The other kids all get gold stars for doing their best to diffuse the uncomfortable circumstances. Comic relief is once again provided by Evan’s partner, and she definitely has some of the great lines in this story.

In Blessed, we get to visit not only with Evan and Matt but also Jim and Griffin as they all visit Daisy and Bennett’s beach house for the christening of their daughter. Evan and Matt have taken their relationship to a new level and are looking forward to a weekend sans children! The packing for this trip is hilarious, and I continue to adore Matt.

Jim and Griffin are at a bit of a crossroads in their relationship and they are having some trouble expressing their desires to each other. Evan and Matt see this and try to help by talking to their respective friends. Matt helps Jim sort out what he’s feeling, and Evan helps Griffin realize that he has to be honest with Jim. In the end, everyone has a great time, big decisions get made, and there will be new plans on the horizon.

Finally, we also get to enjoy a weekend away for Matt and Evan with no distractions, no kids, no commitments to anyone else – just a focus on themselves. They get down to the heart of their relationship, and it’s really sweet. Evan still struggles with expressing his feelings, but he’s come a long way. These guys are so fun to watch grow together, and it’s nice to see them work through their relationship and continue to move forward together.

I continue to love this series and while I still hear some Canadianisms in the narrator, I really enjoy his characterizations. I especially loved it that at one point he pronounced khaki like cocky. ;) I’m guessing he must have taken Geoff Knight’s pronunciation course!

 

 

 

You can buy Cherish & Blessed here:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Tere Michaels

Review: Groomzilla by Tere Michaels

Title: Groomzilla

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 160 Pages

At a Glance: Tere Michaels is a great storyteller, and this novel had lovely moments of passion and humor, but, unfortunately, the plot felt a bit rough around the edges.

Blurb: When drama threatens to ruin a romance on a reality show, only a true friend can save a groomzilla’s wedding.

Daniel Green, an event planner with a neat, quiet, orderly life, reluctantly agrees to plan the wedding of his childhood friend Ander, an outrageous fashion designer soon to marry a wealthy entertainment lawyer named Rafe. To complicate matters, the happy couple have agreed to have their wedding made into a reality show—something that practical Daniel isn’t sold on.

Daniel is neither a romantic nor a wedding planner, but he’s the only person in the world who can manage Ander. Distracting him from his mission is Owen Grainger, a too-handsome-to-be-true producer whose quiet charm pulls Daniel into his orbit.

When the stress of the show triggers bad behavior from Ander, co-producer Victor Pierce decides it’s the key to a ratings bonanza, and he begins to undermine Ander and Rafe’s relationship to create more drama. Daniel is determined to protect his friend and his own reputation, but when he finds himself falling hard for Owen, there’s much more at stake than ratings.

Dividers

Review: Tere Michaels sends up a humorous look at a wildly talented control freak and his best friend as they wade into the pre-matrimony waves of wedding planning. Daniel has known Ander nearly all his life, and fully accepts that his friend will gleefully stick his nose into every aspect of Daniel’s life if it means both of them will get a happy-ever-after. Now, Ander has gone one step beyond crazy and signed on to have him and his fiancée, Rafe, be part of a documentary filming every aspect of their upcoming nuptials. He has asked Daniel to be the wedding planner, but little do both know that reality TV is about to wreak havoc on their lives in more than a few ways.

When Daniel meets one of the producers, Owen, he is instantly smitten and definitely in lust. However, Owen hides more than a few secrets, and Daniel has been left behind one too many times to trust that theirs is little more than a meeting of convenience with great sex attached. As time moves on, Daniel will find himself falling hard for Owen, Ander will begin to doubt Rafe really wants to marry, and the sumptuous wedding all had planned may not be the happy-ever-after all had expected.

Groomzilla is a bit of a wild romp. With snappy dialogue and a completely off-the-charts group of characters, the novel moved swiftly and kept me on my toes. There were times when Ander crossed the line from humorous diva into a somewhat nasty and controlling best friend, which surprised me. I felt that the author was going for something warmer and loving when, in reality, Ander was downright obnoxious and rude to Daniel, particularly when it came to emotional blackmail and getting his way. However, Daniel really counterbalanced those moments by having incredible patience with his bestie, and knowing exactly how to handle Ander’s passionate tantrums.

Owen’s character was the basis for the mystery element in the novel. Here and there throughout the novel, we learned just enough about his past and the current business relationship with his smarmy partner, Victor, to keep us wondering exactly how these two hooked up and why Owen seemed to endure a horrible work environment. Unfortunately, it was this plot point that weakened the story for me. I kept expecting to read more about Owen’s dark past. He was obviously struggling with the need to punish himself physically, as was evidenced by extreme workouts and the near constant popping of antacids. Anorexia was touched upon, and Daniel was shown as being concerned with the fact that Owen never seemed to eat, but again, this element was never fully developed or resolved. Yet, there were so many references to it that I felt at some point Owen should have gotten professional help.

I did enjoy how both Owen and Daniel rallied to fix the dilemma near the end of the story. I felt the wrap-up was both sweet and realistic, given Ander’s character and his volatile behavior. However, here again, I thought it was odd that Owen locked himself away from Daniel to finish the film, leaving our hero to wonder if he was ever going to return and pick up the pieces of their tenuous relationship. The way in which they abruptly parted, post-wedding, left me wondering if I had misread the previous romantic gestures and promises they had made to each other, particularly since Daniel “took to his bed” in despair for four days while Owen failed to contact him at all due to his working feverishly to complete the project.

All in all, it was these small, puzzling moments that added up to make Groomzilla less cohesive than it could have been. Don’t misinterpret, Tere Michaels is a great storyteller, and this novel had lovely moments of passion and humor, but, unfortunately, the plot felt a bit rough around the edges, and the story resolved a bit too quickly for me.

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna, Tere Michaels

Audio Review: Duty & Devotion by Tere Michaels – Narrated by JP Handler

Audio Gem

Title: Duty & Devotion

Author: Tere Michaels

Narrator: JP Handler

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 5 Hours and 21 Minutes

At a Glance: A really engaging and enjoyable follow-up for Evan and Matt from Faith & Fidelity, as they – and their relationship – continue to evolve.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

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.

Dividers

Review: Note: Duty & Devotion is book three in what is, so far, a five book series. I don’t recommend reading/listening to this one until you’ve at least read book one, as there are numerous spoilers. It’s not completely necessary to have read book two, but I would recommend reading that one before reading/listening to book four.

Let me start by saying that Matt Haight is one of my favorite characters in the genre. I love, love, love his personality. The contrast between Matt and Evan is part of what makes this couple so much fun. Evan is still, in some ways, very uptight, but Matt, with his wit and charm and ability to push Evan, keep them going. While I think both of them have some fears about their relationship and what it means – for their careers, the kids, the future – Matt is able to sense Evan’s reluctance and help him over the humps of living.

In this book, Matt and Evan are together, they have moved to a new house, Miranda is in college, and Katie and the twins are at home and taking the majority of Matt’s focus. He has built pretty solid relationships with these kids. Evan continues to work too much, and in some ways he takes Matt for granted – realizing, even as he’s doing it, that he is repeating the patterns of his relationship with Sherry. He also seems to have a pretty jealous streak that comes to the fore when it comes to Matt and his friendship with Jim Shea. He can sort of deal with it when Jim stays on the West Coast, but when he comes to town with his boyfriend Griffin, this brings up all kinds of issues for Evan.

While he agrees to dinner with Jim and Griffin, he definitely doesn’t deal well with the situation. He’s jealous of Matt’s relationship with Jim, and finds himself dealing with other very new emotions when he’s around Jim and Griffin. A crisis that confronts everyone leads to a lot of revelations and epiphanies for Matt and Evan – some that will change their relationship entirely.

There continues to be a lot of humor and warmth in this series – mostly centered around Matt and his relationships – with the kids, Evan, his friends and new friends. Evan’s coworkers are still supportive and also add a good dose of reality checks and humor. Heavy moments, and especially Evan still dealing with so many mixed emotions, the chief of them being guilt, add to the drama of the story. But, as usual, there is a great balance of light and dark, humor and pathos, and fun and games.

The narrator continues to do a good job with the characterizations in this series. I particularly like his way of conveying Matt’s playful side, but he also imbues him with both serious and realistic traits as well. Highly recommended for lovers of this series.







 

You can buy Duty & Devotion here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Tere Michaels

Review: Truth & Tenderness by Tere Michaels

Title: Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love & Devotion: Book Six)

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: This story is filled with emotion and real life struggles. I was totally wrapped up in it.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Newly promoted police captain Evan Cerelli takes command of his own precinct as Matt Haight’s security business begins to expand at a rapid rate. Both of their careers require more and more of their time—away from home and each other. When his most famous clients, Daisy and Bennett Ames, suffer a traumatic breakup, Matt is drawn into a dangerous and dramatic situation. With attentions diverted, Evan and Matt’s tight-knit home life begins to unravel.

As Griffin Drake’s movie nears final edit, his thoughts turn toward building a home with his new fiancé, Jim Shea—and maybe even starting a family. Before he can think of a new family, Jim is caught up in his past. The possibility of putting Tripp Ingersoll in jail once and for all beckons, and Jim wants the closure that has long eluded him. As a new lead spurs him on, Jim begins to lose sight of the future by chasing an old ghost.

Both couples struggle to remember that “happily ever after” requires hard work, trust, and tender, open hearts.

Dividers

Review: Evan, Matt, and the gang are back for more adventures in the city! I am sooooo in love with Evan and Matt, I just can’t explain how much, but if I have one pet peeve about Trust & Tenderness, it is that there was too much focus on the supporting characters and not enough of Evan and Matt. Yes, I know I always say that I wanted more of the supporting characters, but here, less would have been more. But, I loved this peek into their lives nonetheless.

Evan and Matt have settled into a routine. Matt’s security business has taken off. Evan is now a captain and has his own precinct, albeit a trophy one and he still feels that he got the job because he is gay rather than on his merits. Jim and Griffin have moved to the East Coast. Jim is in business with Matt and Griffin, and is finishing his first major movie production. Both are restless and are wondering what the next step is. Is a baby the answer? And…you’ll need to read the book to find out. Jim’s past also catches up with him, and there is some excitement. Let’s just say that loose ends are neatly tied up!

Daisy and Bennett have hit a rough patch in their marriage. Bennett has an affair with an old boyfriend. I thought this was a very interesting situation since Bennett was always perceived as gay, but he winds up with a woman. It sort of mirrors Evan and Matt’s experiences with the opposite sex, and I really liked how it was played out. Love and life are not always black and white—there are a lot of gray areas. I thought Bennett’s confusion and reactions were very real, and it was good to see that Daisy was not a pushover and finally realized her worth.

Now, back to Matt and Evan! These two just burn up the pages! Matt has a “rival” for Evan’s affection. But Evan is so unaffected by other guys that he’s oblivious. It was pretty funny watching Matt go all caveman and “he’s mine,” because it seemed that Matt hasn’t had those feelings about anyone before! A little bit of jealousy can be really hot. Just a little. And, more Matt and Evan.

In the end there’s a public wedding, a baby, and a secret wedding. This story is filled with emotion and real life struggles. I was totally wrapped up in it. Ms. Michaels, please don’t leave us hanging, and tell us when Evan and Matt’s honeymoon story is coming out? If you are a fan of the Faith, Love & Devotion series like me, you’ll be plenty satisfied but will be left wanting more, more, and more, but in a good way!

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Tere Michaels

Review: Duty & Devotion by Tere Michaels

Title: Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love & Devotion: Book Three)

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Duty & Devotion was a well-written and compassionate look at what it takes for two men to come to terms with the rest of their lives.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: A year after deciding to share their lives, Matt and Evan are working on their happily ever after—which isn’t as easy as it looks. As life settles down into a routine, Matt finds happiness in his role as the ideal househusband of Queens, New York, but he worries about Evan’s continued workaholic—and emotionally avoidant—ways. Trying to juggle his evolving relationship with Evan and his children, Matt turns to his friend, former Seattle Homicide Detective Jim Shea.

The continued friendship between Matt and Jim is a thorn in Evan’s side. Jealous and uncomfortable with imagining their brief affair, Evan struggles to come to terms with what being in a committed relationship with a man means, and the implications about his love for his deceased wife, the impact on his children, and how other people will view him. His turmoil threatens his relationship with Matt, who worries that Evan will once again chose a life without him. But now, the stakes are much higher.

Dividers

Review: With the third installment of Tere Michaels’ Faith, Love, & Devotion series, we return to the domestic life of Evan and Matt and their rowdy brood. The oldest, Miranda, is off at college, leaving the younger three, and Matt as a househusband, chief bottle washer, and cook. Apparently having given up on the idea of returning to college, Matt is still seeking to find that thing which can be his alone. Evan is a near disaster as he simultaneously pushes Matt away in public, seeing him as a dirty secret, and loves him with everything he is worth in private. The children adore Matt and add a really light touch to this ongoing angsty relationship.

Evan must somehow come to terms with having Matt be a visible presence in his life, and Matt, who has the patience of Job, tries his best to be aware of all of Evan’s worries and fears. A visit from Jim and his lover Griffin sends Evan into a tailspin, initially, but it is actually Griffin who will help Evan realize he must either fully commit to Matt, or set him loose. Throw in a wounded set of in-laws and Evan’s crazy work schedule, and you have a recipe for near disaster that only Evan can fix.

I enjoyed this revisit with Matt and Evan much more than the first time. Matt is just a delight. Sarcastic, endlessly patient, and remarkable with the kids, he not only keeps Evan tethered to sanity but forgives him all his foibles—and Evan has lots of those. Evan is a mess—inside, this man is more turmoil and doubt than anyone should have to carry around. It’s the labeling that really scares him. Is he gay? Bisexual? Was his marriage really a sham? On and on goes the litany of questions and fears that Evan cannot seem to put aside, and through it all, Matt stands stoic, loving, and committed.

Tere Michaels delved deep into the emotional lives of her characters in this novel. I felt like these guys were living, breathing people who were dealing with real world issues and just doing their best not to lose sight of how much they loved each other. Nothing in this novel was easy or trite; instead, these men clawed and fought their way through every up and down and took such huge steps with each other that really required huge trust. And that is exactly what made this novel so good—the building trust that Evan has for Matt, and Matt’s unwavering loyalty to his man. Duty & Devotion was a well-written and compassionate look at what it takes for two men to come to terms with the rest of their lives.






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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Tere Michaels

Audio Review: Love & Loyalty by Tere Michaels – Narrated by JP Handler

Title: Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love & Devotion: Book Two)

Author: Tere Michaels

Narrator:: JP Handler

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 5 Hours, 32 Minutes

At a Glance: I can honestly say that the audio version of Love & Loyalty was a wonderful way to spend a pleasant few hours

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: 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.

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 newfound love.

Dividers

Review: Love & Loyalty, book two in Tere Michaels’ Faith, Love & Devotion series, focuses on Jim Shea, the one night stand in that awkward moment in Faith & Fidelity when Matt succumbs to his loneliness after the initial breakup with Evan. Jim, an out of town cop, also needed intimacy with another guy in order to forget the stifling crush he had on his soon to be married roommate, Ben. Jim is back home and about to hear the verdict in a case he has more than just a passing interest in. When the verdict is revealed, and even more tragedy strikes the couple who lost their only daughter, Jim steps in to care for the ailing spouse left behind.

The case had garnered national attention, and Griffin Drake, a successful screenwriter, descends with his best friend and screen starlet, Daisy Mae, to wrap up a deal that will ensure the story is handled with grace and respect. But all is not gold in Hollywood, and Griffin is about to feel the sting of his best friend’s betrayal, which sends him straight into the arms of a silent, aloof cop who is best described as a loner. Jim, still pining for Ben, is stunned when he finds he is attracted to the sarcastic and affable Griffin. But surely this heady lust could not be misconstrued as love, or could it?

First, let me remark that I felt there was a huge change in this author’s approach to this second novel. Gone was the heavy angst of the previous book and instead, there was a lively story that captivated me completely. Lighter, witty, sarcastic, and just downright sweet, Love & Loyalty was a lovely novel of two different worlds colliding to form a gorgeous partnership. I must admit I simply adored Griffin; he was such an incredibly fun foil to Jim’s more dour and reluctant character. He teased such sweetness from Jim—much like Matt did in that short vignette in book one. This was a sweet story, shorter yet more complete in many ways than the first, the angst minimal, rather more time spent on discovering who these two people are and what makes them tick.

In keeping with this change in the author’s voice, the narrator, JP Handler, used a vastly different voice—deeper, gruffer and much more natural sounding. I felt that he really captured the essence of these characters with his tone and inflection. There was more variety in his pacing, and the speed of this narration was smoother and lighter. Granted, this was a great deal less heavy than the first book, but I felt JP Handler has developed better skill in varying his voicing of the characters. The only down side of Mr. Handler’s interpretation was that tendency to go breathy and a smidge high for both Griffin and Daisy. I felt that the style of voice used for Griffin made him just a tad bit too effeminate. Other than that little glitch, I really felt JP Handler grew into his craft with this novel, and look forward to hearing him do more work that will continue to stretch his abilities as a narrator.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The story was refreshing and sweet, the narration nearly spot on and playful. I can honestly say that the audio version of Love & Loyalty was a wonderful way to spend a pleasant few hours with a delightfully tender love story.






You can buy Love & Loyalty here:

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Tere Michaels

Audio Review: Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels – Narrated by JP Handler

Title: Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love & Devotion: Book One)

Author: Tere Michaels

Narrator:: JP Handler

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 Hours, 48 Minutes

At a Glance: I think my biggest issue with the novel, overall, was that it dragged on in places.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: New York City Vice Detective Evan Cerelli has lost his wife, the only person he ever loved and slept with. He’s trying to get on with his life, build a life for his children. Former Homicide Detective Matt Haight is a ladies’ man, all sex/no commitment. He’s depressed, having a midlife crisis, and not sure where his life is headed.

The two find friendship in the bottom of a shared bottle. When the friendship turns to love, it shakes two straight men to the core and flips their lives inside out. Kids, families, careers that are not gay-friendly — can all the love in the world overcome the obstacles to faith and fidelity?

Dividers

Review: Normally I would not give a disclaimer about my reviews but I feel it is important for you to know how I based my review on the narrator of this audiobook. A good portion of my high school and college years were spent speaking competitively. I received high honors, particularly in the area of Dramatic Interpretation, which included acting out scenes from plays with noted changes in pitch of voice, subtle nuances of both tempo and facial expressions, to indicate a different character, etc. I tell you this because when one is listening to an audiobook, it is vital for a narrator to change both tone and pitch to delineate the many speakers in the novel, particularly when there isn’t a “he said” attached to the dialogue. So, without further qualifiers, let’s take a look at the audio version of Tere Michael’s Faith & Fidelity, and the dulcet tones of its narrator, JP Handler.

This story revolves around two needy and wounded men finding each other, first in friendship. Theirs was a relationship built on mutual need, Evan having lost the love of his life and carrying enormous guilt over the fact his career as a cop kept him away from his family for long hours. He is mired in grief, and his four children live a half-life of sorts due to his inability to move past the loss of their mother. He is so tortured and so heavily invested in his memories that he cannot bring himself to date or even consider ridding his bedroom of his wife’s things. As a result, he sleeps on the sofa and moves through life in an almost zombie-like state, until he meets Matt Haight.

Matt works for a security firm, having lost his job as a cop due to his tendency toward angry outbursts and shooting off his mouth at the wrong time. Having angered some high-up politicians, he was booted from the force, and grieves the loss of his position every day. He finds his solace in the bottle of booze that is never far from him. When he is invited to a retirement party for a fellow cop, Matt attends with a great deal of trepidation and a healthy slug of alcohol to give him courage. When he meets Evan, there is a certain appeal to the guy, and they end up meeting to shoot the breeze. One get-together leads to another, and before they know it, these two have become best friends, and then…something more.

I enjoyed this novel for many reasons. I felt the two men and their attraction and horror over their attraction was very realistic. I appreciated the grief that consumed Evan, and found the way he interacted with his in-laws and children to be spot on—tinged with such sadness and remorse. I think my biggest issue with the novel, overall, was that it dragged on in places. Utilizing a changing point-of-view in the story I felt allowed things to keep on rolling—I had no problem with that at all. But the heavy-handed approach to Evan’s character—I felt that tended to weigh down the flow of the story overall. While I understood his angst over being “found out” in his relationship with Matt, I struggled with his not gradually letting go of his dead wife. Consequently, the fast resolve at the end of the novel left me uncertain if he was going to be able to be with Matt for a long-term future.

Speaking of the end, I also felt the quick turnaround by Matt in accepting Evan’s desire to reignite their love for each other to be way too easy and quick. Given the incredibly emotional breakup they endured, and then the abrupt turnaround—the story felt unfinished to me. Plus, there was unfinished business between these two men and no explanation of all they had done while apart—both having gone through some really emotional things. I realize this was a set up for future installments in the series, but I felt the final chapters of this novel sped up to the point where the storyline suffered.

As to the narration of the story, JP Handler certainly captured the emotional tone and angst of the novel. His trembling voice gave such resonance to the sadness inherent in Evan’s character. The sarcastic and deflective cadence to Matt’s voice really allowed me to understand the way he tended to hide his fragile emotional state over his inability to commit to a relationship and his sadness over leaving the force. The speed, clarity and handling of this extensive story were done well by Mr. Handler. However, I felt the variations in pitch and voices were a bit thin. When the narration did not include a clue as to who was speaking, I found it hard to delineate between Evan and Matt. Also, the slightly breathy and higher pitches for the female characters were not always consistent and left me wondering who was addressing whom in a conversational dialogue portion of the story.

All in all, this was a challenging novel to put to audio, given its length and numerous side characters. Also, it was highly charged emotionally, and that alone made the audio so hard to listen to at times due to the heavy tone of the written material. I am eager, however, to see what JP Handler does with the next installment of this series. I am hoping he will have a lighter text to read from, and we will be able to see the depth of his interpretive skills.






You can buy Faith & Fidelity here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Tere Michaels

Review: Cherish & Blessed by Tere Michaels

Title: Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love & Devotion: Books Four and Five

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Reading these stories was like visiting with a best friend.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurbs: Cherished

After several years of happy coupledom, Matt and Evan can relax in the knowledge that their little family has survived the worst of it. The two older girls are away at college, the twins have yet to fully hit teen angst, Matt is doing well with his part time security consulting, and Evan is about to be promoted to captain—it seems like things are calm and bright.

Until they aren’t.

As the holidays approach, Evan and Matt get a shock no parent is ever prepared for: feisty Miranda, Evan’s eldest, has a new boyfriend, Kent, and they are talking marriage after just three months together. In fact, Miranda wants to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner—along with his parents, Blake and Cornelia.

Blessed

Lives are in transition as everyone gathers at the stunning Hamptons beach home of Daisy and Bennett to celebrate the christening of their new baby. Griffin and Jim—secretly growing tired of their rootless lifestyle—are in a rocky spot in their relationship. And as the godfather, Griffin finds himself yearning for something he’s sure Jim won’t be interested in.

Fatherhood.

Matt and Evan are looking to reconnect during the long weekend, as their respective careers pull them in separate directions. With less time spent together, Evan grows concerned about what will happen when the last two kids leave the nest.

Dividers

Review: Cherish & Blessed is a continuation of Evan and Matt’s story, their family, and a close circle of friends. What can I say but that I loved it? I couldn’t get enough and was disappointed when I finished the book.

I’m not going to go into the plot, but the stories center around the Haight/Cirelli household. In Cherish, it’s been a number of years since Matt and Evan got together. The kids are growing up and moving out. Matt and Evan are settled in their relationship. Reading about them, their typical, mundane everyday life, and their passion was just beautiful because it’s all about their love for each other. But, it’s not without some drama in the form of Miranda and her lingering issues regarding her mother’s death and her father’s relationship with a man. Thanksgiving becomes a crazy event as Miranda brings her boyfriend’s family, hoping for some fireworks when they meet Evan and Matt.

It doesn’t quite go her way. It’s funny and very poignant. Miranda still can’t fully accept Matt in her life, and this brings a heap of guilt onto Evan. There is always this underlying question: if his wife hadn’t died, who would he choose? Evan’s still struggling with his guilt, but he will never choose between the two because he loves them both in different ways. And Matt loves him unconditionally and always shows it.

Blessed is a chapter in Evan and Matt’s lives. New opportunities and life changes are on the horizon. Evan is up for a promotion, but he’s afraid he’ll just be a gay poster boy for the new and improved inclusive police force. Matt’s security business is taking off and as the kids get older and move out, he’s getting more content in his life. As always, the extended family/friends are all there and are as lovable as ever. Bennett and Daisy are getting ready for a new baby. Helena and Shane are still in a honeymoon state, and Jim and Griffin are at a crossroads in life. Griffin has baby fever and Jim is not sure what the next step in their life is.

Every storyline was perfect. Okay, so I’m a huge fan and just couldn’t get enough. I want to know these people in real life. I want to be their friend! The love they have for each other jumps off the page, and the emotions are of the charts.

Reading these stories was like visiting with a best friend. I just couldn’t get enough because my appetite for them is insatiable. So, Ms. Michaels, you need to give us more of Evan and Matt ASAP!






You can buy Cherish & Blessed here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply The Best 2014 – Round Two: The Year In Reviews And A Giveaway

2014

Hi, everyone, we’re back again with the second round of our Best of the Best (be sure to check out Sammy’s and Tina’s lists HERE), and another chance for you to win e-copies of THREE of the titles selected by Jackie, Lana, and Jules, winner’s choice! THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED Continue reading

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lynn, Tere Michaels

Review: Love & Loyalty by Tere Michaels

Title: Love & Loyalty

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: 2nd Edition – Faith, Love, & Devotion: Book Two

Seattle Homicide Detective Jim Shea never takes work home with him—until now. A judge banged his gavel, declared a defendant not guilty, and laid waste to a family. The emotional fallout of the trial leaves Jim vulnerable and duty-bound to the victim’s dying father. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Tere Michaels

Review: Who Knows the Storm by Tere Michaels

Title: Who Knows the Storm (The Vigilante: Book One)

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: In a dystopian near future, New York City has become the epicenter of decadence—gambling, the flesh trade, a playground for the wealthy. And underneath? Crime, fueled by “Dead Bolt,” a destructive designer drug. This New City is where Nox Boyet leads a double life. At night, he is the Vigilante, struggling to keep the streets safe for citizens abandoned by the corrupt government and police. During the day, he works in construction and does his best to raise his adopted teenaged son, Sam. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Tere Michaels

Review: Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels

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Title: Faith & Fidelity

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 290

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Reeling from the recent death of his wife, police officer Evan Cerelli looks at his four children and can only see how he fails them. His loving wife was the caretaker and nurturer, and now the single father feels himself being crushed by the pain of loss and the heavy responsibility of raising his kids. Continue reading

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Dreamspinner Press, Tere Michaels

Guest Post and Giveaway: Who Knows the Storm by Tere Michaels

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Writing a superhero origin/love story is about forty odd years in the making – I have loved the superhero mythology in many forms since I was a toddler, entranced by dudes in masks with really, really complicated lives. How do I resist heroic angst and bad decision making, all wrapped into one glorious mess?

Answer: I don’t.

One of the main dumpster fires in the life of the heroic is their love lives. I mean – you don’t mention you’re fighting crime by night and your lover thinks you’re double timing them. Mention in and suddenly they’re getting kidnapped by every villain in the universe. Continue reading

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Coastal Magic Convention, Tere Michaels

Interview: Countdown to Coastal Magic Convention With Tere Michaels

Coastal Magic ConLynn: Hi, Tere, thanks so much for being here with us today to help in the Countdown to Coastal Magic Convention. Let’s start with an easy question: What got you interested in writing?

Tere: I started reading very early (thank you Sesame Street!) and so my mother got me a subscription to a Disney magazine. At some point, I realized that people wrote these stories and it was like a light bulb went on over my head. I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Lynn: Who are some of your go-to authors?

Tere: I sadly don’t have as much time as I used to for recreational reading so I’m rather limited. My yearly pre-order purchase – without fail – is J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Love it, love it, love it. I also really enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Continue reading

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Dreamspinner Press, Tere Michaels

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels

Faith&FidelityFS

Title: Faith & Fidelity (2nd Edition)
Series: Faith, Love, and Devotion: Book One
Author: Tere Michaels
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Blurb: Reeling from the recent death of his wife, police officer Evan Cerelli looks at his four children and can only see how he fails them. His loving wife was the caretaker and nurturer, and now the single father feels himself being crushed by the pain of loss and the heavy responsibility of raising his kids. Continue reading

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Cover Reveal, Dreamspinner Press, Tere Michaels

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Tere Michaels’ Who Knows the Storm

WhoKnowsTheStormFS

Title: Who Knows the Storm
Author: Tere Michaels
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Futuristic/Dystopian/Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: October 17, 2014

Blurb: Who Knows the Storm

In a dystopian near future, New York City has become the epicenter of decadence—gambling, the flesh trade, a playground for the wealthy. And underneath? Crime, fueled by “Dead Bolt” a destructive designer drug. This New City is where Nox Boyet leads a double life. At night, he is the Vigilante, struggling to keep the streets safe for citizens abandoned by the corrupt government and police. During the day, he works in construction and does his best to raise his adopted teenaged son, Sam.

A mysterious letter addressed to Sam brings Nox in direct contact with “model” Cade Creel, a high-end prostitute working at the Iron Butterfly Casino. Suspicion gives way to an intense attraction as dark figures from Nox’s past and the mysterious peddlers of Dead Bolt begin to descend—and put all their lives in danger. When things spin out of control, Cade is the only person Nox can trust to help him save Sam.

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Aleksandr Voinov, Brita Addams, Chris T. Kat, Cover Reveal, Edmond Manning, EM Lynley, Ethan Day, GayRomLit, Heidi Cullinan, K.C. Burn, L. Dean Pace-Frech, Lex Chase, Lillian McKinnon, Margie Church, Rachel Sparks, SJD Peterson, Tere Michaels

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone , and welcome back. Thanks so much for stopping by to see what we have in store for the week ahead.

We have the pleasure of not only bringing you more reviews, but we’ve also got cover reveals, blog tours, interviews, and giveaways coming up just for you.

Here’s what’s coming up!


MondayChris T. Kat kicks off the week on her Tidal Change Blog Tour and Backlist Title Giveaway

Lex Chase also drops by on the Americana Fairy Tale Release Day Blitz

Tuesday – Young adult author Lillian McKinnon will be by to do a cover reveal for her upcoming novel A Life In Frames

SJD Peterson brings the Splintered Blog Tour to The Novel Approach, with a Giveaway

Brita Addams also stops by with her monthly guest post today

Wednesday – Today we have the privilege of hosting an Exclusive Cover Reveal for Tere MichaelsWho Knows the Storm

Then Heidi Cullinan makes a stop at TNA on the Fever Pitch Blog Tour, with a Giveaway

Finally, we have the honor of bringing you the Edmond Manning Butterfly King Blog Tour

ThursdayK.C. Burn is our guest today on the Countdown to Coastal Magic Blog Tour

FridayEthan Day drops back by today on the Countdown to GayRomLit Blog Tour

And EM Lynley also stops in today on the Spaghetti Western Blog Tour

SaturdayRachel Sparks is our guest today on the To Be Whole Blog Tour, with a Giveaway

Aleksandr Voinov is also with us today on the Counterpunch Blog Tour

Sunday – And closing out the week, we’ve got Margie Church with us on her The Camera Never Lies Blog Tour, with a Giveaway

And Dean Pace-Frech also stops in with a Guest Post and Giveaway

And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

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