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Friday, April 02, 2010:
Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels (2008) - review
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?

I've been hearing about this book for awhile, mostly only Twitter, and so the last time I ordered books, I added this one to the list. This is my first book by Tere Michaels, but if all her stories are as moving as this one, it certainly won't be the last.

Evan Cerelli was a happily married man with four beautiful children when tragedy struck and took his wife from him. He's trying to hold himself together for the sake of his kids, but some days it just becomes unbearable. Matt Haight is a womanizer who drinks too much and isn't happy with where his career path has taken him. Both meet at a retirement party for a mutual acquaintance, and immediately hit it off as friends. They begin hanging out about once a week at the bar, shooting the shit and just having somewhere to go on those lonely nights.

Soon however, Matt begins to start having erotic dreams about Evan, and it freaks him out. He's always been a masculine, heterosexual man, always loved the ladies, but there's something about Evan that has him feeling something he's never felt before. Something real and beautiful. He fantasizes about touching him, kissing him, and it scares him. He doesn't want to ruin this new, fragile friendship with a really great guy, but he can't stop his growing feelings for Evan. And he's trying to figure out where the hell this is coming from.

One night Matt is at Evan's house for an evening with the family, and he has a great time with the kids and watching Evan actually smile and laugh for a change. It makes him feel good he can be a part of that. When the snowstorm gets really severe, he's stranded there and ends up spending the night. He's awakened when Evan has a bad dream, and Matt allows his touch to linger a little too long. But the two pretend nothing happens. Matt is afraid that he's ruined his friendship with Evan, but it turns out that Evan likes Matt's touch, though he's just as confused as Matt about what's happening between them. It's a whole new experience for both of them, and while they are both terrified about where this is leading, they also want to explore the growing attraction. But how will the people in their lives deal with the possibility of a relationship between these two men?

My thoughts:

Last week I had posted about my dissatisfaction about the lack of romance in my books. Well, let me tell you, I cannot include this book in that category. "Faith & Fidelity" is one of the most beautiful, poignant, lovely romances I've read in a long, LONG time. Watching as both Matt and Evan tentatively reach out to each other and fall in love was such a moving and wonderful experience. They share their fears and confusion with one another, but while they both have reservations about getting involved in a relationship, they also both know that what they have together is special, and very, very real.

One thing I really liked is that these two men are regular guys. They talk like guys, act like guys. Their language and mannerisms fit with how men are, so it's not like a woman's voice spouting out of a man's mouth. They're a bit rough with each other but not in a hurtful way, but because being more aggressive is in their nature. They are good, decent men, flawed and damaged and hurting, and their pain initially drew them together, but ends up leading to something more substantial and lasting.

Not to say that their relationship is smooth & easy. The fear of discovery is always there, and Evan more than Matt has understandable concerns because he has other people to consider: his kids. They have their share of heartbreak dealing with the realities of coming out about their relationship. I couldn't help but hurt for both of them, watching them struggle with falling in love and the fear of being rejected and hated for it. It makes the story that much more emotional, but at the same time, makes me angry because their fears are likely very much warranted. Here you have two wonderful people who've found each other, and want to build a life together, but the stigma attached to their lifestyle prevents them from proudly being together out in the real world. Not to say everyone in their lives is homophobic. Several people, including Evan's boss, are very accepting of the relationship. But it makes me sad to think they have to hide it. [Personally, I believe God is about love, not about hate, and that He would be completely accepting of their relationship].

Another thing I loved is that when it comes down to it, this is basically a story about two people falling in love. Doesn't matter that it's about two men. I think that sometimes in real life, things really do happen like that. You fall in love with the person, not whether they are a man or a woman. It's romantic in how they look at each other, how they touch. Their relationship is very sexual but also very affectionate. Sometimes, in the beginning, it was difficult to imagine these two guys being so sweet and tender with each other, but because of the depth of their feelings, their devotion to one another, it became natural. I felt like I was in the middle of watching something rare and precious unfold and become stronger, more resilient. It was, for the most part, a joyful experience.

I know that I cannot possibly do this story justice in the way it deserves, but I hope that I've encouraged at least one person to read it and if they end up loving it, then I will be satisfied with that. In other very happy news, there is a sequel to this book called "Duty & Devotion". And Tere's second book, about a character who appeared in "Faith & Fidelity", is called "Love & Loyalty". I cannot wait to read both stories!

So if you're a fan of m/m romance, or you want to take a step outside your comfort zone, please do yourself a favor and pick up "Faith & Fidelity". It's an unforgettable, wondrous love story.

Rating: ***** out of *****

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  1. Great review! I posted my review of this book today too - I read through it and really liked it. Looking forward to the next book!

  2. Patti, I'm going to have to head over and read your review. I just loved this book so much :)

  3. Oh google reader is full of F&F today ;)

    LOVED this book. The beginning had me sobbing with Evan's emotional distress and then it turns into this romance story that blew me away.

    You summed up their feelings perfectly Stacy. And I have read about half of the sequel, and she continues to explore Evan's slight reservations etc...she does a great job.

  4. Did I miss the talk about this book *gasp* I'm so adding this author to my next month's buy list :) I love poignant M/M romance stories, it is what I'm always on the look out for. I want to be swept away in the romance between two seems that this one definitely will deliver ;)

  5. Mandi, it was poignant but also very damn hot. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying D&D. And thank you for talking up this book so much. You convinced me to read it and it was one of the best book decisions ever :)

    Leontine, honey, you GOTTA read this one. Sexy and tender. Just so wonderful. I'm definitely going to be re-reading this one often.

  6. Great review! It sounds like a very interesting book.

  7. Did Evan always have an attraction for men or is he more attracted to the person Matt is?

  8. Kate, Evan was happily married, had only ever been with his wife. Never thought of men in that way before Matt came along.

    Like Mandi said, I think Matt had latent sexual feelings towards men but really wasn't conscious of them.

  9. Stacey if you loved FF you'll love Duty and Devotion. I've devoured all of Tere Michael's work I heart her stories.

    Awesome review!

  10. Just wow. I think I need to buy this book! Wonderful review!

  11. I'm so happy you loved F&F! I knew it ;)
    What you said about the true romance between Matt and Evan and them being regular guys, is what I loved about this book too!
    And I needed a tissue of two at the beginning, like Mandi. Because Tere Michaels just knows really well how to let me feel the emotions of her characters!
    Great review!

  12. Hmm, I don't think we read the same novel. I couldn't even finish this one, sorry to say--I just didn't buy into the premise at all. :[

  13. I've seen a lot about this book on the internet recently. I've never read anything by Tere Michaels, but will be adding this one to my TBR list.

  14. Stacy - that is one fantastic review. You articulated yourself very well. I bought this book last week and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

    Personally, I believe God is about love, not about hate, and that He would be completely accepting of their relationship.

    I completely agree :)

  15. Stacy...I absolutely loved this book. Tere is one of my newer autobuy authors. She does emotion incredibly well. :) And as much as I *know* authors just love hearing this (maybe not so much lol), I wish she wrote faster - she's such an automatic read for me. :)

  16. I loved this book as well and can't wait to read more about Evan and Matt as well as more about Jim.

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