*** 4.5 Stars ***
For me, Tere Michaels’ Love & Loyalty
was a case of reading the perfect book at the perfect moment in time. It’s hard to put into words exactly that I was feeling when I started this book; the closest I can come is to say that because of things going on in my personal life, I was feeling this odd jumble of emotions that were grounded in happiness and nostalgia and utter relaxation, but also tinged by exhaustion and sadness and some frustration. I’m certain that if I had read the same book two days ago (or two days from now, for that matter) I would’ve had a completely different reaction to the story. Not better. Not worse. Just… different. As it was, however, I was in the perfect frame of mind to put myself in an author’s hands and get lost in the pages of a new book for a few hours.
And so I loved this book.
We first met Jim (going incognito using his full name, James) near the end of Faith & Fidelity
when he picked up a lonely, rejected, horny Matt Haight in a dingy bar in Manhattan. The two men went back to Jim’s hotel room, fooled around a little, talked a little, and parted in the morning as friends. Though it was only a small part in the book, I instantly liked Jim’s character - he was open, friendly, compassionate, and loyal to a fault. He was also clearly emotionally devastated by the worst case of unrequited love I’ve seen in a long while.
Unfortunately, Love & Loyalty
doesn’t start out much better for Jim – his work stress is through the roof, his relationship with his family is strained, he’s not sleeping or eating well, and his best friend (subject of the aforementioned unrequited love) is now blissfully married... to a woman. He may not admit it, but Jim is goddamned lonely. So when Griffin pops into Jim’s life, the man is like breath of fresh air. A Hollywood screenwriter, Griffin is talented, bold, funny, thoughtful, and sweetly sentimental. Jim may not immediately trust the man, but he can’t deny the growing spark between them.
I thought Jim was a really, really
sweet character, but he wasn’t the same guy in Love & Loyalty
that he was in Faith and Fidelity
. In the first book, he seemed confident and in control in his romantic encounter with Matt. Smooth. Funny. His actions with Matt were sweet and caring, but there was nothing tentative about them. Jim knew what he wanted and – so long as Matt was on the same page – he planned to get it. Er… get some
, as the case may be.
In this book, however, Jim’s first date with Griffin is filled with glowers, glares, one-word responses and painfully awkward moments. Where was my casual, take charge guy!? It didn’t make me like him any less, but it was definitely not the same. What’s worrisome is that I couldn’t tell if Ms. Michaels was deliberately trying to show another aspect of Jim’s character, or if she just forgot who she initially created him to be. Personally, I think it’s the latter, but you can feel free to disagree with me.
In the end though, it didn’t matter. I loved both of the characters and the attraction between the two of them was so dang adorable I practically got butterflies in my stomach from proximity to all their happiness! I know that the entire story only took place over a couple of weeks and the fact that Griffin and Jim fell in love during this time and under these circumstance should feel rushed or forced or something, but it doesn’t. It feels like a smooth slide into warmth and security and… home.
Too syrupy?! I apologize. ;)
And there was plenty of other things to enjoy about this book as well. Jim’s friends were all great secondary characters. They were kind and concerned, a little pushy and a lot loving – exactly the kind of friends everyone should be so lucky to have. The humour and dialogue were well-written (enough to make me laugh out loud several times), and the conflict was resolved to my complete satisfaction. There were also a few deeply poignant moments, and lessons about family and friends and life that were worth internalizing. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that Ed’s passing touched me deeply and moved me to tears. Perhaps most importantly, there was also a sweet happily ever after that left me with a pleasant buzzing feeling in my heart region (and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that).
Verdict: Overall, I found Love & Loyalty
to be quietly beautiful. It was sweetness and light, with just the right touch of heart break and loss to keep it from being entirely fluffy. It’s definitely a book worth reading. More, it’s a book worth sharing.