Buy Link: Love & Loyalty
Author: Tere Michaels
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: Novel

Rating: 4.5

I bought Love & Loyalty a while back based on a recommendation from someone, but for whatever reason it had been languishing in my enormous TBR pile.  But it fit with my most recent Goodreads Bingo category, so I decided to give it a whirl.  It was totally not what I was expecting, but I really liked it quite a lot.

The story opens with homicide detective Jim Shea facing the end of a trial in a case where he worked long and hard to find the killer.  He has become emotionally attached to the victim’s family and is devastated when the case doesn’t go their way.  Jim is a pretty solitary guy, despite a small group of close friends, and the pain of the case and the subsequent hard times faced by Ed Kelly, the victim’s father,  make him even more closed off to further relationships.  He figures if he doesn’t love, he doesn’t need to worry about loss.

Griffin Drake is a Hollywood screenwriter.  Although he loves writing, he hates the studio where he works and he hopes getting the rights to the movie about the Kellys will be a way to help him out of his bad work situation.  He wants to make a movie that really shows the Kelly’s side of the story, rather than a sensational movie highlighting all the drama.  Along with his best friend, actress Daisy Baylor, Griffin manages to win the movie rights.  At the same time, he gets to meet Jim, who has become surrogate family to Ed Kelly.

At first things are a bit bumpy between Griffin and Jim as Jim is fiercely protective of Ed and his interests.  But when Griffin comes up to Seattle to meet with Jim, a meeting becomes an extended date lasting several days.  Soon the men are developing a relationship, each slowly breaking out of their shells to open themselves up to love.  But as things are coming together for Jim and Griffin, problems with the film rights and other issues begin to make things bumpy and the men must figure out if they can navigate through all the difficulties together.

This book was really a surprise delight for me.  I bought it so long ago I really didn’t remember much about it.  For some reason I was expecting a more cop/mystery/thriller type story, so I didn’t expect the quiet, sweet pace of the book.  The book really focuses primarily on the relationship between the two men and the growth and change each one goes through individually over the course of the story.

Jim has just turned 45 and isn’t really thrilled with his life.  He has good friends who care about him (the “Heterosexual Power Cabal”), but he doesn’t really love his job and the Kelly case has really taken an emotional toll.  Suddenly having someone in his life who he really cares about romantically is a big change for him and he is wary of the risks, especially after seeing so much loss around him.  But as he watches Ed Kelly who is so brave and content with his life despite so much pain, Jim begins to learn that he needs to open himself up and look for his own happiness.

Griffin already knows he is a bad place with his job and is actively trying to change things. But he doesn’t realize that his relationship with Daisy is holding him back in some ways, and that he has allowed himself to become so intertwined with her and her life that it is hurting him.  Griffin has to face that it may be time for things to change personally for him and for him to make more of an effort to look out for himself.

I enjoyed the side plot about the movie development, mostly for the focus on Ed Kelly and his relationship with Jim.  Jim’s own father isn’t much interested in him, and I liked the way Ed and Jim develop almost a father/son relationship between them.  Jim and Ed each gain so much from one another and Ed helps Jim see what he wants out of life and what he needs to do to get it.  I was less thrilled with the legal wrangling around the movie.  I had a hard time buying all the issues with the prenup.  I don’t want to go into too much detail to avoid spoiling, but I don’t think things work how it is described (then again, I am not lawyer so it may be entirely accurate).  Either way, it took me out of the story a bit as I kept trying to understand why things were happening a certain way.

One of the things I really liked about this story is that the relationship takes a main focus, and that the conflict is really external to Jim and Griffin’s developing romance.  They face their problems together and are supportive of each other, even when circumstances could have caused the men to turn on one another.  I really felt a fondness for both men and enjoyed watching them fall in love and find their way to happiness.  It was a really sweet and romantic story and I found myself really caught up in both the romance and the other aspects of the plot.  I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

P.S. This book is apparently book 2 of the Faith, Love, and Devotion series.  Now I almost never read books out of order, but I didn’t realize this was book 2 when I bought it. But trust me, this stands alone perfectly. I could barely even guess who the first book was about and it in no way impacted my ability to read and understand this one. I actually think I might check out books 1 and 3 (they both seem to be about the same couple) since I liked this one so much, but you would have no trouble jumping right into this book as a starting point.

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