Title: Cherish: Faith, Love & Devotion 4
Author: Tere Michaels
Cover Artist: Croco Designs
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella/102 PDF pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Review Summary: A retrospective and look forward at Matt’s and Evan’s family since they first met in Faith & Fidelity.
Several years after the end of Duty & Devotion, Matt and Evan are living quietly in their Brooklyn home with the twins, Danny and Elizabeth. The older girls, Katie and Miranda, are off at college, Evan is about to be promoted to captain and things are calm.
Evan accidentally learns that Miranda has a new boyfriend and is talking marriage after just three months of dating. After peeling himself off the ceiling, he demands a conversation with his eldest daughter, which erupts into, as Matt calls it, “a steel cage match”.
Miranda indeed has a boyfriend (Kent), a business major (from Connecticut) and they are most definitely serious. In fact, Miranda wants to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner–along with his parents, Blake and Cornelia. There is much debate but Evan agrees–mostly because Miranda’s part of the bargain is that she won’t get engaged or elope until the parents have met.
Thanksgiving descends into madness before the turkey is carved.
Evan and Matt are back, two and a half years after Duty & Devotion reviewed here.
Matt is still co-parenting Evan’s kids except he’s now only looking after the twins. Miranda is living away from home with a couple of roommates while completing her Masters at NYU, and Katie left home recently to attend Boston University. Matt is working as a part-time security consultant to a very rich client, which frees him up to be with Danny and Elizabeth when they come home from school, and Evan is awaiting his promotion to captain.
The book opens with drama involving Miranda who always yanks her father’s chain. As indicated in the blurb, she wants to be married to her brand new boyfriend, Kent, something that causes the expected explosion from Evan who demands that she come home for “the talk.” She issues her own ultimatum: she will come home at Thanksgiving, but only if her boyfriend and his parents are along for the ride. Obviously this can’t end well. Evan expects Thanksgiving to be a nightmare, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Cherish is as much about the family dynamics as it is about Matt and Evan. Katie, Danny and Elizabeth had bonded with Matt to such a degree that he was always their first line of communication on anything that was personal. Danny still had his silent moments but they seemed fewer and he and Matt had a good relationship. Matt loved his role as the de facto parent while Evan was at work. His new life was as different from the old as night from day, and he flourished in an environment where there was no doubt he was important to his family. He used to have a lot of shields to keep the world at bay, angry and self destructive; now he was exactly where he wanted to be, and where he was needed
The relationship between the guys seemed pretty solid. Still very much in love, their feelings for each other had matured since they started living together more than 4 years ago, 1-1/2 years after Sherri’s death. Evan was Evan, uncomfortable about anyone outside the family knowing his relationship to Matt, still moody on occasion, but his touchiness about his sexuality had improved a lot since Duty & Devotion. As for Matt, I thought he seemed to be too cool, too perfect. He never got upset or angry about anything and I don’t remember him being this laid back in the two previous books. Maybe this was in response to Evan’s personality which was the same as Miranda’s, a perpetual state of being on the edge of a precipice.
However I was confused about one critical aspect of the plot, and that was Miranda’s hatred of Matt. I re-read Duty & Devotion and Faith & Fidelity to see if I had missed Miranda’s extreme antipathy towards her dad’s partner. Other than when she initially didn’t get along with him in F & F because she missed her mother and didn’t want anyone to take her place, as well as the shock of her father’s love interest being a man, I couldn’t find any indication she resented their relationship much more than any teen would in her circumstances. In fact, Matt was the person she called rather than Evan years ago when she was arrested for a minor drug offence. I don’t know whether the emphasis about issues between Miranda and Matt was intended to heighten the drama in an already tense situation, culminating in the consequences of her lack of candour with Kent.
Evan’s partner at work, Helena and her boyfriend Shane added some much needed humour to go along with the guys’ stomach churning desire to dump everything and leave for the Cayman Islands.
This story is a short novella (100 pages) which updated events in response to fans’ requests for another story about this family. Matt is in his mid forties and Evan is probably just 40, the twins are now twelve, and Miranda and Katie are young adults. Everyone leaving home eventually is scary to Matt who treasures his role as co-parent.
I liked this book but it didn’t have the depth or complexity of the others in the series. One thing bothered me as I was reading and that was the frequent references to Matt as Evan’s boyfriend. I wondered what he would have to do to be called his partner. To me a boyfriend is someone you dated, but Matt and Evan were living together and he was paying the mortgage so that Evan’s salary could go towards the girls’ university education, and he was co-parenting Evan’s offspring. I thought it was very disrespectful to keep referring to him as Evan’s boyfriend rather than his partner. There was no mention of marriage in their future, (and I’m not suggesting that every gay couple wants to get married), but I would have liked more information about their future plans. I thought the story would have been much more interesting if Evan’s and Matt’s union were the main plot, with all the issues that would have entailed. Now that would have been dramatic.
Like the other books in the series, more careful attention should have been paid to editing this book, as I found a few areas where there were editing errors, including a lot of run-on sentences and a small number of typos, but they were probably no worse than those found in any ebook.
To summarize: Fans of the series will love meeting these wonderful characters again and getting an update on their lives in Cherish. As expected, along with being a little older comes different issues. Matt and Evan are still very much in love with a healthy sex drive, although I don’t get all the love biting that’s the new trend in M/M. Despite Miranda acting like a 10 YO brat I enjoyed everyone, and I think you will too, although as Katie said to Evan: “We should come with a warning label, Dad”
This book is not a standalone so if you’re thinking of getting it you should start with Faith & Fidelity reviewed here and Duty & Devotion, two of my favourite re-reads. While Cherish is not of the same calibre and complexity as the previous books it’s a pretty good story. I waffled a bit on the rating and I’m still unsure but for the time being I’m staying with 4 stars.
This book will be released on Tuesday, November 20.