I get swoony over certain books. The ones that never leave you. The ones you’re quite sure are as indelible as tattoos.
GOOD FAITH is currently on that short list.
I’ve already professed my love for Liz Crowe’s Stewart Realty series. GOOD FAITH is the finale for the series, but is a standalone in so many ways. One can start with GOOD FAITH. One can end with GOOD FAITH. At the end of the day, you’ll get to experience GOOD FAITH. It’ll be enough.
Great reasons to read GOOD FAITH include, but are not limited to if:
- You can handle characters that are not necessarily likeable, but are absolutely worth your emotional energy.
- You don’t need to be told how to feel about characters every minute of the story.
- You don’t need a formulaic approach to enjoy a book.
- You’re not expecting a romance.
- You are expecting an epic, generational drama.
- You love a layered, intense, satisfying story that pays off 1000-fold.
- Your definition of Happily Ever After (HEA) is broad and has room for questions.
I won’t spoil a thing for you. This book begs to be experienced because you WILL feel ALL THE FEELS. Just know you need to carve out some time and let it have its way with you. Get your highlighter function ready, e-reader owners. To know this story is to revisit the parts that spoke to you the first time, as they may speak to you differently in the future.
Jack and Sara Gordon haven’t ever had an easy or perfect relationship. Over the years, they’ve loved each other in a myriad of ways. They’ve built a local real estate empire. They’ve tested each other over and over, always passing muster. They’re raising three very different children. GOOD FAITH’s main character (if there is one in what would be considered a true ensemble premium cable series cast) is the oldest Gordon offspring, Brandis. His exploits drive most of the the major plot lines in GOOD FAITH and they’re, quite frankly, hard as hell to take sometimes. He’s the kid you simultaneously want to hug and smack, but never want to give up on. The golden boy with a dark side. The one who embodies talent on one hand and throws it away with the other.
Rob and Lila Frietag have weathered a crushing death, a cross-country marriage, fame, small business ownership, and bouts of infidelity. They are raising a brood of their own in tandem with the Gordons. Gabe, their son through some truly unique circumstances, is Brandis’ best friend and greatest rival. His sister Blair will grow from Brandis’ childhood friend into a relationship with Brandis that leaves scorched earth in all directions and burns right through the heart of these families.
Jack’s sister, Maureen, is married to professional soccer coach, Rafe. They’re raising their son, Blake. Dr. Craig and Suzanne Robinson are raising their daughter, Lillian Grace. They all add to the extended family chronicled in GOOD FAITH. This is a crew that was cobbled together through time, circumstance, and sex. They have withstood the tests of time. While nobody is living a perfect life, their lives are perfectly entwined.
All that makes life sweet and bitter is sandwiched into GOOD FAITH. Everything from birth and death and marriage and first love and infidelity and sexual identity and addiction and enabling and fulfilled dreams and dreams left abandoned. To planting expectations only to reap disappointments. To know that home is where your heart is rings particularly true in Ann Arbor, MI.
It’s all here. The tragedy and comedy and richness of these imperfect lives lived by all-too-human characters will leave you both sated and dealing with a simultaneous book hangover the size of Lake Michigan.
This isn’t a fantasy. In no place does it jump the shark or become ridiculous. It’s reality buffeted by stunning dialogue and story lines that bend around each other so fluidly that you sort of float along from one to another as you keep reading.
Occasionally you may need to put the book in Time Out. From time to time you’ll yell at the characters, convinced if you could just talk some sense into them that all would be well. You’ll root for them. You’ll fall in love with them. You’ll wag your finger at them. It’s real…and real is messy. Messy and amazing.
Don’t walk away for too long. This book is relationship fiction and the relationships are everything, including your relationship with the story. It’s not junk and it’s not easily digested. It pays off like you won’t even believe right down to the last word. The last chapter begs to be read and reread so you can bask in the glow of this story’s conclusion one more time.
It’s a HEA for me. It’s far from a typical HEA, but it’s there. It’s atypical and deeply satisfying. However, I promise you, it’s there. You’ll thank me when you’re done.
Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse. While working as a successful Realtor, Liz made the leap into writing novels about the same time she agreed to take on marketing and sales for the Wolverine State Brewing Company.
Most days find her sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, unless she’s writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and many times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate, and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
If you are in the Ann Arbor area, be sure and stop into the Wolverine State Brewing Co. Tap Room—but don’t ask her for anything “like” a Bud Light, or risk serious injury.
Head over to our FACEBOOK page to enter to win all sorts of fabulousness!
GRAND PRIZE: Nook Simple Touch loaded with the Stewart Realty series and the first 3 Black Jack Gentlemen books.
FIRST PRIZE: Signed set of Stewart Realty series (including Good Faith)
SECOND PRIZE: A Stewart Realty Zazzle swag pack PLUS a Wolverine State Brewing Co. t-shirt and pint glass
THIRD PRIZE: Signed set of the first three Black Jack Gentlemen books.
This is one of my favorite scenes from GOOD FAITH. Jack struggles with fatherhood more than most, but it’s clear he loves his son dearly.
That morning his father had roused him from a sound sleep. He’d blinked, confused, by the angle of the sunlight. He rarely slept much past eight since he usually had some sort of training or the other.
“Let’s go son. Time for lunch.”
Brandis had dragged himself up, his limbs feeling like they weighed a thousand pounds each. His brain buzzed with a strange sort of energy, his typical state, and not at all welcome considering it normally didn’t hit him until later in the day. The conversation his father began as soon as they were seated at their usual diner did not help.
“So, listen, Brandis. These girls…Katie’s friends from college….”
Brandis sipped his ice water, waiting for his father to finish the thought. His heart pounded, and his face flushed hot with embarrassment.
Jack sighed, as if exasperated that Brandis didn’t pick up the thread on his own, leaving him to carry on with the awkwardness about to ensue. Then he leveled his gaze, his face open, not angry or judgmental. “I think that you may be in for some…I mean, they’re…shit.”
“If you are gonna tell me where babies come from again,” Brandis said, after deciding to ease his father’s obvious distress. He cocked an eyebrow and half a smile. Jack seemed to relax somewhat as Brandis continued. “Don’t bother. I already know.”
He flashed his brightest smile up at the middle-aged woman who stood at their table, coffee pot in hand. She blinked rapidly at him, and at that precise moment, Brandis got his first flash of…something…about his power. Up until now he’d merely been “Brandis the trouble maker, the causer of strife.” Suddenly, he felt strong, amazingly so, stronger than even the man sitting across from him, a taller, older version of himself. His body tingled all over, as he tested the smile out again on the woman, making her slop some coffee out onto the table. His father frowned, but then chuckled as the woman walked away after they gave their orders.
“Son,” he said, leaning back and cradling the coffee mug to his chest. “Your adventure has only just begun.”
“Huh?” Brandis picked up his cup but didn’t drink any. He hated coffee, but had ordered it in a burst of need to be more like Jack. As he sipped the bitter stuff, he was transported back years before when he and his dad would spend every single Saturday morning together, eating breakfast at this very diner. He had adored the man, he remembered distinctly. His chest hurt at the simplicity of their relationship then. He looked away from Jack’s deep blue, knowing gaze.
The subject changed of its own accord, and Brandis let it. Although part of him wanted to ask for advice, a much bigger part would not allow the words past his lips.
They ate, discussing the upcoming football season and Brandis’ part in it. The recruiting company Jack had contracted last year to video his every move would start up with the first game. He’d made varsity again, technically as backup quarterback to a senior boy. Brandis didn’t see this as a setback and had every intention of starting under center by the second or third game.
Finally, when they pushed their empty plates back and sat looking at each other, Brandis felt more comfortable in his father’s presence than he had been in a long time. Jack said, “I am pretty sure at least one of those girls sleeping in the basement is determined to change the status of your virginity for you probably as soon as tonight.”
Brandis choked on the last sip of lukewarm coffee. His face burned, and his body tingled again. “I’m…it’s…uh….” He clutched the napkin in his lap unable to meet his father’s eyes.
“No need to say anything. Let’s just say your mother is an astute reader of female intent. While I was busy admiring your sister’s friend’s ass, she apparently read the girl’s mind or something.” Brandis’ face flushed even hotter.
He resisted the urge to protest, to proclaim his innocence of such things. Because he wanted it back—those mornings between them, father and son, man and boy, not this awkward, man and almost-man bullshit. Because while the thought of one of his sister’s college friends popping his cherry remained a pleasant fantasy, it also made him feel older than he wanted to be right then.
“So, I bought a box of condoms this morning,” Jack went on. “Put some downstairs in the side table drawer and the rest in your room. Use them please.” He sipped the last of his coffee, looked as if he were about to get up, then leaned forward, touching Brandis’ wrist. “Have fun. Don’t be an asshole to women. Let every experience teach you…something. Because you are nothing as a man if you don’t learn from every woman you…love.” Jack looked out the window onto the nearly empty parking lot. Then he turned back, tightened his grip on his son’s arm. “God, you are so…young.” His face fell a moment, then he perked up again, his eyes twinkling. “Okay, so, your mother told me to tell you not to let them corrupt you. But all I’m gonna say is this: always wear protection, no matter what, no matter how much you don’t want to. And don’t let your mom catch you in the act. I’ll handle her otherwise.”
Then he let go, stood and smiled, draping a friendly arm around Brandis’ shoulders as they exited the restaurant.
“You really didn’t tell me you were admiring Katie’s friend’s ass, did you, Dad?”
“No, son. I most certainly did not. You obviously misheard me.” Jack winked as he stood by the passenger’s side of his classic Corvette convertible and tossed the keys to Brandis. “Remember what I told you. Don’t ride my clutch.”
Blair dropped back on the bed and shut her eyes forcing herself to recall happier moments, better times. “You’re so laid back,” her father used to say to her when she still paid attention. “So relaxed.” He would smile as she worked alongside him in their kitchen. While the restaurant irritated her, she used to adore cooking with him, just to the two of them, and baking made her the happiest. “I wish I were more like you.” He’d flick flour from his fingers at her making her giggle and flush with happiness at his attention.
Later, he would accuse her of being “detached” and not willing to have any kind of confrontation even to defend herself. But who cared what he thought? She rolled to her side, picking up her phone as it buzzed with a text.
Hey loser, Brandis had sent. She frowned at the tingle that shot down her spine. She deleted it, determined to ignore him. About ten minutes later, he sent another one. You there?
She sighed and opened her laptop, thinking she’d do some English homework. Her cat jumped into her lap, its usual spot whenever she sat at the desk. The long Saturday stretched out in front of her, endless, boring, and useless. Typically she didn’t mind being alone, treasured her privacy and the time to read or take long walks. But the last few months had been different, frustrating beyond belief as she couldn’t seem to settle or relax, to enjoy herself like she used to.
Stupid adults. Stupid fathers and their stupid marriage-busting assistants. Stupid mothers and their mealy mouthed blindness to the whole thing. The phone kept buzzing with messages. And she kept ignoring it, something in her holding back, preserving herself from the sucking vortex of Brandis Gordon. She didn’t like texting him. It made her feel awkward, forcing conversation via a few tapped out words on the phone.
Finally, the phone rang. She sighed and answered it. “What?” she said, her hands shaking with the effort not to launch into a conversation with him. Flirting simply did not come naturally to her. She had no idea how to handle herself around boys, much less the huge, giant, hulking presence of Brandis—football quarterback, high school super stud, and one-time friend. Other than to settle herself with memories of him, of them, as kids, when things were simple.
His seeming addiction to their strange, late night conversations had confused and thrilled her in equal measure. And she missed them. A lot.
“You are one hard girl to get hold of,” he said, softly.
“What do you want, Brandis?”
“I thought we were gonna stay friends. I mean, we talked about it, after….”
She winced, wishing she had her brother’s willpower when it came to Brandis’ all-encompassing, some would say, suffocating, personality. “He’s a goddamned drain, an energy suck, a…shithead,” Gabe had said to her, a few days after their huge fight. He’d been sporting a black eye and a split lip from the altercation. A terrible, embarrassing moment for everyone concerned—one that signaled the end of her childhood, best she could tell.
“Why? What did he say to you?” Blair had begged her brother to tell her. They were close, and she had no qualms asking him. But he’d pressed his lips together, and threatened her with all sorts of dire, brother-inflicted consequences if she even talked to the guy again. So, she never knew.
Brandis had been on the phone to her within hours, pleading with her to intervene for him, to talk to Gabe, to get him on the phone. She’d enjoyed that moment—when Brandis needed something from her. But it faded, as did his efforts to try to make up with her brother. She’d heard a lot about him lately—drinking, smoking pot, hard partying on every level while still remaining quarterback, and in top, nearly model-perfect physical shape. And of course, all the girls, many of them older, who flocked to him.
“Blair?” he asked, interrupting her aggravation at the thought of all the females he must have screwed. She knew about the “college girls weekend.” Gabe and Brandis had laughed and joked about it enough in front of her. It made her nauseated with jealous fury and headache-y with embarrassment at her own virginal self.
“What?” she said again, getting up to pace. “Why do you keep trying to talk to me? We have…nothing in common anymore. You have plenty of girls to talk to. Leave me alone.” She slid down the wall next to her door, her knees weak, like they always got, at the sound of his deep, rumbly voice.
He’d been a fixture in her life, on vacations, at holidays, camping and fishing in the summer with their dads, going to baseball and football games, just…her friend. The kid with the funny laugh, shock of jet-black hair, and snapping blue eyes who attracted trouble and deflected it with equal equanimity. She had no idea when she’d become aware of him as a compelling member of the opposite sex.
He’d changed almost overnight, developing a sarcastic streak, a bit of meanness with his endless practical jokes one of which ended with his own sister’s broken wrist. During those strange years, she would catch him staring at her, his eyes dark, puzzled, confused. And when she’d smile and try to draw him out of it he’d blush, run or bike away, usually yelling something about “stupid girls.” And almost always with her brother Gabe in his wake. Anger lit her brain. “Seriously, Brandis, what do you want from me?”
“I want to be your friend still. That’s all. I…miss you guys.”
“Well then I guess you shouldn’t have said whatever you said that day.” She looked up at the ceiling, willing him not to give up, to stay on the line.
“I know,” he said, then got quiet. “How is he,” he asked after about thirty seconds.
“Fine. Busy, working at The Local, playing soccer, hanging with Lillian.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Blair stretched out on her soft rug, propped her feet on the wall, and settled into the conversation. “My mom’s been going out on dates. It’s stupid.”
“Well, your dad did….”
“I know, I know.”
She heard a shuffling sound as if Brandis were getting comfortable on his end. “And you? How many boyfriends for you now, Miss B?”
“Please.” She blushed. “Boys don’t notice me. I’m a sophomore. I don’t play sports or do anything cool really.”
“You play a mean game of Scrabble. I miss that. And I have yet to find a Euchre partner as good as you.”
She bit down on the urge to invite him over, to eat popcorn, watch a movie cuddled up on the couch like they used to do. But she knew things were altered. Now that “Brandis, the super stud,” had emerged he would never be “Brandis, Blair and Gabe’s friend” ever again.
“It’s a good thing you aren’t dating,” he declared out of the blue, making her blush again. “That way I don’t have to beat up any punks, you know, who think they can get anywhere with you.”
“And what makes you think my dating anyone means anything else is happening, hmm?”
“My sweet and innocent Blair, boys want one thing on a date. And it is not the concept of a good movie or a nice meal. Don’t ever forget that.” His voice lowered a bit, making her shiver.
“I guess you would know, eh stud?”
“I, um…I don’t know. Sometimes I wish….” He trailed off.
“What? That you could walk around town without bumping into some girl you’d ‘dated’? That you didn’t have so many pissed off ex-girlfriends floating around? That you would occasionally go a weekend without getting drunk and screwing your way through a party?”
The silence spilled into her ear like smoke. “Sorry,” she muttered, meaning it.
“No, it’s okay. I won’t deny it.” A bit of a swagger had snuck into his voice. “Popularity is my middle name.”
“I thought it was Robert. You know, after my dad? Same as Gabe’s?”
“Oh, right. Got me there. Listen, Blair, I gotta go. I just…wanted to hear your voice.”
Aggravation gripped her and held tight. “Why, Brandis? I don’t party. I don’t know how to kiss boys or…anything else. I’m a bookworm, a geek, a science nerd. I like to be by myself, and I don’t run in a pack of popular girls. Hardly worth your time I’d say.” Her face flushed, and she had to put her feet back on the floor to keep her knees from knocking together.
“Guess that’s why I love you,” he said with a voice so soft she thought he might be talking to himself.
“Spare me,” she scoffed, suddenly needing to be off the phone. Something about him felt suffocating and needy. While she figured herself for a caretaker, a conflict avoider, someone who liked keeping things simple but wanted the people around her to be happy, suddenly she sensed danger in letting Brandis worm his way any farther into her heart. “Bye.” She hung up, quickly and sat for nearly an hour clutching her phone and calming her racing pulse.