Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 122 Pages
At a Glance: What an enjoyable follow up story for Cody! And in my favorite city, no less. 🙂
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Bisexual musician Cody Bellstrom is a free spirit, easygoing and unattached. On a cross-country trip, Cody befriends young Sandy Nixon and gets him safely to Portland and his uncle, Phineas MacDonald. Beautiful Phineas turns Cody’s life upside down, and Cody learns he’s not as unattached as he aspires to be. With the hard-won knowledge of what lies underneath his need to be free, Cody wins a chance at real freedom and true love.
Ever since his longtime lover Allen died, Phineas MacDonald has lived a circumscribed life. He stopped performing as fierce drag queen Phanny Hill and works part-time in a bookstore. Phineas never expected to find love again. But when sexy and caring Cody Bellstrom turns up, Phineas feels his orderly life slipping out of his control. Cody brings him alive again, but now Phineas must find the courage to let go of his grief over Allen and give love a second chance.
Review: Technically There You Are is the second story in this series, but I think it could be read as a standalone novel; although, there are spoilers for the first story. For better context around Cody’s relationships and his friends in DC, read these two books in order.
This story takes place just after the events of Wild and Precious, and begins where Cody left off in that book. Wanting to quench what he sees as his wanderlust, he has an opportunity to go to Portland to join another band. He jumps at the chance, much to the chagrin of his BFFs, Aurora and Bette, who call him on his running away again. But he’s anxious to make the change, and so what if maybe it does have a little something to do with Brent?
While on the train to Portland from Chicago, he meets up with Sandy, who is running away—well, he’s eighteen so technically, that’s not entirely accurate, but he’s leaving his family and heading to his gay uncle in Portland because he can’t deal with his parents—they want him to go someplace to “pray the gay away,” even though Sandy is pretty sure he’s bisexual. Turns out Sandy’s uncle is friends with the guy in the band that Cody is meeting at the train station. Uncle Phineas is nothing like Cody expected—he’s gorgeous and sad. Plucks right at Cody’s heartstrings . . . and possibly other places as well.
But alas, of course true love is never easy. Phineas has been in mourning for four years, since his partner, Allen, died. Cody is the first one to make him feel anything since then. But of course, there is the guilt about that as well. Phineas has also given up his drag persona, Fanny Hill, since Allen’s death. But Cody seems to bring back his desire to perform again.
Sandy, Phineas’s nephew, has some growing up to do, but he seems to really love his uncle and is grateful to have a safe place to land. Cody and Phineas both do their best for Sandy. Phineas feels a bit overwhelmed at times—he never wanted to be a parent and is terrified of messing up. His shrew of a sister, Sandy’s mother, is no help, certainly.
We do get a cameo appearance from Bette and Aurora in a visit. They miss Cody but seem to really like Phineas, and they are happy that Cody is finally happy. They are worried that he’ll somehow screw it up, though—possibly with good reason (and a ring-side view for Cody’s previous relationship implosions).
The focus of the story really, though, is Cody figuring out who he is, what he wants and what he is willing to do to achieve that. And it’s funny because the insight that comes to him is really not at all in a dramatic way, but through a quiet epiphany coaxed from him by a stranger. It was great to see him comes to terms with himself.
Overall, I really liked all the characters in There You Are. Cody grows up a lot in this book and has to work hard to get his happiness, and maybe it doesn’t look exactly like he thought it would. I liked watching Phineas come to terms with his loss and what moving on would really mean, despite the guilt and sadness that has held him back. Sandy is a fresh young character, a special kid, and he’s going to be fine, I think, with all of his cheerleaders. I really hope there are more stories to come because these characters are a pleasure to follow and I’d love to see what comes next for them,
You can buy There You Are here: