Wild and Precious Series: Book Two
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.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Adopted Child, Age Difference, Everyone is Queer, Families/Raising Kids, Love Can Heal / Redemption, True Love
Word Count: 35,000
Setting: Portland, Oregon. Amtrak train from Chicago to Portland.
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
“YOU SURE about this?” Bette’s pointed glance packed a world of meaning as she maneuvered the car through the DC traffic and Union Station came into view.
Cody shifted, touching the door handle to ready his escape. “Yes, I’m sure. Didn’t we go over this?” In excruciating detail, he added silently but didn’t dare say aloud. Not with the mood Bette was in.
“I’m giving you one more chance to come to your senses.” Bette pulled up outside the train station, frowning, and turned off the engine.
She looked so unhappy, Cody wanted to change his mind. I can’t, he thought.
Won’t, you mean, said the Bette in his head. He reached over and laid his hand on top of hers. “You’ll get along fine without me.”READ MORE
“That’s not the point.” She nailed him with a baleful scowl. “We don’t want to get along without you. Dang you, Cody Bellstrom, you have no idea who you are to us.” At his puzzled expression, she turned away and stared stonily through the windshield.
“Well… I guess this is it.” Cody waited, but she didn’t respond. “I love you, girl, you know that, right? You and Aurora.” He meant it. He, Bette, and Aurora had been friends since they were college freshmen ten and a half years ago. Cody sometimes found it hard to believe that he’d known them since before Bette and Aurora had become a couple. It seemed like they’d been together forever.
A barely perceptible nod.
“Come on, Bette, don’t be mad. I’ll be back. I swear.”
“Sure you will.” She sighed and turned a softer face toward him. “Goddammit, you better. We love you. If you gotta do this, of course we can’t stop you. All we want is for you to be happy.”
A car honked behind them, and a uniformed officer motioned them to get moving.
“Shoot,” Bette muttered. “All right, babe. Get outta here.”
Cody leaned over and planted a kiss on her cheek. “I’ll text. And call. And Skype.”
“Okay. Send us a postcard from every stop, and take a picture of yourself in Powell’s Books when you get to Portland.”
Cody opened the door and unfurled himself from the passenger seat, then hauled out his luggage, such as it was. He traveled light; always had. A knapsack, one rolling suitcase, and his guitar, and he was good to go.
He stood on the curb and waved as Bette pulled away, then strode into the station, his spirits lifting, while Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” played on a loop in his mind.
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.