Review: Where We Belong (States of Love) by Tia Fielding

It all starts at a concert at the Red Rock Amphitheater in 2004. Blake just finished high school, Dusty is a college sophomore, and as soon as they meet, they know—they belong together. With Blake living in Nebraska and Dusty in Colorado, distance does its best to keep them apart.

For two years, it succeeds.

Then Blake flees his bigoted—and even dangerous—hometown.

Two years later, Blake and Dusty are getting their lives off the ground, with Blake trying to grow his computer repair business and Dusty working with kindergarteners. Dusty thinks there’s room in their hearts and their lives for their family to grow… he just has to figure out how to express that to Blake.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

This was an adorable low angst read about a long term romance of two boys who learn how to become each other’s family.

Told in the dual POV of Dusty and Blake in two year increments, we meet the boys as they accompany the important women in their lives to an Incubus concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2004. Let me get this out right here and right now – I am a HUGE Incubus fan with a perpetual crush on Brandon Boyd. The fact that the author chose the band to represent not only the boys meeting but other important milestones in their lives was like a hug to me. I connected with the story immediately because of it and couldn’t wait to get to know Dusty and Blake better.

So, as I said, the boys meet as Dusty is there with his BFF Holly and Blake has come with his mom. Blake has just graduated high school and Dusty is a sophomore in college. When they boys have an adorable meet cute where they literally cause a scene, they bond immediately and leave the girls to their fangirling of all things Incubus while they get acquainted. I really liked how Dusty caught on to Blake’s issues with crowds, I mean, If you’ve never seen Red Rocks it can be overwhelming to just stand there with it empty but filled with people? It’s intense but oh so gorgeous.

(Actual shot from Alive at Red Rocks, Incubus, 2004)

The boys decide that they are invested enough in one another to try a long distance relationship but keep in contact while Dusty stays in school in Colorado and Blake goes back to Nebraska with his mom. Blake has plans to be at Dusty’s graduation so over the next two years, they see each other three times and always in Colorado. Blake’s small town in Nebraska isn’t tolerant at all and though he’s come out to his mom, she has asked him to live in Narnia for the time being. It broke my heart to know the lengths Blake has to go through to keep his sexuality hidden to the point of deleting all texts from Dusty that he could re-read when he needs comfort but he and his mom are terrified of anyone finding out. When Blake’s mom comes home one night and tells him of the “good old boys” who are “taking care” of the minorities in town, she begs him to leave a few days early for Dusty’s graduation and never come back. It was heartbreaking to witness that scene and know how scared Julia was for her son. Now, it may seem odd that Blake would leave his home the way he did and that his mother would be so frightened that she would beg him to leave but honestly, in the current times, I could see a group of good old boys with ties to law enforcement deciding who was welcome in their town and how they would handle it. It was chilling to read what they had done and I get the decision both Julia and Blake made.

So, Blake leaves that night and drives the four hours to Dusty and surprises him bright and early with not only his presence but a car full of his stuff. When Dusty gets the wrong idea of why Blake is there, Dusty and Holly who is now his housemate, decide Blake is staying. This begins the tale of the now established couple and how they will navigate the next ten years together.
He’d never, ever thought that he would meet his soulmate that way. To him, finding that person wasn’t about the fireworks, but the deep feeling of belonging.
I adored the way the story was told. We really get to see both Blake and Dusty go from boys to men, two years at a time, while creating this life with one another. The men were so in love that though things moved a bit fast, I never doubted that it was what they wanted or that they could handle it. Not only do they grow in their professional lives but the men create a family, a rainbow family that includes Holly in a kick ass way and become a support for other rainbow families in their community. The end was swoony and just perfect for them as a couple and the whole “fudge” for “fuck” made me laugh because even at times like that, you don’t always stop being a parent.

Where We Belong was the first story I’ve read in the States of Love series and I loved it. It again, was low angst and just really adorable even though it had some tough issues in it. The tough issues for me were handled well and never took away from the story.

Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

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