Guest Review: Everything I Have (B-Sides #2) by Keelan Ellis

Richard Gold has always lived his life exactly the way he wanted. And the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies has been a perfect fit for a man open to the full spectrum of experiences. People are drawn to his good looks and magnetic charm, and he’s taken advantage of all opportunities.

Now in his early forties, a small sliver of dissatisfaction takes hold of Richard for the first time. The death of his father and the reappearance of an estranged family member only magnify it, and Richard begins to take stock of his life. When he meets the handsome, meticulous, tightly wound Cliff Merriweather, he is thrown further into confusion as the intensity of his attraction brings into question long-held beliefs about himself. Through it all, his best friend Henry and his rock star boyfriend are on hand to lend support.

Cliff, unexpectedly drawn to Richard’s seductive overtures, finds a whole new world opening to him. His tightly regimented life has been upended by a divorce, leaving him restless and questioning. The sexual freedom a relationship with Richard promises is exhilarating, but Cliff is wary. He’s not at all sure he wants to be a part of the world Richard inhabits, but he no longer feels at home in the one he’s always known.

With an undeniable physical connection, and a friendship that continues to grow, Richard and Cliff must decide if they can let go of their previously held beliefs about themselves, about life, and about what it means to be in love.

This second book in the B-Sides series can be read as a stand-alone, though reading book one is recommended for full enjoyment.

In the second volume of the B-Sides Series we get the story of Richard Gold, Henry’s friend from The One Thing I Know, which is one of my favorite reads from last year. These could be read as stand-alones, but are absolutely complementary. Do yourself a favor and enjoy both.

I really liked this book, though I’m not sure if you have to be past a certain age to really feel the story in your bones. This story is about new beginnings and second acts, about trying out a new skin when the old one no longer fits or does the job.

"I was just thinking of how a person can get an idea in his head about who he is, and let it get so ingrained that it closes him off to so many other possibilities."

The story takes place in California in 1978. Richard is a former record producer and full time bon vivant. While in the midst of one of his regular sexual trysts he’s interrupted by a phone call informing him of his father’s death. While the news in itself isn’t shocking, as his father was elderly, it does mark a before and after in Richard’s life.

Richard is a “been-there-done-that”, “do-your-own-thing”, “go-with-the-flow” kind of guy, very much a product of the late 60’s early 70’s California free-love culture. No shame in that and I’m happy that the author doesn’t indulge in a moralistic repudiation of the era. However Richard is 43 and what worked before is now so much meaningless blah. Into this chasm comes Clifton Merriweather. Cliff’s an attorney and the executor of the late Mr. Gold’s estate. He also happens to be recently divorced and looking for something new. What new might mean is unclear to Cliff. He doesn’t think of himself as gay, in fact the attraction to Richard is a complete anomaly on another level. Even if it’s not spelled out it seems Cliff may be demi:

"I think … I’ve never felt the way other people seem to about this sort of thing. I mean, in general. I don’t usually see people that way. Men or women. I don’t see a beautiful woman and think about what I might want to do with her."


"It takes a lot for me to be intimate with someone. It’s not an easy thing for me, the way it is for you. It’s not comfortable."
For his part Richard is feeling more and more detached from his everyday, like a spectator to his own life. He realizes that what he’s been doing isn’t cutting it anymore and Cliff might be his ticket to a new life too. WASP, private school, country club Cliff and freewheeling, rock ‘n’ roll, Jewish Richard may be a winning combination. Cliff can tell Richard to shut it or rein it in when necessary, and Richard can help destarch Cliff’s shirts. Though Cliff has zero experience with men he’s no prude or shrinking violet. In fact he’s willing and able to be the somewhat dominant partner Richard wants Cliff to be. Who new?

I liked that this was a story of two adults and it developed accordingly. Aside from the original physical attraction there was no overwhelming insta-lust or sudden declarations of love; there were no histrionics, tantrums or miscommunication. There were no super human sex hijinxs, these guys are 43 and 48! In fact I didn’t realize, until my second read, that there was no penetrative sex on page. I didn’t miss it. There was plenty of other sex and it was intimate and hot. I liked that Kellan Ellis doesn’t retroactively impose current mores, morals, and socio-political views on the era but keeps a clear eye on the future. I loved the author’s sure grasp of time and place.

I loved that though in the eyes of society Cliff is the one making a drastic change and taking a leap, Richard is on his own, equally life altering journey, reconciling his past to what his future can be, saying farewell to a former lifestyle while not completely shutting it out, in part because it’s not what Cliff wants. I loved that by the end of the book these two have embarked on a decidedly non-white-picket-fences romance, but one that is absolutely suited to them. They’re learning as they go along and I’d love to see more from them in the future.

Selfishly one my favorite things was a visiting with Henry & Terry five years into their relationship and seeing how they’ve evolved as a couple. I love the honesty that KE brings to Terry’s sobriety, how it has not always been smooth sailing, but he continues to work at it. I was insanely happy to see Henry growing into his talent as a musician. I think I may be a bit in love with them and that’s partly because, though fictional, they’re the people on whose shoulders the success of the modern LGBTQ movement stands.

When you’re in the mood for an adult, realistic, low to zero angst romance this can definitely hit the spot, but I’d strongly recommend book one first. It will make this read a richer experience and I shamelessly waste no opportunity in pushing TOTIK. *smooches*

A review copy was provided by the author.

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