Phin Abernathy has made a life for himself away from his family and he is happier than he has ever been, especially now that he is reunited in London with his partner, Teddy. While Teddy and Phin are still living separately, their relationship is going strong and they are saving for a house they can buy together. Phin is working as a tutor for immigrants and Teddy is continuing to pursue his art and the men are building a life together. As Christmas season is upon them, things seem to be just perfect.
However, Phin’s insecurities rear up when the men meet the handsome Justin Crump. Justin seems friendly and he has a partner of his own, but Phin still starts to worry that he will catch Teddy’s eye. While he knows that Teddy loves him, Phin can’t help but have those old doubts about his appearance creep in, especially when compared to the attractive Justin. And when Phin encounters the men in what could be a compromising situation, he gets even more worried. Now Phin must be brave enough to talk to Teddy about his fears or risk losing the relationship the men have built.
Phin’s Christmas is the follow up to The Artist and serves as sort of an extended epilogue/coda to Phin and Teddy’s story. I enjoyed the first book so I was glad to reconnect with the men again here, particularly as we get more detail into how they have settled into their lives together after they reunite at the end of The Artist. Those of you who have read Dee’s The Medium will also recognize Justin as the main character of that story (though I did not read it and had no issues following along here).
Phin’s Christmas ended up being a very sweet story with a little bit of angst in the form of Phin’s concerns about Teddy’s eye straying. As a reader, I never really had any doubt that things were solid between the men. This isn’t a case where Teddy’s potential cheating seems plausible; it is pretty clear that is all in Phin’s head. I think having read the first book helped here as I could understand why, even though it is obvious Phin is worrying over nothing, he couldn’t see that himself. We know how many years Phin was told he is ugly and frightening and how much self doubt he has about himself. So I could understand where he was coming from, even as his concerns seemed unfounded. I liked that not only do these guys talk though the issue, but that Phin recognizes he deserves happiness and not just to take what he can get if Teddy is in fact also interested in Justin.
Other than this issue, the story mostly is a slice of life in Phin and Teddy’s world. We see Phin begin tutoring at a home for street kids and finding that experience rewarding, and Teddy make progress with his art. The guys spend time together and we get to see them happy and in love. So there isn’t a super strong plot here, but it is a nice way to follow up the first book and reconnect with the men. We leave them in a really good place and I found this one a nice addition to their story.