Peter Cabot has graduated college and is facing down a future he doesn’t want. He is expected home to help on his father’s presidential campaign, but Peter doesn’t want any part of it. His family has made no secret of the fact that he is a disappointment to them, that he is hopelessly mediocre. Peter just wants to live his own life without the famous, privileged Cabot name hanging over his head. When Peter learns that fellow classmate, Caleb Murphy, has been stranded in Boston without money to get to a job in LA, Peter makes the impulsive decision to offer to drive him across the country. Peter knows he is just fleeing his family, but at least it will buy him time to decide what comes next.
Caleb Murphy worked hard to make it out of his poor, small town and graduate college. Now he is ready to start his life and prove he can make it on his own. But when the money falls through to get him from Boston to LA, his plans may be over before they start. Caleb hates taking charity under the best of circumstances, and Peter’s privileged upbringing and seemingly easy life make Caleb disdainful, but he has little choice but to take Peter up on his offer.
As the men spend time in close quarters while they travel across the country, Caleb learns there is much more to Peter than what he appears. Peter is almost unbearably kind and thoughtful, handling Caleb’s prickly nature with an easy calmness. As Caleb learns more about Peter’s family and the way they treat him, it is clear Peter is nothing like his more famous relatives. The two settle into a friendship and, as the days go by, an attraction as well. As Caleb and Peter grow closer, the end of the trip looms near. Peter is going to have to finally face his family, as well as figure out what the next steps are for his life. Caleb is sure that whatever Peter chooses, he won’t want anything more to do with a poor, small town boy like him. And even if he does, Caleb is determined to make it on his own, not under the care of a wealthy man. Now that Caleb and Peter have fallen for each other, they have to figure out if there is way to make their love work long term.
Peter Cabot Gets Lost is a sweet, romantic, road trip story and I was totally caught up in this one. It is the second in the author’s Cabots series, but I enjoyed with no problem without having read the first book, which features Peter’s uncle. I love a road trip story and this one is particularly interesting in the way it is structured. The story focuses on Peter and Caleb almost exclusively. While we see them go to restaurants or stay in hotels along the way, there are virtually no other characters that even appear on page, let alone speak, for almost the entire book. I can think of one phone conversation and one in person conversation that we actually see prior to the men getting to L.A. And even as they are traveling the country, Peter and Caleb don’t see much of anything in terms of sights as they drive. This bubble they’re in creates a wonderful intensity between them that really highlights their developing relationship. Sebastian notes at the start of the book that she wrote this story while early in the Covid quarantine and I think that is really reflected here. On one hand, these men are traveling the country, something off limits to so many of us at the time. So there is this lovely sense of seeing the world, of branching out to a new life for both of them. At the same time, we have this intimate bubble with just these two men, barely interacting with anyone else. It makes for a really intense story that just drew me in.
There is somewhat of an enemies-to-lovers vibe between the men early on, at least from Caleb’s POV. He is resentful, and probably a bit jealous, of Peter’s seemingly easy life of wealth and privilege, while he struggles to make it on his own. The Cabots feel very Kennedy-esque, particularly given the time period, as wealthy, Catholic, New Englanders forming a political dynasty. Caleb assumes Peter has it easy, that is he is entitled and spoiled. But he quickly sees that not only is Peter nothing like his family, but he is truly kind and caring. They fall for each other with a sweetness, but also a great heat, particularly as Peter explores sex for the first time. The guys are a bit of an opposites attract pairing, but they end up being so good together.
Given the time period, the story also touches on what is like to be gay in the 1960s when they had to be so careful to hide their relationship in public. Peter has been somewhat sheltered in his life, so Caleb has to remind him to be cautious when out in the world. However, there isn’t a really intense historical vibe to this book, as much of the time the story feels like it could have taken place in almost any time period. While Sebastian does throw in some nice details, I think the fact that the men have so little interaction with the outside world makes it hard to really ground this story in the larger era. But I think the elements that Sebastian does bring in work well, and if nothing else, it’s fun to gawp at how cheap everything is.
I do feel that things tie up a little abruptly at the end. There are lot of issues to resolve, particularly on Peter’s end, and while the story does address them, it all comes together rather fast and there was a lot of build up for a quick resolution. That said, I found this one a really engaging road trip story, with a nice coming-of-age vibe. I enjoyed the close intensity of their journey, and loved following along as Peter and Caleb stand on the cusp of their new lives