Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Barista Jimmy Patterson couldn’t be having a worse birthday. After a night of watching his boyfriend hook up with other men, Jimmy decides to get rip-roaring drunk. When the hot, bearish owner of Stonewall’s Saloon comes to his rescue and takes him home, the night starts to look up.
The day after brings sobriety and more kindness on the part of the bar owner, a man who has befriended Jimmy but whose name still remains a mystery. Why? Because every time Jimmy sees him at the bar, the man is wearing a tag with a different name.
After dumping his boyfriend and moving out, again with the help of the nameless bar owner, Jimmy wants nothing more than to find out the name of the man is he growing so very fond of . “Guy” Stone (a combination name Jimmy gives him) gives Jimmy seven guesses, one for each night he takes Jimmy out on a date.
But the happy guessing game is interrupted by a series of crimes, aimed both at Jimmy and “Guy”. Are these hates crimes by business owners trying to drive away the “gays” or is it something personal? It will take both of them to get at the answer and final their own future in the bargain.
What an enjoyable story! From the characters to the plot, what Pat Henshaw crams into 90 pages is a wonder! Honestly, I wasn’t sure about the plot, a guessing game of identities between two adult men? But within the context of the story and given the history between the men, it works on every level.
What at first glance seems another case of “instalove” is indeed something more. Why? Because although Jimmy and “Guy” jump into bed immediately (after Jimmy sobers up), we find out that Jimmy has been frequenting this bar for over a year and during that time, the two men have slowly become friends, laying the groundwork for the relationship that develops. That aspect of this story totally disarmed me as did the endearing characters at the center of this story.
Take Jimmy for example. His real name? King James Patterson, so who wouldn’t go by Jimmy? He co owns a local coffee shop about to expand in another location and his co owner, Felicity, is a wonderfully realized secondary and female character who adds balance to Jimmy and helps show his character is a different, more responsible light. While his love life may be in tatters, his business is doing great as is his friendships. Jimmy is adorable, relatable, and easy to fall in love with.
Which brings us to “Guy” Stone, owner of Stonewall’s (no, not that one) out in the Sierra foothills, a place that the LGBTQ community flocked to when San Francisco got too expensive (read the author’s note, its wonderful). Stone is a nickname he picked up in high school. “Guy” is an appellation given to him by Jimmy who has to call him something while trying to guess his true name. One that is probably just as embarrassing as Jimmy’s. The delightful surprise that awaits Jimmy and the readers at the end is giggle worthy. But back to Guy. He’s a large, looming bear of a man whose manners, intelligence, and multifaceted personality draws both Jimmy and the readers in. We buy into the relationship because we have embraced the characters. Win win as they say.
The author incorporates major vandalism to both mens establishments and a minor mystery to solve. I have to admit the mystery is not that difficult to figure out. However, I did love the secondary plot threads that came into play here and wished the author had embellished that aspect of this story more and left the true criminal out of the picture all together. But that’s just me. What else did I wish for? More than just 90 pages. These characters, their settings and secondary characters could easily have slid into a novel-sized story and I would love to see them back again.
Whether that happens or not, I recommend What’s in a Name? by Pat Henshaw for all lovers of romance and bears in love. Its quirky, fun, and a quick read. Now I need to see what else Pat Henshaw has written, as these characters and their romance has me hooked.
Cover art by Angsty D. Love, love that cover, just perfection all the way around.
ebook, 90 pages
Published January 21st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleWhat’s in a Name?