Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.
When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?
Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.
I discovered author Pat Henshaw and her Foothills Pride series with her What’s in a Name? novel.. It’s warmth, attractive location (and story behind that setting) as well as a group of characters that charmed the pants off me and each other and well, I couldn’t wait to see what the author had in store for the next installment. I found out with pleasure with Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2).
Where did the series name Foothills Pride come from? The author’s note explains “During the recession at the beginning of the 21st century, many gays and lesbians moved from the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento to the Sierra Foothills. FLAG (Foothills Lesbians and Gays) was formed. This series was written for them.” Pat Henshaw takes that fact and uses it for inspiration, weaving the clash of cultures that arises when the arriving urbanites (gay or otherwise) move into long established homogenous communities. If that community is also white, conservative, and small town, then the divisions between them might be even greater. Or surprisingly small, depending upon the people involved.
Redesigning Max introduces us to Fredi Zimmer. Fredi is an extremely talented, much sought after interior designer and artist. He is connected to several of our couples from the first story in that he designed their coffee houses (Jimmy and Felicity) and bars (Guy). Fredi is not just openly gay but “beautifully’ gay, colors and patterns clothe his body as well as his designs. I adore Fredi, he has fought hard to become the man he is, with some horrific memories lurking just under the surface to mark just how difficult the battle has been. At times, Fredi is also defiantly, “you go, girl” in your face gay. What Fredi doesn’t do is ever back down. Wait until you meet “Boner”. Then Fredi meets Max Greene.
Max Greene is a shy, huge outdoorsman, owner of successful sports store Greene’s Outdoors. Max wants Fredi to redesign the isolated log cabin he inherited from his uncle.. In reality Max is searching for more.. A lifetime of repression under his uncle’s rule have left Max shy, backward when it comes to romance and his sexuality, all of which Fredi starts to awaken.
Max is no typical shy giant. Henshaw, thank goodness, has made Max far more complicated than that. Max has a sense of humor, a deep goodness, a love of nature and artistry that matches Fredi’s so that their union makes complete sense. Pat Henshaw gives us two seemingly disparate characters who are so alike inside that when they “click”, we get it because it makes so much sense. They spend time together, designing the cabin, getting to know each each, which helps make their relationship feel real because we watch it grow in steps.
As with the first novel, they come up against the conservation faction that is against their community’s rising tide of gay population, made worse when its one of their “own”. Henshaw’s descriptions of the pain and anguish this hatred causes is authentic and believable. But its balanced, happily by that ending which I loved.
At the very end we get a bonus excerpt of the next Foothills Pride story,, Behr Facts! Woot! I can’t wait.
Do you love contemporary M/M romance? Not familiar with Pat Henshaw and her Foothills Pride series? I can recommend them both. They don’t have to be read in order. You will get people from each book mingling in the others, so much fun. Pick them up and enjoy them both.
Cover design by AngstyG. I like this cover. The models are close to my ideas of Max and Fredi (not perfect, but hey). The only thing is Fredi is all about the color…where is that?
Published July 29th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
original titleRedesigning Max
seriesFoothills Pride #2
Foothills Pride Series: