Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Everything about thirty-five-year-old Stone Acres hardware store owner Frank McCord is old-fashioned—from his bow tie and overalls to the way he happily makes house calls to his dreams of lasting romance, true love, and marriage. Frank’s predecessors have run the store and been mainstays in the small California town for over a century. While genial Frank upholds tradition and earns the respect of friends and neighbors, he fears he’s too dull and old to attract a husband.
Then handsome thirty-six-year-old electronic games designer Christopher Darling and his fifteen-year-old son, Henry, come into his life. Christopher has everything Frank could want in a potential partner: charm, kindness, and compatibility. Also, he’s a terrific father to Henry. When their Stone Acres home turns out to be uninhabitable, Frank offers the Darlings temporary lodging in his ancestral farmhouse, where he and his tenant Emil reside. Since Emil thinks Frank is his, sparks fly. Suddenly, Frank’s monotonous life promises to explode with love and threatens to change him forever.
In Frank at Heart, Pat Henshaw packs a lot of storylines into 96 pages. Starting with Frank McCord, you have a character traumatized at his mother’s death (and subsequent burial), who’s never recovered. His is a life lived of blandness, kindness and trying to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, down to their clothing style. In other words, he’s not really living, he’s coasting. What sparks him out of his rut is newcomer Christopher and his son Henry. Henry needs a job for the summer and applies at the hardware store. I love the character of Henry. Henry is as much responsible for drawing Frank out as is his father. Highly intelligent,geeky and gay, Henry see Frank’s hardware store as something wonderful and Henry loves to see another kindred spirit working there. That it comes with a gorgeous dad, well outstanding. Christopher I liked too. A software designer, he seems to be lacking in general commonsense elsewhere, which was an issue for me. You spend tons of money yet you don’t get the standard inspections? Little things like that bothered me, although the author explained me away as having Christopher still dealing with divorce issues. So I guess that could work.
I did love the descriptions of the hardware store, we have one like it nearby. Old fashioned in that they still carry things that the major box stores don’t, with a certain aura of leather harnesses and canning goods wafting about, Henshaw makes Frank’s store vivid and real. I loved it as much as Frank does.
The romance between Frank and Christopher was believable and sweet, as was the connection between all three characters of Frank, Christopher and Henry. You could see them being a family in the future.
My only real issue here is with the character of Emil. The short length of this story isn’t enough to deal with the character of Emil and his place in this story. Too much revolves around him yet it really doesn’t come together. At the beginning of the story, Emil says he has no further interest in Frank, we’re told Emil is a tenant in Frank’s house. Yet later all these other details come pouring out that make no sense because we have no foundation for them. Frank at Heart needed to be at least double in length to adequately deal with this aspect of the story. If you cut it out and enlarge on the problems with the foundations of the house alone (which I thought were fascinating and nice seeing Abe Behr again), then this would have been a better story imo.
As it is, Frank at Heart is a sweet romance, lacking some substance but with enjoyable characters and a great setting. The length is such the reading just flies by. The Foothills Pride series is a wonderful one and this is another sweet installment in that series.
Cover Artist: AngstyG does a beautiful job with the background and models. Love it.
ebook, 95 pages
Expected publication: May 31st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
SeriesFoothills Pride #6