A MelanieM Review: Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw

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Rating: 4.25 Stars out of 5

Behr Facts coverBig, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly a family member—is stealing from Behr Construction, which primarily employs Behr relatives. Abe takes the unprecedented step of hiring an outsider, likeable CPA Jeff Mason, to go over the books and help find the culprit. They are drawn to each other as they talk to workers, including Abe’s two younger brothers and their shifty cousin.

Since he has sacrificed romance all his life to build the business, Abe’s surprised by his feelings for the handsome Jeff. He’s even more shocked when they are confronted by bigotry in the Sierra Nevada foothills community, which is being inundated by gays moving from the San Francisco area. As he and Jeff get closer, Abe must come to grips with coming out to a family and community that aren’t very tolerant. Fortunately, being the head Behr helps him find his footing and grab onto love when it bites him.

Pat Henshaw takes us back to her Foothills couples and increasingly integrated community with her latest release, Behr Facts.  With Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw, another terrific story, this marvelous series just added another wonderful layer of depth, community and love.  All in 92 pages.

Pat Henshaw took the fact of gay flight during the recession from the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento into the Sierra Foothills and created this series.  As noted in the author’s forward that’s how FLAG (Foothills Lesbians and Gays) was formed.  As with any influx of newcomers into a old established and conservative community, integration does not always go smoothly.  And each  book has dealt with not only a couple finding their way to each other and their place in the new FLAG community being established but the reactions, both good and bad from those already in place.

Each story has also served as an introduction to the next couple and story in the series so in Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride, #2), we got our first glimpse of Abe Behr, CEO of Behr Construction, a family owned business having its own problems as well as CPA Jeff Mason.  The second story gave us just enough of a taste that we knew we had to know more…of Abe and Jeff.  What Pat delivered was touching, wonderful, moving and felt so right that 92 pages just wasn’t enough.

The characters of Abe and Jeff were just so right, Henshaw gave them just the normal amount of flaws,  human imperfections and endearing traits that you just loved these men, together and apart. Abe who has pushed his sexuality into the closet to be what he thought the family needed him to be.  Henshaw was able to convey the quiet pain that Abe carried with him at all times making us hurt for him.  She also managed to show the layers to Jeff without lengthy descriptions. We wanted this couple to succeed from the very beginning.

Their romance?  Ah, that was  conducted with a warmth, and affection and so much heart that I wanted to be sitting under that tree with them, listening to their conversations, watching them grow close together.  How did the author manage to make that happen in such a short time and still let it feel so real?

The drama that swirled around Abe, his extended family and the financial disaster in the making at the construction company also felt authentic and believable.  I just wish the author had given herself and the couple more time to work things through as throughly as you would expect Abe and Jeff to be in their business affairs.  The backlash and the hate?  Unfortunately, that was all too real as well.

Had this been a longer story, a little more filled out, than  this might have been close to perfect rating.  As it is, I loved this story.  The series too and I can’ t wait for more. The Foothills Pride series is a gem and should be on all lovers of contemporary romance.  I highly recommend this and all the stories in the series.

Cover artist Angsty G did a wonderful job with this cover.  I think it conveys the characters perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 92 pages
Published October 28th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634762700
edition languageEnglish
seriesFoothills Pride #3

Its Back to the Foothills with Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw (excerpt and giveaway)

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BehrFacts-Preview

Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw
Release Date: October 28, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

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Blurb

Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly a family member—is stealing from Behr Construction, which primarily employs Behr relatives. Abe takes the unprecedented step of hiring an outsider, likeable CPA Jeff Mason, to go over the books and help find the culprit. They are drawn to each other as they talk to workers, including Abe’s two younger brothers and their shifty cousin.

Since he has sacrificed romance all his life to build the business, Abe’s surprised by his feelings for the handsome Jeff. He’s even more shocked when they are confronted by bigotry in the Sierra Nevada foothills community, which is being inundated by gays moving from the San Francisco area. As he and Jeff get closer, Abe must come to grips with coming out to a family and community that aren’t very tolerant. Fortunately, being the head Behr helps him find his footing and grab onto love when it bites him.

 

 

Excerpt

“You ever come up the bank to sit under my tree? Looks like a much more comfortable place to fish. Not as rocky at any rate.” Jeff took a drink of his beer as I again scrambled to keep up. “My dad called it the Fishing Tree. He seemed to think fish congregated off the shore there.”

We sat in silence. It was my turn to talk. I’m pretty good in business situations. Not so much in social ones. At social events, mostly I hold up walls. Shake hands. Grunt a lot. Let others carry the conversational load.

Lorraine set our meals in front of us. The full burger with everything for him. The grilled mountain trout and steamed vegetables for me.

“You do a lot of fishing?” I managed after a long silence.

“Not really.” He gave a self-deprecating laugh. “My dad said fishing couldn’t be taught. He said it was something intuitive. I never had any idea what I was doing. So I never saw any use in fishing. I never saw any fish either.”

Again, silence as I processed and caught up. “It’s not rocket science. You figure out what kind of fish you want. Where it lives. Lure it to you. Then catch it.”

He looked skeptical and almost self-conscious. “It can’t be so easy,” he said with a little laugh.

“Why not?”

“What about the different rods, lures, tackle, stuff?” He looked so serious, as if I were missing the point. As if I didn’t understand. He was right. I didn’t.

“Look. You can catch fish with your bare hands. If you want to. The extra stuff is just extra stuff.”

“If you say so.” He shook his head, a smile still on his lips. “Have you ever caught a fish with your bare hands?”

I lifted my hands and looked down at the mess that were my paws. Calluses, nicks, cuts, punctures, blunt fingers, the bandage now off the one with the splinter. These were the hands of a man who’d framed houses as a tall, rangy preteen and had lived in construction ever since. Could I catch a fish with my bare hands?

“Yeah. All it takes is absolute stillness and patience.” I sighed. “Not a whole lot of people have both together. Somebody once told me it’s all about Zen.” Somebody else said the only reason I could do it was because I was too stupid to know it was impossible.

“Zen.” His tone said he was surprised I knew such a word.

“You know, like the Eastern religion,” I answered. “Though why we still call it Eastern is beyond me. It’s really Far West, not Far East to us.” I was grumbling and rambling. Avoiding for some reason.

He rattled me. Nobody ever rattled me. I’m Abe Behr, the big Behr.

He was studying me as intently as I was him. He appeared too beautiful, too perfect, too unscarred. I just hoped his accountant skills were as perfect as he looked.

“What kind of fish you want to catch?” I asked. Staring at him wasted our time.

He pointed his fork to my plate. “How about that? It’s good, right?”

“Trout,” I agreed. “Lots of different kinds of trout.”

He looked like he’d never eaten any in his life.

“This is trout from our lake. Have a bite.”

He’d finished his burger but didn’t make a move on my fish. His expression was split between wanting to dig in and reluctance to do so.

“Just taste it,” I growled. “It won’t bite.”

His eyes snapped up to meet mine. His puzzled stare asked if the stupid bear had deliberately made a joke or not. Then he gave a happy, hearty laugh, and his fork raided my fish.

“So? What do you think?” I asked after he swallowed.

“I think you made a great joke,” he said with twinkling eyes. “And the trout is delicious. Is this why you threw your catch back? Did you know you’d get it cooked perfectly here at the cafe?”

“Naw. I was stalking the pie. Fish was a bonus.”

“They have good pie here?”

“Wait and see.”

Pages or Words: 90 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

 

Buy the book:

Dreamspinner |Amazon |Amazon UK |Kobo |All Romance Ebooks (English titles only)

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Meet the Author

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska and promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

 

Where to find the author:

 

 

 

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: A $10 Starbucks Gift Card to 3 winners.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. 
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A MelanieM Review: Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

RedesigningMaxFSRenowned 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?

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 29th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
original titleRedesigning Max
ISBN139781634763172
edition languageEnglish
seriesFoothills Pride #2

Foothills Pride Series:

Our Pat Henshaw Interview and Book Spotlight! Redesigning Max
 (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw

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RedesigningMaxFS

Redesigning Max
 (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw
Release Date: July 29, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

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Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Author Interview

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Pat Henshaw, author of Redesigning Max.

Hi, Pat, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Hi! I’m originally from Nebraska and have lived all over the U. S., landing here in Northern California. Now retired, I’ve held a number of jobs including theatrical costuming for the Alley Theatre in Houston, public relations for radio and television at WETA in D. C., and teaching English composition at a junior college in California.

Redesigning Max, the second of the Foothills Pride novellas, revolves around the unlikely pair of interior designer and architect Fredi Zimmer and the CEO of an outdoors equipment store and wildlife guide Max Greene. When he hires Fredi to redesign and update his Sierra Mountain mountain cabin, Max finds his life and heart undergoing a makeover too.

Not everyone in the small Stone Acres, California, community is as excited about Max and Fredi getting together as the guys are. Because Max’s been in the closet so long, he not only has to convince his friends that he’s gay but he also has to convince Fredi, who keeps getting mixed signals from him.

Do you have pictures that you use for your characters? Can you share them with us?

Yes, for this book, in my head I saw Fredi as Chris Colfer, so I watched a number of Glee episodes as well aschris-colfer-2012-tribeca-film-festival-04 ArronEckhartlooked at the accompanying photo of Chris. Max always looked like Aaron Eckhart with the addition of a droopy mustache to me and sounded like Sam Elliot.

What kind of book would you like to write that people would see as a huge departure for you?

I’d love to be able to write a children’s or YA book. Since I’ve never tried to write either one, they would be a larger-than-life departure for me. I’ve already tackled murder mysteries, fantasy (self-published The Vampire’s Food Chain about a vampire becoming a god), and het romance (as well as my gay romance Foothills Pride series).

Have you ever killed a character? Was it traumatic for you? If you haven’t killed one, would you ever consider it?

Not in the Foothills Pride series, no. I don’t think I’ll be killing off anyone in any of the gay romances I write. I have killed off characters in my futuristic fantasy novel, The Vampire’s Food Chain, but he was a vampire who needed killing. And when I was writing murder mysteries, well, a dead body is de rigueur, right?

Favorite location you’ve ever written about?

I like the Sierra Foothills where I’ve set the Foothills Pride series. I was particularly pleased when a friend of mine who grew up in the foothills told me I’d gotten the places and the people right. In fact, she said she knew Lorraine and Bud’s Rock Bottom Café really well. Since I hadn’t based it on any one place, I took that as a compliment. The last time we drove around the foothills I was saddened to see to see the place which I used as Guy’s Stonewall Saloon in What’s in a Name? wasn’t a bar anymore. It seems to be a warehouse now. Darn.

Introduce us to characters from a work in progress

Adam, the main character in When Adam Fell, is a renowned celebrity chef who walked away from his high-profile job in San Francisco to open a small foothills restaurant, Sierra Bistro. There he cooks a one seating prix fixe meal four times a week for friends, celebraties, and millionaires from the Lake Tahoe and San Francisco Bay Areas. Before he turned his back on the San Francisco gig, he was the host of his own cooking show on TV and had written a couple of bestselling cookbooks. Why he left his high-profile job and what he’s going to do next with his life are the focal points of his book.

Thanks, Pat, for stopping by and for the great interview!  Please come back!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Hunting and Fishing, hires him to remodel 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 gorgeous for words.

When Max starts coming 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 rustic 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, he finds is the most exciting and wonderful time of his life, despite the conservative former friends who want to stop his slide into hell.

Pages or Words: 73 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Romance

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STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

 

By the time we got to the Rock Bottom Cafe, I felt like I’d bottomed out. I was hungry, tired, and feeling the first twinges of a headache.
Max hadn’t exaggerated about how much I’d hate the Rock Bottom’s decor. It was the worst of rural cafe: hellacious plastic flowers, grotesque plastic-covered booths, peeling gangrene-painted beadboard walls, pockmarked linoleum floor, and faded food-stained menus. It made the cabin look almost palatial, except it didn’t smell as bad.
As Max slid into one side of a booth and I into the other, he said, “Food’s great here. Okay?”
I glared at him, but I had to admit the odors coming from the kitchen wove seductively around us.
After we’d ordered and had gotten glasses of iced tea, which I liberally dosed with artificial sweetener, Max leaned back in his side of the booth and blew out a little breath.
“So guess here’s what you need to know about me.” He was looking at the tabletop. “I was an only kid when my folks died. Raised by my aunt and uncle with their four boys. I was the youngest and nobody cared what I thought, so I don’t talk much.”
Oh dear. I wasn’t sure which of those statements I should answer, if any. My heart bled for the beautiful man in front of me who would give me a raging hard-on if I let my libido take control.
His words and lack of self-pity made me want to create a unique space where he’d feel completely at home and that would soothe him when he needed it. I probably wouldn’t end up his BFF or someone he could unbend with, but I could create a warm cocoon to shelter and coddle the man or let him entertain his friends comfortably.
The image of the young Max feeling like an outsider when he was thrust on his uncaring aunt and uncle to raise was banished by the waitress who put lunch in front of us.
“Oh. My. God!” I nearly drooled into the chili and homemade bread as I tasted them. “This is incredible.”
“What’d I tell you?” Max gloated. “Said you shouldn’t be put off by the decor. Some of us are more than our decor.”
I spooned up a couple of bites, then looked at Max. “You really do think I’m a snob, don’t you?”
Why was it so easy to get him to blush? I hadn’t a clue, but his quick, mercurial red cheeks had me intrigued.
“No, no, I don’t think you’re a snob,” he protested. “I mean, you’re just so….” He waved a couple of fingers at me, but kept his elbows on the table as if protecting his bowl of chili.
“I’m so what?”
Max shrugged. “I don’t know. Beautiful. And fancy,” he added, ducking his head over his bowl.
Ah, I understood now. Max was intimidated by my suit.
“Look, you came to get me in the coffee shop. I was dressed to take a rich lady through her house later this afternoon. I can work in jeans and a T-shirt”—did Max think I wore suits every day?—“or anything I want. Pajamas even. You just caught me on a suit day.” Which, I didn’t add, was too often for even my overblown sense of style.
Now Max was staring at me.
“Yeah, right. You wear jeans,” he scoffed, but looked interested, intrigued.
I shrugged. “Okay, not when I’m with a client. At home I’m way more casual.” I might have sounded a tad defensive.
“Yeah, right,” Max muttered with a grin.
I left it lying there. It wasn’t worth fighting about. But it bothered me that he saw such a divide between us. I was just a man, wasn’t I? Just like him, right? What was he going on about? Sheesh.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride series, was born in Nebraska but promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat has visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and regularly travels to Rome, Italy, and Eugene, Oregon, to see family.

Now retired, Pat has taught English composition at the junior college level; written book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helped students find information as a librarian; and promoted PBS television programs.

Pat has raised two incredible daughters who daily amaze everyone with their power and compassion. Pat’s supported by a husband who keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away writing fiction.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.henshaw.10
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6998437.Patois
Book website: http://whatsinanamenovella.blogspot.com
Website: http://patbooked.blogspot.com
E-mail: whatsinanamenovella@comcast.net
Tumblr: http://phenshaw.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @phenshaw

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 Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: One of three $10 Starbucks Gift Cards.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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Love is in the Air with Redesigning Max
 (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw (excerpt and giveaway)

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RedesigningMaxFS

Redesigning Max
 (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw
Release Date: July 29, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

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Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press

Blurb:

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Hunting and Fishing, hires him to remodel 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 gorgeous for words.

When Max starts coming 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 rustic 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, he finds is the most exciting and wonderful time of his life, despite the conservative former friends who want to stop his slide into hell.

Pages or Words: 73 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Romance

Excerpt:

That night in bed, thinking of the delicious Max, I understood a little more why he wanted the forest in his house. I could understand how soothing the wide open-spaces could be to someone who spent his formative years as an outcast. Now I felt even more driven to give Max the vision he sought.

Three days later, exhausted from a couple of all-nighters but ready to show Max the portfolio of drawings and plans for his renovated cabin, I put on my other designer jeans, orange sailor shirt, green high tops, and lavender scarf. I was ready to knock Max’s socks off.

Max drove us to the Rock Bottom again for lunch. The grungy foothills cafe was just as tacky as it had been before and smelled just as delicious. The tables of surly-looking he-men in their Levis and wife-beaters or beat-up Western-cut shirts still stared and then whispered to themselves as I slid into a booth, the artist sketchbook tucked safely in my bag.

“So we’re ready to make some changes.” Max eyed the sketchbook as I took it out and laid it on the table.
“Whoa, not so fast.” I put my hand over the top of the book to keep it closed. “We’re a few steps away from starting. Let’s just take a look at the sketches and then talk money, and then if you’re still happy in a day or two, we can sign a contract. Remodeling isn’t anything to jump right into.”

The excitement brimming from Max’s face said Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Open the damned notebook.
I sighed. I always hated this part of the job. Clients either loved the sketches and wanted the work done yesterday or they wanted to haggle every nut and bolt to the ground, changing the floor plan, the color palette, or complete idea on an almost minute-to-minute basis. It was exhausting either way.

“Okay, first, what you need to do is look at these drawings and imagine yourself living in these rooms, not just looking at pretty pictures. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable here. At this point, everything is changeable, but it won’t be the case when we start tearing down and making the plan concrete. So take your time. Be sure you’ve fallen in love before you begin.”

I waited until Max lifted his eyes from the sketchbook, looked at me, and nodded before I opened the book.
I went through the pages one by one quickly, not asking Max for a response and not watching him. This was the private, internal part, and I let him have his space. Max wasn’t my first client who kind of knew what he wanted but couldn’t articulate it.

The first glimpse tainted the vision the client originally had going into the project. I could steamroll clients into taking what I’d given them, but in the long run, they had to live with the new reality and I wanted them to be happy. I really wanted Max to be happy.

“It’s perfect,” Max whispered just as the waitress brought our food. “Let’s do it.”

“Let’s eat first, before we break ground.”

I didn’t talk during lunch even though Max wanted to get me to sign him up and start moving.

After we finished the cherry-apple pie, I said, “Now I’m going to go through and point out some pricey details. Think about if you really want them because they add time and money to the design. We can easily discard them.”

“No, I want it just like you’ve got it in here.” Max tapped the sketchbook with his elegant fingers. “Just exactly what you’ve got here.”

I sighed. “Let’s try it my way, okay? Will you just listen?” I was holding an edge of the sketchbook closed and looking into Max’s eyes. I didn’t want Max to be an ultimately unhappy impulse buyer.

Max tentatively touched my hand. “I trust you.” He rubbed his fingers over mine.

I was surprised by the touch of his fingers, which had immediately made my body tingle. I’d read about people being attracted and feeling a zap of electricity, but I’d never experienced it before. As far as my past liaisons with men went, we’d both showed up, which was enough for gratifying sex.

“Just a few minutes of listening.” I could hear a shaky quality in my voice.

“Okay,” Max agreed, sitting back and putting his hands together on the table.

I took a deep breath to steady myself. I looked around the cafe, hypersensitive to the quiet scrutiny of the other diners. Were they leaning out of their chairs to listen to our conversation? Why did they make me feel uncomfortable?

I looked back at Max, who seemed oblivious to their attention. His eyes went from the sketchbook to me. He seemed to lean toward me, and his eager look seemed to be trying to hurry me along. His impatience made me smile.

I took a deep breath and started my spiel. “There are some carvings in the pictures you should think about. Atop and along the sides of the windows in the living room, master bedroom, and the kitchen, and on the headboard and bedposts in the master bedroom. You said you wanted to bring the outdoors in, so I thought these carvings would be perfect.”

I turned to the pictures. I’d drawn animals like squirrels, foxes, and badgers carved into the wood.

In the master bedroom, the four bedposts looked like geese landing at the head of the bed and taking off toward the windows from the foot of it. Across the headboard and footboard, I’d drawn pussy willows swaying with frogs, butterflies, and small birds among the reeds, all carved from one piece of hardwood.

Having worked with a wonderful carver so many times in the past, I knew he would take my ideas and flesh them out, probably change them as he saw fit, and leave Max with stunning pieces of art—if Max could afford them and, more importantly, if Max liked this idea as much as I did.

“Beautiful.” Max traced the birds taking off in flight.

“Yes, it is. You’ll notice the wood on the floor, around the windows, and making up the furniture is the only brown. The rest of the room is blue.” Actually the blues ran the scale of hues from Alice blue to ultramarine, but I made it a policy to use only the most basic names for colors since many of my less artistic clients got lost in the fancy color names.

“I like other colors, not just brown,” Max protested.

I nodded, not about to remind him that he’d only wanted brown and green. Except for the touch of Max’s fingers on my hand, my spiel had been pretty standard. As far as I was concerned, no surprises were good surprises.

“In the living room and kitchen”—I found those pages—“you’ll notice that the predominant colors are yellow.”

Well, from canary yellow to goldenrod, but who was counting? “Also, I added more rustic carvings to the decks. Animals between the posts of the back deck and birds on the bedroom deck,” I said, flipping to the relevant sketches and pointing them out.

On each page, Max ran his finger over the details I mentioned. It was distracting, so much so I had trouble keeping to the script. Max might not be an artist, but he definitely had an artist’s soul. His fingers were gently stroking my soul as well as the pages.

The diners at the other tables seemed to be trying to see what had Max so enthralled. I wanted to stand up and announce, “This is a private showing. Go back to your meals.” I didn’t, but still, sweat had started to drip from my pits.

Finally I closed the book and passed it to Max. It was hard to stay on task with Max so focused on the drawings and the diners seemingly intent on us.

“I want you to take this book and really study the pages. Take notes in the margins. Circle things you don’t like or have questions about. Go to the cabin with the book and try to imagine every room looking like the sketch. What would you change to make the sketch more you?”

When I peered up at Max, I was surprised to see glistening eyes looking back at me. Was Max crying? Oh hell no. God, I hoped not. I don’t do crying people. Ever.

RC

Author Bio and Contacts

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride series, was born in Nebraska but promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat has visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and regularly travels to Rome, Italy, and Eugene, Oregon, to see family.

Now retired, Pat has taught English composition at the junior college level; written book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helped students find information as a librarian; and promoted PBS television programs.

Pat has raised two incredible daughters who daily amaze everyone with their power and compassion. Pat’s supported by a husband who keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away writing fiction.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.henshaw.10
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6998437.Patois
Book website: http://whatsinanamenovella.blogspot.com
Website: http://patbooked.blogspot.com
E-mail: whatsinanamenovella@comcast.net
Tumblr: http://phenshaw.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @phenshaw

Giveaway

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