Book Reviews

Foothills Pride Box Set by Pat Henshaw at JMS Books

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Blue-Collar Workers / Romance
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 02-August-2021

Book Blurb

The tiny Sierra Nevada community of Stone Acres looks benign on the outside, but it’s been a hive of activity since gay men from Silicon Valley began moving in. The Old Town establishment is up in arms as newcomers challenge the conservative community to move into the new millennium. Along the way, gay couples find true love and a new home.

Contains the stories:

What’s in a Name?: When barista Jimmy is dumped and gets drunk on his 30th birthday, a handsome, hunky bartender takes care of him, but is mum about his real name. When Jimmy presses him, the bartender makes the quest a game, giving him seven guesses and promising romance each night. For every wrong guess, Jimmy has to forfeit a hot, sexy kiss. Sounds good, but what’s the catch?

Redesigning Max: Out and proud award-winning designer Fredi Zimmer takes on straight outdoorsman Max Greene’s cabin renovation. When he finds out Max is closeted and wants to come out, Fredi helps Max remodel not only his cabin but his life. Angered that Fredi has turned him, Max’s former friends intervene. Will Fredi and Max win the fight for their happiness?

Behr Facts: After CEO Abe Behr discovers discrepancies in his construction company accounts, he hires CPA Jeff Mason to help him find the embezzler. Searching for the culprit, they become closer, and Abe realizes he’s gay. However, coming out to a hostile family and community may break up the couple before they cement their happiness. With so much strife, will love prevail?

When Adam Fell: Jason’s drug addiction ripped them apart. Does Adam want to get back together now that his former lover says he’s clean?

Relative Best: When hotel owner Zeke Bandy meets Vic Longbow, he sees stars. But Vic is in town to attend a wedding and to open an office, not to fall in love. Are they doomed as lovers because they’re both too busy for happily ever after?

Frank at Heart: What will it take to make hardware store owner Frank update himself and his store? Could the new man in town be the key to unlock Frank’s life and future happiness?

Waking the Behr: Ladies’ man and small town contractor Ben Behr is blindsided by his lustful feelings for San Francisco entrepreneur Mitch O’Shea. Can a country mouse and a city mouse bridge the gap in their upbringing and expectations to find love?

Short Order: Amid the happiness of the Christmas season, horticulturist Fen Miller and his landlord sous chef John Barton have some serious decisions to make. Fen must decide on a career and John on eluding his grim past. Together can they support each other enough to discover their happily ever after?

 

 

First edition of 'What's in a Name?' published by Dreamspinner Press, January 2015.

Second edition of 'What's in a Name?' published by JMS Books, July 2020.


First edition of 'Redesigning Max' published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2015.

Second edition of 'Redesigning Max' published by JMS Books, July 2020.


First edition of 'Behr Facts' published by Dreamspinner Press, October 2015.

Second edition of 'Behr Facts' published by JMS Books, August 2020.


First edition of 'When Adam Fell' published by Dreamspinner Press, February 2016.

Second edition of 'When Adam Fell' published by JMS Books, August 2020.


First edition of 'Relative Best' published by Dreamspinner Press, August 2016.

Second edition of 'Relative Best' published by JMS Books, September 2020.


First edition of 'Frank at Heart' published by Dreamspinner Press, May 2017.

Second edition of 'Frank at Heart' published by JMS Books, Seotember 2020.


First edition of 'Waking the Behr' published by Dreamspinner Press, September 2017.

Second edition of 'Waking the Behr' published by JMS Books, October 2020.


First edition of 'Short Order' published by Dreamspinner Press, December 2017.

Second edition of 'Short Order' published by JMS Books, October 2020.


Book Review

What’s in a Name?

“Okay. How’s this for a deal?”
He put down his knife and fork and leaned into the table, stabbing me with his eyes. “I’ll give you a week to guess my name. Seven chances. Every day you can ask a few questions, then come up with what you think my name is."

Jimmy and Guy have an auspicious meeting. Jimmy is getting hammered after his boyfriend dumped him, on his birthday no less, and Guy is the owner/bartender serving him. Having gotten hammered in a bar far more times than I can recall (in my youth) I really felt that Guy went way above and beyond in ensuring Jimmy was taken care of, and got home safely. Of course their attraction for one another doesn’t hurt, and hence the seven day deal is struck.

Needless to say, a lot of excitement happens in the following week. Not only do Jimmy and Guy get closer, and begin to fall in love, Jimmy and his partner in the coffee shops are subjected to hate crimes. Of course Jimmy and Guy think they know who is responsible, at least indirectly, but dealing with him is quite the adventure. And the real culprit turns out to be a surprise.

I enjoyed this story, and I liked both Jimmy and Guy. Based on the cover, I had a pre-impression that this book was going to be a little more hardcore than it was. It's a sweet, easy romance, with a small amount of angst and drama. My only complaint? I prefer more description in my sex scenes, but since that's a personal preference, I can't knock the author for not writing them that way. *grins* Jimmy and Guy are both fun, sexy, characters, and I enjoyed the premise behind the story. Of course, I guessed Guy's real name way early, but it was still fun.

 

Redesigning Max

"Some days I can barely lift my hands for another “Oh. My. God! Look. At. You. Girl!” Some days my inner bitch claws to get out. Some days I wonder if any of us can possibly be sane enough to cross the street by ourselves."

I absolutely adored twink extraordinaire, Fredi, when I met him during Jimmy and Guy's book. He made me laugh a lot, and I sure needed that. Still do, as a matter of fact, which is why I grabbed 'Redesigning Max' so I could see exactly what Fredi could do with a real man's man, just recently out. *grins*

Max and Fredi meet when Max comes looking for someone to redo his mountain cabin. Of course, Max didn't really understand what a true interior designer can do for you. He just assumed Fredi would look at it, come up with a plan, get it done, and Max would pay for it. Max didn't realize he had to actually answer questions! About himself! About what he wanted! Oh, it was almost too much. Although, when Fredi pulled out his hanky to cover his nose before he walked into the cabin/charnel house, I had to put the book down to get a good laugh.

There's more to this story and these men, though, than just a lot of laughs. Max moved to the area as a young boy after his parents died and his aunt and uncle took him in. They already had four boys, all older than Max, and Max was just left to survive. No wonder he's shy and doesn't say much. It also explains why he's never come out, never dated, never even kissed another man. Fredi might be out and proud, a practically famous architect and designer, but he's not used to dealing with true emotions, and falling in love with Max is about as true as it can get.

Another delightful addition to the series, Max and Fredi’s story is sweet, loving, very light on the heat, a little angst, and a lot of laughs. Thank you, Pat, for a most enjoyable read!

 

Behr Facts

Who doesn't love a big, grumpy, growly bear with a soft heart he keeps hidden? Abe is the Behr of Behr Construction, family owned and operated. He's been running it ever since his dad died when Abe was in high school. Now he's looking at the strong possibility someone in his family is stealing from the company. So he hires Jeff Mason to come help him out. Only problem? The Behrs and the Masons have had a little running tiff for a number of years. Mainly started by Abe's dad, but some of the Behr family hasn't forgotten it.

Abe is getting more and more perplexed at the hate talk that seems to be coming out of the community he's lived in his whole life. And he doesn't like it. He doesn't understand what difference it is if you're gay or straight, only the kind of person you are. Of course, as far as Abe is aware he's asexual as he's never been attracted to anyone before. Well, before Jeff, that is. Now the big bear has these confusing feelings, and his community is going bonkers, plus a family member is stealing from him. What's a grumpy bear to do?

I really enjoyed this third installment in Pat Henshaw's 'Foothills Pride' series, and I'm hoping to see more. If you like sweet, gentle romances, very light on the heat level, with a little drama, some angst, and a happy ever after, then these are the books for you. Thank you, Pat.

 

When Adam Fell

"He wasn’t as emaciated as the living skeleton he’d been. His light blue eyes weren’t bloodshot and roaming, unable to make contact. Fuck, this was what I always imagined Jason would look like after we got married and lived together for years. He was my Beautiful Man, my Pretty Boy grown up. This was the Jason of my dreams, not the nightmare I’d left behind."

I couldn't even begin to imagine the shock Adam felt at seeing Jason, five years later, outside his bistro in the foothills. Adam had pretty much convinced himself that Jason must have been dead by now, considering the spiral of drugs he'd been on the last time Adam saw him. Interestingly enough, much like Adam did a phoenix by leaving the Bay Area and coming to the foothills, it appears as if Jason did one, too, in a state rehab facility with hard work, and using his first name of David. Can two men who are different from who they used to be fall in love all over again?

It wouldn't be a novella in the 'Foothills Pride' series, however, if the town council wasn't up to its shenanigans. They don't want Adam to open a restaurant in Old Town. Apparently they don't want gays in their historic area. *snort* Of course, the bane of all of their existence growing up in the neighborhood, Tommy Thompson, is right at the head of the pitchfork-wielding crowd. A little drama to go along with Adam and David's angst made for an entertaining read. It was fun to see Adam learn that it wasn't just Jason's addiction that made their relationship end and their worlds collapse. Adam had to take a hard look at himself, also, to see where he made mistakes, and areas he needed to work on.

Another excellent, fun, sexy romance with appearances by many of my favorite characters. I would've loved this story to be longer, as I think forgiveness, on both Adam and David's side, might have taken longer in a real-life setting, but overall the author did a very good job. This was a sweet and loving look at second chances. Thank you, Pat.

 

Relative Best

It's been a long time since I've been back in Stone Acres and the 'Foothills Pride' series. It is definitely one I enjoy as these books are easy, short, have a great romance, are very sweet, and have wonderful happy ever afters. I was definitely interested to see what Zeke and Vic would bring to the table.

Zeke's mistress is the historic Bandy's Finest Hotel in Old Town that's been there forever. It's been Zeke's home for almost as long as he can remember ever since his dad adopted him from a state orphanage when he was young. The hotel's third floor has seen many refugees through the years, people escaping abusive situations, or just needing somewhere they can come to terms with their sexuality. Many of them live there permanently and Zeke is just as involved in helping people as he is in running the hotel. Zeke has determined, though, that this year he's finally going to allow himself the time to find his special someone who will love him, support him, and stand by his side as he does the same for them.

Vic is Native American but grew up in an all-white foster family and went to all-white schools. It wasn't until he graduated from Harvard and started working for a brokerage firm in San Francisco, and going to the casinos, that he'd ever met another Native American. His foster family is pretty dysfunctional and he met his own share of abuse at their hands. Now he's in Stone Acres to open and run a branch of the brokerage firm and he's interested in looking through all the historic photos at the hotel. He's also pretty interested in Zeke.

Another lovely addition to the series. Zeke and Vic are perfect for each other and it was wonderful to see them fall in love. I also really liked the way the author wrote about family, the ones we're born to and the ones we make for ourselves. Thank you, Pat!

 

Frank at Heart

I was concerned that the author might have been done with her 'Foothills Pride' series, so I was very happy when I realized 'Frank at Heart' was going to release. It's always a joy to return to Stone Acres and all of the characters I've come to adore. 

Frank is exactly the geeky nerd, that I, personally, have always fallen for. He's resigned himself, however, to never finding a true partner and love. The town just views him as boring old Frank, whose family has run the hardware store for the past one hundred years. Frank has never had a date, much less come out to the town, and drives an hour away for sex with a stranger when he needs it.

"The man who stared back at me was old and worn out. He’d spent his life trying to live up to what everyone in his family and his town wanted of him. And what did he get in return? He got solitary confinement, with people who he thought of as friends taking advantage of him. He was a joke, a confirmed bachelor with no one in his life to love."

I could totally empathize with Christopher when Frank and Abe, local construction guru, let him know that the beautiful home he's bought has been made seriously inhabitable by the previous tenants, and Henry could have been killed. Christopher is very shaken up and Frank is happy to offer his guest room for the night as everything else is booked solid. Christopher and his son haven't had an easy time of things lately and the house seems to be the last straw for Christopher's peace of mind.

Frank and Christopher really make a connection from the moment they meet. The fact that Frank is awed by Henry, a fifteen-year-old genius heading into his senior year of high school, certainly doesn't hurt the attraction the two men have. Christopher and Henry seem to be the catalyst Frank has needed all of his life to throw out the old and embrace the new. Unfortunately, Emil doesn't see this as a good thing, and disaster follows causing Frank significant heartache.

Another delightful addition to the series, made even better because I wasn't expecting it. Frank and Christopher needed each other and the happily ever after they worked hard for. Thank you, Pat!

 

Waking the Behr

I would love to live in Stone Acres. Seriously. In the Sierra Mountain foothills with lots of history and a lot of wonderful people. No wonder I'm always so happy when a new installment of ‘Foothills Pride’ releases. *grins*

Ben is the epitome of a good old boy, no question about it. Not to say he's stupid or ignorant, just that there aren't too many outdoor activities he doesn't enjoy, he loves living in his small town, and he has a “live and let live” attitude. His life is thrown for a complete loop, however, when he meets Mitch, a gorgeous businessman from the city, looking to open a restaurant in Stone Acres. Mitch owns clubs in San Francisco and drives a Rhino GX - a vehicle designed to have men of all ages drooling. (I had to google it to see and it's pretty darn impressive assuming you don't mind the price tag.) 

Ben and Mitch slowly become friends as Mitch travels back and forth between San Francisco and Stone Acres. Ben spends a weekend in the city with Mitch going to his clubs and figuring a few things out about himself, in exchange for Mitch going camping with Ben. I can't say as anything that happened in the city came as much of a surprise although I have to admit that the descriptions of Mitch’s clubs made me glad I wasn't with them. Definitely not my style. I did have fun seeing the camping trip through Mitch’s eyes, though. 

I'm very sorry to admit that ‘Waking the Behr’ is definitely my least favorite in the series so far. I couldn't get a good feel for either of the main characters and the storyline seemed to ramble all over the place. That could have something to do with the fact that I was only hearing Ben’s voice and if I'd been able to hear what Mitch was thinking, it might have made more sense. As it was, I was left feeling disappointed, and since I'm sure that's my fault, I was a little bit grumpy. I will admit to surprise over Mitch’s background when he finally shared it with Ben as I certainly wasn't expecting that.

My inability to connect with this novella in the series does not mean, however, that I won't enjoy reading more if the author is so inclined. If not, I can happily reread them all, and perhaps, I'll get more out of this one a second or third time around. Thank you, Pat!

 

Short Order

The ‘Foothills Pride’ series is one I enjoy and can always easily recommend. Each of these novellas offers a little something for everyone, fun and interesting characters, storylines with a bit of angst that gets resolved realistically, and lovely happy ever afters. It’s rare an author pairs two vertically challenged characters together and for that alone I was looking forward to Fen and John. *grins*

Fen’s cousin and her wife own the local nursery and it’s a great place for Fen to fill in and help out over the holiday season while he’s deliberating between his two job offers. Even better, his favorite house on Main street, an old Victorian, has a room for rent and he’s lucky enough to get it. He finds his landlord, John, pretty intriguing but the guy says about two words to him and rebuffs Fen’s offers to grab a beer after work. But one night John invited Fen out and a friendship, and possibly more, develops.

John has a couple of sleazy guys who keep coming around and John warns Fen to stay away from them although it appears Leo has his sights set on Fen. John brings David into the nursery and David asks Fen if he’d be willing to do some holiday decorating at Adam’s restaurant, Silver Star. Apparently, the celebrity chef and his boyfriend went with a contractor out of town (because David didn’t even know Stone Acres had a nursery) and they’re not particularly happy with the result. This leads to Fen grumbling to John about the celebrity people who have moved to town but don’t take advantage of getting to know their neighbors, investing in their community, or making the restaurant a place where locals feel welcome and can afford it. To be honest, the direction the author took here with really no build-up in previous installments had me a little off kilter.

In fact, I have to admit to being even more disappointed in this novella than in the previous one. Again, I was faced with characters I couldn’t get a handle on, a storyline that seemed to skim the surface with random happenings not tied in together, and even worse, in my opinion, is that I felt cheated out of a real love story. It was nice to see some familiar faces but overall, I was unhappy with the direction, or lack thereof, the author took. The drama with Leo was strange and never seemed to flow with the rest of the story. Anyway, these are only my opinions.

Even though I was disappointed I’m not ruling out the possibility of reading another novella in the series. I really adored the first six stories so I’m hoping a return to those charms is in store for the rest of the series.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. The first editions of these books were provided by the publisher for the purpose of a review.

 

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Collection/ 8 novellas, 230861 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 31-July-2021
Price $9.99 ebook
Buy Link https://www.jms-books.com/pat-henshaw-c-224_462/foothills-pride-box-set-p-3920.html