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Relative Best

Foothills Pride series, Book 5

by Pat Henshaw

Hotel owner and part-time musician Zeke Bandy is too busy for love. His plate is full running the historic Bandy Hotel and upholding his family’s tradition of offering refuge to strays and runaways. For fun two nights a week, Zeke also plays and sings traditional folk music with his rewritten gay lyrics at the Stonewall Saloon and for occasional celebrations.

Then at a gay wedding, Zeke meets Victor Longbow, who just might be the man of his dreams.

However, Vic isn’t looking for love either. In fact, because of his upbringing in a strict, white foster family, Vic’s not sure he believes in love. He’s in Stone Acres to open a branch office of a national brokerage firm. He also hopes to track down a vintage photo of what might be his Native American ancestor.

After their paths cross, they become friends. Connected by their experiences as orphans raised by flawed fathers, Zeke and Vic wonder if their future could possibly hold love and family or if they are destined only to be lifelong friends.

This book is on:
  • 5 To Be Read lists
  • 4 Read lists

I bumped into Vic in the foyer. He invited me to lunch on the condition that I’d get us there and back. I agreed since I was starving and I could practice flirting with him. Two birds for the price of one stone.

“Let’s see. Would you consider this a date?” I teased.

“Oh yeah, since I’m taking you to dinner tonight.”

“You are?” I didn’t know whether he was teasing or serious.

“Yup. We’re going to the Silver Star, where I’ve heard we’ll get a four-star meal.”

“Oh. Yeah? Okay.” I was stunned and flustered. I’d never eaten at Stone Acres’ four-star restaurant. Was this really happening to me? Where could I take him that would impress him? “Let me take you to the best restaurant around.” I grabbed the keys to my truck from the board behind him.

“Better than the gourmet place everyone’s been telling me about?” He sounded skeptical.


“Oh yeah. Best American diner food in the area. Best you could ever eat.” I stepped out the back door and led him to where the truck was parked. “Unless you don’t eat American food.”

“What do you mean? Are you saying something about me looking like a Navajo?”

He didn’t sound particularly angry or even upset. All he looked was gorgeous and way out of my experience.

“Naw. I was implying that you might be a New Age vegetarian who didn’t believe in things like bacon or sausage or biscuits and gravy.” I got in and slammed my door.

“Lead on. I can eat a skinny guy like you under the table.”

Even though I thought I heard seduction underneath his flirting before, we seemed to have stepped onto the buddy platform now. In a way I felt relieved. Buddies, I could do.

He’d stopped walking and was staring at the truck. “This thing works?”

“You kidding? Get in. Things don’t need to be beautiful to work just fine.” Take me, for example, maybe not a gem, but all parts were working great, thank you.

My 1972 Ford pickup with its beat-up sides and jutting bed looked a little like it was sniffing the ground, trying to figure out if Vic was friend or foe. The chassis might look like it had led a hard life—which it had—but the engine was in top-notch shape. Del at the Old Town Garage kept it in pristine condition, mostly because he said he was going to buy it from me someday and give it a facelift.

I drove us to the Rock Bottom Cafe, a roadside diner run by a couple of friends. This would be a true test of how compatible we were. If he hated the Bottom, then he hated me, and we had no future even as friends.

Reviews:Dan on Love Bytes Reviews wrote:

I really enjoy this author’s stories. I’ve really come to like the town of Stone Acres, California and its inhabitants while reading this series, and it feels like a real place that I could go and visit. Now I’ve got a place to stay. Bandy’s Finest Hotel sounds like the ideal vacation location to me!
I liked the story, and I’m definitely recommending it. I’d recommend reading the other four installments as well. They could easily be read as standalones since the characters flow over, but the storylines don’t. It is an enjoyable short, fast read.

Christy Duke on Rainbow Book Reviews wrote:

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!

Prime on MM Good Book Reviews wrote:

I have absolutely been loving Pat Henshaw’s Foothill Pride series and Relative Best is a fantastic addition to this wonderful world.
When the two men meet the sparks fly straight away. Both guys are strong men but they are simply great together.
This is an enjoyable story and a great addition to the series. I found this to be full of emotion and fully relatable.

on Three Books Over the Rainbow:

Relative Best was like fresh air for me. This story is a real gem with a unique writing style and two intriguing, lovable MCs.
Writing a good short story is never an easy task. Making it great is even more difficult. Pat Henshaw does exactly that, getting your attention right at the beginning, keeping your curiosity intrigued, and giving you a heartwarming, fulfilling plot with lots of emotions and true feelings.

Melanie on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

Pat Henshaw’s rich and wonderful Foothills Pride series keeps rolling along with this latest edition, Relative Best.
Relative Best is that romantic story that I have come to expect from Pat Henshaw and the Foothill Pride series. The characters have a somewhat complicated, with perhaps a dark history. The ties to the town goes almost to the bedrock and somewhere history will popup and become part of the tale. All that happens here and with wonderful characters to boot.

About the Author

Pat Henshaw, born and raised in Nebraska, has lived on the U S’s three coasts, in Texas, Virginia, and now California. Before she retired, she held a number of jobs, including theatrical costumer, newspaper features reporter and movie reviewer, librarian, junior college English instructor, and publicist. She also loves to travel and has visited Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, Thailand, and Central America as well as almost all fifty US states.

Now retired, she enjoys reading and writing as well as visiting her older daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren on the East Coast and playing havoc with her younger daughter’s life in NorCal. Pat's pronouns are she / her.

She thanks you for reading her books and wants you to remember that
Every day is a good day for romance.