What’s in a Name?

Foothills Pride series, Book 1

by Pat Henshaw

On his thirtieth birthday, barista Jimmy Patterson decides to get rip-roaring drunk after his roommate-boyfriend abandons him at a bar in the tiny California foothills town of Stone Acres where they have relocated from San Francisco. Jimmy is immediately rescued by the burly owner of Stonewall Saloon, who has had his eye on Jimmy since the first time he came in months before.

Jimmy's fine with being saved but wants to know the bartender's real name since the guy has worn name tags with an assortment of names every time Jimmy has spoken to him. After Jimmy nicknames him Guy, the bartender decides to turn guessing his first name into a game, giving Jimmy a guess a day for a week and promising to wine and dine him during that time. If Jimmy's guess is wrong, he owes Guy a zing-zow, knock-your-socks-off kiss. Jimmy agrees since this sounds like a slam-dunk, win-win deal.

While he searches for cringe-worthy given names, Jimmy is distracted by the destruction of his shopping mall coffee shop. He is also beset by the town council that doesn't want him to buy an historic bank building in Old Town Stone Acres to set up another coffee shop. The celestial high of being romanced by Guy and the abyss of business worries don't seem like the road to happily ever after. However, Jimmy and Guy might be in for a big surprise.

This book is on:
  • 4 To Be Read lists
  • 7 Read lists
Published:
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Editors:
Cover Artists:
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Bad Breakup, Badass Hero, The Bargain, The Bet, Cheating, Friends to Lovers, Hurt / Comfort, Opposites Attract, Rescue, True Love
Word Count: 31,490
Setting: Stone Acres, California, USA
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Excerpt:

“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. If you’re right, I’ll buy the best bike for you and teach you how to ride it.”

“And if I’m wrong?”

“You owe me a kiss.” He leaned back in satisfaction.

“A kiss? One measly kiss?”

“Oh, I don’t want the measly ones. I mean a real, God of Love kiss. Something to set my ass back a couple a notches.”

Now I really laughed. Right. Me, giving him a humdinger of a kiss? Right. Who were we kidding? Oh, well. Didn’t matter because I was going to accept his challenge.

 

Day two of the bet dawned bright and cheery. Guy was still asleep when I wriggled out of his hug and stumbled to the bathroom.

READ MORE

I was awake and raring to go. I had to check in with Felicity, who, I hoped, had figured out where I’d spent the night. I had to give her Guy’s phone number as backup in case she needed to find me and I’d left my phone in another room.

I also had to check in with the Realtor and find out if there was a counteroffer on the new place and if I could tell Brian, our banker, that it was a go.

While I was thinking about my upcoming day, I was fiddling with Guy’s outdated coffeemaker. It had been state of the art once, but now was nothing but a piece of junk. I added buying Guy a new coffeemaker to my list of chores for the day. If nothing else, I could get him something that would start coffee automatically in the morning.

I also grimaced at the coffee choices in his cupboard, not to mention the lack of food there. Opening the fridge, I realized he was a few days late in making a store run.

Well, at least in a little way, I could return some of the favors he’d done for me. The gigantic supermarket in the mall was open, so I grabbed a pen and paper, wrote him a note saying I’d be back, got dressed, and made the trip to and from the store in under an hour.

Guy was sitting at the kitchen table, horrific coffee in hand.

“Hey, you don’t have to shop for me,” he said as he got up and took one of the bags.

“No problem. There are a few more in the car if you want to help. I’ll put stuff away,” I answered.

He slipped on a pair of ratty loafers and started bringing in the food.

“I got you some French roast from Penny’s, and eggs and hickory smoked bacon from the grocery store,” I said as he piled the bags into the spaces I’d left as I emptied them. “So I thought an omelet, biscuits, and bacon this morning with decent coffee. Okay?”

I felt him behind me before he put his arms around my chest, his erection snuggled into my butt crack.

“Babe, you don’t have to do this, you know,” he whispered, then kissed my neck.

I turned and hugged him.

“I know. But I’m doing it for me, not for you.”

His eyebrows went up quizzically. “For you?”

“Yeah. I like how you look right now, and I’d be really sad if you lost weight or got deathly thin.”

He started laughing.

“How long do you figure I’ve got?” he managed to ask.

I shook my head, gazing down at his buff body.

“Wow. I don’t know. A couple of hours? A day at most?” I deadpanned. “I’d really hate to have to watch you shrivel up and all. So I’m going to fix you breakfast.”

He stood chuckling as I got the eggs out so they’d be closer to room temperature before I cooked them. Then I quickly measured ingredients and mixed up the biscuits.

“You want to do something, you can find me a cookie sheet,” I said.

“Say what?” he barked. “I don’t make cookies.”

“Ah, now I see part of the problem with your bad attitude.”

“I don’t have a bad attitude,” he growled.

Laughing I found a large skillet in among his pots and pans, sprayed it down with nonstick, added the biscuit rounds, and left them on the counter until the oven warmed up enough to bake them. Then I used the grater I’d stumbled across in a drawer to get the cheese ready for the omelet.

With everything prepped, I started cooking and baking.

Guy backed off when I wouldn’t let him snag a piece of bacon and sternly told him to wait for the feast.

“Go set the table,” I barked at him.

“Yes, sir.” He saluted.

I grinned at being able to control him. Power is seductive, at least in the morning when I’m trying to fix breakfast for someone. Who would have guessed I liked to order around bears? Or at least this particular bear?

When everything was ready and on the table, including better coffee than I’d originally found in his cupboards, Guy looked stunned.

“Huh,” he said in awe. “Nobody ever made me a breakfast like this.”

Now that was plain old sad. How’d he grown up with no morning breakfasts?

“Your mom never fixed breakfast?” I tried to keep my voice neutral, but even I could hear how appalled I sounded.

“Naw. My mom died a week after I was born. I was too big a baby for her,” he said, helping himself to a pile of biscuits and slathering them with butter. “My dad died not too long afterward, and my grandpa raised me and my older brother. We grew up in the bar.”

His life had been even worse than sad. Two young boys growing up in a bar, being parented by an older man.

“Yeah, mostly Grandpa liked to drink and bullshit with his friends, so when we got old enough to fend for ourselves, we did. My brother, who everyone called Little Man, pretty much raised me until he left for the Army in his senior year in high school.” One, then two biscuits disappeared, followed by about half of the omelet.

I played with my biscuit and dragged a fork through my corner of the omelet. I felt like crying. No wonder Guy was such a hardass with the bar patrons. I was surprised he’d been so nice to me. He deserved better than he’d gotten so far.

Rather than make him go over old ground, even though I wanted to know more, I backed off, since we both needed to get to work.

“So where you wanna go tonight?” Guy asked. “I’m gonna try to take off since I didn’t get to last night.”

“Why don’t you meet me at Penny’s when you get off?” I countered. “Whatever you want to do is fine with me.”

“Sounds good. Now get out of the way, so I can clean up here.” He stood and turned with his plate in his hands.

I swiped the plate and glared at him.

“Not gonna happen, Big Guy,” I said, testing out a twink growl. “This was my way of saying thank you for being there for me. So I’m cooking and cleaning. Go get ready for work.”

We had a momentary standoff until he started to grin, then laugh.

“Okay, okay, whatever. I don’t like cleaning up anyway,” he laughed. “You should see yourself,” he added. “You really look fierce when you want to.”

“Don’t you forget it,” I said, putting the plate in the sink. Cleanup wasn’t such a big deal. Guy had a dishwasher and a disposal unit. Swipe a couple of dishes, some flatware, rinse a few cups and glasses. I clean as I cook, something I’d learned as a barista, so I mean, we’re not talking heavy lifting here. I did more work at Penny’s when we first opened and I was out front. Old habits die hard.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Dan on Love Bytes wrote:

Pat Henshaw has delivered a wonderful tease! I so want more, more, more! I absolutely loved this short book and can’t wait for more of the story. Ms. Henshaw, you will crush me if you tell me there isn’t more coming…..and soon! Honestly, if this were a standalone, I would not be as happy with it, because there is a lot of story yet to come…..

Jimmy Patterson is getting very very drunk at the Stonewall Saloon. His boyfriend of a year has decided to take off with another man he hooked up with at the bar. To make it worse he is taking him home to their apartment. To make it far, far worse, it is Jimmy’s birthday! What a total douche.

Enter the hot bear behind the bar. Jimmy doesn’t know what his real name is, even though he has been frequenting the bar for a year with his boyfriend. During most of the visits, the boyfriend has been off “socializing” with other men in the bar, leaving Jimmy to talk and get to know the bartender. He noticed very quickly, months ago, that the bartender always has a different name tag on, so no one really knows his name. He has been teasing the bartender for months to tell him his real name. The bartender is described as a totally hot, bald, hairy, bear, biker. My personal favorite. That drew me into the story instantly!

When Jimmy falls off his barstool (literally) and then has to be rushed to the bathroom to get sick, the bartender helps him. With vomit breath, Jimmy turns around and licks the guy’s nipple, which the guy finds just a little gross. Then Jimmy starts running his fingers through the guy’s chest hair. The bartender finally cleans him up, takes him out and sits him at a table and tells him to “stay”.

The next thing Jimmy knows he is waking up in a strange bed somewhere he doesn’t recognize. I’m sure you can all guess where! Hot bartender’s house.

The title of the book relates to the bet that Jimmy makes with the bartender. He will have one guess per day for a week to figure out what the bartender’s real name is. If he succeeds, the bartender will buy him his own motorcycle. If not, Jimmy will have to kiss him. There really isn’t a down side for Jimmy since they’ve already done WAY more than that, although in a fade to black sort of way since the book doesn’t have any actual sex scenes. I’m kind of on the fence on that aspect. I wouldn’t have minded some sex scenes, but I think the book works fine without them.

As the story goes on we find out that Stone, as most of the town knows him, owns the Stonewall and that is where his nickname came from. It seems no one actually knows his name. He was raised by his grandfather who owned the bar and has been in the bar his entire life.

Jimmy, with his friend Felicity, owns a coffee café named Penny’s and they are getting ready to open a second location only four doors down from the Stonewall.

The problem is some of the good old boys aren’t down with the whole homosexual invasion in and around their town and don’t want another gay spot downtown. When Penny’s gets trashed, in a fit of what looks like homophobia, the town might have a hate crime on their hands. I loved the steaming mad wives that show up because of that!

I loved this book, I loved the development of the storyline, characters and locations. The background characters had depth and I’m thinking there is a story in there somewhere for the chef. It is a fairly light but really fun to read story which will leave you eagerly awaiting more! As I said above, it is devoid of actual sex scenes, so if that is something you have to have in a book, then this one isn’t for you. Some people, ok one person in particular, posted a pre-release review on a well known website slamming the book for no sex, insta-love, and the fact that SHE didn’t approve of the hairy biker daddy/bar owner and cowering twink aspects. She obviously skipped the entire part about them having known each other for a YEAR and having been talking seriously and getting to know each other for six MONTHS, as well as every time that Jimmy stood up on his own! It isn’t often I call out other reviewers, but frankly that is why I don’t usually read the garbage reviews on that website. I mean seriously? Posting photos to show your disdain?

Rant complete. In this reviewer’s opinion, the book was very well written, had me laughing in spots and even had me mumbling from time to time “god I LOVE this book”. It is a short tale of 7 days that covers that initial infatuation stage in any relationship. I read it as what it was, I believe. I believe it is an introduction to the characters and locale that will be further expanded in future books. I can’t wait to see where they go from here. Please Ms. Henshaw do not let the negative jerks get you down. I am truly hoping as I said at the top that there is more coming. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a short, fun, without a lot of sex read. Get it today.

The only negative I found? The cover. Not the whole cover, the motorcycle caught me instantly, as did the rest of the picture. The problem? Stone is supposed to be really hairy. What part of that didn’t the cover artist understand? There needs to be some hair on that there chest!

Janet on The Novel Approach wrote:

This is an absolutely brilliant book. I loved it. Pat Henshaw has written a very funny novella that gave me a taste of her style and left me wanting more. Unfortunately it is her debut novella with Dreamspinner Press, so there was no backlist for me to devour ( I would have!), but it is the first of a series, and the next novella is Redesigning Max, which contracted so should be out soon.

I was completely involved in this story at the end of the first page. I am not usually a fan of first person narrative, but Jimmy’s voice was simply hilarious. I could clearly see him sitting at the bar, a drunken twink feeling sorry for himself, and I just had to keep turning the pages for more. And it continued to be fresh and funny for the whole story. The running gag throughout the book about Big Guy’s name is a purely fun device for the author to have them date and get to know each other. The different names that Jimmy comes up with each day illustrate how well they are matched emotionally, while being so opposite in appearance. They are both smart, hardworking business men, able to appreciate each other for who they truly are. Their strengths of character are established clearly for the reader to see, and to allow us to remain invested in the story.

There is talent as well as skill needed to give a reader enough information about the location or setting of a novella so we are able to picture it and have a sense of the world that the characters inhabit. Pat Henshaw does this very well indeed. The descriptions of the original coffee shop in a mall compared to that of the second location, in the Old Town area on Main St, conveys a sense of the whole town and its attitudes succinctly.

This is such a fun story; I will re-read it often. The MCs are well developed, and I loved watching them fall in love. It was quick but it felt good, and I know that I will never be bored with the humor and empathy the story is told with. Well done, Pat Henshaw, on writing an original story with lots of room for more. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Molly on Molly Lolly wrote:

This book was a fun quick read. I felt bad for Jimmy at the very beginning of the book, however I love how Guy was his champion. All of the names Jimmy guessed were hysterical. I figured out Guy’s real name after one of the good clues. But I was also looking at Guy’s reactions. I liked the town the story was set in. There’s plenty of set-up for more books. I really hope she creates a series out of it. I’m going to be checking out more work by this author since I enjoyed this one so much.

Becky on Bike Book Reviews wrote:

If I had to describe this book in one word, (thank goodness I can gush about it more than that), it would be delightful! I just had a good time reading it, I mean who doesn't enjoy reading about a burly, bald bartender, and pesky shrinking bar stools! Poor Jimmy gets dumped on his birthday, but it turns out that this could have been the best thing that happened to him! Join Jimmy and "Guy" as they get to know each other and get to the bottom of a "hate" crime, it will be a wild ride that you will want to take again and again! Thanks Pat, for this delightful book that makes us giggle and glory in a wonderful love story at the same time! *5 Stars*


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.
 


Leave a Comment